Calgary: A Quick Reference Guide

timmysstampede

Welcome to Calgary! To help you get settled in, here is a quick reference guide to the city. From local sports teams to city wide celebrations, here is everything you need to know.

1) Local Hockey Teams

Hockey is huge in Canada, and Calgary is no exception! The local team for the NHL (National Hockey League) is the Calgary Flames. During playoff season you will hear locals talk of the “Red Mile”. This is a giant,  unofficially organized party that occurs on 17th avenue, typically after home games at the Saddledome, which is located nearby. This party can be VERY rowdy, and is not for the faint of heart!
 
The other local hockey team, in the Western Hockey League, is the Calgary Hitman. 
 

2) Stampede – The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth! 

 
The Calgary Stampede is a week long carnival and rodeo that runs every year at the beginning of July.  Many downtown businesses shut down for the week, as the mass of Stampede goers can make commuting difficult, especially on Parade Day.  Nearly everyone in the city gets into the “stampede mood”, so don’t be shy! Grab your friends, family and cowboy hat and join in the fun! 
 

3) Tim Horton’s – A National Treasure.

If you are moving from another part of Canada you will already be familiar with Canada’s love affair with Tim Horton’s. For those of you coming from farther abroad, let me explain. Tim Horton was a famous hockey player, who opened his first coffee and donut shop in 1964 in Hamilton Ontario. To many Canadians, Tim Hortons is more than just a coffee shop. It occupies a unique place in the Canadian psyche, and is seen as being quintessentially Canadian.   When Robb is travelling abroad, he always packs a sleeve of Tim Hortons coffee cups, just so he can spot his fellow Canadians.
 

4) Commuting 

Depending on where you work and where you live, you will likely have to commute. If you work downtown, your best bet is to use Calgary Transit, which covers both city buses and the LRT (Light Rail Transit) called the C Train. Parking downtown is both scarce and expensive. If you don’t work downtown, you may want to drive as transit becomes more spread out and less efficient the farther you are from the core (downtown). If you do end up driving, expect rush hour to last from about 7 am to 9 am, and from about 3:30pm to 6:00pm. During these times, it is best to avoid the Deerfoot. The Deerfoot, as Deerfoot Trail is called, is the major North-South road in Calgary. Normally traffic moves quickly on it, but during rush hour it often slows to a crawl.   Calgary is in the process of completing the final southwest leg of Stoney Trail, which is a ring road that encompasses the city.

A Quick Reference Guide to Viewing a Property

homeshowing

Here are some quick tips for when you are viewing a Property for Sale.  Your Real Estate Professional will also be helping you identify these amenities and possible red flags.

1) Look for signs of water damage, water, mould and/ or  signs of bugs or mice. This could manifest as buckled floors, water stains, and spongy walls. Open all the cupboard, and look for mice or insect droppings. Also be wary of any off putting odours, including over use of odour covering sprays or scented candles. The overuse of these products may be to hide something foul.
2) What is the neighbourhood like? Remember, you aren’t just buying a house, your are buying into a neighbourhood. If you have school age children you should look and see how close the nearest school is, and check out the community Center for children’s activities. How far will you, and your spouse, have to commute? How far is the nearest grocery store?  Check with the school board if your children are able to attend the schools.  Being near a school doesn’t necessarily mean your kids can attend.
3) What are the neighbours like? Are other houses on the street tidy and well maintained? What sort of demographic is the neighbourhood? A family with small children is more likely to want a quiet neighbourhood with other young families, where as a young couple may want something more urban, with better night life.
4) Is the property private? You don’t want to buy a house, only to realize your neighbours window looks right into your bathroom!
5) Check the layout, and make sure it is right for your family. A family with small kids is more likely to want all bedrooms on same floor. However, if you have teenagers, or are planning on using a bedroom as a home office, you will likely want those rooms on a different floor.
6) Check out the exterior too! Real estate photos don’t often show the entire property, so you want to take a walk around the houses exterior. Check for any signs of trouble, such as cracks in the foundation, water damage or sunken sections of ground.
7) Is the house light and airy? You want a house with nice “flow”, an open feeling layout which doesn’t feel cramped. Natural light is also a huge bonus! Not only will you feel better, but you will save on electricity by not needing to turn on so many lights.
8) Closets and storage are very important! Most people have at least a few items that need to be stored (holiday decorations, winter coats, etc.) Make sure the house matches your storage needs, and that the closets are large enough. This is especially true for children’s rooms, as closets often do double duty as toy chests.
9) Always Check around in the utility room.  Marijuana Grow Operations are common in Calgary and many have not ever been identified.  Check around the main power panel for signs of power lines being tampered with.  Check the water main feed before the meter to see if any changes have been done.  Look at the exhaust vents on the furnace and hot water tank to see if they have been altered with.  These things may not indicate a former grow operation, but will let you know if the home requires further inspection.

