Kids and Family in Calgary
Expats relocating with their families in tow do not need to worry about how their kids will fare in Calgary. In addition to being a wonderfully safe city, Calgary also boasts an enviable school system, good healthcare and a wonderful range of multi-generational activities for the whole family to enjoy together.
In terms of sights and attractions for the kids, Calaway Park is western Canada's largest outdoor amusement park, and is open seven days a week. Featuring 33 rides and rollercoasters, live magic shows and musical performances, the kids are sure to have an unforgettable day.
The Calgary Zoo is also a perennially popular choice among kids, as is the Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology – an ideal daytrip destination, located about an hour and a half's drive from downtown Calgary. Heritage Village Historical Park – with its costumed staff, faux-antique shop fronts and horse-drawn wagons – might be a little goofy for some adults, but kids are sure to lap it up.
Calgary is also one of those great cities where kids can be safely encouraged to 'make their own fun'. The city's incredible park network offers the little ones literally thousands of hectares of open space to explore – and is teeming with simple pleasures, such as bike-riding, tree-climbing, line-fishing and ball games on the lawns in summer, with toboggan rides and pond-skating in the winter.
The Devonian Gardens, the largest indoor garden complex in Alberta, is another good choice. It can be used all year round, and is equipped with an extensive children's play area. And of course, if one's kids are not into the outdoors, there are always malls, movie theatres and video game arcades to take them to.
Parents will also be delighted to know that children in Calgary are strongly encouraged to partake in organised, coordinated extra-curricular activities. These activities include sports such as ice hockey, soccer, baseball, swimming and gymnastics; dance, music and theatre lessons; and boy scout and girl guide clubs. Children's summer camps are also a popular institution in Calgary – offering kids the chance to spend a few weeks of their school vacation out in nature, learning new skills and making new friends.
One downside to having kids in Calgary – which only really applies to families where both parents must work during the day – is that childcare in the city is not only prohibitively expensive, but also severely short in supply. Luckily, since all Calgary parents, expats or not, often find themselves in the same boat, there are extensive support networks – such as lift-clubs, play groups and babysitting clubs – that have been set up to ease the hassle of getting the kids to and from where they need to be. The Calgary Public Library is also a wonderful resource in this regard, offering pre-school programmes such as 'storytime sessions', finger-painting and the like.
Expats moving to Calgary with children will find the well-established support group, Parents and Children Together (PACT), is a great network for meeting other parents and sourcing information.