To celebrate the launch of the new ROSL Calgary Branch, Chair Madeleine King gives us the skinny on her hometown.
How long have you lived in Calgary?
36 years – having moved from London when my first child was five months old. Describe the city in three words. Dynamic, young, community-minded. What advice would you give to a first-time visitor? Discover the mountains a short drive to the west. The Canadian Rockies represent a vast area of stunningly beautiful scenery with unlimited recreational opportunities.
In the city, enjoy excellent restaurants, many of which have been created by new Canadians from all over the world who've chosen to make Calgary their home. Walk or cycle the hundreds of kilometres of pathways throughout the city and along our two rivers, the Bow and the Elbow.
Many people’s knowledge of Calgary may come from the Winter Olympics or the Calgary Stampede. What other highlights should visitors take in when visiting?
There’s so much more to Calgary! The Stampede is still our key annual celebration every July, and the ’88 Olympics gave us great athletic facilities and provided a base for the city’s sporting, related academic expertise and international hosting. Both are well loved.
Calgary has a population of 1.25 million and is constantly growing. It has the second highest number of head offces in Canada, exceeded only by Toronto. The shiny glass towers downtown, many of which are focused on the energy industry, are linked by pedestrian footbridges at the 1st floor level. The city’s population is among the most highly educated. Take in some live theatre, musical performances of all genres, some museums, art galleries and great shopping. You might also note the impressive public art, especially in the downtown core. The number of theatres, concert halls and art galleries have all increased in the past few years – and there are some fine examples of modern architecture.
Canada Olympic Park now boasts a sports Hall of Fame, visitor luge runs, and numerous other winter sports. The Calgary Tower offers breathtaking views. The Glenbow Museum provides fascinating insights into local history and sociology. Of course, there’s also ice hockey and other professional sports to enjoy. During the summer months Spruce Meadows hosts international equestrian events at its beautiful location.
Given Calgary’s varied seasons, when is the best time to visit?
July, August and September are the warmest months. However, many international visitors come in winter for the nearby ski slopes. October is beautiful with fall colours. Calgary does not really have a well-defined springtime – as it can snow a lot until mid-May and then suddenly become hot and summery (and then revert back temporarily!). In winter, the city is blessed with 'chinook winds' that blow in from the mountains melting the snow and bringing temperatures up to about 20oC in a few hours. On the other hand, it can be very cold (as low as minus 40oC on very rare occasions). Because the air is always very dry, the cold is much easier to tolerate, and in summer it always feels fresh. Buildings are very well insulated so that locals often wear similar indoor clothes year round. The best idea is to layer one’s clothing to accommodate the changes. Calgarians are generally cheerful, polite, and relaxed. We treasure our reputation for making guests feel welcome!