Thursday, April 30, 2009


You know spring has arrived in Calgary when the canoes start appearing on cars! I found this one outside a coffee shop in Kensington. The Bow River flows through Calgary and provides some easy canoeing for a weekend afternoon. Just tie your canoe on top of your car and head down to a launch site. There are many more rivers just a short drive out of the city too. Canadians love their canoes...this one looks like it's seen some action!
Don't ask about the British phone booth. I have no idea why it is there!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Working Wednesday

Working Wednesday #2
Okay...this is Canada, so I guess I'd better get the Mountie photo over and done with!
This guy is actually not a real member of the force but works at Heritage Park playing the part of a Northwest Mounted Police Officer (who were the precursors to the RCMP).
Throughout the summer season the park employs people to act the part of everyday folk from Alberta's history. This young man was taking care of the Mounties Police Post and gaol the day we visited...and doing a great job! He was delighting the kids by handcuffing them and throwing them into the cell you can see behind him...they all giggled furiously and bounced straight back out again!
The Northwest Mounted Police played a critical part of Alberta's history being among the first settlers in Alberta. Established in Manitoba in 1873, a year later the 275 mounted police officers marched west, to southern Alberta, to establish a permanant post at FortMcleod and deal with whisky traders who were operating among the First Nations peoples. Soon after they became the Federal force of today.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Yes it is snow!

Just so you know...this is spring in Calgary! The season when our weather is completely unpredictable. Three days before this we had brilliant sunshine and +23c and then yesterday this! When you leave for work in the morning you'd better be prepared for every eventuality because the weather can turn on a dime!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Canada Olympic Park - the Icehouse

Any guesses?
Bet you've never seen anything quite like this!
This is the indoor luge, skeleton and bobsled track at Canada Olympic Park. It's not actually a full track but is a short section for practising one of the most critical parts of the sport - the start.
The ice house was built to allow athletes to make many more attempts at their start without having to hurtle down the full length of the outdoor track. It's the only fully enclosed refrigerated building in the world...and it's big! At 143 m long is is almost the length of a soccer field and is four stories high. Nine kilometers of steel piping is used to cool the three tracks and a unique monorail system automatically returns the sleds to the start area allowing for continuous training.
You can watch athletes from all over the world training there in winter - it would cost too much to cool it to approrpriate temperatures in the summer I think.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Share The Flame!

Street Art Sunday #2
I guess this isn't exactly street art since it's obviously inside a building! It is in a public space however, the lobby of the Petro-Canada Tower to be precise.
The tower has fifty-two floors and fabulous views of the Rockies from the offices at the top - I'm told. This statue stands in the lobby which is always open to the public because it forms part of the +15 walkway system. In winter (when it gets a little chilly....say -40c) many of the downtown offices are connected by a series of indoor, heated walkways 15 metres above ground. That way it is possible to travel from office to office and cover many city blocks without ever having to expose yourself to the frigid temperatures.
The two guys in the statue are holding the Olympic Torch from the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary. The statue is called 'Share the Flame'.
Petro Canada announced this week that they have commisioned a 25 foot totem pole to commemerate the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Long Friday Lunches

I took this shot looking down the stairwell at Art Central downtown.
Art Central is one of my favourite hang-outs when I'm in the city's three floors of funky art boutiques and galleries and my favourite print shop ever (Uppercase).
On the lowest floor is a curved arcade of tiny studios available at a low-rent (at least that's what the blurb says though that's hard to believe in Calgary) to struggling artists and many are often working there...especially in the afternoons. I don't think artists get up early!
But today I loved the patterns made by the table and chairs on the concrete floor...another time I'll focus on the studios.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Retired Lion

This ferocious lion used to guard the Centre Street Bridge.
The bridge was built in 1916 and featured four huge lions, two at each end of the bridge as guardians. Centre Street leads directly to Chinatown after crossing the river and local legends claimed that the lions came alive after dark and roamed the downtown streets...though I'm not sure what they were looking for.
The bridge was closed for one year for restoration in 2001...a major disruption to traffic flowing into the city centre. The orginal lions were replaced as part of that restoration.
This magnificent beast now guards the modern, blue glass city hall...where he looks just a little forlorn. I patted him on the head and fed him some candy!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

