Avenue February 2019

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FEBRUARY 2 0 19 | $4.95 AVENUECALGARY.COM CITY | LIFE | STYLE | CALGARY HomeWELCOME MAKE YOUR HOUSE PERSONALIZED AND COZY RENO READY How to keep your remodel on track IT’S A DATE! 14 restaurants for romance BANFF FOR BAR STARS Nightlife in the mountain town
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Luxurious single family home by Willix Developments. Steps from Marda Loop, corner lot, high end finishings, mountain views, walk out basement and a 3 car garage!

Vivienne Huisman 403.689.8722



BED: 4 BATH: 4 1,873 SQ.FT. MLS: C4218626

Fabulous attached home by Willix Developments in desirable Killarney. Refined finishing includes 10 ft ceilings & in floor heating. West backyard & steps from 17th Avenue & C Train.

223 Snowberry Circle, Elbow Valley, AB BED: 5 BATH: 4/1 2,984 SQ.FT. MLS C4221265 Beautiful 2 storey walk-out, south-backing green space lot, many recent updates, full kitchen renovation. Jacqueline Thorogood 403.909.8766 Lisa Tomalin-Reeves 403.650.4353 $1,399,000 22101 31 Avenue, Bellevue, AB BED: 2 BATH: 3 1,558 SQ.FT. MLS C4182855 Magical mountain retreat featuring a 75 ft. waterfall. 4.8 acres, 10 min to amenities & just 2 hours from Calgary. Jennifer Everingham 403.614.8772 $1,200,000 67 Lakeshore Drive, Lower Kananaskis Lake, AB BED: 4 BATH: 2 3,383 SQ.FT. MLS C4119962 Along the shores of Lower Kananasksis Lake less than an hour and a half from Calgary yet worlds away. Christopher Vincent 403.707.8048 $1,525,000 29 Sundown Way SE, Calgary, AB BED: 6 BATH: 4 2,112 SQ.FT. MLS: C4216196 This rare Sundance home offers a total of 6 bedrooms. Beautifully bright and open. Flexible possession. Steven Hill 403.863.6344 $489,900 2201 30 Avnue SW, Calgary, AB BED: 4 BATH: 2.5 2,700 SQ.FT.
33 Street, SW, Calgary,
Vivienne Huisman 403.689.8722 $879,000 #201 23 Burma Star Road SW, Calgary, AB BED: 2 BATH: 2 1,529 SQ.FT. MLS: C4218872 Luxurious Jayman condo in desirable Currie.Boasting $25,000 in upgrades, wide plank hardwood floors, 10 ft. ceilings and wrap around deck with stunning views. Vivienne Huisman 403.689.8722 $789,000 209 Pinnacle Ridge Pl. SW, Rural Rocky View County, AB BED: 5 BATH: 6 10,197 SQ.FT. MLS: C4216431 Luxurious Tuscan inspired estate home built by Knightsbridge and overlooking the beautiful Rocky Mountains. Indoor pool, professional theatre and sport court! Vivienne Huisman 403.689.8722 $8,500,000 301 Buffalo Street, Banff, AB BED: 6 BATH: 7 8,011 SQ.FT. MLS C4203147 An oasis along the Bow River in Banff; a magnificent home with grandeur and history steps to Banff Avenue. Christopher Vincent 403.707.8048 $5,911,000 CONDOS » « CONDOS « SINGLE FAMILY HOMES 3803 6 Street SW, Calgary, AB BED: 4 BATH: 3 2,498 SQ.FT. MLS C4215816 This charming character home offers Pride of ownership inside and out. Heather Waddell 403.471.0467 $1,847,000 SINGLE FAMILY HOMES » #312 119 19 Street NW, Calgary, AB BED: 1 BATH: 1 677 SQ.FT. MLS C4210274 Love the lifestyle in the vibrant inner city community of West Hillhurst. Steps to the Bow River, shops, dining & downtown. Love the lifestyle & low condo fees! Jennifer Everingham 403.614.8772 $379,900 NEW PRICE 290153 96 Street East, DeWinton, AB BED: 4 BATH: 2.5 1,363 SQ.FT. Beautiful acreage setting. Walkout bungalow and two incredible out-buildings. Flexible possession. Steven Hill 403.863.6344 $799,000 INTRODUCING Canadian Owned and Operated. E.&O.E.: This information is from sources which we deem reliable, but must be verified by prospective Purchasers and may be subject to change or withdrawal. Your best life begins with a home that inspires you. SOTHEBYSREALTY.CA LIVE INSPIRED SOTHEBYSREALTY.CA CALGARY 403.254.5315 CANMORE 1.855.254.5315 VANCOUVER 604.632.3300 SUN PEAKS 250.578.7773 KELOWNA 1.877.530.3933 VICTORIA 250.380.3933 TORONTO 416.960.9995 MONTREAL 514.933.4777

The number of hours in a day is something every one of us has in common. How we use those hours is where things get interesting.

Delving into some of Calgary’s most romantic restaurants, whether you’re on a first date, a third date or ready to pop the question.

10 avenueFEBRUARY.19 FEATURES contents FEBRUARY 2019
Time is
36 What to Know Before You Reno Tips for taking on a home-renovation project, including a report on the City’s improved system for getting your permits in place.
Gallant, Hannah Kost and
Lessard 28 How to Make a House a Home Home-decor pros and other experts show how to make your living space cozy and inviting.
avenue How Spend Your Time PM# 40030911 CITY LIFE STYLE CALGARY HomeWELCOME MAKE YOUR HOUSE PERSONALIZED AND COZY RENO READY How to keep your IT’S A DATE! 14 BANFF FOR BAR STARS Nightlife in the mountain town ON THE COVER Inside designer Heather Draper’s home. Wallpaper by anewall.com PHOTOGRAPHY BY Jared Sych 52
By Colin
Avenue Calgary .com 11 the most delicious destination in the Canadian Rockies Reservation: 1.800.661.1586 www.posthotel.com







The drag queens, kings and monarchs of the Reading with Royalty program make storytime a fabulous and inclusive affair. Plus, modern matchmakers on why their services are still popular in the age of digital dating, ring tips from a local wrestler and a choir that sings songs of comfort to the terminally ill.


Measuring Success at the Calgary Counselling Centre

Proponents of feedback informed treatment believe it can revolutionize psychological counselling, and Calgary Counselling Centre CEO Dr. Robbie BabinsWagner is known worldwide for her role in the revolution.

72 Style Statement

The always put-together Nike Adenipekun showcases an outfit that can easily be switched up from day to night and admits to an obsession with bags and shoes.

74 Mountains

Nightlife in Banff broken down by level of party intensity: from bingo at the Legion and bubbles at the Banff Centre to shots, sasquatches and mechanical bulls.



While some consider working out to be a solo affair, others find a sense of community in their fitness studio, making it more than just a place to sweat.

12 avenueFEBRUARY.19 contents

The Heart of Scarboro

Scarboro 17 offers an unprecedented opportunity to own a condo in one of Calgary’s most historic, beautiful and exclusive neighbourhoods. Never before and never again will it be possible to purchase a 3 storey townhome or single level condo in the heart of Scarboro — starting at an incredible $290,000.

Surrounded by mature trees and gorgeous character homes, your new condo or townhome will sit high on a hill in the centre of iconic Scarboro overlooking the downtown core, the river valley and trendy 17th Ave.

These units will definitely not last long — come visit our sales centre and reserve your new home today.

Avenue Calgary .com 13
403.919.2608 . 1702 17th ave SW scarboro17yyc . sales@scarboro17.com DISTINGUISHED LIVING MON & TUES /// CLOSED WED–FRI /// 2PM–6PM SAT–SUN /// 12PM–5PM Sales Centre Hours 15 ST SW 16 ST SW 17 ST SW 18 ST SW 17 AVE SW 14 ST SW 17 AVE SW 1702 17 th AVE SW REGISTER TODAY AT SCARBORO17.COM


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APRIL 29, 2019



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14 avenueFEBRUARY.19


Our annual, much-anticipated list of the very best spots to eat in the city right now. Plus, Best New Restaurants and top choices in a variety of other categories, from Best Downtown to Best Brew Pubs.


The streets may still be snowy and slushy, but it’s already time to start planning your great summer adventure in the mountains.


Take a peek inside the penthouse suite at Ezra on the Park, the new condo building on Riley Park.

Avenue Calgary .com 15
March 2019 NEXT ISSUE

A Sense of Home

Two of our main stories in this issue focus on home improvement. “What

to Know

Before You Reno,” has various perspectives on what can be a big undertaking, and includes information about what the City has done to make permit application easier, as well as advice from contractors, builders, designers and an experienced house flipper.

In “How to Make a Home Sweet Home,” we explore things you can do to make your house feel warm and welcoming. In researching the story, I talked to John Brown, the dean of the school of architecture at the University of Calgary about one of the primary things that makes a house feel homey. In our discussion, as well as in the book

What's Wrong With This House?

A Practical Guide to Finiding a Well Designed Home, which he co-authored with his business partner Matthew North, Brown notes that finding a home that fits your lifestyle — that gives you enough room and good traffic flows but not too much space — is key to making that space feel like your home.

While the concept of home is a bit philosophical and the specifics of how you make your home feel like it’s just for you are individual, there are some immediately useable tips in this story. And best of all, while they will take time and thought to implement, many don’t have to cost that much.

In this issue we also talk to Calgarians about how they spend their most precious resource — their time (starting on page 42). If you plan on spending your time on a romantic dinner date this month, we’ve also rounded up some of our favourite restaurants for romance. Or perhaps you’re more into the party scene. In that case, check out “The Bar Star’s Guide to Banff” on page 74.

This issue also features a profile of Robbie Babins-Wagner, the CEO of the Calgary Counselling Centre, who has gained worldwide acclaim for her use of Feedback Informed Therapy. This leading-edge approach to counselling uses quantitative data to help therapists know if they are helping clients. Find out more about this work and Babins-Wagner starting on page 68.

In this issue we also introduce some feedback of our own to help you know what we are doing. From time to time, Avenue’s staff and writers are

invited to be guests at restaurants or to try out local services or tours. It is a nice perk of the job, to be sure, but it is not an obligation to write about these experiences, or to let the businesses that appear in our stories approve or even review articles before they go into print. Likewise, companies that do not provide free services or products to Avenue or its staff are not kept out of the pages of the mag-azine or our website.

Our first and most important obligation is providing our readers with quality information, and it is a responsibility we take very seriously. While we appreciate local companies and want to support them, our readers’ need for information about the best of life in Calgary always comes first. Starting with this issue, you will see a reminder of this at the end of some of our stories. If you have any questions about how we select what we cover in the magazine, please feel free to email me.

GET AVENUE ON YOUR TABLET! To get the tablet edition, go to avenuecalgary.com/tabletedition. $4.95 AVENUECALGARY.COM CITY LIFE STYLE CALGARY HomeWELCOME MAKE YOUR HOUSE PERSONALIZED AND COZY RENO READY How to keep your remodel on track IT’S A 14restaurants BANFF FOR BAR STARS Nightlife the mountain town
Photograph by Jared Sych, hair and make-up by Citlali Loza
fashion and fantasy awaits at west edmonton mall Located steps away. 1-800-RESERVE



Watch for our new online events calendar.

Avenue Calgary .com/Events


Matthew Coyte is a journalism student at Concordia University in Montreal who spent time in the offices of RedPoint Media & Marketing Solutions last summer as an intern with Avenue magazine and WestJet Magazine. His work has also been featured in The Globe and Mail, Cult MTL and U Sports. You can usually find him at the hockey arena or searching for the next best burrito joint. Coyte lives by the Marthe Troly-Curtin quote: “Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.” Follow him on Twitter @matthewcoyte16.


Christina Frangou is a Calgary-based freelance journalist, who specializes in writing about health and medicine. Her work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, Avenue, Chatelaine, Alberta Views and HuffPost. In 2017, she won a National Newspaper Award in long feature writing for a story about her experience as a young widow. A graduate of Carleton University and the London School of Economics, she is also the recipient of multiple Alberta Magazine Awards and has a soft spot for naughty dogs.


Austin Jansen recently came on board as Avenue’s junior production designer not long after his graduation from the Alberta College of Art + Design’s visual communications program. When he isn’t designing, you can find him behind his drum kit, watching a good old hockey game or flipping through the latest Monster Children magazine while listening to punk rock. Drawing from his influences of all things skate culture, his creative inspiration is sparked by all different types of music, art and fashion. To him, they all go hand-in-hand.


Subscribe to our weekly Food, Style and Weekender newsletters to get the latest restaurant and store openings, advice on what to eat and where to shop, and our picks for the best things to do in Calgary.

The first time she watched an image magically emerging from the developer, Sonia Roy fell in love with pictures. After a 10-year detour as a web designer in advertising, television and publishing, Roy is now devoted to her passion: the art of collage. Inspired by portraits, archives and nature photography, she uses all three to assemble visual poems that simultaneously evoke the past and timelessness. Roy loves the challenge of creating editorial illustrations because they are always about new subjects. Her creations have appeared in a variety of newspapers and magazines as well as in the advertising industry.

18 avenueFEBRUARY.19
AVENUECALGARY.COM /NEWSLETTERS /avenuecalgary @avenuemagazine @avenuemagazine
Exposure Photography Festival Untitled by Elly Heise

The first morning I helped Stanley down the stairs, the third step creaked. That’s when I found out his wife, Martha always told him to fix it. And now he’s just glad he never did, because that’s home. I love hearing Stanley’s stories about home. And now I get to be a part of them.

Avenue Calgary .com 19
The best home to be in is your own. Home Instead offers personalized in-home services. HomeInstead.com/Calgary 403.984.9225 Each Home Instead Senior Care Franchise is independently owned and operated. © 2019 Home Instead, Inc. PERSONAL CARE | MEMORY CARE | MEALS AND NUTRITION
– Maddie G. Stanley’s CAREGiver
20 avenueFEBRUARY.19 Realize your leadership potential. MBA HASKAYNE Apply today: haskaynemba.ca Ranked among the top BETTER WORLD MBAs by Corporate Knights. Nominate an individual or organization for a Calgary Award by Feb. 25 To learn more about the awards and submit nominations, visit calgary.ca/calgaryawards d 18-01114208

Reading with Royalty

Drag queen Slamda BD’s young audience usually asks her the same three questions after she finishes reading them a storybook at the library: how long does it takes her to get ready (two to three hours), where does she get her outfits (a friend who’s a seamstress) and why does she have so much sparkle (because she “loves a good sparkle”).


Photograph by Jared Sych Drag queen Felicia Boneé reads to a rapt audience at Reading with Royalty on Nov. 17.
Avenue Calgary .com 21


It’s welcome discussion at Reading with Royalty, where drag queens, kings and non-binary “monarchs” read out loud, play rhyming games and answer questions. The monthly collaboration between Calgary Pride, the Calgary Queer Arts Society and the Calgary Public Library encourages child literacy and conversations about diversity and inclusion. “I grew up in a small rural community and I always had a feeling that I was a bit different,” says Slamda BD (a.k.a. Jordan Trechka). “I just kept it quiet because I didn’t know other people like me … [This program] starts the conversation for families to have that open dialogue.”

Leslea Newman, which gently defies gender norms and Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack, a queer love story and fairy tale. After the reading and Q & A, the audience gets to play dressup from trunks of costumes. James Demers, a drag king and the executive director of the Calgary Queer Arts Society, is the program’s trainer, as well as one of its readers. Reading with Royalty normalizes non-typical gender expression, Demers says.

“It’s age-appropriate, we use great books, [and] we use local authors whenever we can.”

accessible for young people. “Drag performers are kind of like superheroes. They have that presence and costuming and idea of representing something bigger than yourself,” Demers says. “It’s really powerful, because it shows queer kids that we have heroes and fairy tales.”

Readers often choose storybooks that emphasize open-mindedness, such as Sparkle Boy by

Demers says that the audience is often varied and it’s common to see adults, queer teens and immigrant families in the mix. The program also allow parents with gender- and sexually diverse kids to network and makes queer culture more

The program, which marks its one-year anniversary this month, also helps lessen what Demers says is a common part of the queer youth experience — the feeling of being unseen, rejected and alone. “If I was one of these kids that got to see visible community in my city, and realize that people could live full adult lives feeling this way, that would have made such an impact on me,” says Demers. “If these conversations weren’t only accessible to adults, then we could save a lot of pain and suffering. And change the world.” —

For more information visit calgarylibrary.ca

Photography by Jared Sych

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Drag king Mo.B presents the storybook Sugar and Snails by Sarah Tsiang. Seated behind is Oliver Twirl. The audience eagerly participated in this session at the New Central Library.

Meet Your Matchmaker

You might think matchmaking as a profession has suffered due to the numerous tech-based options now available to the lovelorn. But the ancient art of recognizing people’s romantic compatibility keeps an edge that may surprise you. Independent bliss-broker Krystal Walter and proponents of the algorithm method Secret RSVP (SRSVP) both revealed that the age of online- and app-dating has actually helped their business.

"Some people have tried the apps and had a hard time communicating and getting to the point where they actually had a date," says Krystal Walter, who runs an eponymous matchmaking service out of Bankers Hall. "It can take a toll on your emotional stability when it comes to dating."

Her clientele is mostly people in their 30s who have yet to marry and a second stream of back-onthe-market individuals in their 40s and 50s. Walter doesn’t take every prospective client or have a fixed price. “It depends on the person. Some people I won’t have a lot of matches for and their fee is discounted,” she says. “It’s really tailored to the person and what I’m able to get them ... Out of every person that comes to me, I’d say probably one out of four I actually take.” Walter says her edge is that she’s fiercely local — clients meet her face-to-face and develop a deeper profile than remote services offer. Walter also advertises that she takes on gay clients and remarks that this is a rarity in the Calgary market, if not the industry at large.

SRSVP is geared slightly more toward millennials and hosts events where attendees use their phones with a web app created by co-founder Jason Connery to add profiles of other attendees they meet face-to-face, while an algorithm is also adding profiles. Afterwards, event-goers vote on whether or not they want to pursue a connection with the various profiles. What sets SRSVP’s method apart from other tech is the algorithm: using direct feedback and other proprietary data factors, it sorts guests into groups which then work together at the event on a collaborative activity. Pricing depends on the event’s scope, but an average SRSVP experience doesn't usually cost more than $50.

Despite their different approaches, these two matchmakers agree you won’t find a lasting match by cranking your expectation meter up to 11.

“We can’t promise that you’re going to meet the person that you’re going to marry and spend the rest of your life with,” says Connery. “But you will have a good time and you will meet people, and there’s a chance that something could happen.”

Avenue Calgary .com 23



not actual patients.

Singing Swan Songs

Afew times a month, a group of women bring half-a-dozen folding chairs to a Calgary hospice room and sing calming three-part harmonies to help those near the end of their lives feel at peace. This group, the Bridge To Peace Threshold Choir, is one of more than 200 chapters of similar choirs around the world, all of which volunteer their voices to sing to those who are approaching death or who are waylaid by a serious illness.

Bridge to Peace’s managing director Lucille Worone says the group’s purpose is to help comfort those in hospice care and offer companionship. The singing, “creates a contemplative, meditative space,” Worone says. Written by choir members from various chapters, the songs are typically one to three lines, sung repeatedly. For the most part, the songs are written without religious subject matter, so anyone can benefit regardless of their beliefs. (There are a small number of songs with religious connotations but they are only sung by request.) “You can see the people relax, sink into that quiet, a place they know they don’t have to do anything except receive the song,” Worone says.

Last year, the Calgary group, which has about a dozen dedicated singers, visited 77 hospice residents. These sessions spent with the dying are intimate ones, and often the singers are just as affected as their audience.

The choir’s member care director Diane Little recalls one particularly affecting story in which a man they sang for had himself been part of a choir for years and related to the group upon their arrival how sad he was knowing he

would never sing in one again.

“We paused. We didn’t try to fix it — try to make it nice — we simply accepted his words. That was where he was at in that moment,” says Little. “We asked him if he wanted us to sing, because there was a good possibility he’d say no, but he accepted our gift of song to him and he was deeply touched.”



Since 2006, Christian Strife (real name Ryan Lebel) has wrestled off and on in Real Canadian Wrestling (RCW), a biweekly event at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 1 in downtown Calgary. Here’s how he prepares to throw down on the mat.

Though the bulk of the sessions are spent visiting those in hospice care, anyone who feels a need can request a visit from Bridge to Peace. The choir also conducts “song baths” for cancer support groups and various other events, wherein singers encircle one or two people in reclining chairs and “bathe” them in their songs.

The group doesn’t ask for payment, as they consider their singing a gift and don’t want money to be a barrier, though they do accept donations.

Worone says her work with the choir has made an incredible difference in her own life, and that benefits extend to both singers and audience members. “I think being at the bedside of someone who isn’t a family member gives us an opportunity to be of pure service. It also gives us an opportunity to be taught what it’s like to live and die in hospice,” she says. “These people are our teachers and really give us a chance to ponder, reflect and be encouraged by their examples.” —Andrew Guilbert

For more information, visit bridgetopeacethresholdchoir.org

“You don’t have a lot of time to practice or plan anything. The ring will get set up two or three hours before the show starts, and if you want to practice you’ll have that amount of time. But you’re also sharing the ring with the 20 other people on the card, so sometimes you don’t get any time to practice and at that point you just talk it over with the guy you’re facing and set up the match that way. The other way is you just don’t plan anything. When I go into the ring I’ll know how the match is gonna end, but for the other 10, 15 minutes of the match, you just call it in the ring and feel it out. [When it goes right] it feels like magic. It’s like you can’t do anything wrong; you reach a point where it almost feels like you know what the other person is thinking and you react to each other. And we’ll take our time to let the crowd absorb it even more; that’s what amplifies the matches and makes them even better.”

Hannah Kost

For more information, visit realcanadian.wixsite.com/wrestling.

24 avenueFEBRUARY.19
Singing Swan Songs photograph by Aran Wilkinson-Blanc. Insider photograph by Shawn Montreuil at Smiling Moose Media
—Lucille Worone, managing director, Bridge To Peace
The Bridge To Peace Threshold Choir sings to help comfort people in hospice care. Note that models were used to show what a performance would look like in this photo,



this month do to


FEB. 13 TO 16

This celebration of contemporary ballet incorporates three daring works: Caelestis, Futureland and A World Premiere. The performances include multimedia elements, video-game themes and a Juno-nominated score over the course of approximately two hours of kaleidoscopic movement.

Southern Alberta Jubileew Auditorium, 1415 14 Ave. N.W., 403-297-8000, albertaballet.com


FEB. 19


This new 152-room hotel in East Village features artwork by local artists, five meeting rooms and the option to check out at your leisure. Look for the hotel’s two restaurants opening later this year. 635 Confluence Way S.E., 1-833-258-6635, althotels.com



FEB. 1 TO 28

Running for the whole month, the 15th annual Exposure Photography Festival presents exhibits in Calgary and beyond. This year, the festival is headquartered at The Pioneer on Stephen Avenue (the historic building that formerly housed the Art Gallery of Calgary). The space hosts the annual juried open call and emerging photographers showcase (EPS), plus a solo show by 2018’s EPS winner Elly Heise. There are multiple other venues as well. exposurephotofestival.com



This collaboration between Lunchbox Theatre and Inside Out Theatre is a one-man-show by Bruce Horak ruminating on the death of famous Canadian painter Tom Thomson and the subsequent rise of the Group of Seven. Though nearly blind, Horak paints an original portrait of the audience during each show. Lunchbox Theatre, 160, 115 9 Ave. S.E., 403-265-4292, lunchboxtheatre.com

If you only know Bobby McFerrin from his ubiquitous hit “Don’t Worry, Be Happy,” this collaborative performance at the Jack Singer is the perfect way to change that. McFerrin is a 10time Grammy winner known for his vocal techniques and blissful experimentalism. Together with a cadre of a cappella performers and 12 local singers, he’ll reshape your perceptions of what a voice can do. Jack Singer Concert Hall, Arts Commons, 403-294-9494, artscommons.ca


FEB. 24

The Calgary International Film Festival’s annual Oscar party includes a red carpet walk, a live broadcast of the awards, an Oscar ballot contest, a silent auction and door prizes. Attendees are encouraged to “dress to impress” and party proceeds support the Calgary International Film Festival Society.

The Palace Theatre, 219 8 Ave. S.W., 403-393-6993, calgaryfilm.com

Canadian eyewear company BonLook offers stylish prescription glasses, sunglasses and optician services at its first Alberta storefront at Market Mall. CF Market Mall, bonlook.com


Shop for shampoo bars, refillable cleaning supplies and beeswax wrap at this new “refillery” and zero-waste shop in Kensington planned to open this month. 1221 Kensington Rd. N.W., canarygoods.ca


This California-based chain serves tacos, burritos, quesadillas and more at its first Alberta franchise location inside Deerfoot City’s sleek new Food Lodge. 901 64 Ave. N.E., chronictacos.com


Try the Bridgelandia modern blonde ale or the Hub & Spoke Vienna lager at this new Beltline taproom designed by Frank Architecture and Interiors. 816 11 Ave. S.W., 587-880-8600, innercitybrewing.ca


This Asian brasserie serves craft cocktails and plates of ahi tuna crudo, cumin lamb biangbiang, potato-crusted duck breast and more.

2004 4 St. S.W., 403-764-2436, misterchensyyc.com

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Exposure photograph by Kennedy Hamlyn Eloquence; Alt hotel photograph by Käthe Lemon


Renfrew’s new breakfast and lunch spot features dishes like eggs Kejriwal, duck with Belgian waffles, laksa and pumpkin-spice pancakes.

824 Edmonton Tr. N.E., 403-475-7010, namonaturals.com


Shop for Japanese lifestyle products like ceramics and Furoshiki cloths at Nanao Kimono’s new storefront in Kensington.

225 10 St. N.W., nanaokimono.com


This new pizzeria in Renfrew serves Detroit-style square pizzas. Try the Haute Renfrew with bacon, potato, garlic sausage, brick cheese, sour cream and green onion.

1025 Russet Rd. N.E., powpizza.ca


Treat your pet to a hand-painted leash, a new toy or some treats at this new specialty pet boutique in Mission. 17, 2500 4 St. S.W., 825-205-8008, thenewforest.ca


Located in the Devenish Building, The Raven’s Room carries an eclectic mix of largely Canadian-made products, including socks from Friday Sock Co. and animal mugs by Salty Seadog Designs. 225 10 St. N.W., nanaokimono.com.


This new yoga and fitness studio in Britannia offers Vinyasa flow yoga and soulful mat-based workouts with a combination of cardio, Pilates and yoga. 812A 49 Ave. S.W., 403-229-0123, the-ritual.ca New

One of the hardest parts of undertaking a home improvement project is knowing where to start. Our practical courses, taught by industry experts in SAIT’s state-of-the-art labs, are designed to meet the specific needs of homeowners wishing to enhance or perform maintenance on their homes.

With courses in framing, planning and design, cabinet installation, drywall, flooring, tilesetting, plumbing and interior finishing, SAIT can help you learn everything you need to know through hands-on training.

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Forest photograph

HOW TO MAKE A Home Sweet home

Long before the Danish concept of hygge or coziness became a decor buzzword, people wanted their houses to feel homey and welcoming — not only for guests, but most importantly, for themselves.

It can seem like a no-brainer — you just move in and plunk all your stuff in place and you know, live there, and it just becomes home through time and habit. And yet, we’ve all been in houses (and apartments) that just don’t feel welcoming and settled, even though the inhabitants have been there for years.

What is that magic that takes a space from being merely a place in which you live to being a home?

According to John Brown, dean of the school of architecture, planning and landscape at the University of Calgary and partner in the architectural design and build firm Housebrand, the key to making a house a home is selecting a space that fits your life. It’s a step he says too few people spend enough time on. “You want a home that fits the way you live. It should be tailored to you and if you have the means to hire someone to tailor it, great. But if you don’t, you need to find that fit yourself.”

Brown sees the search for a place to live as an overlooked design process, especially for the majority of people who aren’t going to build a custom home or undertake massive renovations. “Don’t get seduced by features that don’t fit the way you really live,” Brown cautions and gives the example of people who don’t host formal dinners living in a house with a large formal dining room that just sits empty and unused. Often, he says people choose a home that

is too large for their needs. “It’s like having long arms and buying extra large shirts, which may better fit your arms but are then much too big around the waist.”

Buying too big also feeds into another problem that can make a house not feel homey: there’s no budget left to furnish and decorate. Heather Draper, principal designer and owner of The Heather Company, says she often finds people don’t anticipate the costs of furnishing their home. “You should plan to spend about 10 per cent of the value of the home on furnishing and decorating. Wouldn’t you rather have 10 per cent less house and two years down the road you have your dream home instead of having it feel like you still live in someone else’s space?” she says.

The book What’s Wrong With This House? A Practical Guide to Finding a Well Designed Sustainable Home, which Brown coauthored with Matthew North, advises readers to look carefully at many aspects of the home that buyers and renters often overlook.

In addition to the location and orientation of the home itself in the city, and the space inside the home, look carefully at the layout, the flow of traffic and the way things work in relation to one another. Is there space for storage and somewhere to sit in the entryway? Is there a natural place for a dining table or eating area? Is the layout of the kitchen functional and well proportioned to avoid unnecessary movement while cooking? Is there enough storage space and room to circulate, but not so much space that the house will be hard to maintain? If the answer to all of these questions is yes, then the space is more likely to be one you can make homey.

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Making your house feel like a warm and welcoming home can take a bit of work, but it’s worth it.
Käthe Lemon

Once you’ve selected a space, the next aspect to making it “home” is personalizing the decor. “Nothing makes a house feel like a home more than making it reflect the people who live inside,” says Draper. She says personalizing starts with things like painting the walls your preferred colours and selecting draperies and finishes that reflect your taste. Some changes, such as finding and installing new light fixtures and painting may not be as costly as you think and can have big impact.

The interior designers and decorators from Country Living Furnishings and Design refer to this as finding your “style personality” and they work with clients to articulate that personality and often, to combine or layer it with a spouse’s personality.

The designers at The Heather Company emphasize that creating the look of a personalized space takes time and attention, in part because it usually entails layers rather than buying matching furniture. Going out and finding unique pieces that speak to your own style can take time. In fact, according to a recent survey of 2,000 American adults commissioned by the furniture company Article, it takes an average of 216 hours to find the perfect home furnishings.



Avenue Calgary .com 29
“Nothing makes a house feel like a home more than making it reflect the people who live inside.”
—Heather Draper
Heather Draper and daughter in home. Designer Sarah Ward personalized her dining room with colour and artwork.

RIGHT Meaningful accessories collected over time, like those displayed in this livingroom by Alykhan Velji Designs, created a layered and homey look.

But the payoff is big. “You want your house to feel like a home, not like you’re living in someone else’s space,” says Country Living owner Rhonda Fairhurst. She notes that the look of a truly homey space is also very different from the look of a show home, which is created to be inoffensive to everyone. A home should appeal to you and your taste.

For Draper, the key is in finding pieces that you love or, in her words, that “haunt” you — those furnishings and accessories that you are still thinking about days after you first saw them. “Go exploring in some of the smaller shops in town and if you see something that you just love, that’s haunting you, that you wake up the next day thinking about, then it doesn’t matter what it matches because beautiful, wonderful homes are in evolution and inevitably the things you love will come together because they are unique to who you are,” she says.

Not everyone, nor the people they live with, is patient enough for this evolutionary design approach, though. Adding original artwork and meaningful accessories can personalize your space quickly. Whether it’s from an art gallery, an heirloom piece, something you found on your travels or a piece picked up at a garage sale or a student show, original artwork that speaks to you is an amazing way to instantly add personality to your home.

Accessories can add personality as well, as long as they are chosen with care. Mass-produced tchotchkes selected without thought lined up on a shelf are unlikely to make the space feel like your own. “Accessorize with items that have meaning to you. It’s about meaning, not volume,” says interior decorator Cat Hackman, principal and owner of Room4Refinement.

That said, most designers agree there is a line that can be crossed when you’re trying to personalize your space and that line is family photos. “I don’t love private photos in public places,” says Draper. “It feels a little too personal. It feels sort of exposed.”

Fairhurst agrees. “Your family photos, your intimate moments, should be in more private parts of the house.”

There is also a line between displaying meaningful mementos and having a house full of clutter. While a few items on display will personalize the space, too many can feel chaotic.

“Feeling cluttered makes a space feel heavy, stagnant and unsettled,” says Karen Allbright, an organizational design specialist and owner of Calm Order Inc. “Feelings of harmony in your belongings will create feelings of harmony in your emotions.”

For Draper, where to draw that line between display and clutter again goes back to the things you love. “It becomes clutter when it’s not things you love. So if it’s a vase that somebody gave you that you feel like you have to have on display, just know that you don’t,” she says.

Hackman notes that people often feel bad about getting rid of things that were expensive or that were gifts or family heirlooms. “We often feel guilty. But you really need to look at what you love. It drains you to have clutter,” she says.

Allbright suggests starting with things you aren’t attached to. For those things you just can’t part with at first, try boxing them up, labelling them with the date and if you haven’t looked for them once an agreed time has passed, then get rid of the boxes without opening them. Give them to charity and feel good about your unloved items going somewhere they’ll be more appreciated.

And if you really can’t part with your clutter, consider putting it in storage seasonally.

“It’s like having a beautiful jewellery collection,” says Fairhurst. “You don’t have to wear it all at once. Pick out a few pieces and put the rest away; maybe switch them out seasonally.”

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Display artwork and accessories that are meaningful to you.
Photograph by Jared Sych

In addition to feeling personalized and well organized, the public spaces of your house should be set up to welcome you and your guests. Creating a welcoming feeling starts outside your front door.

“You can tell if people care about the look and condition of their home by the front porch,” says Hackman. If your porch is untidy, unswept, dilapidated and unwelcoming, it sets the tone for your space. Refresh or even just clean your outdoor light fixture, sweep the porch, put out seasonal plantings or pillows on the seating.

Inside, making your house feel welcoming for guests means keeping appropriate psychological distance by not having family photos all over the place but also by creating physical spaces that encourage connection and conversation.



Hackman sees a lot of houses that don’t have adequate conversation space, or where furniture doesn’t face each other or has been pushed to the edges of the room instead of being grouped in easy conversational clusters. “If you can’t sit down and have a cup of tea and a conversation, you’ll notice that,” she says.

A comfortable place to sit, near a spot for one or more others and with somewhere for everyone to set a drink will help make your house feel more welcoming and help conversation flow.

Hackman also finds that many living rooms are oriented toward the TV, which is inherently unwelcoming and stifles conversation. “The TV is always an issue. If you can not have a TV in the living room, that makes it more cozy,” she says.

As with the TV room that becomes the main hosting space, most houses have spaces that get used in many different ways. And they often end up designed for the exceptional use rather than the primary use. For example, creating a dining room space that is set up for the once-a-year big family dinner, but is then uncomfortably large for a regular Wednesday-night meal. “Design for every day, but make allowances for special occasions,” says Fairhurst. “You should never be prioritizing Christmas dinner over the everyday function of your home.”

The team at Country Living talks a lot about multi-purpose pieces and furnishings that can be called in for extra duties as needed — such as an extendable table or ottomans that can be repurposed as stools for that large dinner.

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Creating a welcoming feeling starts outside your front door.
LEFT Interior decorator Cat Hackman says creating a welcoming home starts at the entrance. ABOVE Welcoming spaces have seating positioned for conversation and a place within reach to put a drink, such as this livingroom by Michael Kurtz of Under the Roof Decorating. Entrance photograph by Philippe Clairo; living room photograph by Jared Sych

USE SOFT, TEXTURED UPHOLSTERY AND RUGS TO CREATE visual warmth and soften echoes.

SOFTEN UP Soft things help a space feel cozy, warm and welcoming. While soft textures in rugs, draperies and upholstery (think thick pile rugs, nubby cloths, woollens and velvets) are first to come to mind, also think beyond your sense of touch. Softening sounds and softening lights will also make a room feel welcoming. Choose softer, warmer lights and light bulbs in the 2,700 to 3,000 Kelvin range (often described as “soft” or “warm white”). And soften the sounds of loud noises and echoes with texture and finishes such as area rugs, draperies and soft upholstery.

Soft textures and warm lighting help to make this room decorated by Country Living Furnishings and Design feel

While creating a truly homey space is about more than just creating coziness, the two aren’t unrelated. Soft, textured finishes help a space feel welcoming in a few different ways. First of all, they look warm and inviting. “When a home doesn’t feel cozy it’s often because of the lack of textures. Textures add warmth and interest,” says Hackman.

Soft textures also provide acoustic softening and stop echoes. When there are lots of hard surfaces — flooring being one, but also leather upholstery, glass and metal tables and light fixtures — sounds echo in a space, making it feel emptier and less welcoming. Using softer textures, including area rugs, draperies and fabric upholstery, will make your room sound as well as look homier. “Drapes and a good area rug are also going to make your sound system sound better, too,” says Draper.

Soft textures also help make a space feel more approachable and less untouchably perfect. Table finishes like glass, metal and highgloss woods show fingerprints and smudges and discourage guests from feeling at ease. “You don’t want things to be too perfect. Perfect is going to be hard to live with,” says Fairhurst. “You don’t want it to feel like you have to be careful in the space.”

Lighting should also be soft. Changing harsh white bulbs for softer, warmer lights that mimic candlelight will make the space seem like a home rather than an industrial space.

If you’ve put time and a bit of effort into thinking about the flow of the space and the placement of the furnishings, and you’ve decorated with intention and highlighted things you love, that’s going to come through. But being at ease in your space, where there is neither too much clutter nor an overly rigid feeling of perfectionism isn’t just a decorating issue, it’s a psychological issue. In many ways what makes a home feel welcoming is that it actually is welcoming and the people who live there are comfortable with themselves and ready to have guests arrive.

Avoid shiny hard finishes that show fingerprints.

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Bottom photograph by Jared Sych; top photograph by Victoria Chern cozy. LEFT The matte finish on these log tables makes this room by designer Jeffrey Reidl feel welcoming.
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AND improve organization.

Having a simple organizational system helps teach kids good habits from an early age. These options from IKEA are easy to use and affordable.


1. “Start with the boulders, then the rocks and the pebbles will fall into place.” Start by figuring out the placement and volume of the largest items, such as your couch and tables, then worry about smaller items like dishes. Tchotchkes and artwork will fall into place later.

2. “It’s a cliché but it’s true, there should be a place for everything and have everything in its place.” Add extra storage and stay organized with bins, drawer dividers, shelf risers and slim coat hangers.

3. “Only the things you use on a regular and consistent basis should be in your prime real estate.” Move things you don’t use often out of main areas or into storage further away. If you’re not sure if you regularly need something, store it somewhere else for a short while and see if you miss it.

4. “Put things where you need them.” Store well-used items close to where you actually use them or clean them. For example, put dishes near the dishwasher, place the knives near the countertop where you cut things and wooden spoons near the stove.

5. “You have to work with your habits if you want to create organization that’s effective.” For example, if you have kids who drop book bags and coats just inside the door, put bins or hooks right there for them rather than trying to get them to carry their stuff into another room to put it away.

6. “When kids are old enough to categorize, they can put things away.” Don’t delay, start today to create the well-organized adults of the future. Start simple with bins and hooks and as they grow you can make the organization scheme more complex.

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“It’s a cliché but it’s true, there should be a place for everything and have everything in its place.”
—Karen Allbright, Calm Order Inc.
Checklist photograph by Jared Sych; Entrance photograph courtesy of IKEA
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What to Know Before You

You’ve perused boards on Pinterest, wandered the halls of IKEA, and contemplated paint colours. You’ve eyed light fixtures, lusted after backsplashes and trailed your hands along the smooth porcelain of clawfoot tubs, wistfully picturing your home, gutted and remade in the image of your renovation dreams.

But where to begin? Anxiously you recall Karen, the neighbour who enthusiastically knocked out walls only to discover she’d been living in a termite’s paradise. Also, your cousin Dave, whose kitchen makeover was undertaken by Kevin No-Last-Name, a contractor who didn’t include appliances in his quote and later presented a ninedigit invoice.

Fear not, renovation hopeful. There are steps you can take to safeguard against a similar fate.

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Tips from the pros and others in the know on how to help your project run smoothly.

Get a Designer

Before you contact contractors for quotes, have a designer sketch your vision. “For any contractor to price out a project properly, you need a set of design drawings, something so you can compare apples to apples on every quote,” says Alan Hrehirchuk, a managing partner of Envision Custom Renovations. To neglect this step means you’ll receive pricing estimates from descriptions of what you want, which could yield wildly different results. Drawings provide consistency, a safer way to assess what each contractor can offer, and at what price.

Research Your Team

Remember Kevin No-Last-Name?

So does cousin Dave, who’s still in court over that nine-digit invoice.

“Check out your contractor,” says Hrehirchuk. “Don’t just take their word for it that they have licenses or do good work.” In particular, look for a RenoMark distinction.

RenoMark contractors have to subscribe to the Canadian Home Builders Association’s Code of Ethics and annually provide proof of licensing, warranty and insurance. You can verify that the company you’re considering is affiliated on the RenoMark website.

Bring in a Structural Engineer

“It’s very important to bring in a structural engineer that can look at the house before,” says home designer Dean Thomas Bottomley of Dean Thomas Design Group. “Because you could be opening up a can of worms.” While an engineer won’t be able to identify every issue that could arise, they could detect potential headaches such as water damage, problematic zoning and compromised structural integrity. “If people haven’t done the legwork up front with engineers, a designer or an architect, it can definitely create some big hurdles down the road,” Bottomley says.

“The code is built for minimum. For example, a 30-inch door is good enough by code. If there is room and you put a 32- or 36-inch door in, it’s not going to cost that much more. What happens if someone in the house ends up in a wheelchair? For them to move around a 30-inch door is going to be a hassle. A 36-inch door is maybe $20 difference in material.”

Prepare to go Over Budget

In spite of all your careful planning, issues could be unearthed once renovations have begun that inflate costs. “Until you actually strip it down, it’s tricky to really understand how the house was put together as far as electrical, plumbing and structural integrity, so I would always budget for more than you think it will cost,” says Bottomley. Budgeting for the unexpected can protect your savings — and your peace-of-mind. “You want to have an extra 10 to 15 per cent,” says Hrehirchuk. “Just in case.” —H.K.

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“You need to have an overall endpoint and overall budget. With scope creep — the ‘while you’re here’ syndrome — the budget starts to grow. My experience is it can grow anywhere from six to upward of 25 per cent.”
—Paul Ransom, contractor, Paul Ransom Carpentry & Millwork Ltd.
Take lots of photos before, especially, because it’s easy to get excited and rip everything apart and then realize you don’t have photos of what it looked like originally. There are lots of websites where you can make before-and-after books. It seems like a small thing to do but it’s nice to have, and to bring with you to the next house so you can look back and see the full process.”
and Steve James, first-time house flippers currently renovating their home
“Invest your money on things that are going to save you money in the end. Good windows [and] insulating your roof will save on energy costs.”
—Nicole Hemphill, residential renovator, designer and house flipper, Fusion Home Designs
—Raymond Ting, former general contractor and SAIT instructor in carpentry and home renovation
“ Always interview contractors and get references. I would recommend interviewing two to three minimum and getting two to three reference letters of previous clients.”
—Tanya Eklund, realtor and owner of The Tanya Eklund Group of Re/max Real Estate Central
“Make sure you’re spending money well on your flooring. Spend that little extra on trim, baseboards and casing. They support the intention of the design.”
—LeAnne Bunnell, interior designer, LeAnne Bunnell Interiors

Streamlining the Permit Process

The City of Calgary has cut red tape around applying for home renovation permits and has made it easier than ever to get assistance in the process.

Perhaps the prospect of dealing with red tape has been holding back your home improvement plans? If so, you’ll be pleased to know that 2018 saw major upgrades to the way the City of Calgary deals with renovation, building and development permits for homeowners. A new online headquarters was launched in May that offers three major improvements over the City’s old system: permits can now be applied for online, a direct-chat function links homeowners to City staff and both the language and process for applications has been greatly simplified for clarity and to avoid redundancy.

The online applications have already seen a high rate of adoption, says Jennifer Crack, customer coordinator for homeowners at the City. “In the first month, we were looking at around 50 per cent of applications coming in online, and we did very little advertisement for the online application process,” she says. While noting that using calgary.ca/myhome is faster and more convenient for most, Crack knows some people prefer face-to-face interaction and welcomes them to apply in person at the Municipal Building. Those that prefer in-person help can also benefit from informational open houses held quarterly around the city by the Planning & Development department. Open houses are listed at calgary.ca/pdevents. When planning a renovation, one major decision is whether to go the do-it-yourself route or hire a contractor. One upside of hiring a contractor is that they take on all the work of the permit process, but with that said, be sure to read the section on best practices on the City’s My Home web page before hiring someone. Tips include checking a contractor’s licence, insurance and references, as well as making sure to get your contract in writing rather than a verbal agreement. Unfortunately, Crack has had plenty of calls where customers got burned after not doing due diligence.

If you opt to handle your own renovation, you can head to calgary.ca/myhome and browse by the relevant section to your project type. Previously, the page for renovations was clogged with jargon and was challenging for the layperson to understand, but more accessible language has been added and sections are now titled intuitively. If you have questions, just open the chat function or call in to the customer service centre. Talking directly to a representative can have surprising advantages, with Crack saying that expert tips are offered based on your project’s specifications. For example: “One of the big ones is [when homeowners want to build a deck]. Half the time they submit a project that has a deck at maybe two and a half feet, but if they lowered their deck by six inches and it’s only at two feet, they don’t actually need a permit.”

Once the application is submitted, approval time varies based on the complexity of the project. However, the city staffer assigned to your application will update you throughout the process. In the past, sometimes information submitted on one form was asked for in needless duplication. “Now we actually just have one application that you fill out. You make one application and we’ll follow through to the next step,” says Crack.

Whether you are hiring a contractor or tackling the application process yourself, it’s clear that the City has made it a priority to take the stress out of the ordeal and to make its staff available. If this was the hurdle holding you back from tackling the project you’ve been dreaming of, you won’t be able to use it as an excuse any longer. —C.G.

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“Now we just have one application that you fill out. You make one application and we’ll follow through to the next step.”
– Jennifer Crack, customer coordinator for homeowners, City of Calgary
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40 avenueFEBRUARY.19
BY Victoria Lessard
Avenue Calgary .com 41 furnishings interior design lighting accessories Calgary 3919 A Richmond Road SW 403.240.0111 countrylivingfurnishings.com Putting Back in Style
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How to Spend Your Time

Time is one of the great equalizers — we all get the same amount of it in the day. Whether you’re trying to run a company, raise a family, or have the most fun possible (or some enjoyable mix of the three) learning to manage time is what separates high achievers from those who merely stumble through life. But coming up with a system that allows you to maximize your efficiency at work and at home can, ironically, be very time consuming, as can setting your priorities. From the newly retired former VP of an oil-and-gas company, to a career coach, a high-end boutique lawyer, and others, all of the following people were forced to come up with ways to better manage their time. And even if you can’t afford to hire a personal shopper to help you save time, there are tips to be learned from these Calgarians.


You’d think that being vice-president of an international oil-and-gas company, working the requisite 70-plus hours a week and managing more than 200 employees would make anyone welcome all the free time possible. But there can be too much of a good thing.

When Pierre Gagnon retired at 56 in the spring of 2017, he went from working in a position where almost all of his time was planned for him, to being forced to manage that task himself.

“I was very lost. There used to be forms, meetings and worksheets that I had to do. I have to make my own schedule now,” says Gagnon. “I had to send myself a couple of test emails to make sure my phone was still working.”

The first thing Gagnon did after he retired was go on vacation. But the reality of retirement hadn’t really set in yet and it felt like just another holiday, not the beginning of his retirement. When Gagnon got back, he fell into a summerseason routine. He kept busy doing work around the house, catching up with friends over coffee and playing golf.

But that first winter in 2017 was a whole different story. Gagnon knew he needed to change his approach to retirement when he found himself binge-watching TV for days in a row. “You don’t

feel good. You probably overeat and certainly don’t exercise,” says Gagnon. “It was either go back to work or do something different.”

He quickly realized that he had to learn how to schedule himself and set his own deadlines. “You have to plan your days, otherwise you end up doing nothing except scrolling on Facebook, or watching TV, which doesn’t add to anything,” says Gagnon.

According to Dr. Candace Konnert, an associate professor at the University of Calgary, and director of the Healthy Aging Lab at the U of C, the discovery that Gagnon had — that lack of things to do can also translate to lack of meaning — is quite common for retirees. “Many people go through a honeymoon period where they are very happy to be free from work responsibilities. It’s a time of transition where people are figuring out how to spend their time,” she says.

According to Konnert, research has shown that finding personal meaning outside of the workforce is an important part of retired people’s lives. A 2014 MassMutual study found that 11 per cent of retirees found themselves lacking a sense of purpose.

Gagnon had spent most of his working career taking care of the economics of retirement — he had decided at an early point in his career that he wanted to retire at 58 and believes that setting that goal was essential to him being financially prepared by that age and actually beating his goal

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You can’t save it up and you can’t make more, so be sure you spend your least renewable resource wisely.

by two years. However, he hadn’t really considered how he was actually going to spend his time once he reached his financial goal. He struggled early on in his retirement to fill his time. He had thought his hobbies would have taken up most of his days, but they didn’t.

Konnert sees this often. She notes that while financial planning is certainly important, planning time and finding meaningful activities is just as valuable. “You need a certain amount of money to meet your basic needs, but beyond that I don’t think having a lot of money is a good predictor of healthy aging,” she says.

Gagnon says he has learned that while the tasks he does now may not be as high-stress as the ones he undertook when he was working, it’s the sense of accomplishment he gets from completing them that matters most.

“I truly believe that people don’t understand that they have to get their self-satisfaction from things that are totally different than they’re used


to doing,” he says. Gagnon now spends a good amount of his time building and managing a community garden.

In addition to finding meaningful projects to work on, Gagnon has found that he actually needed to schedule his days much as he did when he was working. That act of deciding what to do when and planning things out has helped him adjust to retirement.

“That’s what I figured out: you still have to have those schedules, you still have to prioritize,” he says. “When you retire, things are going to change dramatically. Nobody is going to be looking after you — you have to do that yourself.”

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Former NHL player Brian McGrattan now works for the Calgary Flames in player development.


Brian McGrattan, a former NHL player who spent four seasons with the Calgary Flames, has lived most of his life in hockey arenas. So, when he retired after the 2016-2017 season at the age of 35, he felt a sense of relief, but he also found himself in an uncomfortable situation. “A lot of people are just starting their careers by the time they’re 35 and mine was ending,” McGrattan says. The day-to-day routine of professional hockey had been McGrattan’s life for more than 15 years, and now it was over.

Even though McGrattan had retired at an early age compared to the average worker, he had intuitively followed the advice of retirement experts such as Dr. Candace Konnert of the Healthy Aging Lab at the U of C and taken steps to prepare for the next part of his career.

McGrattan knew he wanted to stay involved in hockey in some way once his playing days were over. Throughout his career, he built a retirement plan that included developing relationships within the game and making it clear that he wanted to continue to work after he was done playing. In August of 2017, the Flames offered McGrattan a job in player assistance, a position created just for him.

Now, McGrattan provides support and guidance for players in the Flames organization. He helps players through personal struggles, focusing on maximizing their careers and planning for a post-hockey life. Retiring from the NHL is like any kind of retirement when it comes to planning, but in some ways the stakes are higher. The nest egg is likely larger (according to a 2013 Business Insider story, NHL players on average make $13.6 million in career earnings). Retirement is longer as well, in terms of years.


“You start getting into your late '20s, you have to start thinking about what’s next,” says McGrattan. “A lot of guys make a lot of money, but you still have to do something. You can’t just sit around all day, you’ll go crazy.”

Despite “retiring,” what McGrattan did could be seen more as a career change. Only six per cent of Canadians hold one job their whole lives, according to a 2014 Workopolis study. Keeping in touch with your extended network and letting them know your long-term goals is a useful tactic both for retirees and for those contemplating a career change.

While it took McGrattan a while to adjust to his new role off the ice, he eventually got the hang of it. He immersed himself in every aspect of hockey operations, and management helped him adjust to the role. He now finds himself looking at the game through a different lens. “I thought it was stressful being a player, but it’s the same for management,” McGrattan says. “The pressure to win is all throughout the organization.”

Avenue Calgary .com 45


For 12 years, Evelyn Ackah worked at large law firms on Bay Street in Toronto. She would often be at work at 7 a.m., and not get home until midnight. But when she decided to adopt two kids as a single parent, she knew that she wouldn’t be able to continue to work at that pace. She saw how many of the other partners at her firm didn’t spend much time with their families and decided to set her priorities differently.

“At a large global firm, there’s not a lot of balance. It’s 18-hour days, six, seven days a week for weeks on end,” says Ackah. “It’s just a very intense way of practicing law. I loved it, but I couldn’t do it any longer. I needed to make a lifestyle change.”

Ackah moved to Calgary in 2008 and opened her firm, Ackah Business Immigration Law, in 2010. She decided to delegate and outsource tasks that she doesn’t see as being essential to her

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Evelyn Ackah, owner of Evelyn Ackah Business Immigration Law, juggles a demanding career and family life as a single mom by delegating anything she can and buying more time for what's important to her.

professional or personal life. “If I’m a $600-an-hour lawyer, does it really make sense for me to mow my little patch of grass, when I can be hiking with my kids?” says Ackah. Now she has a live-in nanny, a lawn-maintenance company and she often hires a professional shopper to save her even more time.

“There are some things I don’t need to do,” says Ackah. “But I need to be the one hugging my children. I’m the one that needs to be giving them bandages when they fall and scrape their knees.”

Likewise, Ackah used to feel she had to take on every aspect of her work and business. Now, she doesn’t worry about doing tasks she can outsource. Over time, she found that the more she delegated tasks to others, the more she could focus on the work that only she could do. Giving tasks that didn’t require her attention to others meant she had freed up her own time and mental space so that she could focus on growing her business and planning vacations with her kids.

A study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that outsourcing everyday tasks can combat feelings of time stress and promote happiness. Not surprisingly, feelings of time stress were found to lead to increased anxiety and to reduce well-being. In a survey of more than 6,000 people, researchers found that spending money to “buy time” was linked to greater life satisfaction than spending the same money on objects.

And that’s exactly what Ackah does. If paying for a service saves her time and lets her be with her kids more, she sees it as a worthwhile investment, not an indulgence.

Time management is also key for Ackah, and she uses technology to stay on top of her schedule. Clients, legal assistants and employees are all organized and prioritized through her online calendar. Applications like SimplyFile, Acuity, Cleo and Lexicata help her do everything from organize files to track potential clients. But as much as cloud-based systems are a big part of how she operates, Ackah also keeps a physical calendar on her fridge at home that she shares with her nanny and which tracks all of her kids’ activities.

Owning her own business certainly gives Ackah the flexibility of being able to rely on employees for certain tasks and use that saved time to be with her family. But you don’t have to be an entrepreneur to implement her principles of time management and outsourcing of tasks.

Ackah’s entire calendar is focused on making sure that she gets her work done, then gets home. Her kids are the priority, and her assistant will even make scheduling decisions to ensure that she spends enough time with her family.

“It’s a good balance. It’s not perfect, but I do the best that I can,” she says.


Competing priorities, long working hours and family commitments can conspire to leave you time-starved. Outsourcing tasks such as picking up laundry and groceries can let you make the most of what little time you do have. Google, Ernst&Young and other big companies have even started offering personal concierge services in their benefits packages as a helping hand to their employees. Here are some of the many services in Calgary that allow you to buy back a bit of time.


Sunterra Market is one of the few grocery stores in Calgary that offers its own delivery. President Glen Price says the service was initially offered as an add-on for Sunterra Market’s existing clients, but it has since expanded. “It was to reach some of the clientele that had to drive further to reach our retail locations,” he says, “or for when existing clientele are under time constraint.”

To use the service, customers create an online account, shop through the website and then have the order delivered for $8.

Price says there isn’t a specific profile for the customers of the delivery service. “Some people use it because they’re less mobile or others because they’re busy,” he says.


Inabuggy grocery delivery mobile app operates in Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa and Calgary. Founder Julian Gleizer says Inabuggy is all about getting clients more time. “The problem we’re trying to solve is allowing the customer to buy their time back,” he says.

Gleizer started Inabuggy after creating other delivery-services apps and noticing a demand and a gap in the market. “There is a demand because there is an increase in people that work or are busy that have more pressure on them,” he says. “Once people try the app, they realize they’ve saved a ton of time.”

Inabuggy delivers anywhere within the city. Unlike some other services, such as Instacart which delivers only from Superstore in Calgary, Inabuggy will pick up from multiple stores including Superstore, Costco, Safeway, Walmart, PetSmart and M&M Food Market. Delivery is $19.99 for the first location and $9.99 for each additional stop.

“We have [people] ordering for elderly parents or parents ordering for their kids in college,” Gleizer says of Instabuggy’s user demographics. “And we have everybody in between: anyone who buys groceries.”


Lifestylist is a concierge service for individuals and corporations. Operations manager Chris Thompson says the idea for Lifestylist came about when co-owner Stephanie Nychka noticed how busy their friends who had kids were.

Thompson says Lifestylist offers highly customized, luxury services. Most often, users are people with disposable income looking for help with tasks that eat away at their already limited time. “The people we see are often those that, when they’re not busy working, they don’t want to spend the time doing laundry or running errands,” he says.

Lifestylist offers a range of services, including errands and personal assistance, and also helps those who travel a lot manage their households. Thompson says the company conducts a full assessment of customers’ lifestyle and needs. “We’re not just running and getting your groceries and leaving them on the counter,” he says. “That’s the difference between having an errand service and having something like this, which is where you get catered to.”


Sarah Webb and Lisa James started mobile meditation company Modern + Mindful two years ago in a studio space. However, they soon found that demand was greater when the business was mobile. Now, they offer meditation sessions in various workplaces and hospitals.

“People find it a lot easier to just walk down the hall to a boardroom than to go to a studio and take more time out of their day,” says Webb.

Webb and James say while they offer services for a wide range of people, including kids, they’ve found companies are their biggest clients. “We offer programs as short as 15 minutes where people come in and take that pause,” Webb says. “Taking a break in the mid-afternoon is a great way to refresh and refocus the brain and get through the rest of the day.” —

Avenue Calgary .com 47


Jameela Ghann and Peter Niongwe are married business partners who cofounded and operate Alora Boutique, a jewellery company focused on creating quality products and giving back to the community. Alora donates five per cent of its proceeds to charities focused on women and also gives back through a number of organizations, including the Mustard Seed.


Jameela Ghann: We definitely were not efficient at the beginning. We were just trying to figure it out.

Peter Niongwe: Once you get past that initial stage you start to figure out where you can maximize your time. As you grow your business, you really start to figure out what is valuable and what you can let go.


JG: I block off my morning, right after breakfast and before lunch, where I can be most productive. Mostly it's the activities that are going to grow my business and make me money. Then I’ll let all the other to-do's fall in place. If I get around to them I get around to them, great, but I know I've already done the most important things first.


JG: We try to make sure that when we’re spending time with our kids, we’re always present. We always try to make Sunday a family day.

PN: We also know that there are days where we just can’t do it because of the business. Every day we’re not with our kids, we’re doing eight hours. Eight solid hours and nothing else.


PN: One thing we learned was the “tornado method.” You start by looking at your year in January and planning big things out. Then planning your quarters out, then your weeks out. That's allowed us to kind of see things as a bigger picture and helped us visualize what we wanted to do. Prioritizing your days, I think that’s really important.

JG: You should ask for help where you can. Don't ever be afraid to ask your cousin, “Hey can you watch my kid on this night?” Also, let certain things go. Don’t be so hard on yourself when you don't get everything done — you can't get everything done. It's about deciding what's important to you.

It’s not your imagination — parents are spending more time on child care than they used to.

According to Statistics Canada, Canadians who spent time on unpaid child care reported an average of two hours and 31 minutes a day in 2010, an increase of 21 minutes from 1998.

On average, women spent twice as much time on child care as men. Among women who worked full time the number wasn’t quite as stark, but nearly. Among parents with children newborn to four years old, the average woman spent six hours and 33 minutes a day on child care. Among the same group, women who did paid work for 30 or more hours a week reported five hours and 13 minutes of child care, whereas men who worked full time reported two hours and 59 minutes.

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Meet Tanya.

Meet Tanya. She’s been one of Calgary’s top selling Real Estate Agents for years. She has valuable experience working within Calgary’s Inner City Real Estate market, and she understands every client is as unique as their home.

