Culture and Personality of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

What it means to be Calgarian

Whether you’re a temporary transplant for work or school, moving to Calgary permanently or just passing through on vacation, understanding who Calgarians are and what motivates us will add a lot of value to your time in our city.

Here’s an inside look from a Montrealer (turned Calgarian) living in Calgary on what makes Calgarians Calgarians!  


Students by the Peace Bridge in Calgary


We are young…for now

Calgary has historically always been a young city, with median ages well below the national average. Of all the major cities in Canada (including Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver) Calgary has the lowest median age. Just 36 years old! This might be attributed to the abundance of work opportunities that blessed Calgary during the oil boom years, attracting new graduates and youth from other parts of Canada.


BUT, new census data shows that the we might be finally maturing with the recent population growth of the 55+ crowd, changing the face and age of our city.  



Diverse international students stop for a picture at Calgary's rainbow crosswalk


We are diverse

Did you know that more than 28 per cent of the population are immigrants? Our population increased by more than 20 per cent since 2019, making Calgary one of the fastest growing cities in Canada. People are arriving from other parts of Canada, but also the Philippines, India, Pakistan, China and Venezuela. 


Walking around town, you can see the diversity in the faces of Calgarians and the businesses we support and love. We are a dynamic and exciting place because of that diversity - a fact that we all embrace proudly as part of who we are. 


Calgary city picture


We are well educated and entrepreneurial

Calgary has held the reputation for being a leader in education in Canada for many decades and continues to place the development of its youth as a top priority. With seven major Universities and Colleges, there is no lack of opportunities for students to pursue their preferred career paths. 


Calgary has the highest level of labour production of any other major city in Canada and is considered one of the top 10 most attractive cities for workers globally (AIRINC’s Global 150 Cities Index, 2016). And of that incredibly talented labour force, we have some of the highest levels of education attainment in the world. We even rank second highest small businesses per capita in Canada. Now, isn’t’ that impressive?  


Basically, we study hard, work hard and have a lot of respect for others who do the same. 


Having a pint at the Bank & Baron P.U.B.


We are friendly but reserved

Canadians enjoy the reputation worldwide of being warm, welcoming and friendly. Calgarians are really no different. A long and healthy history of vibrant immigration has taught us to be open minded and inviting. And there’s nothing like a little Western hospitality when you’re new to town. Calgarians will smile at you on the street, nod hello on the C-Train and strike up easy conversations at the bar. We love to meet new people! 


As an innovative city at the forefront of the tech industry, we attract a lot of talented workers from around the world. As such, Calgary might be the most transient cities in Canada. 


In fact, it’s really quite hard to find a Calgarian that was actually born and raised right here in Calgary. Most people who identify as Calgarian actually have a rich migration story (I, for example, am actually from Montreal…on the other side of Canada). This means it’s really easy to connect with others when you first arrive in Calgary, as you can relate to one another easily and probably don’t have family in town.


BUT, if you happen to meet some Calgarians who have lived their entire lives here, you might find them somewhat aloof. That’s not to say that they’re not friendly and welcoming…they’re just likely to be more conservative, family-oriented and less likely to seek out new friends (as they’ve already carved out a nice support group for themselves). 


If you’re willing to put in the time and can demonstrate your loyalty, every Canadian (Calgarian or otherwise) will eventually come around and treat you like one of the family. 


Calgary Folk Festival


We are family-oriented

Calgary has a dynamic and thriving nightlife – with lots of first-rate eateries, bars and clubs to frequent after the sun has set. This is likely due to the younger overall age of our population. What visitors notice is lacking though, is the typical after-hour bustling and activity on downtown streets. Aside from a few streets that cater to the late night crowd, the core of Calgary can seem like a ghost town after 7 pm. 


The reason is simple – Calgarians are a family oriented bunch. We tend to cook more at home, spend time with family on the weekends and make a b-line to our suburban homes after work. FAMILY IS EVERYTHING. The downtown is for work and the occasional happy hour. But nights are for family. 


If you want to see Calgarians thriving in their natural habitats, you’ll see them in backyard barbeques with friends and neighbours, at community association centres and at the rink cheering on as their kids play hockey. 


If you can’t get yourself invited to a neighbourhood street party, take a walk in one of Calgary’s many public parks on summer weekends. They are chock-full of families picnicking next to fire pits, and hanging out with friends playing soccer and tossing around Frisbees. That’s where Calgarians thrive.


Tent Ridge hike


We are active and healthy

Imagine only being an hour’s drive from the majestic Canadian Rocky Mountains. For us Calgarians, it’s very much a reality and we don’t take it for granted. The majority of us spend every free moment we can enjoying the free access to the mountains and rivers – skiing, hiking, climbing, kayaking …we do it all. And if we can’t make it out of the city on the weekend, we take to our extensive urban pathway and bikeway system or head to one of the many green parks.


Health and wellness is a lifestyle choice for many Calgarians and considered a top priority when considering neighbourhoods to live in. Calgary enjoys world-class fitness facilities and gymnasiums and hundreds of diverse options for those looking for unconventional modes of wellness.


Calgarians sometimes forget how lucky they are compared to other Canadians when it comes to healthcare. Because of our incredibly qualified workforce, easy access to family doctors and healthcare keeps us in fairly good shape. We really are privileged when it comes to access to the best doctors and facilities in the country.  

Calgary Stampede, downtown


We love our city and communities

Walking around Calgary, it’s clear to every newcomer that we are community minded and fiercely proud of our city. It’s reflected in the clean and safe environment that we work hard to maintain, in the vibrant community festivals that pop up throughout the year and in the many unique small businesses that we support. 


Although Calgary is currently in a recession, for decades we enjoyed the status and development that comes with being a boom town. It created a pride that has held steady despite the recent downturn. If anything, our economic struggles have proven to humble and polish us into better Canadians overall!


Calgarians love to support their communities and neighbours. We are known for our generosity and civic humanism – Calgarians provide the most to charities and volunteer organizations of any other major city in Canada. We recognize the importance and necessity of taking caring of our own. What benefits the whole will also benefit the individual….it’s really a Canadian way of thinking. Community first! 

Effloressence installation by the Blazing Lily Girls at Calagary's 2019 Beakerhead festival


Are you thinking of becoming a Calgarian?

Whether you’re here for a short time or a long time, being Calgarian is really just a state of mind. You don’t need to be born in Calgary, or even in Canada, to adopt our way of thinking. In fact, there’s really just one criteria for being Calgarian: LOVE THIS CITY, and we guarantee it’ll love you right back. Yahoo!