English: From top left, the Saddledome and dow...
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It’s always hard to make new friends when coming to live in a new city. Calgary Newcomers’ Club welcomes its members with opportunities for social interaction with other women of any nationality who are new to Calgary through shared interests and activities.

Founded in 1961 by Kay Dant, The Club just celebrated their 50th anniversary. Calgary Newcomers’ Club is a member of the National Newcomer’s Council of Canada.

Any woman who has moved to Calgary in the last 3 years or, by special motion of the Executive Board, within the past 5 years is eligible to join. We also accept applications from women who have experienced a major life change (employment, marital etc) who want to experience Calgary in a new way.

Some of the activities are: book clubs, mah jong, hiking and snowshoeing groups, walking groups, tennis, golf, pub night, pot luck dinner parties, wine tasting parties, lunch and coffee meetings at various locations around town.

A prospective member may attend a Hospitality Event where a member of the Club Executive Board will answer all her questions about the club. Just contact the club through the website or by phone.

There is annual fee of $40 to be a member.

Many great friendships have been made through CNC, enduring even after people leave the city. So have a look at the website, come to a hospitality event where you will be warmly welcomed into someone’s home and get meeting new friends straight away!

More information is available at or by calling 403-245-8993

Courtesy of Seema- a member of the Calgary Newcomers Club and also member of the Calgary British Expats Meet Up Group

Also, I have mentioned this one in a previous article- but  worth another ‘shout’ and this is the The Calgary British Expats Meet Up Group- check it out for local get together’s, be it a night at the pub, quiz, learn to dance, family outings or just a coffee, just a great way to meet new Brits and ultimately have a laugh!!

Brit newcomers always welcome- whether you have been here 1 week, month or a decade or 2!!



To buy or to rent when you move to Canada?

When moving to Canada one of the first considerations you have to make is where you plan to live , followed by  do you rent or buy ?There is no real magic answer to this though,  as it depends largely on personal preference, circumstances and knowledge.

So my aim here  is to help provide you with some knowledge that  will help you weigh up your options, so that you can decide.

Map of Canada
Image via Wikipedia

Because it is such a big change some people prefer to rent when they move here,whether it be for just a month or two, 6 months or more,  this gives you the ability to sort out other financial commitments first, and get a ‘feel’ for the communities/areas. If this is the case, one good place to look for a rental, is  . Here there are lots of private landlords and many of the rental agencies which advertise here, so is a good place to start.With regards to renting/tenants rights a good resource is

Note most landlords ‘prefer’ long term rental agreements, but do feel free to ask for what you want, e.g. 6 months or so.

However,  if you want to ‘settle’ in and  want to take advantage of the slower market  and  low rates,(as of  Dec 2011) and hence plan to buy soon after your arrival, this most definitely can be possible, and financing (e.g. new mortgage)  when you are new to Canada is an option with a fairly low down payment,, but with the right steps in place. So,  if you are planning to buy fairly soon after your arrival- it is worth speaking to a mortgage broker well in advance ,if possible,  to make the transaction as smooth as possible, and so that you have all your ‘ducks in a row’ for when you move here. (see my local services section for 2 GREAT mortgage brokers- who have had much experience dealing with expats obtaining mortgages in Canada).

Or if you are simply unsure, and just want to discuss your options, and weigh up the pro’s and con’s, I am always happy to discuss, so feel free to email or call, having ‘been there,done it and got the t-shirt’ I am always happy to help.

Mel McCartney

Parks in Calgary- dogs

English: Canine friends enjoy Winter play at a...

Image via Wikipedia

Calgary has many parks to enjoy and I will be focusing on of these over time, but for this one I want to focus on dog parks and some of Calgary’s dog owner bylaws. Calgary’s bylaw states that all dogs are to be leashed when they are not on the owners property, unless you are at one of the 149 (current as of Nov 2011)  Calgary ‘off leash’ areas, which are usually clearly signed.