Tanya takes the time to listen; to understand your wants and needs. She doesn’t expect your trust, Tanya earns it by consistently remaining honest, accessible and tenacious. That’s what sets Tanya apart.

The Tanya Eklund Group was founded on Tanya’s principles. The professionals within her group don’t work for Tanya – they work for you, the client. They provide unparalleled expertise, skill and service to Calgary’s inner city. And their clients know it.

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Brian Stollery is a comedian who has performed for crowds as small as 50 and as large as 800, doing shows for companies such as Trico Homes and Wendy’s. Over the years, he has become super conscious of how he uses his time on stage and his time preparing to be on stage.

• Preparation is Key

“To write jokes usually takes a long time mulling over them in your brain. You gotta think about them from different angles. Experience helps.”

• Work Against the Clock

“When I have a limited amount of time, I try to meet with the people in the company, either by phone or in person. I ask questions about the ins and outs of the company, who does everybody know, etc. Then I get to work and find the jokes, ‘making the funny,’ if you will.”

• Home in on Your Target(s)

“I’m not just doing a generic comedy show for an audience. I know about these people, I know who they are. I’ve also taken the time to learn about what they do and put some thought into what I find funny about it.”

• Be Ready to Adapt

“I have to be ready to cut jokes when I’m on stage. If they’re not buying into that joke, they’re certainly not going to buy into the next two I have on that topic. I’ll cut my losses and move on.”

• Know How to Fill Your Time

“I’m filling the show with laughs, I’m not filling it with me talking. The majority of the time, people should be laughing. The more I’m talking, the less they're laughing. That's not what comedy is about to me.”


The truth is that if you don’t decide what your goals are and pursue them with focus, it’s very unlikely that you’ll achieve them. It seems pretty obvious, yet, it trips a lot of us up.

“I may be naïve, but I truly believe that you can have it all,” says Alison Geskin. “You can have a great relationship, be kickass at whatever you do and enjoy your life.” For both companies and individuals, Geskin believes one of the biggest time wasters getting in the way of “having it all” is indecisiveness — not setting or not sticking to your priorities.

Geskin runs two businesses, both related to helping people learn the best ways to maximize time and efficiency. Through her consulting and coaching company, The Art of Strategy, she works with companies to help them work through “pain points” in communications and growth. And through her couple’s retreat program, she helps people focus on strengthening their relationships before they fall apart. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution for those who hire Geskin, although she does use the term “re-purposing energy” to describe the advice she gives clients and friends. That usually means helping people set priorities and then learning to focus their efforts into them, because the second thing standing between you and your goals is distraction.

allocation matches your priorities. For example, if your priorities are career growth, fitness and your friends, but you spend your time watching Netflix alone on the couch, there’s obviously a disconnect.

One of the biggest reasons Geskin sees people struggling to maintain their workload and burning out stems directly from a lack of self-care. When people don’t take care of themselves, they can’t take care of anyone else — just like the flight attendant says, you need to put your own oxygen mask on first.


Although many people say that their relationships are the most important part of their lives, Geskin says she often finds the way people actually manage their lives doesn’t reflect that. When gauging how to help people manage their priorities, Geskin asks her clients to list and rank the five “hats” that they wear to determine what roles they identify as significant. What she finds is that people will almost never put their relationship in their top five roles, and often it doesn’t even come close.

“Your relationship is the one constant in your life that sets the tone for everything,” says Geskin. “If you’re not happy in your relationship, you cannot thrive at anything else, either.”

If listing your priorities is step one to getting to your business and personal goals, measuring your follow-through is step two. That means looking at how much time, effort and money you put into each thing you’re doing and making sure that

“A lot of people don’t allow themselves the luxury to be able to accept that,” says Geskin, who recalls how she used to feel guilty when she would take a day off. Now she works to help her clients understand that they shouldn’t feel guilty for taking the opportunity to recharge. That is especially important in relationships, she says. Many of the people who go to Geskin’s couple’s retreat have seen themselves become focused on their work and, as a result, have let their relationship fall to the backseat. It takes time and work to help them refocus their goals to fit into the parts of their lives that make them happy.

“There’s so much noise and so many distractions out there. I think people get lost along the way,” says Geskin. Prioritizing and planning helps clear away distractions that no longer need to be focused on. “To be able to control the chaos is really important.”

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Avenue Calgary .com 51 WHERE WESTERN CANADA’S MAGAZINE MEDIA PROFESSIONALS COME FOR INSIGHT AND INSPIRATION. Stay informed and get motivated at the 24th annual Alberta Magazines Conference and hear from the industry’s most respected innovators. VISIT ALBERTAMAGAZINES.COM ANDAWARDS2019 CALGARY, ALBERTA, APRIL 4 & 5, 2019
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So, you’re planning a romantic evening, you’re not sure where to go, and you’ve turned to the sages at Avenue for advice. Wise move, my friend. But first, we have just one question: What does romance mean to you?

Ask five different people, and you’ll get five different answers. The truth is, what makes for romance is a very personal thing. For some, it’s the energy of a bustling space, a see-and-be-seen atmosphere. For others, it’s quiet seclusion, where you and your partner feel like the only people in the room. Some want the vibe to be trendy, while others prefer classic elegance. For some it’s the food that is the most important thing, for others it’s the ambience. So yes, it’s complicated. To help you find your perfect spot, consider these four common criteria and book your reservations accordingly.


The linchpin of the whole affair. If the meal lets you down, it’s pretty hard for the other categories to make up the slack. All these restaurants are going to deliver excellent fare, but we’ve taken consistency into account too.

h, February. It’s everyone’s favourite month, right? Comfortably nestled in the deep trough of winter, spring nowhere in sight. Short days, long nights, average temperatures peaking at a balmy zero degrees … what’s not to love?

Let’s face it, February has very little going for it. But it does have Valentine’s Day, that annual celebration of romance, so if you’re as tired of winter as we are, it’s a perfect excuse to pull out all the stops and woo that special someone. (Or someones. We’re not judging.) Whether you’re embarking on a first date or looking for a Grand Romantic Gesture, Calgary has plenty of great options to explore. But how to choose the right place with the right vibe?

Fear not, intrepid daters, we’ve broken it down for you.


Good service can make or break a dining experience. Welcoming front of house sets the tone; after that, we want to be pampered with polished table service, which includes being knowledgeable about where ingredients are sourced and how dishes are prepared, as well as wine and cocktail recommendations.


Food always tastes better in an inspiring space. Interior design is important here, but also that intangible thing called vibe, which takes into account everything from architecture to music to your fellow diners.


Is this dining room just you and your 200 closest friends? Can you hear yourself think?

Are you literally rubbing elbows with the total stranger sitting next to you? Smaller restaurants with secluded tables and special little nooks will score higher in this category.

Where to go in Calgary for everything from a casual first date to a big, important occasion. And what makes a place “romantic,” anyway?


Maybe it’s a Tinder or Bumble thing. Or a set-up courtesy of mutual friends. Point is, you don’t know each other very well, and this could turn into anything from How I Met Your Mother to the sort of train wreck you end up live-tweeting from the bathroom, so you want to hedge your bets. Pairing your dining experience with an activity is a great way to do exactly that. If the date is going well, you have more to talk about. And if not — hey, at least you’re occupied.


The vibe at National’s 10th Avenue S.W. location is the perfect blend of lively and laid-back. Long, communal tables and patio-style lighting keep things casual, but that doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice on food quality. Tuck into well-executed pub classics like burgers and fish ’n’ chips, then head downstairs for some bowling, Ping-Pong and maybe some live music.

341 10 Ave. S.W., 403-474-2739, ntnl.ca


If you’re craving summer, Ricardo’s Caribbeaninspired rum bar will have you feeling beachy. The atmosphere is lively and chic, and the sharingstyle plates are a great way to find out whether you and your date are simpatico, culinarily speaking. Get things off to a flaming start with some spicy jerk chicken, then let a sampling of Ricardo’s more than 100 rums warm your bones. Is it getting hot in here?

1530 5 St. S.W., 587-349-2585, ricardoshideaway.ca


With its bustling dining room and gorgeous Shanghaideco interior, Two Penny is as much eye candy as good food — there’s no shortage of either. (We’re still dreaming of the wonton soup.) Book an early dinner on a Thursday, then head downstairs to the Tea House bar for live comedy. Or skip dinner and munch on dim sum bites during the show while sipping craft beers and creative cocktails.

1213 1 St. S.W., 403-474-7766, twopenny.ca

Avenue Calgary .com 53


The first few dates are behind you. It’s going well, but you don’t want to put too much pressure on it. You just want to enjoy each other’s company with great food in an inspiring space. Someplace trendy enough to feel energetic, but you want more than just a pretty face; the food has to measure up, too. Lucky for you, there are plenty of great options in this category.


The decor at Bridgette Bar is ruthlessly trendy: every terrarium, macramé wall hanging and mid-century chair has been carefully curated to remind you of your grandparents’ basement (if your grandparents were glamorous Hollywood socialites who lived in a glass mansion). It would almost be distracting if the food wasn’t so good, taking full advantage of the huge wood-burning grill to smoke and sear to perfection. And yes, there’s avocado toast.

739 10 Ave. S.W., 587-319-6827 (call), 403-700-0191 (text), bridgettebar.com


Wood, leather and exposed brick lend Pigeonhole a decidedly Brooklyn vibe. Between that and the generous offerings of vegetables and fish on the menu, you might just forget you’re in Cowtown. If you need a reminder, there’s enough meat on the menu to satisfy even the most obligate carnivore, but be warned: the Black Angus rib chop with creamed kale, onion rings and Maître d’Hôtel butter for two might just put you and your date in a food coma of the best possible kind.

306 17 Ave. S.W., 403-452-4694, pigeonholeyyc.com


The food at Ten Foot Henry is as delicious as it is buzzy, which is doubly impressive considering its veggie-forward focus (very of the moment). The room provides an ideal setting for the fare, with exposed wooden beams and unfussy furniture it manages the sort of effortless chic of a GQ model in jeans and a white T-shirt. As for the plates, well, they’re equally unfussy — all the better to let the ingredients shine.

1209 1 St. S.W., 403-475-5537, tenfoothenry.com

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It’s a special night: birthday, anniversary, Valentine’s. Maybe you’re fixing to pop the question. Whatever the occasion, you want to spoil your date with a truly memorable experience. You’re looking for exceptional food in an exceptional setting, and you want to be confident that everybody — kitchen, front-of-house, servers — will do their part to make the evening perfect. Here are three restaurants you can count on to get it right for your big night.


Whether you’re dining under the stars in summer or seated by the fireplace in winter, River Café’s vibe is stealthily romantic. At this time of year, surrounded by the snow and ice of Prince’s Island Park, the dining room has the look and feel of a secluded mountain lodge. But don’t let that rustic atmosphere fool you: this is most definitely fine dining, with a thoughtful, hyper-local menu and truly exceptional service.

25 Prince’s Island Park, 403-261-7670, river-cafe.com


Nestled in a gorgeous heritage house near the river, Rouge has romance written all over it. Generously spaced tables, some of them tucked into cozy little nooks, keep the atmosphere intimate, and the food never disappoints. Reserve a table by the fireplace, or near the bay window, and enjoy sophisticated but approachable dishes made from local, seasonal ingredients.

1240 8 Ave. S.E., 403-531-2767, rougecalgary.com


Calgarians looking for a special night out have been turning to Teatro for more than 25 years, with good reason. The design is stately and elegant, as befits the historic setting of the old Dominion Bank building, and the tables are artfully placed, including some truly special curved banquettes that allow you to snuggle side-byside while you enjoy elevated Mediterranean cuisine.

200 8 Ave. S.E., 403-290-1012, teatro.ca

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With only 24 seats, Bar Von Der Fels is tiny and quiet. It hits the sweet spot between trendy and intimate and you’ll feel like you’ve just stumbled upon a delicious secret. BVDF is all about the marriage of wine and food, offering an impressive collection of wines-by-theglass and knowledgeable sommeliers who will match them with the kitchen’s imaginative, well-executed small plates.

1005A 1 St. S.W., 587-349-2656, barvonderfels.com


It’s almost unfair to grade Bonterra in the winter, when its gorgeous patio is not in play. (In season, those bistro tables near the fountain are arguably the most romantic dining spot in Calgary.) Even in winter, though, there are some special tables on the lower level. Snag one with a cushioned sofa, or sit side-by-side at one of the tables near the window.

1016 8 St. S.W., 403-262-8480, bonterra.ca


Located in a beautifully restored heritage home, the Deane House is romantic before you even walk through the door, and what meets you inside is every bit as lovely. In summer, the terrace offers quiet al fresco dining. There are a handful of relatively secluded, cozy tables in the back room, but the veranda tables are more closely spaced — if intimacy is important to you, make sure you choose your table wisely.

806 9 Ave. S.E., 403-264-0595, deanehouse.com


Exposed brick and hardwood floors don’t do much to absorb noise, but damn, they look good. Model Milk is über-trendy and always busy, but the low lighting and some secluded tables for two along the brick wall offer some intimacy — and if the noise proves too much, just lean in close so you can hear your date speak.

308 17 Ave. S.W., 403-265-7343, modelmilk.ca


Vintage has a large dining space, so if quiet seclusion is your vibe, this might not fit the bill. But if you’re looking for a polished dining experience, with reliably good food and efficient, knowledgeable service, Vintage is sure to deliver. As far as special tables go, there are a few choice cuts, including in the tavern, where you can snuggle up side-by-side in a curved leather booth while enjoying the same stellar steaks as in the dining room.

320 11 Ave. S.W., 403-262-7262, vintagechophouse.com

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dining experience
romantic before you even walk through the door
sweet spot between trendy and intimate most romantic in the summer
Bonterra Trattoria Bar Von Der Fels Deane House Vintage Chophouse and Tavern
Model Milk Avenue's writers and editors are occasionally invited to eat at local restaurants as a guest. Neither free meals nor advertising are required for coverage in Avenue. Neither restaurants that advertise nor those that provide meals or other incentives are promised editorial coverage, nor do they have the opportunity to review or approve stories before publication.


One-on-one attention, specialized programming and leadership development are just some of the advantages offered by Calgary’s premier private schools.

Calgary is home to several independent schools, each distinct in its educational approach. What they all share is a goal to help students be the best they can be. Discover the doors you can open for your child with this spotlight on some of Calgary’s finest institutions.




Calgary’s premiere French institution for preschool to Grade 12 — opens doors to an international community of learning. Not only are students geared to be fluent in English and French, they also graduate with a bilingual diploma from Alberta Education and the French Baccalaureate from the French Ministry of Education.

This means that as they go through their formal education, children are taught both Albertan and French curricula, which provides several advantages. For starters, a Lycée student who wishes to study abroad for any length of time can choose to do so at

any of the 496 schools in the 137 countries that teach the French curriculum. And the students do not have to play catch-up since the schools share the same curriculum.

“I’m really happy that these exchanges take place because they were very rewarding for me,” says Lycée Grade 12 student Pierre Seince.

The teachers at Lycée have received their credentials from either Alberta Education or the French Ministry of Education and work together to create teachings that complement each other and are kept at a level students can thrive at.

“[Our education] is a unique combination of tradition and innovation,” says Frédéric Canadas, Head of School at Lycée Louis Pasteur. “It’s not just about a rigorous curriculum, it’s also about fun and being nurturing and enjoying learning.”

Fluency in another language comes with a host of academic, personal and career benefits, according to several studies. Learning a second language can boost problem-solving

skills; help with organizing, focusing and seeing a task through; lead to better career opportunities; and encourage life-long appreciation for other cultures and ways of life.

Lycée is not only an excellent school for learning languages, it also has a notable music program, an enormous gym where students can participate in multiple sports, and a variety of community engagement opportunities that begin in Grade 5.

An added benefit of Lycée being an international school is the global support it brings for its graduating students. Through their extensive alumni network, which includes all those in the French School network, students can receive advice, connections and even future internship opportunities.

“We’re providing a global education in many different ways with access to a global network of nearly 500 schools, international exchanges and field trips, a bilingual curriculum including world history and geography and an international community of 40 different nationalities,” says Canadas.







Grade 1 students participating in Hour of Code 2018 at Lycée Louis Pasteur, a French school with small class sizes for preschool to Grade 12. PHOTO BY EMILY CHRISTMAS


Full-Day Program

No prior French needed



Grades 1 to 5

No prior French needed


Global Network of 496 Schools International Exchange Program


Located in Altadore



“AT RUNDLE, YOU CAN EXPECT to have small class sizes, but a big school experience.”

That’s how Jason Rogers, headmaster of Rundle College — a K-12 independent school in Calgary — sums it up.

Indeed, class sizes at Rundle are capped at 15, which Rogers says ensures each student is recognized and celebrated for their uniqueness.

At Rundle College, and within Rundle Academy — an affiliated school for students in Grades 4 to 12 with diagnosed learning disabilities — the goal is to uncover and develop each student’s unique set of skills and talents.

In addition to an excellent education program, Rundle offers many opportunities to enhance core learning through its co-curriculars in the areas of academics, athletics and arts. Options like STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) labs, speech and debate club and football, rugby and cheer teams allow students to explore and hone their interests.

Globally minded students can also go on international exchanges to Australia and Scotland and learn about cultural, political and socio-economic differences. In addition, Rundle is one of the only schools in Western Canada that offers access to the Global Online Academy (GOA), a platform that can be utilized by students to access a suite of specialized classes from a collective of private schools. GOA offers credited classes in a range of subjects, including iOS app design and positive psychology.

“There’s [an appropriate] balance between hard skills and soft skills, and we like to think we strike that balance [at Rundle] with the life skills kids are going to need for success in the 21st century,” says Rogers.

By Grade 9, Rundle students begin planning for their post-secondary paths through one-on-one aptitude guidance provided by faculty. This guidance continues through to Grade 12, when students

are given recommendations for post-secondary institutions based on their interests.

Megan Morrison, a soon-to-be graduate of Rundle College, has received this one-on-one coaching and, on recommendation, took part in Calgary’s Opening Minds Through Art Program (OMA) as a means of exploring her interests in helping others. The OMA program uses art therapy to connect with dementia patients.

“Throughout my own opportunities of establishing connections through the OMA Program, I have seen the overwhelming effects of empathy, and its gradual progression into a foundation of trust,” says Morrison. “This raw aspect of human connection has redefined my perceptions of medicine, and solidified for me that this is what I want to do with my life.”

No matter what a student’s passions may be, Rundle seeks to help each of its attendees reach their full potential.







Rundle develops three core “Pathways to Learning”: character, academics and co-curriculars.


Our students:

study in classes of 6-15 students

• are engaged in co-curricular activities

• are passionate in athletics, academics, arts, and languages

• are world travellers

• are leaders and citizens of character

• are university prepared

The best awaits.

Book a tour to experience the best that awaits.



AFTER 17-YEAR-OLD MCKENNA OSIS graduates from West Island College (WIC) this June, she plans to pursue a double major in commerce and engineering at the University of Calgary.

But it wasn’t long ago — just 2017 — that Osis had no answer to the question: What do you want to do after you graduate?

“I had no idea what I wanted to do. I had a lot of different interests,” says Osis.

Osis credits the Institutes Program at WIC, a private school for Grades 7-12 in southeast Calgary, for helping her decide which studies to pursue.

WIC has five Institute models — Liberal Arts, Science, Business, Fine Arts and Engineering. Operating within these models, the school faculty works with each student, starting in Grade 9, to identify their key talents and interests. From there, students can explore facultyfacilitated, career-focused experiences, both in and out of the classroom.

As part of the Business Institute program, Osis visited California’s Silicon

Valley with her classmates, where they toured Google headquarters, among other innovative organizational headquarters. Inspired by what she saw on that trip, Osis made the decision to double major.

“Outside of WIC, I don’t know that I ever would have had that kind of experience,” says Osis. “No matter what I wanted to try, there was an opportunity for that.”

Students truly have access to a variety of experiences at WIC: with French and Spanish language training, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) learning labs, national and international studies programs, multi-day outdoor experience trips and more than 40 clubs, 30 sports teams and several community engagement opportunities, there is no shortage of enriching programs to choose from.

“As an independent school, we truly believe that we’re preparing kids to be leaders — to be active and








ethical citizens who give back to their community,” says Chantal Gionet, head of school at WIC.

Seventeen-year-old WIC student Abid Khan aims to give back to the world in the medical field. By nurturing an ongoing interest in medicine through the school’s Health Sciences Institute, Khan made the decision to pursue being a cardiac surgeon.

“The most valuable experience WIC has given me is the opportunity to be in the real world, often through the Institutes,” says Khan.

No matter a student’s interest, WIC provides support and aims to help each and every student reach their full potential.

“Kids do service learning, formal and informal leadership opportunities and have enriched learning [experiences] like our international studies program,” says Gionet. “It’s [about] educating the whole child, about character and about a values-based education.”

Through WIC’s Institutes Program, students can explore and experience a variety of interests. PHOTO BY RILEY JB


THE CALGARY JEWISH ACADEMY (CJA ) offers a comprehensive academic education, steeped in Judaic traditions, for nursery-aged children to Grade 9. Through its dual curriculum program, which focuses on both Alberta Education curriculum and Judaic Studies, students are taught invaluable critical thinking and learning skills while also gaining a deeper understanding of their Jewish heritage.

“The strong community connection and the connection to Jewish identity are truly celebrated in every activity,” says CJA Head of School, Brenda English.

Guided by the Jewish principle of tikkun olam (“repairing the world”), CJA students are encouraged to be active and contributing members of their community. This is achieved through volunteer and student leadership opportunities with community organizations such as synagogues, the Jewish Community Centre and seniors centres. Whether students express an interest in athletics, fine arts, science and mathematics, languages or social politics, the CJA offers a variety of opportunities to explore these topics in core classes, clubs and class trips. In Grade 6, students visit the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton as part of a Social Studies unit. In Grade 7, they visit Salt Spring Island, B.C., in order to learn about both First Nations and Judaic customs, and in Grade 8, they head to Washington, D.C., as an extension of their Human Rights and Holocaust Studies. In Grade 9, as a culmination of all they’ve learned at CJA, students take their education out of the classroom


and put it to use by hosting visiting students from Israel and actually travelling to Israel for three weeks.

“Students are set up for success as they complete their education at the CJA,” says English. “We have a very high percentage that go on to International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement, and high academic programs within private or public schools.”










AT CALGARY ACADEMY (CA) , learning is customdesigned for each student’s unique needs.

A Grade 1-12 independent school, with a new Kindergarten program beginning this fall, CA offers two educational streams: the Collegiate program, for on-track grade level students, and the Academy program, for students who have a diagnosed mild to






moderate learning disability. About three quarters of the student population have a specific area of difficulty, and every student at CA receives instruction that is both challenging and appropriate.

“The experience that kids get in the classroom is highly personalized to their specific learning needs and we work hard to ensure that every student experiences success,” says Tim Carlson, principal at CA.

Alongside its excellent core studies instruction, CA offers its students a variety of co-curricular studies, including Spanish classes, outdoor education, music, drama, art, leadership development, photography, robotics, multimedia training and more. There are also opportunities for service-oriented travel (this year to Tanzania and Peru), as well as cultural expeditions, like an art- and drama-themed student trip to New York.

Calgary Academy is powered by teachers who come in early, stay late and dedicate many hours to professional development. Indeed, the faculty at the school take great pride in creating classroom environments that nurture, challenge and inspire their students.

“We see commitment from our teachers and coaches every day,” says Grade 9 student Joey M. “Everyone pitches in to help us, even if they aren’t directly associated with us.”

PHOTO BY ERIN BROOKE BURNS PHOTO COURTESY OF CALGARY ACADEMY Innovation and engagement are at the forefront of many of CJA’s classroom experiences. Robotics is one of many integrated studies options for students at Calgary Academy.
www.calgaryjewishacademy.com Kindergarten – Grade 12 calgaryacademy.com 403.686.6444 APPLY NOW FOR FALL 2019 Full-day kindergarten program beginning this fall! 2 com A L L 0



A Measure of Success

Dr. Robbie Babins-Wagner, CEO of the Calgary Counselling Centre, is recognized worldwide as a visionary in her field for her work at the forefront of implementing counselling services backed by results

We live in a data-driven world, one in which almost every industry uses some measurement of its outcomes to evaluate whether companies are reaching their goals. Many of us also use and track data to see if we are meeting personal goals — whether that be miles run, weight lost, numbers of books read or days in a row that we meditate. The field of psychological counselling, however, has been particularly resistant to measuring outcomes and tracking results with numbers. The reasons are mostly rooted in the idea that the therapist-client relationship is inherently subjective and the belief that a professional psychotherapist can tell when a client is getting better and when they aren’t.

