The History of Calgary, Alberta

city of calgary skyline

Calgary skyline. (Photo courtesy of the Huffington Post)


Canada Furnace is happy to have expanded into Alberta offering Calgary air conditioning services and furnace installations throughout the city. As part of our expansion, we are happy to provide a short history of the city of Calgary

The Building of Fort Calgary

In the year 1875, a detachment of the North West Mounted Police had the Fort Brisebois built. One of the members of the detachment persuades the rest to rename it Fort Calgary. It was the decision of Lieutenant Colonel James MacLeod to give the fort the name of Calgary from the Scottish stately home. The original idea of placing the fort was so the whiskey traders that through the area could be guarded and policed. Whiskey is still transported by the same old route where the Bow and Elbow Rivers meet. The Fort lent it’s to the city that quickly grew up around it. The main north to south route through the city is called the Macleod Trail. The excellent news is that whiskey is freely available to buy.

Town Growth Promoted by the Railway

Perhaps the little outpost would have stayed that size if the railway network had not been extended to it. That happened when the Canadian Pacific Line reached the outpost in 1883. The coming of the railway provides a great impetus for the expansion of a small outpost into a city, one of the busiest if not largest in the whole of Canada. Calgary became a stepping stone for migrants that wanted to go to other parts of the Western coast.

Destroyed by a Fire

calgary fire of 1886

Calgary fire of 1886. (Photo courtesy of CBC.ca)

In 1886 large parts of the town get burned down in the wake of a fire. People replace the wooden buildings with ones made of sandstone. At that point, it was unusual for so many buildings to be constructed of sandstone that Calgary earns the nickname of the “Sandstone City.”

A New City

With the coming of the railway, the population of Calgary grew enough for it to be made a city. Incorporation took place in 1894 by, which time the population had reached a total of 3,900.

Home to the Greatest Outside Show on Earth

Calgary was selected to be the venue of what became the Greatest Outside Show on Earth from 1912. The mastermind behind the event was one Guy Weadick who convinced the Big Four of Pat Burn, Archie McLean, A. E. Cross plus George Lane to back him. As the event grows, it gains its grander name after starting out as the Calgary Stampede.

Black Gold is Discovered

In the early months of 1914, some prospectors discovered oil in the Turner Valley. The outbreak of the First World War only a few months later puts a stop to further exploration. More oil was discovered in the early years of the 20s, yet the onset of the Great Depression after the Wall Street Crash of 1929 shuts the oil industry in the area down. A revival is ensured in 1947 when much greater quantities of oil are discovered. The revenue generated from the sale of black gold make Calgary the fastest growing city in Canada. The prosperity of the city grew even more quickly in the wake of the oil crisis of 1973 and the one that followed the Iranian Revolution of 1978.

A New Highway

The expanding city required a new highway. The Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1) was opened during 1962. This highway allows you to go from Crowchild Trail through to Moncton as soon as you have taken a left at 16 Avenue.

Arts and Learning in Calgary

The Glenbow Museum was completed in 1966, and it was built to house the massive art collection given to the people of Alberta by Eric Harvie. That also happened to be the same year that the University of Calgary became fully independent from the University of Alberta!.

The Husky Tower

Calgary Tower August 2007When it was constructed in 1968, the Husky Tower with its height of 191 meters was the tallest building in the entire city. It was later renamed the Calgary Tower. It stopped been the tallest structure in the city in 1984. After that, it had a gas cauldron fitted for the Winter Olympics of 1988.

A little closer to the ground a light railway system was opened during 1981.

The Recession of the Early 80s

Calgary could not be sheltered from recession forever. By 1982 unemployment rates had risen from 4% to 10%.

The Winter Olympics

Calgary Olympic Park

Canada Olympic Park in Calgary (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia.org)

In 1988 the city hosted the Winter Olympics, and the event was well received. It provided a tourist boost and also gave the city even better sporting facilities.