Living in Calgary, Alberta
• Is Alberta’s most populous city, with a metropolitan population of 1.2 million.
• Sits more than 1 kilometer above sea level.
• Is a prairie city with a climate that is dry, sunny, windy, and cool.
• Is a three-hour drive from Canada’s border with the United States.
• Is a one-hour drive from the Rocky Mountains.
• Is one of Canada’s wealthiest cities.
• Is one of the world’s most livable cities.
• Is one of the world’s cleanest cities.
• Has North America’s first wind-powered public transit system – the C Train.
• Has prohibited pet cats from roaming freely.
• Has the biggest network of buildings connected by footbridges in the world.
High Rise Apartments on the Bow River in Calgary
- Calgary sits in a vast, often brown colored plain in Southern Alberta.
- The prairie here is far above sea level: Calgary’s elevation is 1050 meters (3445 feet) above sea level.
- Calgary is Alberta’s largest city, larger than Edmonton, the province’s capital. Calgary has grown rapidly in recent years.
- Calgary’s latitude – 51 degrees north – is similar to London, Paris, Seattle and Vancouver.
- Its high latitude results in long days in summer and long nights in winter.
- Calgary is semi-arid – hence the brown landscape.
- Sitting on the prairies, the city enjoys plenty of sunshine with low rainfall.
- The Rocky Mountains rise dramatically to the west.
- Of all Canada’s provinces, Alberta’s character is most like the USA. Alberta has cowboy boots, rodeos, cow festivals (Calgary is sometimes called Cowtown) and American spellings. Its government is to the right of Canada’s other provinces. Alberta has a reputation for socially conservative attitudes.
- Calgary has a low violent crime rate compared to most major cities in Canada. However, The violent crime rate in Calgary increased by over nine percent in 2017, and is now at its highest rate since 2006.
Business and Jobs
Oil Pumpjack in Alberta Canola Field
- Alberta has the lion’s share of Canada’s oil industry. Its reserves – in the form of oil-sands – are estimated to be second only to Saudi Arabia’s. Calgary is one of Canada’s wealthiest cities.
- Low taxes have brought many businesses to Calgary. Small businesses in Alberta pay just 14 percent tax, and there is no payroll tax.
- Calgary’s economy has rebounded from the recession and experienced almost 7 percent growth in 2017. It is expected that the economy in Calgary will grow by a more modest 2.5 percent in 2018 and 2.1 percent in 2019.
- Calgary’s unemployment rate in June 2018 was 7.7 percent, higher than the Canadian average of 5.9 percent. The number is lower than a year ago, when Calgary’s unemployment was 8.9 percent. In the boom oil price years, 2013 and 2014, Calgary’s unemployment rate was below 5 percent.
- Approximately 3,000 jobs have been created in Calgary in the last 12 months to June 2018. The largest increases have been in construction and manufacturing jobs. Large construction projects underway include the Green Line LRT line, the 1,000 acre StoneGate Landing Business Park and the new Calgary Cancer Centre at the Foothills Medical Centre.
- The oil industry and its suppliers pay some of the highest salaries in Calgary.
- The government, universities and schools aren’t quite as generous with their money but offer reasonable salaries and good conditions of employment.
- The Canadian oil industry is expected to return to profitability in 2018 after 3 years of losses. This means that getting well-paid work will be easier for many migrants when they first arrive in the city. Still, many of Calgary’s employers seem to look first for a local employee. If they can’t find a suitable local employee, employers will consider employing a migrant.
- There is no general sales tax levied in Alberta, although shoppers need to pay a federal sales tax of 5 percent. Shoppers in other Canadian provinces must add a combined sales tax to their purchases ranging from 10 percent in Saskatchewan to 15 percent in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
- Alberta and Calgary’s public finances are very healthy, and the standard of healthcare compares favorably with other parts of Canada.
- Although healthcare is good, Calgary’s breakneck growth means you may find it difficult to get a family doctor when you first arrive in Calgary – there is a shortage.
- Calgary Health maintains a list of family doctors currently accepting new patients.
- If you haven’t registered with a family doctor, but need the services of one, you can use a walk-in clinic free of charge, provided you have an AHCIP card(Alberta Health Care Insurance Plan card).
- When you arrive in Alberta you need to wait three months before you are eligible for an AHCIP card. This applies whether you are relocating internationally or from another Canadian province. To cover you during this time, private health insurance should be considered.
Environment and Getting Around
New Offices with +15 Bridge
- Calgary has a very clean environment. It was rated as the world’s cleanest city by Forbes Magazine in 2007 (this is the most recent survey published) and as the world’s fifth most livable city by the Economist in 2017 for the seventh year in a row.
- The 2017 “livability ranking” report measures 30 factors under five categories: stability, health care, education, infrastructure, and culture and the environment. Calgary received top marks for healthcare, education and stability.
