In addition to being one of Canada’s largest cities, Calgary  is also one of the youngest; at 140 years old, it has a heritage rather than a history. In 1875 the NWMP established Fort Calgary  at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers. It was named after Calgary Bay, a remote Scottish village, with a meaning that is said to translate from Gaelic to “garden on the cove.”
As soon as it was announced that the Canadian Pacific Railway was building its transcontinental railway through Calgary, settlers flooded in. In 1883, a station was built and a townsite was laid out around it. Just nine years after the first train arrived, Calgary acquired city status. In 1886, a fire destroyed most of the town’s buildings. City planners decreed that all new structures were to be built of sandstone, which gave the fledgling town a more permanent look. The many sandstone buildings still standing today—the Palliser Hotel, the Hudson’s Bay Company store, and the courthouse, for example—are a legacy of this early bylaw.
An open grazing policy, initiated by the Dominion Government, encouraged ranchers in the United States to drive their cattle from overgrazed lands to the fertile plains around Calgary. Slowly, a ranching industry and local beef market developed. The first large ranch was established west of Calgary, and soon many NWMP retirees, English aristocrats, and wealthy American citizens had invested in nearby land.
In 1914, the discovery of oil at Turner Valley, a short drive southwest of Calgary, signaled the start of an industry that was the making of modern Calgary. The opening of an oil refinery in 1923 and further major discoveries transformed a medium-sized cow town into a world leader in the petroleum and natural gas industries. Calgary became Canada’s fastest-growing city, doubling its population between 1950 and 1975; and today, is still Canada’s fastest-growing. The population has increased by more than 25 percent since 1996, with current estimates having the city grow another 25 percent to 1.25 million people in the next decade. Much of the land in and around downtown has been rezoned for multi-family dwellings, with the area south of downtown seeing massive redevelopment and controversial plans in place for the East Village project on the east side of downtown. City limits continue to expand at a phenomenal rate—especially in the northwest, north, and south—with new suburbs, housing estates, and commercial centers extending as far as the eye can see. But Calgary  is still a small town at heart, enjoying tremendous civic and public support. Many of the city’s self-made millionaires bequeath their money to the city, or, in the case of Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park, deed land for all Calgarians to enjoy. Residents in the thousands are always willing to volunteer their time at events such as the Calgary Stampede . This civic pride makes the city a great place to live and an enjoyable destination for the millions of tourists who visit each year.