Posts tagged ‘calgary’

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. (Vacay.ca file photo by Julia Pelish)

[Article and poem first published in Vacay.ca 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 Vacay.ca 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 Vacay.ca]

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June 2, 2012

Why it’s hip to be in Calgary these days

hotel-arts-calgary

The blown-glass ceiling is a highlight of Hotel Arts in Calgary. (Julia Pelish photo)

[First published in Vacay.ca]

CALGARY, ALBERTA — Ryan Fairweather built a furnace in his backyard garage that heats up to 1,200 degrees Celsius — the same temperature as the corona of the sun. From it, he and his cohorts at Bee Kingdom make glassware that’s gained international attention (Elton John owns a piece, supporters of the company are quick to mention) and turned four guys from art school into magazine cover boys and trendsetters.

There’s lots of, um, buzz around Bee Kingdom and not necessarily because of its product. Although the glassware, made in the rear of the group’s tiny bungalow, is outstanding, the true intrigue about this collective is the fact they can even exist, and flourish, in a city known for a sensational amount of wealth and a vacuum of creativity.

“Being an artist in Calgary, we’ve really had to find our own way. We couldn’t graduate and find a prescribed path because there really wasn’t one. Everything we’re doing we’re kind of doing with trial and error. With that there’s been lots of obstacles, but lots of successes too. Because no one else is really doing what we’re doing, it’s been relatively easy to get some exposure,” Fairweather says, noting that Avenue, a glossy magazine that reports on the city, put Bee Kingdom on the cover and their trademark yellow Converse shoes have gained the attention of the likes of Naheed Nenshi, the popular, 40-year-old mayor who has become a symbol of Calgary’s newfound hipness.

This city of 1.1 million has grown by more than 20 per cent in the past six years as more Canadians from the east, who a generation ago would have stopped in Toronto for work, skip over the nation’s largest city for the draw of big paydays and security in Calgary. Until this year, though, there was little attention paid to Calgary’s efforts in using money made from the oil-and-gas industry — the source of plenty of Alberta’s wealth — to boosting the city’s image as an arts, music and dining hot spot. In 2012, Calgary is one of two Culture Capitals of Canada (Ontario’s Niagara Region is the other) and is receiving more than $3 million in funding from federal, provincial and municipal governments as well as the private sector.

When I ask how the arts scene has changed during her career, Anne Ewen, the Art Gallery of Calgary’s director, says without missing a beat: “There is one.”

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