- Calgary has little litter, and the air is refreshingly clear and crisp. In 2010, Mercer carried out a survey of quality of life in cities around the world and rated Calgary as the world’s top Eco-city based on the city’s waste removal service, sewage systems, water drinkability & availability, and low air pollution.
- Cats and dogs must be licensed by the City of Calgary.
- Regulations prohibit pet cats from roaming in Calgary; this means that a cat must remain on the owner’s property.
- Dogs must not be allowed off-leash unless they are in a securely fenced private yard or a designated off-leash area.
- Calgary has 149 public off-leash areas, making a total of more than 1,250 hectares (3125 acres). Just over one-sixth of city parkland is designated off-leash.
- Calgary has some wonderful, extensive parkland with unvandalized playgrounds. The parks have attractive paths and cycle routes – especially parks on the Bow River.
- Buildings in downtown Calgary are linked by the +15 network of overhead pedestrian bridges, shown in one of the images on this page.
- The +15 network is heated, so you can walk around the downtown’s buildings and shops in winter without the need for winter clothing.
- The network (so called because the bridges are about 15 feet above the ground) is the biggest network of buildings connected by footbridges in the world, about 16 kilometers (10 miles) long in total.
- Calgary’s public transport is reasonably good.
The Bow River, at Banff in the Rockies, west of Calgary
- The C Train (a light railway) is reliable and runs from some of the suburbs into downtown Calgary. You can see the C Train’s Stations and routes here.
- The C Train is powered by electricity generated by windfarms. Within downtown Calgary you can travel free on the C Train. Outside downtown, there are free park-and-ride carparks for the C Train and buses.
- Park and Ride car parks feature free plug-in block heaters. These heaters are needed in cold weather to preheat car engines before they can start. The C Train stations aren’t enclosed, which makes for some very chilly waits in winter.
- Most Calgarians prefer using their cars to public transport. City officials estimate that more than forty percent of downtown workers use the C Train regularly though.
- Calgary’s growth has been faster at times than the government’s ability to cope.
- Infrastructure is falling behind population and there can be traffic jams during rush hour.
- People coming from larger cities in other countries will find the traffic relatively easy. Getting around is made harder by Calgary’s many traffic lights.
- Suburban developments have outpaced school construction. This has led to lengthy journeys for some children and overcrowding of popular existing schools.
Where to Live in Calgary
New Houses – Calgary Suburban Sprawl
An Older Syle Home in Calgary
- As Calgary boomed when oil prices were high, migrants flooded in from Europe, Asia and other Canadian cities.
- Suburban development boomed too.
- Calgary’s house pricesare still affordable compared with Vancouver and Toronto.
- The average price of a property in Calgary in June 2018 was $431,000 down one percent on the previous year. For a detached property the average price is around $500,000 and an average apartment / condominium will cost $250,000.
- The number of house sales has dropped dramatically since the economic downturn and the current conditions make it a buyer’s market.
- The city’s preferred residential areas lie in the North West and South West suburbs. These are closest to the Rockies with attractive mountain views.
- 1. The North East, where the airport is situated, and some rather industrial parts of the South East are often thought of as less favored locations.
- North West
We’d recommend Tuscany, Edgemont, Country Hills, Dalhousie and Rosedale as good places to begin your search for a home.
- South West
We’d recommend West Hillhurst, Westgate and Springbank Hill as good places to begin your search for a home.
- South East
We’d recommend McKenzie Lake and Midnapore as good places to begin your search for a home.
- Each of these areas has lower than average crime rates and offer residents an above average quality of life.
Into the Rockies
- To some migrants, Calgary feels isolated – an island city in the middle of a vast prairie. Unlike Toronto, there are no other sizeable towns and cities nearby. It’s also a long way from the sea or sizeable lakes.
- Most migrants, provided they can cope with the cool climate, find Calgary offers an extremely attractive lifestyle.
- The long, cold winter
- The rapid thaw and slush when the warm Chinook wind blow in winter
The short summer
A lack of history, historical buildings, and culture
High unemployment because of the economic downturn
Low house prices compared to Vancouver and Toronto
Low violent crime rate
Salaries above the Canadian average
Clean and beautiful, with a modern, attractive downtown, a good-sized meandering river, and the Rocky Mountains backdrop
The Rockies are easily accessible by car from Calgary
A sunny climate – one of the sunniest in Canada – with low rainfall
Chinook winds bringing mild days in winter
Fantastic winter sports – with Canada Olympic Park
It’s easy to “get away from it all” into a huge province with a small population
Edmonton, city, capital of Alberta, Canada. It lies along the North Saskatchewan River in the center of the province, 185 miles (300 km) north of Calgary. Transportation has been the cornerstone of the settlement and development of Edmonton. The North Saskatchewan River was a major conduit for the historic fur trade, which established trading posts near what is now Edmonton. The advent in the early 1900s of railways and later of roads, oil and gas pipelines, and an international airport transformed the city into a transportation center known as the “Gateway to the North.” It is the service and supply center for the oil industry as well as the petrochemical center for western Canada. Area 264 square miles (684 square km); metro. area, 3,640 square miles (9,427 square km). Pop. (2011) 812,201; metro. area, 1,159,869; (2016) 932,546; metro. area, 1,321,426.
