Now is a great time to get outside and explore Calgary before the cold winter weather arrives! As part of the nation-wide initiative of Culture Days, On This Spot is featuring its Calgary content to celebrate the city’s history and identity. We have two self-guided walking tours available online and through the On This Spot app, each one focusing on a different aspect of Calgary’s unique story.
To learn about what was in this spot before Calgary existed and about the city’s early settlers, take our Life in Early Calgary walking tour. While settlers from far and wide came to settle in Calgary in the late 19th and 20th centuries, this land is where the Plains First Nations have lived, traded, and hunted bison for thousands of years. Modern Calgary officially began with the building of the North West Mounted Police fort in 1875. By 1883, the Canadian Pacific Railroad reached Calgary, connecting the area to the rest of Canada and the world. The arrival of the railway was a truly transformative event and brought with it a rush of immigrants from across Canada, Britain, and beyond. This walking tour, which includes six stops, takes us down 8th Avenue, which has been the heart of Calgary’s commercial district for 140 years. Using photos from the period, we will see what Calgary was like in those exciting days before the First World War and examine some of the reasons the city has become what it is today: a metropolis steeped in dreams of the West.
Our second Calgary walking tour dives into the history of the famous Calgary Stampede. Learn about the unique cast of characters who have shaped this event throughout the decades. Ranching life was the height of the Western aesthetic during Calgary’s early years. Roping, busting broncos, cowboy hats, and wrangling became how easterners and others outside of the prairies envisioned the ‘Wild West.’ The Calgary Stampede has become a preservation of cowboy life out on the prairies, imprinting a ‘Wild West’ past on a modern present. This five-stop tour begins in the northern part of the ENMAX Park, near the MacDonald Bridge over the Elbow River. From there it travels along Bellevue Avenue and Salisbury Avenue to Scotsman’s Hill.
All across Canada, there are hundreds of Culture Days events taking place this September and October, so stay tuned for more events near you and get exploring!