Canadian Prime Minister Little Stevie Harper said the other day at the Calgary Stampede that Calgary is the best city in the country.
In 1990, on a whim, I quit a good job in Ottawa, my wife got a transfer from the post office, we hauled our two kids out of school and away from their friends, and moved to Calgary. Just for the heck of it.
Calgary, situated in a large wheat field, is where one can enjoy summer snow, winter thaw, and winter torture. I can recall one winter waiting with my son for a rapid transit train, and the electronic sign told us it was minus 69 with the wind chill. The wind blows off the prairies like a truly bitchy Mother Nature, and there are very few swimming pools because the mountains, an hour and a half away, cool the evenings down considerably.
Traffic on the Deerfoot, Crowfoot, and other trails during rush hour just sucks. In fact, it can be absolute bullshit. The city needs to revamp the way it has traffic flowing. And when the freezing rain hits the freeways, it’s like watching giant bumper cars bounce around.
We left our car in our driveway one time when we were leaving for overseas, and came back to find hundreds of dents in the roof from golf-ball size hail. It’s a place where I took one lousy job after another, including door-to-door milkman, and several semi-driver gigs. And two years after moving there, I went through an excruciating divorce that just about killed me.
However, Calgary can be a fine place. It’s only a few hours of leisurely drive to get to Banff. Or Edmonton if you’re so inclined. You’re probably not inclined but anyway.
The Bow River runs through town, which is a nice touch, especially since the city sits on the prairies and it’s nice to see water. It has NHL hockey and CFL football, and the incredible Mac’s Midget Tournament over Christmas. It used to have Triple A baseball, the Cannons, which I really loved going to. Flames defenceman Ric Nattress, who also played for the Habs in the early ’80s, and family sat behind us one time at a Cannons game.
Calgary has an excellent Chinatown, and lots of people wear cowboy hats.
I just don’t feel I agree with Little Stevie. I sure missed Ottawa, still do, and Vancouver has a lot of things going for it that you’ve probably read in brochures or seen in some crazy Canadian-made movie showing tons of street scenes. Montreal is fantastic except Darth says there’s too many potholes. And I seem to recall some sort of politcial unrest there too.
Toronto is where Li’l Stevie grew up. He probably got laid for the first time there. Smoked his first cigarette and joint there. Received his first wedgie. How come he doesn’t pick Toronto as Canada’s best city?
At least Toronto has the Hockey Hall of Fame, and Orillia is only a couple of hours away. Yorkville Avenue in the core of Toronto was once as cool a street as any in the country, maybe the coolest, but the Man and ladies with furs took over and it’s like Rodeo Drive now.
There’s a lot of great cities in this country. Maybe the one with the least mosquitos should be judged the best. Or the coldest beer. Or the best weather. Or the most beautiful women. And if having the most beautiful women decides the question, then yes, Montreal is the grestest city in the country.