One for the Boys

Big trucks...there are lots in Calgary!
This city has yet to fully embrace some of the environmentally friendly lifestyles of Europe and other parts of the world... and you see lots of big trucks on our streets. This is an extra big example! I'm not sure what the two shiny pipes up the side are for. Exhaust pipes I assume.
Oh...and I don't even want to tell you that it's snowing I won't (but it is! Lots of fluffy white snow!)
I took the shot of the truck on the weekend - when it was hot and sunny.
That's Calgary for you...we sometimes get four seasons in a couple of hours!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Working Wednesdays - Concrete Pour

So I'm introducing another theme day for this blog...
Working Wednesdays #1
Each Wednesday posting will feature folk at work in and around Calgary and this is the first. I couldn't talk to this guy because he was busy concentrating on where his concrete was going and his truck was parked at the side of a four lane avenue full of traffic. I would have liked to ask what building he was helping to construct... but I was driving past with no chance to stop.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Talking of Tall Towers

The Calgary Tower was once the tallest building in Calgary. These days it's a bit of a midget!
The Calgary Tower is the red mushroom on a stick that you can see reflected in the blue glass building. It still offers great views of the city from the top and on special occasions (like New Years Eve) there's a gas flame on the top that can be lit to provide a brilliant flare against the night sky.
The Canadian Pacific Rail line runs at the base of the tower...those round tankers are carrying least the red one is. I'm not sure about the rest!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Looking through

I mentioned in an earlier post that there are lots of cranes in Calgary right now. Today downtown I counted...there are more than twenty. It's almost impossible to take a photo without including at least one crane.
This shot was taken through a porthole in the fence of a construction site...put there so passers-by can peek. The cranes are busy building a huge skyscraper which will be called "The Bow."
Originally planned as two towers, only the north tower will now be built. The south tower fell victim to the economic crisis.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Street Art Sunday

Just so you know...Sundays on this blog will be dedicated to Street Art (both the official and the unofficial kind) and and so this is the first posting for: -

Street Art Sunday #1

This shot shows half of a giant mural in downtown Calgary. It's painted on the side of the CUPS building. Calgary Urban Projects (CUPS) is a non-profit organistation dedicated to ending individual and family poverty and their message is one of hope. They deal with people living life on the margins of society and on weekdays their doors are always open.
The mural is beautiful and a bright spot on a dusty downtown street corner.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Bygone Days

This brightly coloured display of vintage gas pumps is at Calgary's Heritage Park.

Heritage Park is an outdoor museum featuring actual buildings from Calgary's past, transported to this site, restored and furnished to their original state.
There's a working paddle steamer and steam train, a land claims office, hospital, one room school house, farm, RCMP post (complete with gaol)'s a fascinating place to spend a day. Especially at weekends in summer when throughout the day actors in period costume tell the story of a
young couple - each scene set in a different building.

The barn with it's display of the history the motor vehicles in Western Canada is one of my favourite parts of the museum.

It's all those colours!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Spot the Imposter

One of these is not a newspaper vending box but an electrical switching box cunningly diguised as an advertisement for one of our liveliest visual art venues - Art Central. Can you spot it?

This picture (taken last spring) shows what life in our growing city has been like for the few years. New buildings going up everywhere! The downtown was full of construction sites.
with the recession, it's a little quiter these days but on any given day it's easy to count nine or ten huge cranes at work in the city centre.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


The NHL playoff's have begun.
Here's hoping for a long run for the Calgary Flames hockey team.
This picture is from the 2004 playoff run when we came soooo...close!
This is the reception you get when you're the runners up...just imagine if they brought home Lord Stanley's cup! The city would go nuts.
Here in Calgary, we love the Flames.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

What? More snow!

This jack rabbit looks about as pleased as I was to see the snow this morning. I shouldn't be surprised...we can get snow in any month here in Calgary (yes, even in July and August!)

These wild jack rabbits are actually hares and not rabbits at all. They can be found in most residential neighbourhoods in this city. Year-round residents, they change their duds according to the season. Also known as snowshoe hares, in winter they are a beautiful pure white to match the snow. About three weeks ago their fur began to take on it's brown summer colouration. Looks like they changed their outfits just a little early!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Kids Building Blocks

A reflection of Calgary's new Children's Hospital in the windows of the parkade.
The hospital opened in September 2006 with a look designed with the involvment of the patients and parents who would use it.
It stands on a prominant hill above the Bow River valley looking like a tower made from of brightly coloured wooden blocks.
It certainly makes a statement!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Snow is Melting Fast

Spring is coming to Calgary...but it's slow. After weeks of cold temperatures we finally had a week of sunshine and warmth and the snow is going. Today was a day for sitting by the Bow River in your lunch hour and watching the last of the river ice melt.