History of Calgary
Calgary is an ancient city found in Canada’s Alberta Province. It’s situated to the south of Alberta, where Elbow River and Bow River converge. The area has both foothills and prairie, and is approximately 80km from the Canadian Rockies. Calgary is Alberta’s largest city, the 3rd largest municipality and also the 5th largest CMA (Census Metropolitan Area) in Canada.
The ancient city was named after Scotland’s Isle of Mull. The name was coined from two words kald and gart, which mean cold and garden respectively. It was coined by Vikings, the original inhabitants of the Inner Hebrides. In Gaelic, Calgary means bay farm or clear running water. The original inhabitants of Calgary area were the pre-clovis people (approximately 11, 000 years ago). Before Europeans arrived in the area, it was occupied by the Blackfoot, Tsuu Tina, Blood and Peigan people, who were all classified under the Blackfoot Confederacy.
In 1787, David Thomson, a cartographer, spent winter season in that area, specifically along River Bow. He was a trader affiliated with Hudson’s Bay Company, and is remembered as the first European to ever set foot in Calgary. In 1873, John Glenn travelled to the area and officially became the first permanent European settler. The settlement site was later converted into a post for the NWMP (North West Mounted Police). In 1875, it was assigned to prevent the invasion of western plains by whisky traders from the US, and also to protect the interests of fur traders. Its original name was Fort Brisebois, named after a distinguished NWMP officer. In 1876, Colonel James Macleod changed the name to Fort Calgary.
Construction of a railway station began in 1883 when the CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway) got to that area, which contributed to rapid transformation (of Calgary) into a busy agricultural and commercial center. In 1996, the headquarters of Canadian Pacific Railway was shifted from Montreal to Calgary. The area officially became a town in the year 1884, which led to the election of Gorge Murdoch as the town’s first mayor. Ten years later (in 1894), it officially became a city.
On 7th November 1886, the infamous Calgary Fire occurred. It led to the destruction of property worth approximately US$ 103, 200 (which was a substantial amount then) as well as destruction of 14 buildings. Luckily, there were no injuries or fatalities. Consequently, city officials proposed a law which made it mandatory for all large buildings to be constructed using paskapoo sandstone. Transformation into a center of meatpacking industries and cattle marketing.
When the CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway) arrived in Calgary, the Dominion Government officially began leasing out land for grazing at an annual cost of 1 cent/ acre. The government policy resulted in establishment of large ranching operations. Calgary (which had already become a center of transportation and distribution) consequently transformed into a center of meatpacking industries and cattle marketing. Towards the end of 19th century, the HBC (Hudson’s Bay Company) rapidly expanded into more established and inner posts along the rivers, which later transformed into the modern-day Winnipeg, Edmonton and Calgary cities.
Oil, the precious commodity, was discovered in 1902. However, the industry started booming in 1947 when huge reserves were discovered in wells near Leduc. The oil boom significantly contributed to Calgary’s growth and expansion, especially after an embargo was placed on oil-producing Arabian countries. The oil boom was also responsible for fueling the exponential population growth in Calgary.
Since the energy sector had employed a large number of people in Calgary, the fallout due to economic slump that occurred in 1980s was substantial. It directly resulted to very high levels of unemployment. Fortunately, the economy started recovering towards the end of the 20th century. People in Calgary decided to stop over-reliance on the gas and oil industry, and decided to venture into other economic sectors. This period marked the city’s transition from a nondescript prairie and mid-sized city into a huge diverse and cosmopolitan hub culturally and economically.
The history of Calgary at a glance:
1787 – David Thompson first sets foot in the area.
1873 – Glenn John officially settles in Calgary.
1875 – Fort Brisebois is renamed Fort Calgary.
1882 – The first sawmill lands on River Bow.
1883 – Construction of a railway station commences after the CPR (Canadian Pacific Railway) reaches Calgary.
1884 – Calgary officially becomes a town. George Murdoch is elected as the first mayor.
1885 – Establishment of Calgary Police Service.
1886 – Occurrence of the Calgary Fire.
1888 – Establishment of an Anglican Diocese.
1891 – Official opening of Calgary & Edmonton Railway
1894 – Calgary becomes a city.
1900 – Establishment of Downtown East Village
1902 – Oil discovered in Alberta
1910 – Parkdale is annexed to Calgary City.
1910-1913 – Occurrence of a major economic boom
1912 – Calgary Stampede occurs
1915-1918 – Construction of the Mewata Armories
1929 – Canada’s great depression experienced.
1932-1933 – construction of the Glemore Dam
1947- Discovery of huge oil reserves.
1947- Establishment of Stampede Wrestling
1973 – Rapid economic growth attributed to the oil embargo placed on Arab countries.
1988 – Hosting of the Winter’s Olympics.
1996 – Headquarters of Canadian Pacific Railway shifted to Calgary (from Montreal)
1997- Occurrence of Calgary Declaration
1999 – Occurrence of the Hub Oil explosion
2002 – G8 protests
2005 – The Imperial Oil shifts its headquarters to Calgary (from Toronto).
2007 – Population grows to 1.02 million people
2010 – Construction of the Centennial Place ends.
2013 – Occurrence of widespread floods that displace 75, 000 people
2014 – Population grows to 1.419 million people.