Archaeological evidence indicates that, for some 3,000 years before the arrival of Europeans in the 19th century, the area around what is now Edmonton, in the North Saskatchewan River valley, was the site of seasonal settlement by aboriginal hunting peoples. Edmonton’s history after the arrival of Europeans centered primarily on the intense competition between two rival fur-trading companies: the Hudson’s Bay Company, which was given the charter to the area known as Rupert’s Land (a territory that encompassed most of the Canadian prairies), and the North West Company, which encroached upon this territory. Fort Edmonton, a Hudson’s Bay Company trading post also known as Edmonton House, was initially built in 1795 on a site approximately 20 miles (32 km) downstream from the present-day city. The post is said to have been named for an area of north London, England, that was the home of a Hudson’s Bay Company employee. Nearby was Fort Augustus, a North West Company trading post. Both posts had moved to the location of present-day Edmonton by 1801, although both were abandoned for several years (1810–13) and then reoccupied. With the 1821 merger of the two companies, Fort Edmonton became the main collection, distribution, and service center for the Western fur trade. There were few settlers in this region until Rupert’s Land was sold to the Canadian government in a deal finalized in 1870, at a time when the West was slowly beginning to open for farming.
With the arrival in 1891 of the Canadian Pacific Railway, across the river at nearby South Edmonton (incorporated in 1899 as Strathcona), and the federal government’s successful campaign later in that decade to lure settlers to Canada’s West, Edmonton began to prosper as an agricultural distribution and processing center. The year 1905 saw the long-awaited arrival of the Canadian Northern Railway (which became part of the Canadian National Railways in 1919) as well as the creation of Alberta as a province and the designation of the city of Edmonton as its capital (1906). These events promoted Edmonton’s growth and development, and amalgamation with a number of neighboring towns—beginning with Strathcona in 1912—increased Edmonton’s area and population significantly.
Throughout the early 20th century Edmonton grew steadily as a center for transportation, agriculture, education, and government administration. From the 1920s, bush pilots using the Edmonton airport as a base provided communication and other services for the vast, isolated, but mineral-rich region of northern Alberta. During World War II Edmonton served as the staging ground for military operations and the construction of the Alaska Highway. The Royal Canadian Air Force base in Edmonton, Blatchford Field (later, Edmonton City Centre Airport), played an important military role that continued throughout the Cold War. The U.S. military used the field as its base of operations for the defense of Alaska during World War II but, after outgrowing that facility, built another one north of the city. In the postwar era the Canadian government took possession of the newer base (later called Canadian Forces Base Edmonton). By the end of 1955 all air force activities had been transferred there from Blatchford Field, which was turned over to the city of Edmonton and became its municipal airport.
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The discovery of petroleum in 1947 at nearby Leduc and later at several other locations near Edmonton greatly stimulated the city’s urban and industrial growth and made it the petrochemical center for western Canada. This growth has been sustained through development of tar sand deposits in northern Alberta.
The Contemporary City
Edmonton is situated on a relatively flat prairie landscape distinguished by the meandering North Saskatchewan River. The river and its tributaries that flow into the city dissect the urban landscape with steep ravines. The presence of these ravine systems inspired the construction of many miles of linear parks that invite both summer and winter recreation. North of the river lies the central business district, with its many high-rise office and condominium buildings. Two distinctive structures that transformed the skyline in the early 21st century are the 28-story EPCOR Tower (2011) and, a short distance away, the low-rise curvilinear steel-and-glass Art Gallery of Alberta (2010). The architecture of the downtown core is not entirely modern, however; the Alberta Legislature Building (1912) is notable for its Beaux Arts style. South of the river, the historic neighborhood of Old Strathcona has retained its 19th-century brick buildings.
Historically, waves of immigrants have made Edmonton their home, creating a multicultural city. Some of the earliest groups came from eastern Europe (such as Ukrainian, Russian, and Polish) in the late 19th century. After them came the Chinese, who arrived to work on constructing the railways. Newcomers from many other countries (including Italy, Germany, Vietnam, and others) followed, attracted by the many employment and business opportunities that the booming northern metropolitan center had to offer. Today a number of ethnic neighborhoods reflect this diverse heritage, including Chinatown, Little Italy, and the Vietnamese district. To the north of the downtown core is the “Avenue of Nations,” an area with many stores and restaurants of different cultures and cuisines.
Edmonton is located within the “Fertile Belt” of the Canadian prairies, a region with optimal soil and sufficient moisture for growing grain. Also important are lumbering, flour milling, meatpacking, tanning, and dairying.
