My Love Letter to Calgary

In honour of Canada Day, I thought I’d take the time to recognize the city that I’ve come to love. Even though Calgary is my hometown, I remember being seventeen, leaving high school and not imagining that I’d ever be back. Europe, I thought. Toronto. Montreal. Basically, anywhere but here.


When I was younger, it didn’t feel like the city had much to offer in terms of culture. We were just another city, built around oil though lacking energy.

Eleven years since that date, I eat my words. I love Calgary.

In no particular order, these are some of the reasons that I love this city and will continue to call it home.

The Incredible Food

I can’t remember a bad meal that I’ve had in Calgary, unless I’ve cooked it myself. Bad restaurants don’t last here, so by the time you actually hear about a place, it’s probably a rave review. I still have more foodie finds to visit than I have time or money to make happen… but it will happen. Case in point, on this Canada Day I’ll be spending it with food trucks. Ahem… all the food trucks.


The Green Spaces

Nobody wants to live in a concrete jungle, do they? Part of the joy of living so close to the mountains is that Calgarians know and appreciate being close to nature. We try to replicate that feeling, where possible, with our vast green spaces. Fish Creek Provincial Park, Nosehill, the river pathways, and various green spaces downtown keep the city feeling fresh and vibrant. It’s such a treat to be able to leave your office building (if you work near the CORE) and head out for a walk under the lush trees of Princes’ Island Park. We’re very lucky.


For some tranquil green space, head to the Reader Rock Garden.

Our Western Roots

Far from a country music fan, I still love when July rolls around each year. Throwing on a pair of cowboy boots may be corny, but I often think about how this one event, the Stampede, has been going on almost as long as the city has been here. Just imagine what it was like back in the early days! Whether you agree with the rodeo or not, it’s a spectacle, that’s for sure.


More than the Stampede, though, our country roots speak to the pioneers and entrepreneurs that Calgary is built on. When I think of our spirited pioneers, I think of Peter Prince and the Eau Claire & Bow River Lumber company, his office which is now home to my favourite breakfast joint, 1886. I think of Nellie McClung who spent the last 25 years of her active life in Calgary, writing prolifically. I may not be a fan of the temperance movement, but the work she did for women’s suffrage is astounding. I think about all of the people who were the original homeowners of the houses now dotting Heritage Park. While not all from Calgary, they represent the ranches and early pioneer lifestyle which was certainly not easy. Hard to believe we’ve come to so far in such a short space of time.

Our Proximity to the Mountains

If you’re a city dweller, you probably know what I’m talking about. Just getting out to the mountains makes you breathe deeper, relax, and appreciate the quiet. How lucky are Calgarians that the mountains are not only one hour’s drive away, but they are literally within our sights. They provide us peace, make us active and have us all appreciate true beauty.


The Public Art

Love it or hate it, Calgarians invest in art. The Wonderland sculpture outside of the Bow Building is probably the most recognizable today, but you don’t have to walk far downtown to find stunning works of public art. There have been more controversial pieces of art like Travelling Light (known to locals as the giant blue ring) or art that burns peoples’ jackets, but I for one would rather live in a city that values art rather than ignores it. Psst… anyone remember the Udderly Art (cow project)? My all-time fav!



The Spirit

I used to think that the communal spirit of Calgary centred around hockey – Go Flames Go! Whether our team did well or not, and more often not, most people came out in their sea of red to support. The day of my high school graduation in 2004 was the same day we won a game in the playoffs, and I’ve never seen anything like 17th ave on that night. The energy, the unbridled joy, the community – this was special.


The floodwaters at 10th Street Bridge

Then the flood hit in 2013 and that spirit proved itself to be so much more. Strangers volunteered to muck out your basement. People dropped off food and coffee in neighbourhoods, expecting nothing in return. Companies made huge donations to support the community, and their staff volunteered in droves. Unaffected citizens gave up their spare rooms, couches or floors to those who’d lost their homes.

It was a tragic event, but I can’t imagine another city pulling together the way that we did.


We’re a take a book/leave a book kind of city, and I love it.

Let’s be honest, there are so many more things that I love about this city… but you’re busy on your way to attend some Canada Day events, am I right, Canadians?


I’m proud to call myself a Calgarian.

Happy Canada Day.


Wherever you’re from, what do you love about your hometown?


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2 Responses to My Love Letter to Calgary

  1. Amanda July 1, 2015 at 8:21 pm #

    Ok, let’s call Glasgow my home town. 🙂

    I love the Solid Rock Cafe, Glasgow’s meeting point for metal heads enjoying a pint before heading to a gig at one of Glasgow’s many concert venues.

    I love the shopping. Glasgow was voted second best city in the UK for shopping (after London of course). Mostly I love the quirky, eclectic, hippy shops.

    My favourite part of Glasgow is Ashton Lane in the West End. Perfect for date night. It’s an old fashioned cobble stone lane with twinkling lights. Great patios in the summer, fantastic Indian restaurant, Ubiquitous Chip (incredible restaurant serving traditional Scottish Fayre), The Wee Pub (smallest pub in Glasgow and smallest pub I’ve ever seen), Jinty McGuinties (traditional Irish pub with fantastic live music most nights) and my favourite, the Grosvenor cinema! Small and cozy, you can take in your own bottle of wine and cuddle on a sofa at the back with your date.

    The music scene in Glasgow is incredible, I miss that a lot.

    Mostly I love the sense of humour.

    Great blog by the way, I really enjoy reading it. 🙂

    • Victoria Smith July 1, 2015 at 9:21 pm #

      Thanks Amanda! What great gems in Glasgow, hey? I’ll have to look some of these up next time we’re there. One of my Glasgow favourites is the Butterfly & Pig on Bath Street. I adore the food and that nothing matches. Such a cute little find and it’s where David and I had our first ‘proper’, off-the-island date. Sigh – when we were young…

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