Five Calgary Attractions All Tourists (and Locals) Should Visit

Heritage Park's Gasoline Alley

Heritage Park’s Gasoline Alley

1) The Calgary Tower

Offering a 360 degree view of the entire city, the Calgary Tower is what makes our city’s skyline unique. Complete with breathtaking views (and a glass floor for the brave), this is a sight you can’t afford to miss! Finish your day with an elegant dinner at the Sky 360 restaurant, the famous rotating restaurant that completes one full rotation every hour.

2) Heritage Park

See how the West once was! This family friendly adventure lets you travel back in time with Canada’s largest living museum. Take a ride around the reservoir on the S.S. Moyie, hop aboard a steam locomotive and unwind at the old fashioned carnival. Experience history, and have fun! The park is open daily May 16 to September 8, and open weekends from September 8 to October 12. Hours of operation are 9:30 am to 5 pm. Couldn’t get a parking spot near the entrance? Ride the Tram right up to the gate!
Have a formal lunch at the Selkirk Grill or the dining room of the Wainwright Hotel. Looking for something more casual? Try Gunn’s Dairy Barn, the Railway Cafe, or the Club Cafe. Heritage Park is also open the 6 weekends before Christmas. Come celebrate the 12 Days of Christmas with sleigh rides, delicious baking and even a children’s Christmas market.

3) The Calgary Zoo

From the Antarctic to Africa, the Calgary Zoo hosts many different types of animals, including Penguins, Elephants, Gorillas and Giraffes. The Zoo is open year round, 9 am to 5 pm. Grab lunch at the Kitamba Cafe, or if you are looking for a picnic, grab some casual cuisine from one of the concession kiosks scattered throughout the grounds.

4) Spruce Meadows

A world class Show Jumping facility, Spruce Meadows is definitely worth a visit! Tournaments typically run February to October. Please visit http://www.sprucemeadows.com/tournaments/ for full details. Bring a picnic and make it a family outing. Spruce Meadows is perfect for the family on a budget, with tickets starting at $5 per person, and children under 12 and adults over 65 getting in free.

5) Calaway Park

Calaway Park is Western Canada’s largest outdoor amusement park, perfect for a hot summer’s day with the family. Located just 10 km west of Calgary, this attraction is only a short drive away, or bring your RV and spend the night! Park is open daily 10 am to 7 pm.

