Alberta is the province that lies on the east of the Rockies, with parts of the Rockies being in Alberta, including the towns of Banff and Jasper.
Alberta is the oil state in Canada, with mining and oil, oil sands (Shale Oil), gas, refining bringing lots of wealth to the province. The price of oil fell in 2015 and this had a big effect on the economy here. Alberta's other main industries are tourism, agriculture and cattle, with Calgary best known for the Calgary Stampede that is held here each year at the beginning of July.
While most tourists will come to see the Rockies and ski in the winter or experience the beauty of the Rockies in the spring, summer and fall months, visiting Banff and Jasper, many will also come to Calgary to experience 'Cowtown' Calgary and its western hospitality and atmosphere.
Edmonton is the capital of Alberta and the most northerly big city in Canada, with Edmonton roughly 280 kilometres (170 miles) north of Calgary. What is most striking about travelling across Canada through the Prairies is just how flat the countryside is – miles upon miles of flat plains and not much else.
The further north, or the higher in the mountains you travel, the colder it will be, and in winter most of Alberta will have days when temperatures fall below freezing. Summer temperatures are much more pleasant with days usually around 70⁰F + (20- 25⁰C) again depending on where in the Province you are.
Certainly the best time to come to Calgary is in the summer months and particularly in July for the Calgary Stampede – when the Rodeo riders, chuck wagon races, music and food bring the whole city to life. You need to book early to secure accommodation with Calgary making the claim that this is "the greatest outdoor event in the world". They may well be right!
The City of Calgary has a real western flavour, but is very much a modern Canadian City with high rise buildings, under cover shopping malls and around 1 million people living in the city.
In the early days, Alberta was the home of the Cree, Blackfoot and Chipewyan First Nations people who hunted buffalo on the plains, fished and trapped birds for food. The Hudson Bay Company (see History of Canada section on this website) in 1670 under a Royal Charter granted by Charles II of Britain claimed all of the river catchment areas that drained into Hudson Bay as being their land "Rupert's Land"– and this included much of the eastern side of today's Alberta.
Southern parts of Alberta were also for a time part of Louisiana – variously owned by French, Spanish and then Americans and Britain when in 1818, the 49th parallel was proclaimed as the border between British territory to the north of the border and United States territory to the south. Rupert's Land was then purchased from the Hudson Bay Company in 1870 and then Alberta became part of the North West Territories, before becoming a Province of Canada in 1903.
From the early days of fur trading, it was the desire to build the Canadian Pacific Railway that transformed Calgary into a rail town, and then from the days of horse and carts to the automobile and eventually with the building of the Trans-Canada Highway that passed through Calgary, creating a Highway that crosses over Canada from the east coast to the west coast. This is one of the longest highways in the world crossing over from St John's Newfoundland in the east to Victoria on Vancouver Island in the west. Believe it or not while construction began in 1950 it was only completed in 1962.
Today people fly into Calgary's International Airport (YYC) that is around 20 minutes from the City centre. There are taxis, shuttle buses and hire cars to take you to the City.
In the City centre, there is also a LRT (Light Rail Train) that runs along 7th Avenue.
Things to see in Calgary include –
One of the great pleasures of being in Canada is being outdoors in the summer months, though sometimes you may need to have an insect repellent for mosquitoes and black flies. The forest areas, lakes and wilderness areas are really quite special. One of the activities that you should also try if you can is fly fishing, and in winter ice-hole fishing – and one of the organisers of this can be found at www.icefishingalberta.com A day out with these guys will be a day to remember as special in your time here in Alberta.