You can go to this web link for info on these and up to date info direct form The City of Calgary

Another thing to note is that on ALL pathways (even pathways in ‘off leash areas’ ) dogs still have to be on a leash if you are on the pathway. However, there is one place in Southland Natural  Area where dogs can be off leash in any area of the Park .
When using the off leash areas there are still some rules to observe:
Must maintain control of their pets and that pets obey their simple commands, be courteous to other dogs and pet owners, respect all wildlife and prevent dogs from chasing wildlife.
Also another big rule, which goes for the off leash areas and ALL public areas is picking up poop,  and dropping poop bags in the garbage can where provided- or take home. Failure to do this can result in a $250 fine (current 2011).
However, from my own observation, I am not sure that the fine is the biggest deterrent, as I generally  find that most dog owners here are very respectful and conscientious that there dogs don’t leave any unsanitary ‘parcels’  to surprise the general public and this is just another reason that makes Calgary so  clean and great  for all to enjoy.

finding schools in Calgary


If you have school age (or near) kids, then sometimes the biggest decision when moving anywhere,  is finding a school. The first decision you have to make when moving to Calgary and surrounding areas, is what type of school.

So at a general level there are 3 types of schools:

1) Public – which are ‘state’ run (CBE-Calgary Board of Education)

2) Separate- which are actually Catholic (CSSD- Calgary Catholic School District)

3) Private

But within these categories, there are a whole range of ‘specialised’ schools too, such as Art, French, Spanish, special needs, sports etc . It comes down to preferences and often the community in which you live (but if you are interested in a particular school that is not designated for your area,  and if you are  prepared to drive , then if the school has allocated space for out of area students- you may be able to register- but you should check with each school on an individual basis).

Also, once a year there is a report that comes out in the Herald  newspaper, and there is also find an online version- and go to these link which show the best schools in Alberta, which cover Private, Public (state), Catholic and Alternate (e.g. Sports schools/special needs) etc….

If you are keen on a particular school- then it would be worth considering find a home within that community, or catchment area (as not all communities have all types of schools and so will designate a school in another community to service that area). However, the first thing you have to do, if your children are not Canadian citizens , and if you want to go to a ‘free’ school (i.e. public or seperate) is to register , at the Registration centre for public this is 403 777-7373 and for Catholic call 403 500-2575). NOTE to register your child with these school systems, you must have an address within Calgary or surrounding areas to give. If you are going with private education, then registration is completed at each individual school

These centres will make an appointment for you to come in and register, and make sure you ask what documents they require for the appointment. From that point they will assess your child, and then inform you of your designated school, and the next steps to follow.

School class in Hannover (secondary class).

Image via Wikipedia

Day trips from Calgary

Well, for anyone who has been to Calgary, even for a short trip, most will have heard about the lovely town of Banff, so I will start with this one, but plan to build up a portfolio of other ‘day trips’ or weekends away. There are SO many places to go and see, it’s hard to know where to start, so I think the most obvious , is the best place!
Depending on where you are staying in Calgary (and time of day due to traffic) the drive to Banff can be just an hour to an hour and a half, so is definitely can be done as a day trip from Calgary, or makes for a good weekend.
The High street is a good place to start, with many shops to wander in and out of, and one the ‘must do’, is visit to the Banff Springs Hotel. This is still such an impressive building, with the stunning Rocky Mountain back drop, the views from every direction are simply stunning.
Note, just as I have stated that Banff is one of the most popular day trips,  visiting The Banff Springs hotel, is one of most visitors top priorities, so note it can get busy!
Sometimes they offer ‘special’ deals , so if you fancy a nice weekend away, it is worth checking out their website for ‘deals’ at

The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in Canada

Image via Wikipedia

The hotel has a quaint shopping arcade/boutique shops in the basement- worth a look around. If you have a time/if you are staying at hotel- the Willow Stream spa, is quite a treat- and even if you only go for one treatment, you have the opportunity to lounge around and relax in their numerous pools/sauna’s…or alternatively if you stay and not go to the spa- make sure you go to the hotel swimming pool, which features a large,  indoor pool and connects to a heated out door pool. This is especially lovely when it is cold/snowing outside…….soak in the scenery, it really is quite amazing.

But for those on more of a budget, there is plenty of affordable accommodation in Banff, and if you are still after the heated pool/outdoor experience- head to the Upper Banff Hot Springs- which is equally as stunning.

If you don’t fancy getting wet, but want to ‘see some water’ , walk/ drive down to  Bow falls, as Bow Falls Trail  enable you get up close to the rapids/water falls, or  just a  walk along the Bow River Pathway…… it is all truely stunning.