Calgary Facts

Overview

Calgary sits in the sunny eastern foothills of Canada’s Rocky Mountains, where the Bow and Elbow rivers meet.

It is the major urban centre for the entire southern half of the province of Alberta, and is surrounded by an area of profound beauty with an unspoiled, resource-rich natural environment.

Facts

Check out these Calgary facts:

  • Calgary is 848 square kilometres in size, or 327 square miles
  • It sits at an elevation of 1,048 metres (3,438 feet) above sea level
  • Calgarians enjoy more days of sunshine than any other major Canadian city
  • Calgary is in an economic region that’s home to more than 1.4 million people 
  • Our citizens are young: the median age is just 36 years
  • We are diverse: nearly 25 per cent of Calgarians are foreign-born, and there are close to 120 languages spoken in the city
  • We are community-minded: 55 per cent of Albertans volunteer compared to the national average of 47 per cent
  • We are the business and financial centre of western Canada, and the strongest economy in the entire country
Back To Top ▲

Weather

Overview

Calgary is a mountain-high city, and the climate - directly related to the altitude - is dry. Temperatures are mild, especially when compared to most of Canada, and even when it’s cold, it’s usually sunny. 

In fact, the sun shines an average of 2,300 hours every year, making Calgary the sunniest major city in the country.

But Calgary weather is definitely unpredictable.

Photo: Creative Commons Overlooking from Cougar Ridge by Michael Gil. Used under CC from Flickr.

Seasons

In the summer, the skies are generally blue and temperatures can soar into the low 30s Celsius. It almost always cools off comfortably at night. Autumn can be long and magnificent; spring is a celebration because it seems to take forever to arrive, and winter is usually pleasant by Canadian standards, with temperatures staying in the deep freeze for only a few weeks of the year.

The most distinctive characteristic of a Calgary winter is the Chinook: a warm, moist wind from the Pacific Ocean that can raise the temperature by as much as 15 degrees in a few hours. When the dark Chinook arch appears in the western sky, the warm wind is about to blow in.That means that one day you might be wearing your winter jacket, the next, a short-sleeved shirt and shorts.

Photo: Creative Commons Overlooking from Cougar Ridge by Michael Gil. Used under CC from Flickr.

Weather Facts

Summer Temperature (June – Aug.)
Daily Average: 15.2C (59.4F)
Daily Maximum: 21.9C (71.4F)

Winter Temperature (Dec. – Feb.)
Daily average: -7.5C (18.5F)
Daily maximum: -1.4C (29.5F)

Precipitation
Rainfall per year is 321mm (12.6 inches)
Snowfall per year is 127cm (50 inches)

Source: Environment Canada
Back To Top ▲

History

Fort Calgary

Calgary’s natural setting, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, was a region of natural appeal to the traders, farmers, ranchers and visionaries who settled this country.

By the mid-19th century, the Dominion of Canada was taking shape, and started looking to solidify the new nation’s claim to the rich foothills plains.

In 1875, the central government in Ottawa sent a 50-member detachment of the Northwest Mounted Police - the forerunner of Canada’s famous red-coated Mounties - to bring the rule of law to the wide-open territory.

The police built a fort in present-day Calgary, at the junction of the Bow and Elbow rivers. Police Commissioner James Macleod, the troupe’s ranking officer, named it Fort Calgary after his family’s ancestral home in Scotland.

Photo: Creative Commons Fort Calgary Residence 2 by Thivierr. Year 2000 “replica” of the soldier’s residence originally built in 1888. Used under CC from Wikipedia. Desaturated from original.

Railway Brings Prosperity

In 1883, the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) arrived on its way to the Pacific Ocean. These nation-building steel rails linked Canada from ocean to ocean and assured Calgary’s future: in 1884 it was incorporated as a town.

At that time, Calgary made for an impressive western centre, with 30 major buildings, a newspaper and more than 1,000 residents. Within a decade, the population topped 6,000, enough to qualify for full city status.

The early 1900s were boom years for the city. Much of the character, values and spirit of today’s Calgary were established during this time.

For example, the first ‘wild west’ Calgary Stampede was staged in 1912. It’s grown into an annual celebration that today is known around the world.

Photo: Creative Commons Choo Choo by Phil Whitehouse. Heritage Park Historical Village in Calgary. Used under CC from Flickr. Desaturated from original.

The Little City Oil Built

In 1914, just before the outbreak of the First World War, huge reserves of oil were discovered just outside of town.

The world needed oil then, and Calgary had plenty. The little-city-that-oil-built became the place everyone wanted to come to. 

There have been a few economic bumps along the way, but for the most part, Calgary has flourished and thrived since then.

The city is the centre of Canada’s energy industry, and other sectors are gaining strength and international recognition as well.

Photo: Placement of the Armengol Sculptures “Family of Man”, Calgary, Alberta. July 1968.
Back To Top ▲

Demographics

Who is a Calgarian?

Calgary’s population is young, well educated, entrepreneurial, community minded, generous and well paid.

As individuals, Calgarians are family-focused, recreation lovers, that are committed to a healthy work-life balance. As citizens, Calgarians are enthusiastic supporters of community organizations: there are more volunteers in Alberta than the national average.

What is the top priority of most Calgarians? Sustaining this city’s superb quality of life. This means ensuring the economic, environmental, health and wellness, recreational, educational and social service advantages that Calgarians have today will be here in the future.

Photo: 2012 Calgary Folk Music Festival Beer Gardens at Prince's Island Park. Photo by Chris Tait.

Facts

People are coming here from around the world, particularly from the United Kingdom, China, India, the Philippines, the United States and Pakistan.

More than 313,880 Calgarians – that’s 26.2 per cent of the population – are immigrants, which ranks Calgary just behind Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver as the first choice for newcomers to Canada. 

Calgary is also the first choice of ‘second movers’: people who’ve immigrated to this country, settled and decided to re-locate after they’ve been here awhile.

Photo: 2012 Calgary Folk Music Festival Beer Gardens at Prince's Island Park. Photo by Chris Tait.

 

Back To Top ▲

Cost of Living

Overview

The reasonable cost of living in Calgary comes as a pleasant surprise to some people.

All things considered – including different forms of taxes, and the value received for taxes paid – it is better than many large North American cities.

The cost of living becomes even more manageable when low provincial taxes are factored in.

For example, personal income taxes and inheritance taxes in Alberta are among the lowest in the country. All Albertans have also had provincial health care insurance costs paid by the government since January 2009.

Another bonus – Alberta is the only province in Canada without a sales tax.

Consumer Price Index

In terms of the cost of goods and services, check out Statistics Canada’s Consumer Price Index to see how Calgary measures up against other Canadian cities:

Annual Consumer Price Index 

Back To Top ▲
What's happening in Calgary?