Posts tagged ‘alberta’

June 25, 2013

7 Reasons to Visit Calgary After the Floods

white hats in calgary

Calgarians are known for their community spirit, which has been on display since the disastrous flooding began in Alberta. ( file photo by Julia Pelish)

[Article and poem first published in on June 22, 2013]

From Beyond the Wake

Water, the menace,
knows no prejudice,
It slaloms, it stampedes,
A cavalry of catastrophe,
Brimming over with haste

Buck up in its face,
Flood back human grace,
A stoic swell,
A dam of pride
unbreakable by fate,
rising mountainous

from beyond the wake

When your friends are in trouble and you’re far away there’s only so much support you are able to give. With CalgaryCanmore and so many other Alberta communities in grief, we wanted to do what we can at to help. We are trying to ignite a Kickstarter campaign that will complement the Red Cross efforts to aid flood victims in need of financial assistance. But Kickstarter is only based in the United States and requires compliance with American tax law, so we are searching for colleagues south of the border to assist in getting it started. (Email us if you or someone you know can help.) Hey, if Gawker can raise $200,000 for a video of a fat mayor (allegedly) smoking from a crack pipe, there has to be enough human decency to raise the equivalent amount to help good people in need.

In the meantime, as we observe the historic flood and the damage it has done to this marvellous city and its neighbours, I wanted to list the great many things to celebrate about Calgary and southern Alberta. It’s a reminder of why you should visit, once the water has receded and the restoration has begun.

1. The People

When you first hear the term “Western Hospitality,” it’s easy to think it’s a marketing ploy. If you’re a journalist, you will even be keen to disprove the term or at least scrutinize its claim. Travel to Calgary a few times and you realize Western Hospitality is real and it’s real because the people of the city take the idea of welcoming visitors to heart. No city of 1 million people can match Calgary’s level of friendliness and gracious spirit.

2. The Calgary Stampede

Few massive events live up to their hype the way the Stampede does. It is everything you would expect from a giant, two-week-long celebration — and then some, as the free pancake breakfasts, early-morning cocktail parties and late-night music concerts combine to bombard you with incentives to come back. The Stampede is the highest-grossing festival in Canada, bringing in more than $170 million in economic activity each year. Its importance to the community is immense and why everything possible will be done to salvage it this year. [See 2012 Calgary Stampede coverage on]

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August 13, 2012

Paul Brandt talks travel and songwriting

[I had a quick chat with Paul Brandt, one of the truly good guys in music world, for inclusion in the Rock n Roll Road Trips series is producing. Brandt, whose new album is out this fall, talks about how travel informs his songwriting and names his favourite road-trip song of all time. The interview took place during the 100th Calgary Stampede, where he headlined the Grandstand Show each night. This article and video first appeared on]

CALGARY, ALBERTA — In “Alberta Bound,” Paul Brandt sings about the province’s “black fertile ground” and “big, blue sky” in an ode to the beauty of his home. The tune could be a contemporary anthem for Alberta, one that would fit hand-in-hand with Ian Tyson’s “Four Strong Winds.” For the songwriter, though, “Alberta Bound” is a travel song. Brandt notes that its lyrics held significance for him while he was away from Calgary, touring the world and living in Nashville for almost 10 years.

During an interview with last month, Brandt called “Alberta Bound” a song “that has defined my career in a lot of ways.” Its inspiration came from the drives he would make during the Christmas holidays, travelling from Nashville back to Calgary.

“The seeds for that song were planted during that time. We would always hit the Sweet Grass sign at the Montana border and we knew we were getting close to home and that made it into the song,” Brandt says, noting the song’s opening lyric that speaks of being 40 miles from Canada, a sentiment reminiscent of many road-trip tunes from this country, including “Last American Exit” by the Tragically Hip and “Coming Home” from City and Colour.

Recently, Brandt’s work has kept him home, to his delight. He headlined the “Century” Grandstand Show at the 100th Calgary Stampede, teaming with a roster of international entertainers to thrill attendees with theatrics and song. With that undertaking complete, he returns to recording and touring. His new album “Just As I Am” is due out in the fall and a cross-Canada tour will follow its release.

The country music superstar rose to prominence in 1996, earning Top New Male Artist of the Year honours at the CMT Awards. He has racked up eight Juno Awards during his career and has received more accolades than any male Canadian country singer — and he only recently turned 40. Brandt’s success has taken him around the world and also led him right back to where he started.

An avid fisherman and marathon runner, Brandt revels in the many outdoor activities that Albertans enjoy, whether it be hiking the Rocky Mountains or taking in the scenic trails around the province. He and his wife, Elizabeth Peterson, chose to raise their family in Canada rather than Tennessee, which is why they returned north.

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April 22, 2012

Animal care and the Calgary Stampede Ranch


Dr. Greg Evans takes care of champion Grated Coconut and other animals on the Calgary Stampede Ranch. (Julia Pelish photo)

[First published on]

HANNA, ALBERTA — Dr. Greg Evans pats Grated Coconut on the neck and nods. “This is the Wayne Gretzky of rodeo,” says the veterinarian who works at the Calgary Stampede Ranch, a 22,000-acre property that sprawls across the golden fields of southern Alberta and is home to 500 of the finest horses on the continent. Evans is in charge of taking care of Grated Coconut, a six-time world champion bucking stallion, and the other animals on the ranch, which sends the bulls, bucking broncos, chuckwagon-race thoroughbreds and other animals to the rodeo each year.

As Evans pets Grated Coconut, he marvels at the horse’s disposition. “You can’t go up to most bucking horses like this, especially ones that compete at the level that Grated Coconut did. But this one is special.”

Grated Coconut was retired in 2010 at a special ceremony. At 15, he will spend the rest of his life roaming the pasture near Drumheller in Alberta’s Badlands, breeding with several mares on the ranch and being spoiled with some of the best animal healthcare around. It’s star treatment that is well deserved for the thrills the horse brought to rodeo fans.

“I’m not exaggerating when I say the animals here get better care than many people’s children,” says Evans.

Whether it’s top-of-the-line medicine or even therapeutic massages, the horses and bulls receive it if the vets think they need it. Some even find a home away from the ranch. Champion bull rider Scott Schiffner now keeps two of the animals that he once rode to big paydays on his property. They’re so docile in retirement, he says, that his four-year-old daughter feeds them.

Despite such examples of adoration, the Stampede attracts heavy scrutiny each year from animal-rights groups. Last year, two horses died despite rules changes implemented to reduce risk of catastrophic injuries. In 2010, six horses were put down and more than 50 have perished since 1986, mostly in the chuckwagon races, which feature teams of horses leading conestoga-style wagons around the track at Stampede Park in a mayhem of hoofs, reins, and “yahs.” Tie-down roping, also known as calf roping, has fallen under even greater criticism because of what opponents say is the torment imposed on the animals.

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