Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors
Adrian Brijbassi

GET UPDATES FROM Adrian Brijbassi
 

Seven Reasons to Visit Calgary After the Flood

Posted: 06/23/2013 11:18 am

From Beyond the Wake

Water, the menace,
knows no prejudice,
It slaloms, it stampedes,
A cavalry of catastrophe,
Brimming over with haste

Buck up in its face,
Flood back human grace,
A stoic swell,
A dam of pride
unbreakable by fate,
rising mountainous

from beyond the wake


When your friends are in trouble and you're far away there's only so much support you are able to give. With Calgary, Canmore and so many other Alberta communities in grief, we wanted to do what we can at Vacay.ca to help. We are trying to ignite a Kickstarter campaign that will complement the Red Cross efforts to aid flood victims in need of financial assistance. But Kickstarter is only based in the United States and requires compliance with American tax law, so we are searching for colleagues south of the border to assist in getting it started. (Email us if you or someone you know can help.)

Hey, if Gawker can raise $200,000 for a video of a fat mayor (allegedly) smoking from a crack pipe, there has to be enough human decency to raise the equivalent amount to help good people in need.

In the meantime, as we observe the historic flood and the damage it has done to this marvellous city and its neighbours, I wanted to list the great many things to celebrate about Calgary and southern Alberta. It's a reminder of why you should visit, once the water has receded and the restoration has begun.

1. The People

When you first hear the term "Western Hospitality," it's easy to think it's a marketing ploy. If you're a journalist, you will even be keen to disprove the term or at least scrutinize its claim. Travel to Calgary a few times and you realize Western Hospitality is real and it's real because the people of the city take the idea of welcoming visitors to heart. No city of one-million people can match Calgary's level of friendliness and gracious spirit.

2. The Calgary Stampede

Few massive events live up to their hype the way the Stampede does. It is everything you would expect from a giant, two-week-long celebration -- and then some, as the free pancake breakfasts, early-morning cocktail parties and late-night music concerts combine to bombard you with incentives to come back. The Stampede is the highest-grossing festival in Canada, bringing in more than $170 million in economic activity each year. Its importance to the community is immense and why everything possible will be done to salvage it this year. [See 2012 Calgary Stampede coverage on Vacay.ca]

3. The Explosion of Culture

Food. Music. Multicultural festivals. Art. Design.

Calgary had little -- or none -- of it two decades ago. Now, this fast-growing, oil-rich city has blossomed with all kinds of contemporary flavours, not the least of which is a stellar culinary scene. On the horizon is the promise of even greater cultural importance as the new $135-million National Music Centre facility prepares to open in 2015.

4. The History

Too often, Canadians forget about the rich history -- human or otherwise -- we have in this country. In Alberta, that history is brilliantly preserved, whether it's in the Badlands, with the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller and Dinosaur Provincial Park, where 40 dinosaur species have been found, or in the numerous First Nations communities, where visitors can learn about what human life in North America was like 8,000 years ago.

5. The Landscape

The flooding of the Bow and Elbow rivers won't alter the majesty of the Rocky Mountains, or the resplendence of the auriferous prairies, or the magnificence of the big, blue sky that skims above Alberta, a province whose landscape stands up to any other territory in the world.

6. The Mayor

Canada has no better politician at the moment than Mayor Naheed Nenshi. Capable and conscientious, he is passing this brutal leadership test and there is plenty of reason to believe something extremely positive and fresh will emerge in months ahead thanks to his guidance.

7. The Community Support

This week, evacuation centres said they have more volunteers than they can use, such is the spirit of generosity in this city.

The Calgary Stampede is run largely by volunteer committees. There are 47 such groups and 2,300 total volunteers who annually gather to put on the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth. If there is something that needs to be organized, Calgarians will find a way to do it. We found that out ourselves this spring as Calgary food lovers, food industry workers and chefs combined to bolster their restaurants. More public votes were received from Calgarians than any other city when we put together the Vacay.ca Top 50 Restaurants in Canada Guide for 2013. Calgary placed an amazing eight restaurants on the list.

Civic pride is the biggest reason why we know Calgary will come out of this challenging week stronger and more resilient.

The city's community spirit is why we want to add our support and encourage everyone to visit Calgary. The economic benefit from your trip will make a difference, but so will your mere presence. For all the care Calgary has shown its guests over the years, perhaps now is the perfect time for those of us watching the disaster from afar to demonstrate that Western Hospitality extends beyond the borders of the city and its province.

Loading Slideshow...
  • Emergency Declared In Southern Alberta After Heavy Flooding

    Houses damaged along the edge of Cougar Creek are shown June 20, 2013 in Canmore, Alta. Widespread flooding caused by torrential rains washed out bridges and roads prompting the evacuation of thousands.