Unique (and Cheap) Date Ideas

Telus Spark at Night

– Grab your sweetheart and share an artisanal cone at Village Ice Cream (http://villageicecream.com/). Flavours include traditional favourites like chocolate and strawberry to unique, such as earl grey tea or cardamom. Expect a wait though, Village Ice Cream is always busy! Take your cone and stroll through Kensington for the full “Village” experience.
– Walk through Chinatown and visit the Chinese Cultural Center (http://www.culturalcentre.ca/). Explore the history of some of Calgary’s founders and see the unique mark they left on our city.  Stop for a snack at one of Chinatown’s mouthwatering bakeries (http://www.urbanspoon.com/nf/15/1408/100005/Calgary/Chinatown/Bakeries) and shop for unique items in the Dragon City Mall (http://chinatowncalgary.com/dragoncitymall/Map.html)
– Let your inner child run wild at Telus Spark! The second Thursday if ever month is Adults Only night at Telus Spark. Features lectures, as well as all regular exhibits. (http://m.sparkscience.ca/home/special-events/adults-only-nights/).
– catch a unique flick at the Globe Cinema (http://globecinema.ca/). Adult tickets are typically $10, but all tickets are $5 on Tuesdays.
– Pack a picnic and go for a walk in Fish Creek Provincial Park, Prince’s Island or Edworthy Park. These beautiful natural spaces allow you to get away from the bustle of the city and truly relax. And remember, if you want to feed the ducks or geese opt for birdseed over bread!
– Dinner at a fancy restaurant out of your price range? Why not just grab an appetizer or dessert! Some excellent restaurants include Corbeaux Bakehouse (http://www.corbeaux.com/#about) with its heavenly mousse, or Una’s Pizza and Wine (http://www.unapizzeria.com/) with its mouthwatering Stuffed Persian Dates.
– Take in an outdoor tournament at Spruce Meadows. Children under 12 and Seniors over 65 are free, all other ages are $5.
– Go on a date and grab some groceries for dinner at the Calgary Farmer’s Market. (http://www.calgaryfarmersmarket.ca/). Stumped for dinner ideas? Check out the “What’s In Season” section of the website for fun and free recipes.

Newcomer Resources in Calgary

Calgary's Centre For Newcomers

Calgary’s Centre For Newcomers

Welcome to Calgary! We are so glad you decided to move here to our wonderful city! To help you settle in, here is a list of newcomer resources located here in Calgary.

1) Immigrant Services Calgary offers a variety of resources including (but not limited to) Information and Orientation, Supportive Counselling, Referrals, Employment Support Services, Community Initiatives and Access Programs for Seniors and Civic Education/Citizen Classes. Services are offered in seventy different languages including Amharic, Arabic, Cantonese, Dari, Dinka, Farsi, French, German, Hindi, Korean, Oromo, Mandarin, Pashto, Polish, Punjabi, Russian, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Tigrigna, Urdu, Vietnamese, and Ukrainian.
 
For more information, please visit http://www.immigrantservicescalgary.ca/how-can-we-help/newcomer-support or call 403.265.1120. Walk- ins are welcome, but appointments are preferred. All services are free and confidential.
 
2) Center for Newcomers
 
The Center for Newcomers offers comprehensive 3 year program called “Newcomer Settlement”, which covers all of the basics of settling into Canadian culture. It aims to teach newcomers what services are available to them and their families in Canada, covering housing, schools, transportation, banking, employment and health care. It also helps newcomers learn the skill necessary for day-to-day life including dressing for the weather, English language classes, shopping for affordable goods, and getting to know your neighbours. It also covers the rights and responsibilities of new Canadians. A sister program, Children’s Settlement, is similar, and geared at New Canadians with children under 12. For more information, please visit www.centerfornewcomers.ca. To book an appointment, please call 403.569.3325 and specify your preferred language for service. Walk ins are welcome, but must wait until individuals with appointments have been served. 
 
3) Calgary Newcomer’s Club
 
The Calgary Newcomer’s Club is a volunteer run social club for women. This club aims to help women learn more about the city, and make friends and professional contacts. Membership costs $40 annually. To apply, please visit http://calgarynewcomersclub.com/membership/ and fill out the online application form. Questions can be directed at info@calgrynewcomersclub.com.
 
4) Welcome Centre for New Immigrants
 
Located at 3820 – 32nd Street NE, the Welcome Centre for New Immigrants is a community centre geared at new immigrants. This not-for-profit organization is a branch of the Calgary Immigrant Educational Society, and helps immigrants develop English language skills, computer skills and job hunting skills.  For more information, please visit  http://www.welcomeimmigrants-calgary.ca/ or call 403.291.0002.
Awesome Interior Designs

Decorating the Non-Pinterest Way

Awesome Interior Designs

Flickr User: byLorena

We have all seen Pinterest posts. Immaculate houses sporting intricate handmade goodies requiring impossible skill levels. Intricate, hand painted murals, driftwood everything, elaborate sewing projects. Most of us don’t have that sort of time (or skill level), but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a house into your home with just a few simple changes. For example:

1) Keep it simple, and easy to clean!