The dominant factor in Edmonton’s economy (as in that of Alberta as a whole) has long been the production of oil. Its industrial base includes oil refining (including synthetic fuels) and the production of many other petrochemicals, plastics, and fertilizers. The host of industries and services related to oil and gas production include engineering, equipment manufacturing, transportation, finance, insurance, and accounting. Other services, such as those associated with coal, agriculture, tourism, education, and public administration, are also important. Edmonton has diversified into other areas as well, notably high technology and software development. Oil and gas pipelines radiate from the city, and its international airport, major rail lines, and highways support its role as the wholesale, retail, and distribution center of northwestern Canada.
Streetcars were introduced in 1908 to meet the growing population’s need for public transportation. Today the city is served by a network of buses and a light-rail transit system. There are also hundreds of miles of walking paths, bike lanes, and trails.
Edmonton is the most northerly city in North America and has a metropolitan population of over one million. Though it is the provincial capital, it is the second largest city in Alberta after Calgary. Edmonton is very reliant on cars, so many shopping and entertainment hubs are based in a few key areas, such as South Edmonton Common, Whyte Avenue, West Edmonton Mall, and Jasper Avenue, to name a few. Due to a thriving economy, Edmonton offers excellent employment opportunities, and it’s likely that new migrants will settle into their new home quickly and with relative ease.
Edmonton is located in Alberta, the only province without a provincial sales tax (PST). Edmonton is the major economic center for northern and central Alberta, and a hub for the oil and gas industry. Economic activity in Calgary is mostly centered on the petroleum industry, agriculture and tourism. Alberta has the lion’s share of Canada’s oil industry. Its reserves – in the form of oil-sands – are estimated to be second only to Saudi Arabia’s.
Edmonton traditionally has been a hub for Albertan petrochemical industries, earning it the nickname “Oil Capital of Canada” in the 1940s. Supply and service industries drive the energy extraction engine, while research develops new technologies and supports expanded value-added processing of Alberta’s massive oil, gas, and oil sands reserves.
Despite the apparent focus on oil and gas, Edmonton’s economy is one of the most diverse in Canada. Major industrial sectors include a strong technology sector. Much of the growth in the technology sector is due to Edmonton’s reputation as one of Canada’s premier research and education centers.
Weather in Edmonton
Moving to Edmonton is a big decision and it is important to be aware of the weather you should expect. Edmonton has a relatively dry humid continental climate with extreme seasonal temperatures. Although the city experiences milder winters than either Regina or Winnipeg, Edmonton is located at a latitude farther north. It has warm summers and cold winters, with average daily temperatures ranging from −11.7 °C (10.9 °F) in January to 17.5 °C (63.5 °F) in July. However, temperatures can swing up past 30 °C (86 °F) and down below -20 °C (-4 °F) for a couple of days every year. Despite the temperature swings, Edmonton is one of Canada’s sunniest cities, receiving 17 hours and 16 minutes of daylight at the summer solstice due to its northerly position.
Summer typically lasts from late June until late August and the humidity is seldom uncomfortably high. Winter lasts from November to March and varies greatly in length and severity. Spring and autumn are both short and highly variable. Thunderstorms occur regularly during the summer months, and although they occasionally do damage, they can be spectacular.
Culture in Edmonton
Living in Edmonton offers a range of employment opportunities. As it is a major oil and gas centre, it attracts many migrant workers. As a result of this, the city is ethnically diverse, with more than 25 per cent of the local population belonging to a “visible minority”, mainly Chinese and other Asian ethnicities.
Living in Edmonton is fun-filled, it plays host to several large festivals each year, contributing to its local nickname “The Festival City.” Among these festivals is the Edmonton International Fringe Festival, second only to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in size worldwide and the largest of its kind in North America.
Edmonton has a thriving cultural scene, which includes galleries, theatres, live music venues and concert halls, including one of the most acoustically perfect concert halls in Canada, the Francis Winspear Centre for Music. From the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra to Cadence Weapon and Shout Out, the city has given rise to many notable musicians.
Living in Edmonton is great and is famous for West Edmonton Mall, the largest shopping mall in North America. The mall offers an extraordinary number of activities, including an indoor amusement park with one of the largest indoor roller coasters in the world, a swimming pool with water park, marine life shows, mini golf, bowling, a skating rink and laser tag.
Cost of living in Edmonton
Residents of Edmonton enjoy the highest average household income in Canada with an affordable cost of living. Taxes are lower, and there is no provincial sales tax (PST). On average, Edmontonians have more disposable income than most other Canadians.
Edmonton also has the lowest gasoline and diesel prices in Canada. For many residents, cars are the primary mode of transportation.
Transit in Edmonton
The Edmonton Transit System is the city’s main public transit agency, operating the Edmonton Light Rail Transit (LRT) line as well as a large fleet of buses. The LRT recently underwent an expansion that takes it to the far reaches of the south side. One drawback is that the LRT line only runs north-south, and not east-west. Construction is underway for a new line towards the northwest and plans to extend to the southwest and west are in the pipeline. The Edmonton Transit System incorporates the LRT network that joins major central and downtown areas and a bus system that connects the entire city.
