Chris Turner's "Calgary Reconsidered"

by Shaun Hunter

Calgary Through the Eyes of Writers

“I was never going to live in Calgary,” journalist and author Chris Turner says. And he certainly wasn’t going to write about it. But life had other things in store. A dozen years ago, he and his family moved to Calgary. In 2012, he wrote an essay for The Walrus about the changes he has observed in his adopted hometown. Turner considers six old truths about the city that still hold true, including this one: “Calgary is (still) Cowtown.”

If Stampede was just Stampede, a ten-day summer festival with calf roping and fireworks and those addictive mini-doughnuts, a free pancake breakfast in the parking lot of the nearest mall, and some overzealous boozing with co-workers – if that’s all it was, it wouldn’t inspire such spite. But it isn’t just that. It won’t just stay there on the flat land below Scotsman’s Hill, won’t keep quiet after the last explosion in the Grandstand fireworks show. You can’t just take it or leave it while the carnival is up and running. It insists on being everything to everyone everywhere, Calgary by proxy, the default iconographic setting for any discussion of the city and the province and the Canadian West in general. And to question its value, to argue that Calgary is a much more interesting city than its monomyth, is tantamount to blasphemy.


Chris Turner, “Calgary Reconsidered,” How to Breath Underwater (Biblioasis, 2014)