Calgary, to most non-Calagarians, is Canada in a Stetson with a self-confident American swagger and a seemingly insatiable thirst for business, especially if it involves oil. But like most stereotypes, the truth is more complex. Shrugging off its image as the city other Canadians love to hate, and standing strong despite serious flooding that caused havoc in June 2013, Alberta’s largest metropolis continues to stride cool-headed toward the future with a thick skin and clear sense of its own destiny. Lest we forget, this is a city that hosted the highly successful 1988 Winter Olympics, produced Canada’s current prime minister (Stephen Harper), elected North America’s first Muslim mayor, and throws one of Canada’s biggest parties. The famous July Stampede is subtitled, with typical Calgarian immodesty, ‘the greatest outdoor show on earth.’
Overtaken sometimes by the pace of its own development, Calgary has often forsaken quality for quantity in the past, following a path more in tune with Dubai or Dallas than Austin or Portland, but there are signs that the trend may be changing. Community activists in emerging Calgary neighborhoods such as Inglewood and Kensington are finally waking up and smelling the single-origin home-roasted coffee, with new bars, boutiques, restaurants and entertainment venues exhibiting more color and experimentation. Before you know it, the city that to unaffiliated non-Calgarians has long served as an unloved and somewhat bland business center or a functional springboard for the wonders of Banff and the Rockies might actually become – ahem – interesting.