A duo of turn-of-the-century entrepreneurs, Riley and McCormick opened the doors to their first Calgary storefront in 1901—four years before Alberta was established as a province. Their pioneering spirit quickly led to the store’s entrenchment in the annals of local and world history; over the years, the pair crafted military saddles for the Russian cavalry in World War I and supplied equipment to Edward, Prince of Wales, at his famed EP Ranch. The grandchildren of Eneas McCormick picked up right where the founding friends left off, and the family has maintained a presence at every Calgary Stampede dating back to 1912.
Today, those grandchildren continue to leave their mark on the business, expanding the store’s reach but staying true to the traditions that made it such an integral part of the Canadian West. Their selection includes shoes, accessories, and clothing for every member of the family, including wide-brimmed felt and straw hats that protect eyes from the sun’s rays and cows’ grassy spitballs. Let a pair of Canadian-made leather boots do your talking for you, or prepare for a rugged day on the ranch or this year's Stampede (July 5–14) with durable jeans in all cuts and styles.
At espy, fashion savant Megan Szanik and her elite style squad orchestrate custom fittings of designer jeans, a method earning the boutique nods from outlets such as the Calgary Herald. The 3,000-square-foot retail space houses more than 150 handpicked denim styles that flatter male and female silhouettes with a wide range of sizes and inseams. Before customers leap into jeans, fashion stylists determine leg and hip dimensions to gauge an ideal fit. Wearers can further complement bottoms with the help of tops by dozens of high-end designers that attract stares from even the most stoic mannequins.
Additionally, the team can beautify clients' faces with makeup and skincare products at the beauty counter. Espy's own line of mineral make-up showers skin with vitamin-rich nutrients, igniting cheeks, eyes, and lips with healthy glows. Its Dermo-Corrective line of skincare products also heals and improves skin, thanks to its bio-tech abilities that condition and fight signs of aging with every nourishing encounter.
In 1982, Calgary's Chinatown district almost disappeared due to a proposed land redesignation. Luckily, citizens banded together to keep the district a vital hub of culture and history, eventually establishing the Calgary Chinese Cultural Centre to continue the neighborhood's mission. And the centre fits right in. Inside the Dr. Henry Fok Cultural Hall, an ornate dome that takes its design cues from Bejing's Temple of Heaven inspires oohs, aahs, and visits to the chiropractor due to neck strain from looking up at the 40 phoenixes and 561 dragons painted above.
Elsewhere in the centre, the Chinese Artifacts Museum dazzles with terracotta soldiers and luxurious handmade tapestries. The Chinese Library corrals more than 70,000 books and videos about Chinese culture, and the Chinese Learning Academy instills language skills and cultural appreciation in nursery-age toddlers up to students in grade 12.
Founded in 1994 by former commercial airline pilot Paul Sass, The Home Vintner supplies connoisseurs and novices with an abundance of award-winning pours and do-it-yourself kits for individual winemaking and beer brewing. With Winexpert kits, at-home vino makers blend varietal juices from around the world that will be ready to drink or cellar in 4–8 weeks, depending on the kit. Alternatively, brewers dive into barley bubbles with Barons beer kits that contain measured ingredients to make a hoppy Canadian blond ale, an English-style redwood ale, and a crisp Dutch-style lager, among others.
During classes, the staff of certified wine- and beer-makers walks pupils through each step of the brewing and vintning process, such as carbon-dioxide removal, corking, storage, and determining each libation's year by monitoring its reaction to different Bon Jovi songs. Courses dispense both basics of production and new methodologies, so apprentices can discover new approaches and skills to try with their next batches.
Casablanca Video, like the Warner Bros. classic for which it was named, has become is a special ritual for local film buffs. The business was opened in 1982 by self-described "fan boy" Jon Lord, who at the time stocked only 150 movies. As the 1980s betamax tapes evolved into 1990s VHS, the shop's vibrant atmosphere and knowledgeable staffers gained the respect of renters. Loyal customers and Jon's commitment to serving up interesting titles from off the beaten path of Hollywood resulted in a rapid expansion. During one stretch, the business doubled in size annually for six straight years thanks to booming membership rolls and constantly self-replicating Ernest videos. Today, Casablanca thrives as a grand buffet catering to all filmic tastes, frequently garnering a top place on Fast Forward Weely magazine's readers' choice list. No fewer than 30,000 titles saturate aisles teeming with new releases, classics, and art-house fare—many available on current platforms such as DVD and Blu-ray as well as bygone movie formats.
As a professional dancer, Jonathan Kane consistently turned to tea when he needed help summoning stamina for his routines. These days, he channels that same passion into his shop, The Naked Leaf. Here, he dispenses a range of organic teas that are imported from around the world and free of preservatives and artificial flavours, and he even keeps free samples on hand for visitors to taste test. He also encourages his customers to decorate their tea canisters with customized labels crafted from their own art, photos, and text.
When he's not espousing the benefits of tea, Jonathan dedicates his time to supporting the creativity of his community. Each canister of tea he sells is plastered with a limited-edition label that showcases artwork from locals, whose pieces adorn the shop. The Naked Leaf also stocks handmade tea ware from local artisans, locally made chocolates, and tea leaves harvested from local caffeine trees.