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Labour Day Weekend Trip to Calgary and Stettler, Alberta ~ September 3rd, 2005

by Elizabeth Guenzler

Calgary, the venue for the 1988 Winter Olympic Games and home to the famous Calgary Stampede, among several other distinctions, beckoned in late summer 2005 when Bob and I decided to make our first journey to the neighbouring province to British Columbia. Heritage Park, Calgary Tower, the light rail were all on our itinerary, but the main reason for our visit was to ride the Rocky Mountain Rail Society's Alberta Prairie Railway, home to Canadian National 4-8-2 6060. We flew from Victoria to Calgary on WestJet on September 2nd, rented a car and stayed in down town Calgary overnight.

The next morning, we rode Calgary's light rail, called CTrain, on part of its line. Started in 1981, the system has two routes, designated as the Red Line {formerly Route 201} and the Blue Line {formerly Route 202}. They have a combined route length of 37.2 miles. Much of the South leg of the system shares the right of way of the Canadian Pacific Railway and there is a connection from the light rail track to the CPR line via a track switch near Heritage Station. The longer Red Line (22 miles in length) serves the southern and northwestern areas of the city. The shorter Blue Line (16 miles) serves the northeastern and western sections of the city. Most track is at grade, with its own right-of-way. The downtown portion is a shared right-of-way, serving both routes along the 7th Avenue South transit mall at street level. This portion is a zero-fare zone and serves as a downtown people mover. The tracks split at the east and west ends of downtown into lines leading to the south, northeast, west and northwest residential neighbourhoods of Calgary. Six percent of the system is underground, and seven percent is elevated. Trains are powered by overhead electric wires, using pantographs to draw power.

We started our journey from the 3rd Street SW station and boarded a train for City Centre. We detrained at Sears then bought a day pass to ride to Dalhousie and back (at that time, the end of the line). Both of us were taking photographs today.

A Somerset-bound train seen from the 3rd Street SE platform.

View of the Calgary skyline as seen from CTrain. Upon our return, we detrained at Sears and would ride the line to Whitehorn and back later in the day. In preparation for this trip, I looked for some attractions and found the Devonian Gardens. This incredible indoor park spans three levels in TD Square at 317 7th Avenue SW. They opened in September 1977 and include the Quiet Garden and the Sun Garden. The floral displays change about eighteen times a year and reflect the changing seasons and occasions.

Views of the Devonian Gardens with their fantastic flowers, fountains and pools which span three levels of TD Square.

Myself enjoying this oasis in the middle of a busy city.

Canadian Pacific's headquarters were located in Calgary from 1996 to 2012, having been in Montreal before that. The famous beaver emblem adorned the large sign outside their headquarters building.

Canadian Pacific 4-4-0 29, ex. CPR 29, exx. CPR 2173 1913, exxx. CP 3901 1908, nee CP 3901 193. Built 1887 and owned by the Canadian Railroad Historical Association. It was damaged by a fire on September 16th, 1994 at Hillsborough, New Brunswick, cosmetically restored and placed on display in front of the the company's Calgary headquarters in September 1996.

Details and history of CPR 4-4-0 29 on a plaque in front of the display.

One of three plaques in front of the display at Canadian Pacific Railway headquarters.

A New Beginning for CPR 4-4-0 29.

Station Gardens and the Canadian Pacific Railway.

Calgary Tower was our next stop, but first an amusing sight.

In the city that Canadian Pacific called home, the Masters Horse Show at Spruce Meadows was sponsored by Canadian National Railway in 2005. These flags were prevalent at several intersections.

Part of the Canadian Pacific Railway station. We walked over to Calgary Tower to take in views of the city. The Tower is a 626 foot observation tower in the city's downtown core. It was conceived as a joint venture between Marathon Realty Company Limited and Husky Oil as part of an urban renewal plan and to celebrate Canada's centennial of 1967. The tower was built at a cost of $3,500,000 and weighs approximately 10,884 tonnes, of which sixty percent is below ground. It opened to the public on June 30th, 1968 as the tallest structure in Calgary, and the tallest in Canada outside Toronto. Originally named Husky Tower, it was renamed Calgary Tower in 1971 as a tribute to Calgary citizens. . In 1985, the Tower completed a renovation of the observation areas which added a grill and souvenir shop. In 1987, a natural gas-fired cauldron was installed on top of the Tower by to serve as an official Olympic Flame during the upcoming Winter Games and the next year, a hand-held replica of with an Olympic flame crossed Canada during the Torch Relay. Tens of thousands of international guests and athletes visit the Tower during the Calgary Olympics. Fresh off its Olympic exposure in 1989, the Calgary Tower initiated and was a founding member of the World Federation of Great Towers. In 2005, a glass floor spanning 36' wide by 4.5' was installed on the Observation Deck as a gift to Alberta on its Centennial and in 2014, LED lights were added to the exterior complementing the downtown skyline nightly with spectacular light displays. Finally, in 2018, Calgary Tower celebrated its 50th anniversary as an internationally recognized and iconic symbol of the city.

After lunch at the Panorama revolving restaurant, we went to the observation deck and my first view of the Saddledome was quite moving since the figure skating events of the 1988 Winter Olympics were held here, my first introduction to this winter sport.

The Calgary Stampede grounds and Saddledome.

View looking south.

View looking south and east.

View looking east.

View looking west.

View looking west, the tall building is the Scotiabank Building.

View looking northwest. The brown guilding on the right is the Petro-Canada Centre (re-named Suncor Energy Centre in 2009).

View looking north.

View looking northeast.

CTrain as viewed from Calgary Tower. After buying some souvenirs, we rode CTrain to Whitehorn and back then drove the two-and-a-quarter hours to Stettler and checked into a local hotel for the night. Tomorrow, a steam excursion.

My first day in Calgary had been very memorable and the Devonian Gardens and Calgary Tower were the definite highlights so far.