Embracing Calgary's Weather
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.
Check out these Calgary facts:
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.
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.
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)
Rainfall per year is 321mm (12.6 inches)
Snowfall per year is 127cm (50 inches)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Search by location, postal code or geographic code to view demographics:
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.
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: