Community

Hosting a block Party

Settling in to your new Community

 

Hosting a block Party
Your new home has been purchased, the keys are in your hand and you have started to unpack. Now it is time to meet your neighbours and get involved in your community. Here are some handy tips to get you started.
1) Check out the community centre 
Especially if you want you and your family to get to know other families in the neighbourhood then check out the local community centre. If you have kids consider signing them up for a class or a sports team so they can meet the other kids in their neighbourhood and form new friendships.
2) Host a block party 
One thing that always brings people together is food! If space allows, set up the barbecue, buy some hot dogs/hamburgers/veggie burgers etc and print off some invitations. Slip these in your neighbours mailboxes. In order to cut down on your costs and ensure there is enough food for everyone who attends consider hosting your block party as a potluck.
3) Get involved!
Is the local soccer team looking for a new coach? Do you think kids in the neighbourhoods would benefit from an art class? Talk to the staff at the community centre and see about getting involved.
4) Take a class or join a club
Consider signing up for a class or joining a club that matches your interests. Especially if you are in a new city where you don’t know anyone this is a great way to meet people and make new friends.
5) Attend a local fair or event
This is a great way to meet people who share your interests. Calgary has lots of events such as the Calgary Children’s Festival, Folk Fest, the Sled Island Music Festival, the Calgary Stampede and Adult’s Only Night at Telus Spark. For a list of local events and activities try websites like http://www.todocanada.ca/things-to-do-calgary-this-weekend/
Canadian Money

Ways to save on your bills

Canadian Money

Saving Money

No one likes paying bills, especially in these tough economic times. However, there are a variety of ways you can help reduce the size of your monthly bills and spend your money smarter.

1) Reduce water consumption

This can be done in a variety of ways. Small changes to your water consumption rituals can make a huge difference. You can take shorter showers. You can also turn off the water when you are not using it, both while brushing your teeth and doing the dishes. Scrape your plates well, and only run your dishwasher when it is full. You may also consider investing in a rain barrel, which will cut down on your plant watering costs.

2) Reduce your electricity consumption.

Do you always turn off the lights when you leave the room? Lighting and unoccupied room wastes electricity and takes its toll on the lifespan of your light bulbs. You can also consider switching to energy efficient bulbs, and try taking advantage of natural light sources during the day.

Another huge energy user is the air conditioner. Instead of running it, try spending more time in the basement, which will stay cool all on its own.

3) Streamline services

How often do you watch cable? If you hardly use it, why keep it? Services like Netflix can fulfill your tv and movie cravings, and let you cut down your bills by getting rid of cable. Another place you may be paying for something you never use is your landline. Most people have cellphones, and hardly use the Josie phone anymore. Cutting the cord on your home phone can save you money.

4) Borrow, don’t buy

Did you know the Calgary Public Library doesn’t charge membership fees? They also offer a wide variety of books, films and e books for borrowing. If you are the type of person who only reads a book once, then why pay to buy it when you can borrow it for free?

5) Cook smarter

Instead of going out for dinner, or lunch with your office buddies, cook a big batch of food for dinner. Cooking at home is significantly cheaper than eating out, and big batches can do double duties as lunch the next day.

Calgary Stampede Parade

The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth! – Calgary Stampede

The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth!

Calgary Stampede Parade

Calgary Stampede Parade – Anna Webber.

Have you noticed a lot of hay bales around lately? Seen a lot of Western wear for sale? That is because it is almost time for the Calgary Stampede! This annual show is, for many tourists and locals alike, the event of the summer. This year, the week long event runs from July 3rd to July 12th. Touted as “the greatest outdoor show on earth”, this weeklong extravaganza has something for almost everyone. From the rodeo to the fairground, from family friendly fun to a night out with friends, you are sure to never be bored. Here is a quick guide to help you plan your stampede week.
1) Stampede breakfast
Pancake breakfasts are a long time Stampede tradition. Many companies host free pancake breakfasts for the public, usually consisting of pancakes, bacon or sausage, and juice or coffee. To find a lank age breakfast near you, please visit http://www.freestampedepancakes.com
2) The “duds”
Many people opt for traditional cowboy and cowgirl outfits, usually consisting of jeans, a plaid shirt, a cowboy hat and cowboy boots. That being said, be sensible. Cowboy boots are not comfortable walking shoes, and jeans can get very hot if you are outdoors. If you are visiting the fair ground, opt for comfortable summery clothing such as shorts and T-shirts. A sun hat and sunscreen are both must have items. Nothing ruins the day like sunstroke and a sunburn. If you plan to be out after dark, bring a sweater and long pants to keep warm and keep Mosquitos at bay. On a related note, drink lots of water throughout the day, and make sure to spend at least some time in the shade.
3) Getting there
Parking is at a premium at the stampede grounds, and the cost can be prohibitive for some. If you are looking for a more budget family ride, try taking the C train. The C train has two stampede stops, one at each end of the grounds. Victoria Park – Stampede station stops by the midway rides, and Earlton – Stampede stops by the Agricultural exhibits. Tickets can be purchased at the grounds, or in advance from select retailers. For more information, please visit http://www.calgarystampede.com/stampede
4) The Rodeo
The rodeo is what really sets Stampede apart from other summer carnivals. The rodeo hosts eight different events, from ladies barrel racing to bull riding. For more details, and ticket prices, visit http://www.calgarystampede.com/stampede/rodeo
5) The Faire
Especially for younger Stampede-goers, the midway rides are the main attraction. From terrifying roller coasters to kid friendly airplane rides, the midway has all your bases covered. There is even a special children’s ride section that hosts a variety of rides that are sure to delight, not terrify, the little ones.
6) The Food
Faire food is a cuisine all to itself, and the Stampede is no exception. The midway boasts all the classic foods like corn dogs and hamburgers, but the traditional Stampede lunch is beef on a bun. Slathered in rich barbecue sauce and served on a soft bun, this tasty treat is sure to delight. And for desert? Try some fresh, piping hot mini donuts made right before your eyes! These delightful snacks are covered in cinnamon and brown sugar and are sure to delight. Feeling adventurous? The midway now offers more exotic foods such as sour cream, onion and cricket pizza or a “beef sundae” consisting of beef, mashed potatoes, gravy and cheddar cheese served in a plastic parfait cup.
7) The Nightlife
Though the Faire grounds may close, the celebration is just beginning! Check out the nightly Grandstand Show (starting at 7:45 pm), a family friendly event featuring singing, dancing and fireworks! Up for something a little more wild? The party unofficially continues on 17th avenue, the Restauraunt district close to the Stampede Grounds. Many bars are open late all week long.

What to wear – dressing for Calgary’s weather year round. 

CalgaryWinter

This weather isn’t far away. 🙁

 

Welcome to Calgary! One of the oldest jokes here is that if you don’t like the weather just wait ten minutes for it to change. As such, you really will need clothes for all types of weather. Here is a handy guide to help you dress appropriately.

1) Layers

Since the temperature can vary quite significantly throughout the day, it helps to prepare for all types of weather. Spring and fall usually hair require a light coat, but that can change. It’s always best to dress in layers: shirt, sweater, jacket. That way you can change as often as the weather does.

2) Rain

It doesn’t rain very often in Calgary, with the “rainy season” lasting from the end of April to the beginning of June. During this time it is advisable to buy rain boots, carry an umbrella, or bring a hooded rain jacket. Calgary often experiences “sun showers”, short bursts of rain while the sun is still shining. They don’t last long, and don’t tend to cover large geographic areas, but it never hurts to be prepared.

3) Snow

The dreaded “S word” that all Calgarians hate! Snow usually occurs between late September, through till May or sometimes even June. During this time of year it is best to invest in a good winter coat, a solid pair of winter boots with nice grippy bottoms (for the ice), warm mittens and a good toque (a winter hat, traditionally knit from wool). If you are planning long drives it is good to make sure all passengers have these items, and that you pack a warm blanket in the trunk in case you have car troubles. Calgary is also subject to the occasional freak snowstorm in the summer, but the temperature doesn’t tend to go too far below zero and the snow tends to melt quickly. A warm sweater and  raincoat or umbrella should suffice for most brief summer snow storms.

4) Sunshine

It can get quite hot in Calgary, with summer temperatures averaging around 22 degrees Celsius and sometimes climbing over 30 degrees. That may not seem very warm to some people, but it is warm enough to cause dehydration and heat stroke. Drink plenty of water in the summer, and avoid staying in the sun all day. Sunburn is not only unpleasant, but can lead to skin cancer.

5) Stampede

While not weather related, Stampede does come with its own dress code. Most Calgarians warmly embrace The Greatest Outdoor Show On Earth, and dress accordingly. Jeans, cowboy hats and cowboy boots become the norm, from sales associates to CEOs. Cowboy hats and boots can be very expensive, especially right before Stampede. If you want to get in the spirit without breaking your budget, a pair of jeans or jean shorts paired with a plaid collared shirt will let you fit right in. If you aren’t use to cowboy boots they can be uncomfortable, so it is advisable to wear solid waking shoes to the fair grounds rather than cowboy boots.

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.

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.
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

Lake Bonavista Businesses

Businesses in the Lake Bonavista area

Lake Bonavista is a well established and family friendly neighbourhood in South East Calgary. To help you settle into your new neighbourhood, here is a list of local businesses that will help you meet your needs.
Lake Bonavista Businesses

Lake Bonavista Businesses – Gordon McDowell

Supermarkets
This area boasts a wide variety of supermarket choices, including Safeway, Calgary Co-op and Sobey’s.
1) South Center Safeway is located at 11011 Bonaventure Drive SE, and is open daily from 8am to 11pm. It also has an in-house pharmacy open Monday to Friday 9:00 am  to 9:00 pm, Saturday 9:00am to 6:00 pm, and Sunday 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.
2) Lake Bonavista Safeway is located in the Lake Bonavista Promenade at 755 Lake Bonavista Drive SE. It is open 8:00 am to 11:00 pm, but does not have a pharmacy.
3) Deer Ridge Co-op is located at 95 1221 Canyon Meadows Drive SE in the Deer Ridge Shopping Center. It is open from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm, and does not have a pharmacy.
4) For late night milk-and-bread runs, try the Mac’s Convenience Store, located in the Lake Bonavista Promenade, at 755 Lake Bonavista Drive. It is open twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
Salons and Barber Shops
1) Diva Salon and Spa in South Center Mall is open daily from 9:30 am to 9:00 pm.
2) The high end Salon Evaline Charles, located in South Center Mall, is open daily from 9:00 am to 9:00 pm.
3) Studio Hair Design, located in the Lake Bonavista Promenade is open Tuesdays to Fridays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, Saturdays 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and is closed Sundays and Mondays.
4) For no frills, men’s hair cutting try Bonavista Barbers in the Lake Bonavista Promenade. they are open Monday’s to Saturdays from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, and Sundays from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Department Stores
The Lake Bonavista area boasts two main department stores: The Bay and Sears. Both are located in South Center Mall, found at 100 Anderson Road SE.
Gas Stations
1) The Lake Bonavista Promenade plays host to an Esso station, located at 759 Lake Bonavista Drive SE. It is open from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm daily.
2) If you need a car wash to go with your gas visit the Esso at 31615 Bonaventure Drive SE. This station is open from 5:00 am to midnight daily.
3) Lake Bonavista also hosts a Shell station, located at 700 12445 Lake Fraser Drive.
4) Deer Valley Co-op also boasts a gas station and car wash, and is located at  95 1221 Canyon Meadows Drive SE. It is open daily from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm.
Drugstores
1) The Lake Bonavista Promenade is home to a Shoppers Drug Mart. It is open from8:00 am to 10:00 pm daily.
2) South Center Mall also hosts a Shoppers Drug mart, which is open from 9:30 am to 9:00 pm daily, and is located at 100 Anderson Road SE.
3) The South Center Safeway also has a pharmacy, which is open Monday to Friday 9:00 am  to 9:00 pm, Saturday 9:00am to 6:00 pm, and Sunday 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.
Local Library
For all your reading needs visit the Fish Creek Public Library and pick up your free Library Card! It is located at 11161 Bonaventure Drive SE, and is open Monday to Thursday from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm, Fridays and Saturdays from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sunday’s from 12:00 pm to 5:00 pm.