6 Things That Were Seriously Eye-Opening When I Moved From London To Calgary

They don't call Alberta the "Texas of Canada" for nothing!

Charlie enjoying drinks on Stephen Ave. Right: Downtown Calgary with a view of Calgary Tower.

Charlie enjoying drinks on Stephen Ave. Right: Downtown Calgary with a view of Calgary Tower.

This Opinion article is part of a Narcity Media series. The views expressed are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Narcity Media.

After being stuck inside in a tiny flat in London, England, for 18 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I was itching for a change so we packed our bags and boarded a flight to Canada. Next stop, Calgary.

I had visited Calgary once before but other than what I’d seen on that vacation, I really didn’t know a lot about the city. I knew about the Calgary Stampede, and that it’s near Banff and that might have been the extent of it.

However, I’ve already learnt so much about my new home and there are so many things I’ve grown to love about Calgary — but I definitely have some thoughts.

People really wear cowboy gear

Charlie at Calgary Stampede in 2021.

Charlie at the Calgary Stampede in 2021.

Charlie Hart | Narcity

I knew I’d be likely to see some cowboy hats and boots in my time here.

The Calgary Stampede is what the city is famous for after all. But I’m not sure I really expected to see people going about their daily lives in western gear.

A cowboy hat in Calgary seems to be as common in the summer as wearing a toque in winter. My friend even told me you can get little plastic covers for your cowboy hat when it rains. They don’t call Alberta the “Texas of Canada” for nothing.

People love a Caesar

If there is one popular Calgary delicacy I just can’t get behind, it’s the Caesar.

The drink, which is said to have been invented here, is a mixture of vodka, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce and tomato and clam juice.

They usually also have some kind of pickled vegetable as a garnish but some places go wild! I’ve seen bacon, waffles, or even a piece of fried chicken used as a garnish.

People go crazy for them and it’s pretty standard for someone to order one with brunch. There’s even festivals dedicated to Caesars. I just can’t get on board and it might just be the thing that gets me kicked out of this country.

It's freaking cold

There’s a decent amount of rain in London but the weather never really tends to reach any extremes.

Nothing could prepare me for just how cold Calgary gets in the depths of winter. My eyelashes constantly freeze together and any exposed hair turns white within minutes.

I bought the biggest puffer coat I could possibly find and it’s possibly been the best purchase of my Canadian experience to date.

It's dry AF

While the city gets pretty cold, it’s also ridiculously dry. I go through moisturizer like nobody’s business.

I even bought a humidifier for the apartment but I’m not 100% sure it’s really helping.

After a while, you just kind of get used to having to use more hand lotion and lip balm than you thought was humanly possible.

Summer is a whole different vibe

Calgarians near enough hibernate during the winter, but summer is when the city comes alive.

Once the weather warms up, patios open and it feels like a completely different place. There’s truly nothing better than sitting outside on a warm evening with a beer on a busy patio. When the Calgary Stampede comes around in July, the city is bustling.

Even if you want to escape the city, the mountains are also right there. You can swim in some of the most beautiful lakes imaginable and set up camp literally right in the middle of nowhere. It really reminds me of just how lucky I am to live here.

The food is amazing

A khachapuri (Georgian flat bread) at A1 Cafe.

A khachapuri (Georgian flat bread) at A1 Cafe.

Charlie Hart | Narcity

Calgary isn’t the biggest city so I honestly wasn’t expecting that much from the food but there are some incredible restaurants.

I love a Wing Wednesday as much as anyone but there's so much more on offer, from Korean dishes to tacos.

People have such an appreciation for food here and they’re so supportive of their local restaurants. Pop-ups are happening all the time and I love seeing food culture thriving.

Charlie Hart
Charlie Hart is a Creator for Narcity Media focused on Alberta news and is based in Calgary, Alberta.