Observations on Calgary

As some of you know, I am in Calgary to give a paper at a conference. The conference is titled “War and Society” and is being held at the University of Calgary. I am presenting on mercenary soldiers who came from north of the Roman frontier and took service with the Roman army.

I flew from Boston to Calgary yesterday by way of Montreal. This is the farthest west I have ever been by over 1,000 miles and things are very different here. I’m sure any local would snicker at this list, but these are the things that stood out to me because, like Ms. Dickinson, “I see New-Englandly.”

– It’s flat. Very flat. The city of Calgary sprawls over a bit of a ridge and the Rocky Mountains rise quite suddenly in the west, but otherwise it is as flat as the proverbial flapjack.

– I haven’t seen a tree yet that wasn’t obviously planted. It’s mostly birch and spruce.

– Corollary to the above: the sky is huge and you can see for miles.

– Even the birds and the weeds are different. I haven’t seen much that looks familiar.

– The roads run north-south or east-west. That’s it. They cross at right angles and even turn at right angles.

– After about 16 or 17, “Count the Tim Hortons” stops being a fun game to pass the time on the taxi ride from the airport.

– A house from the 1950s is old.

– The city sprawls over the plains, but its edges are sharply defined. On one side of a road is farmland and open pasture; the other side is chock-a-block full of houses and apartment buildings.

– The local big box stores make our big box stores look like shoebox stores.

– Everyone I’ve dealt with so far has been welcoming and friendly, but most of the people I’ve dealt with so far have been somehow connected with the tourism and travel industry, so “welcoming and friendly” is part of the job description. Still, it feels genuine to me.

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One Response to “Observations on Calgary”

  1. pj Says:

    Calagary! We want to hear all about this! N&P

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