  • Emergency Declared In Southern Alberta After Heavy Flooding

    Residents watch flooding along Cougar Creek June 20, 2013 in Canmore, Alta. Widespread flooding caused by torrential rains washed out bridges and roads prompting the evacuation of thousands.

  • Emergency Declared In Southern Alberta After Heavy Flooding

    Residents watch the flooding Cougar Creek as it takes out Eagle Terrace Road and nears the top of the Elk Run Blvd Bridge June 20, 2013 in Canmore, Alta. Widespread flooding caused by torrential rains washed out bridges and roads prompting the evacuation of thousands.

  • Emergency Declared In Southern Alberta After Heavy Flooding

    Houses damaged along the edge of Cougar Creek.

  • A lone truck sits submerged in the flood waters near downtown High River, Alta. on Thursday.

  • Homes along Cougar Creek in Canmore, Alta. barely hang on as the town struggles to deal with flooding Thursday.

  • A front end loader carries residents after they were rescued from the flood waters in High River, Alberta.

  • A kayaker paddles down a flooded street in High River, Alberta on Thursday.

  • Cars are submerged by the flood waters in High River, Alberta on Thursday.

  • Kevan Yaets swims after his cat Momo to safety as the flood waters sweep him downstream after submerging his truck in High River, Alberta on Thursday.

  • A woman is rescued from the flood waters in High River, Alta. on Thursday.

  • Kevan Yaets crawls out the back window of his pick up truck with his cat Momo as the flood waters sweep him downstream after submerging his truck in High River.

  • A helicopter carrying residents lands on a road in High River, Alta., Thursday.

  • Crystal Poirier, Roger Poirier

    Roger Poirier, holds his family's cat, Smartie, as his wife Crystal looks on after rescuing it from their flooded house in High River, Alta., Thursday.

  • Cars and homes are submerged in flood waters in High River.

  • Rescuers looks for stranded residents in High River, Alta. on June 20, 2013 after the Highwood River overflowed its banks.

  • A shot of the homes along Cougar Creek.

  • Semi truck sit idle to the Trans-Canada Highway in Canmore, Alta. on Thursday June 20, 2013. Calgary and most of southern Alberta are being hammered by rain that has washed-out roads and bridges, caused mudslides and closed major highways.

  • A flooded residence in High river, Alta. Heavy rains have caused flooding, closed roads, and forced evacuation in High River, Alta., Thursday, June 20, 2013.

  • A front end loader carries people to safety from the flood waters in High River, Alta. on June 20, 2013 after the Highwood River overflowed its banks.

  • Kevan Yaets swims after his cat Momo to safety as the flood waters sweep him downstream and submerge the cab in High River, Alberta on June 20, 2013 after the Highwood River overflowed its banks. Hundreds of people have been evacuated with volunteers and emergency crews helping to aid stranded residents.

  • A resident is comforted by rescuers as she clutches her dog after being retrieved from the flood waters in High River, Alta. on June 20, 2013 after the Highwood River overflowed its banks.

  • Bragg Creek Flood 2013 House Breaking

    A video of a house shattering against the bridge during the first day of the 2013 flood in Bragg Creek. I offer my sincerest condolences to those who lost th...

  • A lone truck sits submerged in the flood waters near downtown High River, Alta. on June 20, 2013 after the Highwood River overflowed its banks.

  • Krystal Lelond of Black Diamond clutches her cat Pipi after being evacuated from her home after the Sheep River overflowed its banks.

  • An elderly woman is rescued from the flood waters in High River, Alta. on June 20, 2013 after the Highwood River overflowed its banks.

  • Debris and water pours across the Trans-Canada Highway as Canmore struggles with flooding.

  • A woman wades through the flood waters in High River, Alta. on June 20, 2013 after the Highwood River overflowed its banks.

  • Flooding in Black Diamond

  • This is the view of the bridge over the Highwood. Normally there is a couple metres clearance below it.

  • A kayaker paddles down a flooded street in High River, Alta. on June 20, 2013 after the Highwood River overflowed its banks.

  • One of several rock slides blocking #hwy40 in Kananaskis. No access to Kananaskis village.

  • Look at the flooding in #lethbridge !! This street has been shut down

  • Residents wade through flood waters after an evacuation order following heavy rains caused flooding, closed roads, and forced evacuation in High River.

  • A helicopter carrying evacuated residents lands on a road in High river, Alta. Heavy rains have caused flooding, closed roads, and forced evacuation in High River, Alta., Thursday, June 20, 2013.

  • The Bow river swells over its banks in downtown Calgary, Alta. Heavy rains have caused flooding, closed roads, and forced evacuation in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, June 20, 2013.

  • The Bow river swells over its banks in downtown Calgary, Alta. Heavy rains have caused flooding, closed roads, and forced evacuation in Calgary, Alta., Thursday, June 20, 2013.

 

Follow Adrian Brijbassi on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AdrianBrijbassi

FOLLOW CANADA TRAVEL