What You Need To Know

Calgary is a city in the Canadian province of Alberta. It is situated at the confluence of the Bow River and the Elbow River in the south of the province, in an area of foothills and prairie, about 80 km (50 mi) east of the front ranges of the Canadian Rockies.
The sophisticated city that grew out of the Canadian West, Calgary balances the modern and the traditional with pioneer charm. For the full western experience, show up in time for the annual Calgary Stampede, complete with rodeos. Year-round you’ll find abundant shopping, dining and nightlife; a short drive away are some of Canada’s finest national parks.

Area:825.3 km²
Population:1.097 million (2011)


  • Officially it’s “the Canadian Dollar,” but you can call it the “loonie” (because of the loon depicted on our one-dollar coin). The two-dollar coin is a “toonie,” of course.
    Many venues accept American dollars. The loonie generally trades a little lower than the greenback, but check exchange rates for current information.
  • A 5{c11451bc0505b6b86f3aa68f18543f8dad1e4f6983db7945377e723a33837d62} Goods and Services Tax (GST) is applied to most purchases including restaurant meals, transportation, lodging, and admissions. Additionally, a 4{c11451bc0505b6b86f3aa68f18543f8dad1e4f6983db7945377e723a33837d62} lodging tax is applied to rooms. On the bright side, Alberta is the only province without a provincial sales tax.


Pack sunglasses. Summers are warm and dry, and even in winter Calgary has more hours of sunshine than any other major city in Canada. The famous “Chinook” (a mild westerly wind) brings a balmy, festive atmosphere to the city several times each winter.

Winters are typically clear and, on any given week, can be cold (lows reaching below -30°C) or mild (highs above 10°C) – and everything in between. Mercifully, cold snaps rarely last more than a week before warmer weather takes over. The weather changes fast from day to day and hour to hour, so come prepared for anything.

Summers are glorious with big blue skies and highs typically in the low-to-mid- twenties, occasionally surpassing 30°C. Evenings are cool and pleasant. Summer days are long – by late June the sun doesn’t set until nearly 10:00 pm.

Falls are short with the first frost typically coming in mid-September. The snow flies as early as September, but generally doesn’t stay on the ground until November.

Most of Calgary’s precipitation comes in the spring – sometimes as rain and sometimes as snow. Snow dumps in early May are not unusual (spring skiing, anyone?) but mild weather is rarely more than a day or two away.


It shows 70 per cent of Calgarians claim English as their first language, only one per cent speak French, and the rest speak a mix of immigrant languages. Based on Calgary’s 2011 population of 1,214,839, English is the mother tongue for 70 per cent.

Health and security

  • Alberta hospitals will not refuse treatment to those requiring care, regardless of their financial status or health care coverage. However, to avoid incurring costs of an emergency healthcare visit, all visitors planning a trip to Canada should ensure they have adequate coverage from their home healthcare provider.
    Visitors to Canada should obtain travelers’ health insurance before leaving home. Most health insurance coverage does not extend outside the country of residence. Visitors requiring prescription medication should bring a copy of the prescription for renewal in Canada.

    Emergency Services: 911 (City of Calgary only) – Fire, Police, Ambulance, Hazardous Materials Spills
    Non-Emergency Ambulance: (403) 261-4000
    Non-Emergency Police Service: (403) 266-1234.
    Although healthcare is good, Calgary’s breakneck growth means you may find it difficult to get a family doctor when you first arrive in Calgary – there is a shortage.


  • if you are going to venture out into the wild, please take all possible precautions to stay safe.
  • It seems that there are more traffic jams and accidents when the snow invade the city. And it is impossible to have a taxi! The lines of all taxi companies are all busy and it can last 1/2 or even 1 hour to reach one. So, an advice, call really in advance to be sure to have one, because waiting on the street to catch one under the snow is not that evident!
  • More a warning for the heavy footers driving around Calgary. There are quite a lot of cops patroling the city (day and night) so it’s better to go the speed limit. If you don’t get pulled over, chances are that you might be a candidate for photo radars


  • One of Calgary’s main attractions is that you can have the city nightlife and also take advantage of the chance of a lifetime to visit the Canadian Rocky Mountains. These mountains are actually visible from the city.
  • If you fly to Calgary for business, try to get in a day early or stay a day later, and give yourself enough time to take the 90 minute drive into Banff in the mountains West of the city of Calgary. Banff is a quant little town surrounded by majestic mountains and great views everywhere. There are a number of lodges and hotels in the mountains that could make for a relxing night away from the bustling cities or madness of the metropolitan.