The Piri-Piri Lexicon is the host of a great Multicultural Kids Blogs project called “Show me your neighbourhood around the world” and we at Glittering Muffins are excited to be a part of it. Different blogs are showcasing the city they live in and typically local things, simple things such as houses, a street, a market etc., so that everybody can travel the world and take in how different everyday things are throughout the world.
Just a few months ago we moved back to Calgary, also known as host town to the 1988 Winter Olympics and home to the Calgary Stampede and NHL’s Calgary Flames, but we stuck to the everyday stuff and not anything touristic to show what life in the Canadian west is like So come and join us on a little tour through our little piece of the “Heart of the New West”!
Calgary is the largest city in Alberta and third largest in all of Canada, close to the majestic Rocky Mountains. It also is somewhat of a phenomenon called “urban sprawl”, which means that it is very, very spread out. A little statistic that showcases that is, if you compare Calgary to New York: it has only 14% of its population, but covers 68% of its land area, so it does not feel like a city of more than a million people, but like many small towns that just happen to be all stuck together. It is also a very young city, only having been established in 1875, but has been growing leaps and bounds, a lot of it due to the strong oil and gas industry. Calgary is known to be a very open and friendly city, something that was shown very clearly in a very dire time.
Just three weeks after we arrived back here, a flood as had never been seen before hit good parts of central and southern Alberta, devastating parts of Calgary, situated along the Bow River, forcing 75000 people to be evacuated. Shortly after the city placed a call for volunteers and they were expecting 500 people to show up – instead more than 2500 showed up. Many people placed ads on Kijiji and Craiglist, offering rooms to people displaced by the floods.
Another very, eh, interesting thing about Calgary is the climate. We have a very dry climate, which makes both heat and cold a lot more bearable than in the higher humidity areas along the coast, but there is something unique around here, which especially comes through in winter: The Chinook. No, you can’t eat it, but it is a warm wind coming down from the Rockies, bringing us up to 15 degrees Celsius (59 Fahrenheit for our US based readers) in the middle of winter, bringing some respite from the at times bone chilling cold (with wind chill it can go below -40 degrees, which is the same in Celsius and Fahrenheit) and on the other side also headaches, if you are susceptible to weather changes. Speaking of those, there is a saying here that if you do not like the weather in Calgary, just wait five minutes and it will change and despite some light exaggeration here, it can change on a whim. But hey, keeps you on your toes, right?
But now you probably are eager to see more of what it looks like around here, right? So let’s dig in!
There are no really typical houses around here, the styles depend on the age of the neighbourhoods you are in. Due to the character of the city, you will mostly find single houses, townhouses and multiplexes, with apartment and condo complexes sprouting here and there, but being in the minority.
Calgary’s street are mostly based on a grid system, with four quadrants (NE, NW, SE and SW), with streets going north to south and avenues going east to west. There are several big arteries connecting the different corners, we live in a quiet area (left photo) close to Deerfoot Trail (right photo), which is one of the two main arteries dissecting Calgary, this particular one from north to south.
This is Nico’s favourite playground. It has some swings off to the right, but the main part is like a course, where you can go around the whole thing without touching the ground even once.
There is a whole bunch of schools and daycares around as well. The schools look pretty much the same, while the daycare here is one of the biggest we have around. Interesting story surrounding it, the day after I took that photo, the police showed up at our place because of me taking a picture. I managed to convince them that it was for a blog post about neighbourhoods, but it surely was a very different evening visit…
Calgary has an excellent network of public transportation, with buses, a light rail transit system and quite intricate pedestrian overpasses, as on the right photo, which are designed to avoid people walk across a high-traffic road.
We have a wide variety of stores around here, Canadian Tire is a retailer that mostly specializes in automotive parts, gas and tools, The Real Canadian Superstore is a very big store with mostly groceries, but also pharmacy, clothing and some housewares and Petro Canada is, well, a gas station
We also have a bunch of churches, but due to the age of Calgary (or lack thereof), we do not have any traditional looking ones (in the European sense), but most of them you will only be able to identify by the cross.
Canada Post is responsible for the mail delivery, here is a photo of a distribution center and also our mailboxes, which have postal codes printed all over them.
Husky is a chain of gas station and restaurants across Canada, which mostly caters to truckers with large parkings, showers and more, and all of them have these huge Canadian flags, which are about the biggest ones you’ll find around.
So I hope that you enjoyed your trip to Calgary, affectionately known as Cowtown, and our neighbourhood. If you have any questions, we’d love to hear them