Calgary History - Oil Boom

Giant Oil PumpThe Arab Oil Boycott of 1974 caused oil prices to climb steeply. While causing business disruption across most of Noth America, it spurred madcap exploration in Western Canada. The "oilpatch" headquartered in Calgary grew rapidly. The city's population grew from 325,000 in 1974 to 650,000 by the early 1980s. The frenzy of downtown constructioncaused locals to declare the "national bird of Calgary" to be the construction crane! Any surviving building that pre-dates the 1974-1980 oil boom is these days a candidate for being declared a heritage site.

The boom ended in 1981 with the "National Energy Program" (NEP) legislation created by Finance Minister Jean Chretien (now Canada's Prime Minister), unfairly sucking over $100 billion in oil industry profits from the West. The recession the NEP caused forced Albertans to diversify their economy away from oil & gas, and is responsible for the current boom in forestry and technology sectors of the economy.

The city grew in both size and business stature, with all those shiny office towers creating a virtually instant downtown. The city's pride led it to apply for - and win- the right to host the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. The city's mayor at the time, Ralph Klein, has since gone on to become the premier of the province of Alberta.

Today, Calgary's population is over 1,100,000 (2009), with slow and steady growth. The 1996-1998 gas exploration boom, offsetting a relatively weak Eastern Canadian and B.C. economy, has led to a large influx of new residents into the city. The city has grown by an average of 20,000 people per year over the past several years.

More history of Calgary

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