Calgary is Alberta's largest city and Canada's fourth-largest, and is near where the prairies end and the foothills begin. That makes it the eastern gateway to the Rocky Mountains and an important center of trade and tourism for the western prairies. It is your best point of access for Banff and Jasper, and a worthwhile destination in its own right. Calgary is the heart of the largest metropolitan area between Toronto and Vancouver, with over 1.24 million people as of 2016 (1.4 million in the metropolitan area), making it Canada's fourth largest metropolitan area.
Calgary was founded as Fort Brisebois by the Northwest Mounted Police (NWMP) in 1875. (The name was changed to Fort Calgary in 1876, named after Calgary Bay on the Isle of Mull.) The NWMP was sent west to ensure that Canada would not have an American-style "Wild West". Grave concerns about this were raised after the Cypress Hills Massacre of natives by drunken wolf hunters in 1873. Calgary was one of several forts established in Western Canada by the NWMP to ensure a police presence before the arrival of settlers.
Calgary today has become a more cosmopolitan city of over one million inhabitants with genuine attempts to diversify its economy and expand its attractiveness to outside visitors.