Edmonton positives and negatives
- Friendly people.
- Low taxes.
- The highest area of parkland per resident of any Canadian city.
- Canada’s Festival City.
- A strong economy, with one of Canada’s best job markets.
- Affordable housing, with lower prices than Calgary and big cities like Vancouver and Toronto.
- The lowest gasoline and fuel prices in Canada.
- Higher crime rates than most comparably sized Canadian cities.
- Long, cold winters and extreme weather variations.
- Expensive housing compared with most other prairie cities.
Red Deer, Alberta
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Red Deer is a city in central Alberta, Canada. It is located near the midpoint of the Calgary–Edmonton Corridor and is surrounded by Red Deer County. It is Alberta’s fourth most populous city – after Calgary, Edmonton, and Lethbridge. The city is located in aspen parkland, a region of rolling hills that is home to oil, grain, and cattle production. It is a centre for oil and agriculture distribution, and the surrounding region is a major centre for petrochemical production. With a recorded population of 100,418 in the Canada 2016 census, Red Deer became the third Alberta city to surpass 100,000 people.
Prior to European settlement, the area was a gathering place that was inhabited by Aboriginal tribes including the Blackfoot, Plains Cree and Stoney. European fur traders began passing through the area in the late eighteenth century. Into this ethnic mix, the Métis peoples also emerged.
A native trail ran from Montana in the south across the Bow River near Calgary and on to Fort Edmonton. About halfway between Calgary and Edmonton, the trail crossed the Red Deer River at a wide, stony shallow used by First Nations peoples and bison, commonly known as buffalo, since ancient times. The shallows, now known as the Old Red Deer Crossing, are about 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) upstream from the present City of Red Deer.
With the establishment of Fort Calgary by the North-West Mounted Police in 1875, traffic increased along what was by then known as the Calgary and Edmonton Trail. After the arrival of the Canadian Pacific Railway in Calgary, traffic along the “C & E” trail increased substantially. A trading post and stopping house were built at the Crossing in 1882 and a permanent settlement began to develop around it.
During the 1885 Riel Rebellion (also known as the North-West Rebellion), the Canadian militia constructed Fort Normandeau at the Crossing. The fort was later taken over by the North-West Mounted Police who used it until 1893.
With the decimation of the bison by hunters, the Aboriginal tribes who relied on them for food, clothing and shelter were also in decline. The fertile lands around the Red Deer River were attractive to farmers and ranchers. One early settler, the Reverend Leonard Gaetz, gave a half-share of 1,240 acres (5.0 km2) he had acquired to the Calgary and Edmonton Railway to develop a bridge over the river and a townsite. As a result, the Crossing was gradually abandoned. The first train from Calgary to Edmonton passed through Red Deer in 1891.
The Cree peoples called the river on which Red Deer stands Waskasoo Seepee, which translates to “Elk River”. However, British traders translated the name as “Red Deer River”, since they mistakenly thought elk were European red deer. Later, the settlers of the area named their community after the river. The name for the modern city in Plains Cree is a calque back from English of the mistranslated, mihkwâpisimosos literally “red type of deer” while the name of the river itself is still wâwâskêsiw-sîpiy or “elk river”.
Red Deer is located on the Red Deer River after which it was named.
Red Deer has a humid continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb), with somewhat of a semi-arid influence. The highest temperature ever recorded in Red Deer was 37.2 °C (99 °F) on 8 July 1906, 2 July 1924, and 28 & 29 June 1937. The coldest recorded temperature was −50.6 °C (−59 °F) on 17 December 1924. The city lies in the 3b plant hardiness zone.
Arts and culture
Named Cultural Capital of Canada by Canadian Heritage in 2003, Red Deer is home to a wide variety of arts and cultural groups. It is the home of Central Alberta Theatre, Ignition Theatre, Central Music Festival, the Red Deer Symphony Orchestra, the Red Deer Museum + Art Gallery, the Red Deer Royals and other performing arts and fine arts organizations.
Health care is provided at the Red Deer Regional Hospital.
Take this opportunity to learn about the Canadian province of Alberta.
Alberta is the westernmost of Canada’s three Prairie provinces. Often known as Canada’s “energy province,” Alberta is home to over 4 million people, and growing quickly. The bulk of this population resides in Alberta’s two largest cities: Edmonton, which serves as the provincial capital, and Calgary. Each have a population of over one million residents.
Alberta is a world leader in the oil and gas industry, but is also home to a vibrant and fast-growing industrial and service economy. Thanks to the opportunities provided by this economic growth, Alberta has become one of the top destinations for immigration to Canada. Alberta is arguably Canada’s most prosperous province today, and is recognized world-wide for its high standard of living.
Where is Alberta?
