Still a very young city, the history of Calgary, Alberta makes clear how the city has gained a reputation as both a modern big city and a friendly, wild western town. The abundant prairie lands attracted beef herders to the new settlement, shortly after it was founded in 1875. Calgary soon became a meatpacking and cattle-raising dream (This explains the modern Calgary Canada nickname of “Cow Town”!). Even with the cattle industry, the population of Calgary after World War II was still only around 100,000.
In the late 1960s the city of Calgary changed dramatically with the eruption of the oil boom. Within ten years the population increased rapidly and billions of dollars were put into construction projects around the city. Calgary tourism opened up to the world when the city hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics. Today Calgary’s population sits at just under a million people and continues to grow. Despite this, the city retains a warm, smaller-town feel.
Part of a great Calgary vacation is being able to experience the wild-west flavor of the city. A good start on your Calgary tourism trip is the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site. This historic site is actually an hour southwest of the city, but gives a great insight into what Calgary Canada might have looked like 100 years ago. The Bar U Ranch is a fully-operating cattle ranch that prides itself in preserving the history of Calgary Canada with Old West traditions. There are 35 original buildings still standing, some dating back from the 1880’s. You can take a tour of these buildings and watch a video about ranching history.
Another activity that will make for a unique Calgary vacation is digging for dinosaur bones in the hills east of the city. Since the 1880’s paleontologists have been doing excavations here and the site has proved to be one of the most important fossil sites in the world. If you want to experience this unusual side of Calgary tourism, there are a number of options for dinosaur digs, depending on how much you want to spend. Day programs are offered through the Royal Tyrell Museum and include a kid’s event and a tour. Helping out with a dig will cost more. If you are a true dinosaur enthusiast, there are weeklong programs available at Dinosaur Provincial Park, costing over $1,000 CAN (including bed and board).
If you’d rather not purchase one of the Calgary vacation packages and would rather find your own way around the city, Calgary tourism will provide you with plenty of tourist information. One attraction in the city that is ideal for a variety of activities is the Eau Claire Market, north of downtown. This market is situated by the banks of the Bow River, in a car-free pedestrian zone. There are plenty of stalls selling fruit, vegetables, meat and fish as well as restaurants, bars and a cinema. This area is not just a tourist attraction, but draws city residents as well. On a warm day you will see runners, walkers and sunbathers out, enjoying the ambiance of the market.
One thing is sure, on your Calgary vacation you’re certain to see why Calgary is such a quickly growing city.
Top image: davebloggs007 (flickr)