History of Calgary

The first settlement by humans in Calgary was approximately 12,000 years ago, which was evidenced by the numerous spear points discovered in fields east of the city. After 10,000 years, the area was inhabited by Aboriginal hunting people that are composed of three main cultures. The last culture, which inhabited the area about 2,000 years ago, was from the Eastern Woodlands who are identified as the Blackfoot people.

David Thompson, who was a cartographer, spent the winter in 1757 along with a group of Piegan near the Bow River. He worked as a trader for the Hudson’s Bay Company and his visit was considered as the first European visit in Calgary. And in 1873, John Glenn was the first recorded European to settle in the Calgary.

In 1875, a group of North West Mounted Police officers built the Fort Brisebois at the convergence of Bow and Elbow Rivers, so they can track the whiskey traders in the area. Later, the fort was renamed by Lieutenant-Colonel James Macleod to Fort Calgary after his native house in Scotland, Calgary House.

In 1883, the railways reached Fort Calgary. And later, the Canadian Pacific Railway established its Calgary townsite along the south of Bow River and west of the Elbow River. Later in 1884, the town of Calgary was merged in the province of Alberta and was then advanced to city status by 1894.

In 1886, a huge fire consumed a lot of the city’s two-storey buildings and wood-framed homes. The locals rebuilt everything by using sandstone they collected from the river. Calgary was later in known “Sandstone City” where local structures such as the Palliser Hotel, City Hall, and Grain Exchange Building rose. However, everything came to a stop in 1914 as the First World War broke out.

After the establishment of the railway system, the Dominion Government began to lease grazing land for a low price. Due to this policy, huge ranching operations started to flourish around the areas near Calgary. Since the town was already a transportation and distribution center, it rapidly became Canada’s hub for meat packing and cattle marketing business. And later part of the 19th century raised the expansion of HBC or Hudson’s Bay Company in the center and built posts beside the rivers, which later created the cities of Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Calgary. The Hudson’s Bay Company established the first of the outstanding “original six” department stores in 1913 in Calgary, which other cities such as Edmonton, Saskatoon, Victoria, Vancouver, and Winnipeg followed.

The years 1896 to 1914 saw the coming of settlers from around the world in the area in response to the free “homestead” offered by the government. The local economy was mostly dominated by agriculture and ranching, which helped to shape the future of Calgary. The world-renowned Calgary Stampede can still be observed every July, which was started in 1912 by four affluent ranchers as a form of the agricultural show. It is widely dubbed as the “greatest outdoor show on earth”.

In 1914, prospectors struck an oil field in Turner Valley, which started a short-lived boom in the area which immediately stopped as the First World War broke out. Many Southern Alberta oil strikes during the 1920’s started a time of noticeable usage and excess that was then disturbed by the Great Depression. Prospectors strike oil in Leduc in 1947 and a number of oil companies established their center of operations in Calgary, which later shaped the town today and made Calgary one of Canada’s booming city during the 50’s. And in 1970’s, a shortage if oil was experienced around the world, which was good news for Calgary energy moguls. The city expanded and rich entrepreneurs flourished.