Alberta Economy and Employment
After over a decade of high growth rates, Alberta remains filled with potential for further economic expansion. Alberta’s economy is driven by its booming energy industry, a major employer in the province. The energy industry directly accounts for one in every 16 jobs jobs in the province. This sector is expected to grow even further as technological advances allow the development of the oil sands in the north of the province. Alberta’s high rate of economic growth is not limited to the energy industry, however, as the province boasts a diverse economy. Alberta’s manufacturing sector has doubled in size in the last decade, and innovation is spurring new industries that make Alberta a strong competitor in global markets. Beyond oil and gas, forestry remains an important industry, worth over $6 billion annually. Alberta has also traditionally been home to large farming and ranching industries, which remain an important part of the province’s culture and economy.
With the rapid pace of economic development in the province, Alberta is a great place to find work in Canada. Alberta enjoys an unemployment of around 5.5%, well below the national average of 6.8%. When this low unemployment rate is combined with low natural population growth and record-setting numbers for job creation, the result is that there are many job opportunities available for immigrants in the province.
In recent years the province has increased the number of permanent resident immigrants as well as temporary foreign workers living and working in the province, yet the unemployment rate continues to decline. International surveys consistently rank Calgary and Edmonton among the top cities in the world to work. On top of the availability of jobs, people enjoy working in Alberta thanks to its high standard of living.
Alberta Standard of Living
Thanks to low levels of unemployment and high demand for workers, Alberta’s average wage and salary rates are highly competitive with the rest of Canada. The minimum wage in Alberta approaches the Canadian average at 10.20$/hr. Most noteworthy, Albertan families have the highest average combined income in Canada.
Albertans also have the lowest personal taxes in Canada, thanks to the wealth of natural resources. Alberta’s personal tax advantage results from a low single rate tax system, including the highest basic and spousal exemptions in the country, no general sales tax, the lowest gasoline tax rate among the provinces, and low property taxes. What this all translates to is more income remaining for families to spend on living expenses.
Alberta enjoys a very low crime rate that makes its cities and towns pleasant places to live and safe to raise a family. In addition, the province’s natural beauty, including vast forests and the Rocky Mountains, contribute to a desirable living environment. The standard of living in Alberta is one of the most important factors in attracting immigrants to the province.
Alberta Residential Housing
Alberta has one of the more affordable housing markets in Canada. Although the high rate of migration to the province, combined with increased incomes for Alberta residents, has created a surge of demand that has brought a rise in prices, the province remains an affordable place to buy or rent housing. With home builders putting up new homes at a fast pace, housing costs are expected to decline in the next few years.
The average house price in Alberta is approximately $400,000. (Edmonton: 368,00$; Calgary: 450,00$). Overall, the percentage of household income taken up by housing costs is below the Canadian average, sitting at approximately 25%. For more information on finding a place to live when you move to Alberta, this Government of Alberta site is rich in information for buying or renting homes.
Alberta has a renowned education system, from kindergarten right through to its universities, which produces world-leading research. In Canada, all citizens and permanent residents under the age of 20 are entitled to free education until the end of high school through the public school system. When you move to Alberta, your children will have a choice of several different schooling options, all funded by tax dollars and without fees. Aside from the main public school system, there are also francophone schools for education in French, as well as a Catholic school system. At the cutting edge, Alberta also has online/virtual education programs, as well as alternative schools available as educational options. Some people in the province elect to send their children to private schools. The vast majority, however, use the public schools, which are of a high quality.
Alberta’s publicly funded postsecondary education system has a total of 26 institutions, including four universities with a total of over 115,000 full- and part-time students. The province’s per student and per capita spending on basic education continues to be among the highest in Canada.
Albertans pay on average $5,700 per year on tuition for post-secondary education. This rate is among the highest in Canada. The government of Alberta, however, has several programs in place to help ease the burden and to help you save for your child’s education after he or she completes high school.
The Alberta Centennial Education Plan was launched in 2005. The plan will contribute $500 to the Registered Education Savings Plan of every child born to Alberta residents in 2005 and beyond. The program is designed to give parents an incentive to start planning and saving for their child’s post-secondary education as early as possible. In 2004, total assistance to Alberta students was about $439 million.
Alberta Health Care
Under Canadian Law, all provinces and territories must provide universal, publicly funded health care to all citizens and legal residents of Canada. In other words, most basic health services in Canada are offered at no direct cost to the patient. Certain procedures that are not deemed necessary (such as elective cosmetic surgery and a number of dental care procedures, for example) are generally not covered, but the list of services paid for publicly varies from province to province.
Alberta, like the rest of Canada, has universal, publicly funded health care. Approximately $7,000 per capita is spent each year on health care in the province, which is among the highest in Canada.
Alberta joined Canadian confederation as a separate province in 1905. The province is named after the fourth daughter of Queen Victoria. Before it gained provincial status, Alberta had been governed as a region of the North-West territories. Until 1868 the province’s territory, along with other large portions of what today makes up Canada, was controlled by the Hudson’s Bay Company of Canada.
