Cowboy hats. And lots of them—33, in fact. I counted them as my gaze floated up the 19-foot bronzed sculpture. The local artist, Walter May, used an original Stetson cowboy hat design, still Calgary’s iconic symbol, as the basis for his composition.
Even though the Hatstack was commissioned recently, to me it is the epitome of what to expect from Calgary. After all, the city was founded by the Northwest Mounted Police in 1875 when they built a fort here. With the railroad arriving a few years after that, the area quickly built up with wild-west pioneer ranchers.
The Calgary Stampede, founded in 1912, was a natural progression. At the same time, it was being discovered that there was oil in the region and by the 1950s, Calgary had become the fastest growing city in Canada and has experienced boom and bust ever since.
Often referred to as “Cowtown”, Calgary is probably still best known as home to the World’s Greatest Outdoor Show. But over the last few years, Canada’s largest prairie city has been re-inventing its image, recently being dubbed Nashville of the North for its red hot music industry and Houston of the North for its thriving visual arts scene. This cosmopolitan city, with such a dynamic arts and culture scene, I did not expect.