Living in Calgary
Calgary is a diverse and prosperous city in the province of Alberta. It sits in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, where the Bow and Elbow rivers meet. It offers fresh air, open spaces, parks and pathways, and mountains and rivers.
Calgary enjoys more days of sunshine than any other major Canadian city and is less than an hour’s drive from the majestic Rockies.
A number of immigrants are attracted to Calgary, because of the low tax rate, strong oil and gas and agriculture industries and above all, the lifestyle it offers.
Population of Calgary
In 2019, Calgary’s population was estimated at 1,512,539. This includes the population of the City of Calgary and its suburban areas.
Calgary is the third-most ethnically diverse city in all of Canada; with over 200 ethnic origins. It has one of the highest visible minority rates in Canada, behind only Toronto and Vancouver.
Most Calgary residents are of European origin. In 2011, this group accounted for 64.5 percent of the city’s population. Calgarian ancestors hail from England, Scotland, Germany, Ireland and France and make up a large percentage of the population. That being said, the city is host to a broad range of other ethnic minority groups.
5.6 percent of Calgary’s total labour force is visible minorities with Chinese, South Asian, Filipino and Arab/West Asian being the largest individual ethnic groups (2006).
26.2 percent of Calgarians identify themselves as immigrants, and 28.1 percent are included in a visible minority group. (2011)
The city is recognized as the capital of the Canadian oil and gas industry. It is home to many of Canada’s oil and gas producers and is the decision-making hub and head office location of every energy company doing business in this country. As well, Calgary is becoming a global energy centre, with companies and organizations working in alternative energies, green power and environmental technologies. Many financial businesses have grown up around these energy companies. Small business and self-employment levels also rank among the highest in Canada.
Some large employers with Calgary head offices include Canada Safeway Limited, Westfair Foods Ltd., Suncor Energy, Agrium, Flint Energy Services Ltd., Shaw Communication, and Canadian Pacific Railway. Canada’s second-biggest airline, WestJet, is headquartered close to the Calgary International Airport.
The city has also invested in energy-related areas such as high-tech manufacturing and tourism and is known for its famed Calgary Stampede and cowboy culture.
Close to the Rocky Mountains, Calgary experiences a dry, humid continental climate, with long, cold, dry, but variable winters, and short, moderately warm summers.
The city is among the sunniest in Canada however, with an average of 332.9 days every year. Even on cold, snowy days, you may still feel warmed by the sun.
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Hope everyone has been enjoying Canada Day! 🇨🇦 We have a fantastic line up this year to help continue the celebrations, starting at 6:30 p.m. on the @timhortons Canada Day Stage at the Harry Hays Building. The lineup this year: Franco-Albertan band Post Script @postscriptmusic The folk rock sounds of Edmonton band Captain Tractor The pop of Calgary-based Ghostkeeper @stevenpage (formerly of Barenaked Ladies) Fireworks are scheduled for 11 p.m. on the Centre Street Bridge. We are keeping a close eye on the weather, and the storm is predicted to pass. If the weather affects the fireworks, we will post an update on our channels. #OCanadaYYC #CanadaDay2019 _ _ _ #thingstodoincalgary #calgaryevents #getmovingyyc #calgaryarts #thingstodoinyyc #yycevent #yycevents #yycrecreation #yycliving #canadaday
The average temperature in Calgary ranges from a January daily average of −8.9 °C to a July daily average of 16.2 °C.
The chinook is a distinctive characteristic of the Calgary winters which can be uncomfortably cold sometimes. The Chinook is a warm, moist wind from the Pacific Ocean that may raise the temperature by as much as 15 degrees in a few hours.
Calgary Transit offers public transportation services across the city with buses, shuttle buses and light rail (C-Train). The light rail network is the backbone of the system and consists of four lines on 58.2 km of track. It is free downtown – simply hop on at any stop along 7 Ave. As long as you get off the train before leaving downtown, no fare is required.
You can purchase one-way tickets can directly from bus drivers, vending machines at LRT platforms and stations, and from selected vendors. The fare is a flat rate and one fare will get you to any destination in the city.
Calgary International Airport (YYC), in the city’s northeast, is a transportation hub for much of central and western Canada. In 2010, it was the fourth busiest airport in Canada by passenger movement, and third busiest by aircraft movements.
