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Calgary, nestled in the grasslands of Alberta at the foot of the Canadian Rockies, is famed for its Stampede Rodeo, fantastic winter sports, bountiful game hunting and fishing, tax-free shopping and, not least, for its fossil fuel reserves.

The city is home to a staggering 87% of Canada’s oil and natural gas producers as well as more than half the country’s coal producers. A hub for energy heavyweights such as Shell, BP and Suncor Energy, Calgary is second only to Toronto for boasting more head offices than any other Canadian city. The resulting affluence is evident in its world-class facilities, polished presentation—and spiralling cost of living.

The oil and gas boom has triggered considerable growth of the city’s population in recent years. This, in turn, has placed considerable pressure on the city’s infrastructure; evident in ramped up real estate prices and increasing traffic congestion.

Those who can comfortably afford Calgary’s lifestyle are in for a treat. Calgary is a delightfully pedestrian city, with several walkable and very trendy shopping districts. The city caters to almost every taste, from Kensington’s bohemian quarter to the chic boutiques and trendy cafes of Uptown 17th Avenue and Inglewood, or the superb shopping malls of Stephen Avenue Walk along 8 Avenue downtown.

Foodies will revel in Calgary’s cornucopia of farmers’ markets selling anything from vintage wines and cheeses to freshly baked pies and mouth-watering patisseries. The Calgary Farmers’ Market—the city’s most popular—is open all year. Crossroads is a year-round indoor/outdoor market just south of downtown, while Bearspaw and Millarville have markets just outside city limits.

For hunting and fishing enthusiasts, the Calgary region is second to none. Fly fishers and anglers flock to the Bow River for its mature stocks of brown trout and rainbow trout. Game hunters will find deer, elk, moose and black bear in the mountains and foothills around Calgary.

Outdoor lovers will revel in the whitewater sports, powder snow at Olympic Park, mountain biking, sport climbing and hiking. Meanwhile, those who prefer the indoors can lose themselves in a rich and varied selection of museums, galleries and fantastic libraries.

Calgary offers an abundance of year-round outdoor and indoor activities that make for a wonderful and richly rewarding lifestyle.

What is special or unique about your city? 

Calgary, Heart of the New West is a vibrant city that offers the best of all worlds—a cosmopolitan city of nearly one million with outstanding outdoor adventure and pristine wilderness only an hour away in the Canadian Rockies.

Nearly 5 million visitors each year find a wealth of cultural attractions, diverse and award-winning restaurants, parks and pathways, specialty shops and trendy night spots in Calgary. Our wide, blue sky and moderate climate beckons year-round outdoor enthusiasts to golf or hike, fish or mountain bike, ski or dog-sled.

Our parks offer some of the finest natural areas in North America, and our shopping is a paradise—we are the only province in Canada with no provincial sales tax. 

What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city? 

It is in the uncommon energy and its unique combination of adventure, spirit and western hospitality that makes Calgary and beyond the destination to visit and live. Calgary is home to a wealth of cultural attractions, festivals, parks and pathways, live performances, spa experiences and sights to see. Its moderate climate beckons outdoor enthusiasts with four-season adventure. 

Are these impressions likely to change?

Not likely. The relaxed lifestyle and sunshine is contagious and many visitors never want to leave. 

What is the local language?  

English is the dominant language of Calgary. However, as both English and French are the official languages of Canada, all federal government services are available in either language.

How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language?  

It is possible to live in Calgary and not know English, but you will find that majority of service providers and retailers speak English. It is recommended that you learn some basic English to avoid major challenges as well as be able to take advantage of everything that Calgary has to offer.

Weekly and daily newspapers are published in a variety of languages, and OMNI (local television station/channels) offer programs, news broadcasts and movies for different ethnic groups in their native languages. The Government of Canada provides free information in English, French and may also provide information in your own language.

If you are traveling in other areas of Canada, here are a few French words and/or phrases to help you:

English

French

Hello or Good Morning

Bonjour

Goodbye

Au revoir

How are you?

Comment allez vouz?

My name is…

Je m'appelle…

Thank you

Merci

No, thank you

Non, merci

Excuse me

Veuillez m’excuser

What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city?  

The best way to avoid offending residents of Calgary is to abide by the Alberta Human Rights & Citizenship Commission. This is the provincial law that provides everyone with equal rights and opportunities in specific areas such as jobs, housing and services. Please see the Useful Links section below for further information on this law.

Some tips to avoid offending residents of Calgary are:

  • Canadians usually hope that visitors will recognize how different their country is from the United States

  • Canadians quickly move to a first-name basis, although you should wait until you have been invited to do so

  • The order for Canadian names is first name, middle name and last name

  • A firm handshake makes a very good first impression

  • Keep a distance of several feet when talking to another person. Canadians like their personal space

  • Do not show emotion in public

  • It is okay to use the 'O.K.' sign and the 'thumbs up' sign, but the 'V' sign with the palm inward and pointing with your index finger are considered offensive

  • Holding doors open for the person behind you is appreciated and often expected

  • Being punctual should be a priority especially for business-related meetings. However, being 15 minutes late (and no later) for an evening social engagement is acceptable

  • Some professions allow for casual dress, but if you are not sure then dress on the formal side

  • Canadians in general do not wear any type of scent in a business setting. Perfume, aftershave and heavily scented personal care products such as shampoo and hair spray should be avoided

  • It is considered rude to speak in a foreign language in the presence of others who do not understand what is being said

  • If you see someone you know at a distance, a wave is an appropriate acknowledgement

  • People using ATM machines expect the next person waiting in line to stand a few feet behind them.

In Alberta, the Smoke-Free Places Act was passed on May 10, 2005 and became law on January 1, 2006. In its amended form, the act restricts smoking in any public place and workplace where minors are allowed. With the exception of the streets, you will find that smoking is restricted in most public places. In private homes, you should always ask permission from your host.

How might the local weather affect my daily life?

Weather-wise, summer days in Calgary are normally warm with high temperatures in June, July and August averaging 17°C to 23°C (63°F to 73°F). Evenings are cooler at about 7°C to 10°C (45°F to 50°F) because of Calgary's proximity to the mountains. A summer day in the mountains can be hot but the evenings are always cool.

Calgary sees its greatest amount of rain during the spring and summer. June and July are the city's wettest months with 70mm to 77mm of rain.

As for winter precipitation, the mountain areas near Calgary receive significant amounts of snow while Calgary itself normally sees only a moderate snowfall—less than 20 cm in December, January and February. Daytime temperatures during these winter months are normally at freezing point, while evening temperatures drop to 11°C to -15°C (52°F to 59°F).

Meanwhile, a unique phenomenon called a Chinook can transform Calgary from frosty to toasty in a matter of a day, even in winter. A Chinook is a warm, dry wind that blows down the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains, sometimes raising the temperature to more than 20°C (68°F).

Canada's seasons are:

Spring to Summer (March to September); This is a great time to be in Calgary when the days are warm and dry and the altitude provides cool evenings. Temperatures are always cooler in the mountains so if you seek relief from the heat, go hiking!

Autumn to Winter (September to March); Even with the beautiful blue skies, temperatures are known to drop below freezing with extreme wind chills. But, Chinooks (warm winds) are known to blow in, raising temperatures more than 20°C and turning wintery weather into spring skies.

The best way to cope with Canada’s changing weather is to be prepared.

Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people?  

Calgary is well known for its friendly hospitality and relaxed atmosphere. It is minutes from adventure and is clean and safe. 

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