Before the arrival of European settlers in the 1700s the indigenous First Nations of Alberta inhabited the area for over 8,000 years. Many of these indigenous peoples were displaced by European settlement of the are. Indigenous communities remain, however, and are an important part of Albertan history.
Alberta entered Canadian confederation as a province along with its neighbour to the East, Saskatchewan, in 1905. In its early history Alberta was mostly a province of farmers, with some additional mining activity. The province was hit hard by the depression of the 1920s but recovered with some strong government intervention.
The oil and gas boom, which continues to benefit the province today, began in 1947. Thanks to the prosperity from this natural wealth, Alberta was able to invest in its economy and education to create the strong and diverse modern economy found in the province today.
Alberta has a unique and vibrant culture that has been largely shaped by immigrants who have settled in the province. Throughout the province, but especially in the major cities of Calgary and Edmonton, one can find the culture, cuisine, music and arts of communities from all over the world. One example of this immigrant culture on display is Calgary’s Carifest, an annual celebration of Caribbean culture in the province.
Thanks to the fusion of all of these communities’ cultures, Alberta’s cities are cosmopolitan in their own right. In 1988, Calgary was on display to the whole world when it hosted the Winter Olympic Games. Edmonton is known for its excellent festivals, especially the Edmonton Fringe Festival, the second largest of its kind in the world after the one in Edinburgh. Edmonton is also known for the West Edmonton Mall, once the largest indoor shopping mall in the world.
Alberta’s culture also retains a degree of influence from its history of frontier settlement and traditional farming. The greatest example of this “cowboy culture” is the Calgary Stampede, the annual summer festival that features such events as bull-roping and rodeos. The Stampede and the celebrations that surround it draw over 1.2 million visitors each year.
Alberta is home to over 4 million people, roughly one tenth of the total population of Canada. About half of this population is centered in the province’s two largest cities, with just over 1 million living in each of the Calgary and Edmonton metropolitan areas. After these cities, significant population centers include Red Deer (98,000), Lethbridge (93,000), Fort McMurray (62,000), Medicine Hat (60,000) and Grand Prairie (55,000).
Immigration has played a crucial role in shaping the makeup of Alberta. As a result of larger waves of immigration earlier in the province’s development, a large proportion of the province’s residents identify heritage from Great Britain, Germany, Ireland, Ukraine and France. Alberta also has large communities of South Asian and Chinese heritage. As immigration to Alberta today reaches some of its highest levels ever, the province continues to become more and more diverse.
The majority of Albertans identify as Christian. The province itself, however, is largely secular. Alberta is also home to many people of the Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Jewish and Buddhist faiths. In fact, Edmonton is home to the oldest Mosque in North America.
Alberta is one of the most popular destinations for immigrants to Canada thanks to its quality of life and economic opportunities. Through an agreement with the government of Canada, the province plays an increased role in selecting immigrants who will settle in the province, with Alberta Ministry of Employment Immigration and Industry involved in decision making when it comes to attracting immigrants and nominating for immigration individuals who possess skills that are needed in Alberta.
The Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program (AINP) is Alberta’s Provincial Nominee Program. Through this program, prospective immigrants with the skills and experience targeted by the province may receive an Alberta Provincial Nomination Certificate, which will speeds up the overall immigration process.
Canada’s government works on a federal system, with control over certain affairs belonging to the national government in Ottawa, and others under the control of the provincial governments. The province of Alberta has its own democratically-elected parliament (known as the Alberta Legislative Assembly) which is found in the provincial capital of Edmonton.
The current government of the province is led by the New Democratic Party of Alberta, headed by Premier Rachel Notley, who replaced former Premier Jim Prentice. As with any Canadian province, Alberta has wide control over its health, education and other services. Thanks to the natural resource wealth in the province, the government of Alberta is able to provide high quality services while collecting the lowest levels of taxes in Canada.
The Major Cities
Calgary is the largest city in Alberta and the fifth largest metropolitan area in Canada. It is also one of the fastest-growing cities, and home to a diverse multicultural array of residents. While the majority of Calgarians identify with European heritage, people from all over the world live in Calgary. Some notably large communities are the Chinese-Canadian population and the South Asian population. The Aboriginal, Filipino and Latin American communities in the city are also sizable, vibrant and growing.
The economy of the city is centered around the petroleum industry, financial institutions and high-technology industries. Some of the major companies headquartered in the city include Canadian Pacific Railway, Imperial Oil, EnCana and Petro-Canada. As the city continues to grow, more and more major multinational companies are setting up offices in the city, marking the increasing significance of Calgary in the world economy.
Calgary is recognized worldwide for its combination of quality of life with economic growth. A 2007 survey by Forbes Magazine ranked Calgary as the cleanest city in the world, while surveys by Mercer Consulting and The Economist have ranked the city very highly in quality of life (25th and 10th in the world, respectively). The cosmopolitan city has a multicultural flair and played host to the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. These impressive credentials continue to draw newcomers to the city each year.