The city’s presence on the Trans-Canada Highway and the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) mainline also make it an important hub for freight.
Calgary also offers a network of shared and multi-use (bicycle, walking, rollerblading, etc.) paths spanning over 800 km.
The city uses a numbered street system laid out on a grid; streets run north-south, while avenues run east-west. The numbers radiate outwards from the city centre. However, you may find some roads in residential areas as well as freeways and expressways that are not numbered. In that case, non-numbered streets within a new community will have the same name prefix as the community so that streets can be located more easily within the city.
For information on driving in Alberta and how to get a licence, see Driving.
Places of worship
In keeping with the multi-cultural makeup of Calgary, the city is home to a number of faith communities. To find out about different places of worship in Calgary, click here.
Pre-arrival settlement and employment services
There are many settlement and employment services in Calgary to help newcomers:
- Find a place to live
- Apply for benefits
- Find a family doctor
- Find a job.
Click here for more information about settlement services in Calgary.
Renting or Buying a Home in Calgary
Finding a home in Calgary shouldn’t be too difficult, as there are plenty of options, and purchase costs are less than in larger cities like Vancouver or Toronto. Interestingly, rental costs are quite high compared to other Canadian cities.
To find rental apartments and learn about the average cost to rent an apartment in Calgary, check out Rentals for Newcomers.
To learn the average cost of homes in Calgary, check out the Calgary Real Estate Board real estate trends.
Calgary has four major adult acute care hospitals and one major pediatric acute care site: the Alberta Children’s Hospital, the Foothills Medical Centre, the Peter Lougheed Centre, the Rockyview General Hospital and the South Health Campus.
Calgary is also home to the leading cancer centre in Alberta, the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. The four largest Calgary hospitals have a combined total of more than 2,100 beds and employ over 11,500 people.
In addition to these centres, you will find many other care centres, as well as hundreds of smaller medical and dental clinics operating in the city.
One of the first steps you need to take after arriving in Calgary is finding a family doctor or specialist who has experience with a specific condition.
The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta provides a very handy online search tool that you can use to find a doctor in Calgary.
If you are unable to find a family doctor, you can go to one of many general non-emergency walk-in clinics in the city and also register with the Primary Care Network for Calgary for assistance.
Calgary offers a wealth of options when it comes to schools in the city: public, Catholic, francophone, bilingual, language immersion, private, charter, religious, sports-focused, arts-focused, music-focused, science-focused.
The city offers as well child care and pre-school options. If you have a lower income, you may be eligible for some government help to cover the costs of childcare.
To find Calgary daycares, pre-schools, family day homes, out-of-school care or group family child care, the government has a great child care search tool.
As home to more immigrants than any other community in Alberta, Calgary offers many English as a second language (ESL) schools in the city. Most immigrant-serving centres and organizations also provide ESL classes, while there are programs in place for younger students within both the public and Catholic school systems.
The Calgary Public Library is the city’s public library network, with seventeen branches loaning books, e-books, CDs, DVDs, Blu-rays, audiobooks, and more.
Calgary is the site of the Southern Alberta Jubilee Auditorium performing arts, culture and community facility, which is the resident home of the Alberta Ballet Company, the Calgary Opera and a number of other cultural ceremonies. The city is also home to a number of theatre companies.
Calgary hosts a number of annual festivals and events, such as the Calgary International Film Festival, the Calgary Folk Music Festival, the Greek Festival, Wordfest: Banff Calgary International Writers Festival, Expo Latino, Calgary Pride, and many other cultural and ethnic festivals. The city has a number of multicultural areas where you can find a variety of ethnic restaurants and stores.
The city is best known for the Calgary Stampede, which is an annual event occurring each July since 1912. It is one of Canada’s largest festivals, with over 1 million people visiting it every year.
Due to its proximity to the Rocky Mountains, the city has traditionally been a popular destination for winter sports. And after hosting the 1988 Winter Olympics, Calgary has also welcomed a number of major winter sporting facilities such as Canada Olympic Park and the Olympic Oval.
The city also has many urban parks including Fish Creek Provincial Park; Bowness Park, Edworthy Park, the Inglewood Bird Sanctuary, Confederation Park, Prince’s Island Park, and Nose Hill Park, which is the largest municipal park in Canada.