It is amazing what slipcovers can do. Couches, chairs and pillows can be given new life almost instantly. Covers can be either purchased (Ikea is always a good place to start) or made. And the best part? If you have a spill (or a pet that sheds) you can easily clean your slip cover in the washing machine. Also, if you want to change your colour scheme you don’t need to replace all your furniture.

2) Paint your rooms so they are timeless

Stay neutral when it comes to picking paint colours. This way when your son decides that dinosaurs aren’t cool anymore you aren’t stuck with T-Rex wallpaper. Plain walks can be accented with bright accessories (like slipcovers) that are easier and less expensive to change.

3) Energizing or Relaxing?

When it comes to choosing colours, remember the function of each room. Bedrooms should be decked out in calming colours (pastels, neutrals, earthy tones, beachy tones) to help you relax after a long day. Social areas like kitchens and living rooms should be full of bold, energizing colours to inspire conversation and fun.

4) Avoid clutter

Clutter makes even the largest and most put- together room look cramped and disorganized. This doesn’t mean you need to be the next Martha Stewart, but find creative ways to incorporate storage space into every room. Children’s rooms can include a toy chest in fun colours, the ottoman in the living room can hide extra blankets, and the guest room window seat can hold your seasonal clothes. When it comes to decorating, less is more.

Flickr User:ExcuseNight-059

Parks In Calgary

Flickr User:ExcuseNight-059

Calgary is home to lots of wonderful green spaces, and a variety of public parks. From the urban oasis of Prince’s Island in the heart of Calgary to the untamed wilderness of Fish Creek Provincial Park, Calgary offers a large variety of places to engage in year round outdoor activities.

 

Fish Creek Provincial Park

Fish Creek Provincial Park is a sprawling 13.48 km squared, and hosts a variety of wildlife from ducks to deer. It also boasts lots of picnic and fire pit areas, making it a popular spot during the summer. However, these spots tend to fill up quick, so it is better to get there in the morning, especially on a warm summer day. Fish Creek is also home to the Bow Valley Ranch Restaurant and Annie’s Bakery, which are open seasonally for the summer (full hours available here: http://www.bvrrestaurant.com/content/13-annies-bakery) The Bow Valley Ranch is also home to the beatiful Artisan Gardens (http://www.bowvalleyranche.com/artisan-gardens.html). Hours of operation vary depending on the season. For more information, and to keep abreast with wildlife and weather warnings issued for the park, please visit http://www.albertaparks.ca/fish-creek.aspx

 

Prince’s Island Park

Prince’s Island Park is a lush oasis amidst the glass and concrete of downtown Calgary. Located in the trendy neighbourhood of Eau Claire, this 20 hectare park hosts a large variety of summer activities and festivals, including Canada Day celebrations and the Calgary Folk Festival. It also boasts a wading pool, a playground, and picnic areas. During the winter it also boasts outdoor skating and cross country skiing. Feeling hungry? Check out the River Cafe, a full service restaurant (closed each January). Prince’s Island park is an excellent place to feed the ducks and geese (though it is recommended you bring bird seed, not bread). Also, be careful! Geese in particular can be grumpy, especially during the nesting season. For more information on the park, please visit http://www.calgary.ca/CSPS/Parks/Pages/Locations/Downtown-parks/Princes-Island-Park.aspx.

 

Riley Park

Located at 800, 12th Street NW,the 9 hectare Riley Park is truly beautiful park. Home to a wading pool,  a playground and a rock garden,  it is also home to Calgary’s famous Riley Park Cricket Pitch, home of the Calgary Cricket League. The rock garden is named in memory of Senator Patrick Burns, and is made with more than 20,000 pieces of flagstone from his demolished mansion. The park is open daily from 5 am to 11 pm, and makes an excellent picnic spot. The wading pool and playground make this the perfect family spot for a hot summer’s day. For more information, please visit http://www.calgary.ca/CSPS/Parks/Pages/Locations/NW-parks/Riley-Park.aspx