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A Brief History of Calgary

The human history of the Calgary region begins, as with all Alberta, with the native Canadians, over 12,000 years ago. The last ice age which ended 10,000 years ago created a land bridge between Asia and North America, which allowed early Homo Sapiens to walk to this continent many years before whites came over from Europe by boat. The cultures which existed during the arrival of the European traders and settlers were the Blackfoot, Blood, Peigan, Sarcee and Stoney.

These Indians now reside in a number of reserves around the city. The first Europeans included David Thompson and Peter Fidler in the 1780's and 1790's, both of whom were associated with the fur trade.

The first settler and rancher in Calgary was Sam Livingston who settled in the early 1870's after returning from the California Gold Rush of 1849. The 1860s saw increasingly large numbers of buffalo hunters to the region. These hunters were joined in by whiskey traders who set up forts in which to trade their "whisky" for furs from the local natives.

In response to the whisky-traders the "North West Mounted Police", which later became the "Royal Canadian Mounted Police", were established. In 1875 these early law enforcers built Fort Calgary. Calgary was named by Col. James Macleod of the North West Mounted Police after Calgary Bay on the Isle of Mull on the Scottish west coast. The word Calgary is Gaelic for "clear running water".

By the early 1880's the railway reached Fort Calgary, and the townsite that was to become known as Calgary was established shortly thereafter. Calgary was incoporated as the first town in Alberta in 1884 and ofically became a city in 1893.

During the 1970's, the oil industry boomed in Calgary. The city's population grew from 325,000 in 1974 to 650,000 by the early 1980s. Today, Calgary's population is over the 800,000 level, with slow and steady growth. The 1996-1998 gas exploration boom, offsetting a relatively weak Eastern Canadian and B.C. economy, has led to a large influx of new residents into the city. The city has grown by an average of 20,000 people per year over the past three years.

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