Edmonton is the capital of the Province of Alberta, and the sixth largest city in Canada, just slightly smaller than Calgary. While the city is home to over 1 million people, the city has a very low population density, covering 684 square kilometers. This large land area provides the city with a large amount of green space, a major attraction of the city. Edmonton’s river valley is over 20 times the size of New York’s central park.
While the population of Edmonton was under 10,000 when it became the capital of the new province of Alberta in 1905, it has grown steadily since the oil boom began in the late 1940s. The city experienced a recession through the 1980s and early 1990s, but the last decade has been a period of growth and renewal for the city. Today the city is a strong industrial hub, with companies such as IBM, TELUS, Dell and General Electric locating major offices there thanks to its reputation as one of Canada’s top centers for research.
Alberta, most westerly of Canada’s three Prairie Provinces, occupying the continental interior of the western part of the country. To the north the 60th parallel (latitude 60° N) forms its boundary with the Northwest Territories, to the east the 110th meridian (longitude 110° W) forms the boundary with its prairie neighbour, Saskatchewan, to the south the 49th parallel forms the international boundary with the U.S. state of Montana, and to the west the boundary with British Columbia is formed by the 120th meridian and the crest of the Rocky Mountains. The province is about 750 miles (1,200 km) in extent from north to south and about 400 miles (640 km) across at the greatest width. Alberta was established as a district of the North-West Territories in 1882 and was enlarged to its present boundaries on becoming a province in 1905. The provincial government has its seat in Edmonton.
Following the earliest explorations by fur traders, the settlement of Alberta’s prairie and parkland zones (which stretch from the boreal forest transition zone south to the border with the United States) led to the development of agriculture. Subsequent exploitation of rich oil, gas, coal, and timber resources led to further population growth, with an increase in urbanization and industrialization. The province remains sparsely populated, however, and relative isolation from the more populous eastern regions of the country has inhibited the development of industries needing mass markets. With natural routes to the north, Alberta has become a major jumping-off point for the development of Canada’s Arctic and subarctic regions. The scenery of the mountain parks in the west is internationally renowned. Area 255,541 square miles (661,848 square km). Pop. (2016) 4,067,175; (2019 est.) 4,330,206.
Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.
Canadian provincial flag consisting of a blue field (background) with the provincial coat of arms in the centre. The crest includes (from bottom to top) the typical wheat fields of the province, rough prairie land, foothills, and finally the Rocky Mountains under a blue sky. At the very top of the shield is the red Cross of St. George, recalling the English settlement of the region.
The official seal of the Province of Alberta.
The wild rose is the official flower of Alberta.
(2016) 4,067,175; (2019 est.) 4,330,206
TOTAL AREA (SQ MI)
TOTAL AREA (SQ KM)
“Fortis et liber (Strong and free)”
Seasons: Meteorological and Astronomical
When do spring, summer, fall, and winter start and end? It depends on which definition you use and if you are north or south of the equator.
The four seasons.
The Earth’s axis is slightly tilted in relation to its orbit around the Sun. This is why we have seasons.
In most cultures, including all western countries, the year is commonly divided into four seasons:
- Fall or Autumn
Since the year has 12 months, each season lasts about three months. However, the dates when the seasons begin and end vary depending on whom you ask. Two methods are most commonly used to define the dates of the seasons: the astronomical definition and the meteorological definition.
The astronomical definition uses the dates of equinoxes and solstices to mark the beginning and end of the seasons:
- Spring begins on the spring equinox;
- Summer begins on the summer solstice;
- Fall (autumn) begins on the fall equinox; and
- Winter begins on the winter solstice.
The beginning of each season marks the end of the last.
Because the timings of the equinoxes and solstices change each year, the length of astronomical seasons within a year and between years also vary.
Northern Meteorological Seasons
According to the meteorological definition, the seasons begin on the first day of the months that include the equinoxes and solstices:
- Spring runs from March 1 to May 31;
- Summer runs from June 1 to August 31;
- Fall (autumn) runs from September 1 to November 30; and
- Winter runs from December 1 to February 28 (February 29 in a leap year).
Opposite Sides – Opposite Seasons
When the Northern Hemisphere gets most sunlight (summer), the Southern Hemisphere gets least (winter).
Seasons in the Southern Hemisphere are opposite to those in the Northern Hemisphere. For example, under the definition of astronomical seasons, the June solstice marks the start of summer in the Northern Hemisphere, but it is the start of winter in the Southern Hemisphere. The same rule applies for the other seasons.
The meteorological seasons in the Southern Hemisphere are also opposite to those in the Northern Hemisphere:
- Spring starts September 1 and ends November 30;
- Summer starts December 1 and ends February 28 (February 29 in a Leap Year);
- Fall (autumn) starts March 1 and ends May 31; and
- Winter starts June 1 and ends August 31;