O’Canada Part One: 150 years & 69 days

In the summer of 2017, I had decided to head to Calgary, no less on my 23rd birthday. It so happened that the flights were considerably cheaper on that particular day. Despite the slightly early start to get to London Gatwick, it is the longest birthday in terms of the number of hours I have officially lived on the 15th June – it was 32 hours from 00:01  (in the UK) to 11:59 (in Calgary)! I planned a 69-day long summer adventure to write my dissertation, see family and hopefully take some time to relax before I started my job in London.

Despite my best good intentions, it turned into another whirlwind of road trips into the mountains and acting as tour guides to Danny, my Auntie and Uncle, my Mum’s niece, one of Harry’s Canadian friend, and my friend from home, Georgia.

The first half of the list above were those who were present for the biggest Canadian event of the year is celebrated on the 1st July; Canada Day. “Canada Day (French: Fête du Canada) is the national day of Canada. A federal statutory holiday, it celebrates the anniversary of the July 1, 1867, enactment of the Constitution Act, 1867 (then called the British North America Act, 1867), which united the three separate colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick into a single Dominion within the British Empire called Canada.” (Thanks, Google.)


2017 was the 150th Year since the enactment was signed, and boy did the Canadians want to celebrate!

Imagine a city that sprawls across flatlands, has a population size of 1.2 million people (very similar to Glasgow, half that of Birmingham and a fifth of the size of London), and the rush hour traffic jams only around last fifteen minutes on average. That’s Calgary. Even though I now live in a bustling London, for this specific occasion I have to emphasise how busy Calgary was on Canada Day. People were everywhere. I could compare it to the crowds at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park at Christmas but imagine the event covering a sixth of the square footage. What’s more, there were many cyclists (who obviously had not expected to see so many people) navigating their way through the crowds and trying not to crash into people by madly ringing their bells. It was almost organised chaos. There were rows of food trucks, events about Canada’s history and the First Nations, etc. As one does at these types of events, we wandered around, found food, and enjoyed the atmosphere 🙂

My dad and Uncle getting into the 1st of July spirit with matching t-shirts!

It was a great summer to be in Canada because not only was the city alive with a lot of hype and energy from the celebrations, but also the annual Calgary Stampede kicked off on five days later on July 6th. It is a huge ten-day rodeo event hosting rides, food trucks, and all kinds of dangerous cowboy sports. It isn’t for the faint-hearted as the key events include bull riding (a bull bucking) and bareback riding (a horse bucking) amongst other events.

Wikipedia kindly tells us: It is one of the largest and the most famous event of its kind in the world. With a prize of $100,000 to the winner of each major discipline and $1,000,000 total on championship day alone, it also offers the richest payout.

The competitors/cowboys who are very good at the events win a lot of money across the events in Canada. It wouldn’t be my chosen career choice but if I grew up to be a barrel racer I think it would be pretty awesome! 🙂

My cousin and I trying to fit in!

The best event, in my opinion, is the chuck wagon racing. These take place every evening and it is a very simple yet competitive one. When the horn sounds, four chuck wagons in the main ring have to complete a figure of eight around two sets of barrels then dash out to the track that circles the ring to be the first one back in the quickest time. It is a time trial event which builds up to the finals on the last Sunday of the Stampede. If you want to see more or can’t quite picture what the event looks like, here’s their official website: https://www.calgarystampede.com/stampede

The best tradition of the Stampede is that everyone wears cowboy boots, hats, belts, shirts, and all other relevant attire all day every day. It is one, a fun way to play a little game called “spot the tourists” and two, colours in the city streets with plaid and the clip-clop of heeled boots. Even little kids wear hats and boots which is so CUTE.

I wish I had more to show you in pictures or videos or wacky stories… It’s taken me a long time to write this (haha, it’s November 2018 and this trip was over 15 months ago…) and it hasn’t been easy because I haven’t had anything crazy ‘fun’ to share. Nevertheless, it is necessary to add to this little online “diary” of my life… and now you’ve learnt a bit more about what happens in the summer in Calgary. You’re welcome? 😛



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