But an alternate view holds that those who are undergoing counselling and psychotherapy are better served when they are given the chance — by way of a standardized questionnaire — to evaluate whether their treatment is helping. One method, known as Feedback Informed Treatment (FIT), provides therapists with a quantitative measure of whether their methods are working and the client is getting better, and it’s being championed right here in Calgary.

The Calgary Counselling Centre (CCC) has gained worldwide recognition for implementing this approach. In the mid-2000s, under the direction of its CEO, Dr. Robbie Babins-Wagner, the CCC began using a mental health vital signs questionnaire to track each client’s progress. Within the FIT model, each client is given a score for the level of their distress based on their answers to the questionnaire — the higher the score, the higher their distress. The global average score at a first counselling session is 72 and a score of 63 or lower indicates the

client is no longer in distress. Figures released by CCC for 2017 showed the average level of distress for its clients to be 76.9 at the first session and 63.6 at the last session — a statically significant 13.3 per cent improvement. 44.6 per cent of CCC clients reported improved mental health or recovery after counselling and 95 per cent of clients benefitted from service. According to the CCC, its 2017 results exceed all published benchmarks by 32.6 per cent.

Babins-Wagner’s adoption of FIT and the success CCC has seen as a result have earned her adulation from FIT advocates and researchers around the world. But even those who don’t subscribe to the idea of FIT have a grudging admiration for CCC’s numbers. Hearing the word “visionary” isn’t uncommon when Babins-Wagner’s name comes up.

“One of the amazing things about Robbie is that at the centre she’s instituted a number of very progressive reforms in terms of tracking outcome data and is using it in very progressive ways,” says Tony Rousmaniere, a member of the clinical faculty at the University of Washington and author of a 2017 article about FIT published by The Atlantic, titled “What Your Therapist Doesn’t Know,” which heralded Babins-Wagner’s work at the CCC. “For example, all the staff get a quarterly report of their outcome data, which is something that is basically not done anywhere else in the world, but is incredibly valuable, and I imagine 10, 20 years from now everyone will be doing.”

Babins-Wagner was hired as director of counselling at CCC in 1992. Her background is in social work with undergraduate degrees in psychology and social work from McGill University in her native Montreal. In 1978 she and her husband Neil Wagner, a technology consultant, left Quebec in the Anglophone exodus following the election of the Parti Québecois. They settled in Ottawa, where

proven with numbers.
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Babins-Wagner, then 24, got a job with the Children’s Aid Society and set about getting her Masters’ in social work at Carleton University. One year into her program, the couple went to Banff for a ski holiday and dropped in on a professor friend at the University of Calgary. Two weeks after they returned home, Neil was offered a teaching job with the U of C faculty of business. “Why not?” they decided, “it’s for only two years ...”

Babins-Wagner also ended up at the U of C. She started working as an instructor at the university in 1982 and in 2011 earned her PhD in social work there. She remains part of the faculty as an adjunct professor and sessional instructor, teaching social policy, social work research and social work practice. “The policy and the research are interesting because those are courses that typically social workers don’t want to take,” she says. “I didn’t want to take those courses either, but over the course of my career in both those areas, I’ve become very interested in how they’re connected to clinical work, how they kind of work hand-in-hand. And the policy pieces teach us skills about how to advocate for change, either within an agency, in a community, provincially and nationally. So those are the skills that I love teaching social workers how to use.”

Babins-Wagner’s interest in research and its connection to clinical work as well as advocating for change have shaped her career. Shortly after being hired at the CCC in 1992, Babins-Wagner made her mark by helping to figure out why the Centre’s domestic-violence counselling program had consistently low attendance. The program launched in 1982 and by 1992, out of every 100 men who registered only 30 were actually following through and showing up at the group sessions. Working with a team of evaluators, Babins-Wagner added test measures at the beginning and end of group sessions, but even after a year of evaluations they were no closer to improving the numbers. Then, a staff member requested permission to deviate from the intake procedure, which involved filling out a cumbersome form detailing various types of partner abuse. The form was a standard questionnaire that counselling centres across North America were using at the time for domestic violence programs. While completing the form, this prospective client had revealed that he himself was a survivor of sexual abuse. Though it carried the risk of repercussions, Babins-Wagner okayed the staff member’s request to sideline the form and instead work with this disclosure. “I told her I’d take full responsibility,” she says. That incident proved to be a catalyst. A year later, CCC had changed its entire intake approach when it came to domestic violence-related cases: initial sessions were spent talking with the men, developing a relationship and rapport with them, rather than delving straight into the questionnaire. Following that procedure change, the percentage of men attending group therapy went from 30 to 85, with 80 per cent completing the program.

Those results have remained stable ever since. This success with changing procedures emboldened Babins-Wagner to try it with other group programs, to similar success, and in 1996 she was promoted to CEO. By 1999, the CCC had set its sights on improving the results of the individual counselling programs. This presented new challenges; people come to counselling for a wide variety of problems (Babins-Wagner says there are around 120 identifiable problems that lead people to seek counselling, and the CCC deals with around 30 to 40 on a day-to-day basis). The question was whether CCC would have to develop new protocols for each of the reasons a client might come in or whether there was one overarching protocol that could improve results for all clients.

That overarching protocol would prove to be FIT.

Babins-Wagner first learned about FIT from the book The Heroic Client: a revolutionary way to improve effectiveness through client-directed, outcome-informed therapy. She promptly brought in one of the book’s co-authors, Scott D. Miller, for a workshop at CCC. From 2002 to 2004 she tried out different data-driven approaches. At the end of the trials, CCC staff voted to implement outcome feedback forms consisting of 45 questions that clients would answer before every session and a short questionnaire evaluating whether the client’s needs had been addressed at the end of each session.

Even though staff had voted in favour of the approach, not everyone was happy. Many counsellors had a difficult time adjusting to the reliance on data instead of their expertise to indicate whether counselling was working. “Part of it is our training and socialization,” says BabinsWagner. “We’re not trained to be accountable to numbers and external forces, we’re trained to be accountable to individual clients.”

Many counsellors, not only at CCC but everywhere, not only feel they can tell what’s going on with clients, they see that ability as a valuable part of the job. However, a 2005 study found that while clinicians estimated that 85 per cent of their patients were recovering, actuarial studies showed only 15 or 20 per cent were recovering. “Part of it is that as professionals we’re socialized to trust our instincts instead of having a more formalized way of being able to check if clients are actually doing well,” says Babins-Wagner. She believes that FIT data provides a good check on the limits of instinct and serves as a “wake-up call.”

Certainly, the reveille sounded by the data-informed approach was not music to everyone’s ears. In 2008, the CCC found that required questionnaires were only being given to 40 per cent of clients. Babins-Wagner put her foot down, reminding counsellors that outcome data would not be used in their work reviews, but that it was still a requirement. “We didn’t get a ton of negative feedback or pushback, but by Christmas [of 2009] about 40 per cent of [the licensed professional] staff left,” she says.

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—Dr. Robbie BabbinsWagner, CEO, Calgary Counselling Centre

Cathy Keough, the CCC’s current director of counselling initiatives, was among the 60 per cent who stayed, and recalls her CEO’s steadfastness during that challenging period.

Babins-Wagner was the “captain of the ship,” Keough says. “She was solid and she never wavered and that made an incredible difference, because if there had been any wavering we wouldn’t have been able to do what we did.

“I was the clinical supervisor at the time, and it was a difficult time for sure, and I remember going to her on many occasions and saying, ‘how do you know that this is the right approach?’ And she would say, ‘I’m sorry I can’t give you more, I just know the clients deserve it.’”

A big part of what sets Babins-Wagner apart from her peers is her willingness to be vulnerable and transparent with her own results, says Rousmaniere. It’s a characteristic he says is rare among high-level psychotherapy professionals who tend to hold their results close to their chest. “I think she walks the walk, absolutely,” he says. “She is just very dedicated to helping her centre clients get better and she’s not as concerned about her reputation, or whatever.”

Babins-Wagner’s work has netted her numerous accolades, including the 2015 Lieutenant Governor’s Circle on Mental Health and Addiction True Leadership Award and the University of Calgary Arch Alumni Achievement Award. She has also been approached by Veterans Affairs Canada, Kaiser Permanente in the U.S., and the Institute for Social Work at the University College of Copenhagen, among others, to consult on FIT. “Everybody wants to know what are we doing; what’s the magic ingredient,” says Babins-Wagner. “There is no one magic ingredient. It has really been about focusing on the clients’ progress, changing practice and changing culture.”

Being a public face for FIT and for CCC goes against Babins-Wagner’s comfort zone of being “a real introvert, actually,” who reenergizes by spending time alone, reading, and credits a group of close friends for being able to draw her out of her shell. Though retirement beckons with travel and grandparenting, she won’t be heeding that call quite yet. (“Well, I’m having too much fun,” she says.)

It also might have something to do with her growing more and more comfortable with that word, visionary. “When people started saying this to me, five, seven, 10 years ago, I would say, no, that’s not me. I’m just doing my work,” she says.

“I can live with it now.”

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Nike Adenipekun

Public health officer by day; fashion and lifestyle blogger by night.

Describe your everyday style. Modern, conservative, comfortable, chic — a little bit of everything. Describe this outfit and why you love it. I love this outfit because it can be worn in different ways and it can be switched up from work to girls’ night out or for movie dates. What is your style inspiration? My everyday style inspiration is whatever vibe I am feeling at the particular moment. Sometimes I plan out my outfit for the next day the night before only to change everything when I wake up. What inspired you to start your blog? People tell me every Sunday when I dress up to go to church that they love my look, and that also happened a lot at my previous job. After I relocated to Calgary I started taking pictures of my outfits and posting them on Instagram and started my blog. What style advice would you give to people in Calgary? Be yourself, be comfortable and don’t be pressured about what another person might be doing. What’s your current favourite thing to wear? Oversized tops and exaggerated sleeves with leggings or straight jeans. It’s easy to style with over-the-knee boots for winter and early spring. What is your favourite clothing store? I love Hudson’s Bay, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom. I also shop at Shopbop, J.Crew and Zara. I love to shop both in-store and online. What is your greatest extravagance? Bags and shoes. How often do you buy shoes and bags? I love Chloé, Fendi and Gucci. I always treat myself to a gift at least twice a year — although it can be more! What’s your favourite shoe store? I love Nordstrom, Saks, Shoe Company and Town Shoes. What do you carry in your bag? My phone, wallet, lip balm and gloss, car keys and any current book. What are you currently reading?

The Crossfire series by Sylvia Day.

See more of Nike Adenipekun’s style at nikemibynikes.com.

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The BAR STAR’S Guide to Banff

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Where to go if you want a big night out in Calgary’s go-to mountain party town.

We can say that we go to Banff to revel in the alpine grandeur, but let’s be real: sometimes we just go to Banff to party. With their mix of visitors and tourists ready to cut loose and hordes of young seasonal workers of the “live to ride” mindset, mountain towns are notorious for nightlife, and Banff is no exception. Once the ski hills close and the sun goes down, you can sip craft cocktails, down pints of locally brewed beers, sing karaoke and even dance with a sasquatch (really). While finding a place to party in Banff isn’t hard, what can be trickier is finding the right place for the kind of night out you want. As such, we’ve pinpointed some of our favourite spots, categorized with helpful ski-run markings of (pretty laidback), (you’re gonna feel something tomorrow) and (threat level midnight), so you know what to expect.


This trendy spot on Banff Avenue has a cozy-rustic vibe — think plaid upholstery and vintage-National Park kitsch on the walls — and a signature craft distillery on the premises. You can order a slew of craft cocktails that feature Park’s award-winning house-made spirits (the espresso and chili vodkas are standouts) and “campfire-inspired” snacks such as bison bannock or smoked brie. The warm appeal of the place has made it a hot spot on the Avenue, with bustling crowds pretty much any night of the week, so best to book a table, especially if you’re with a big group.

219 Banff Avenue, 403-762-5114, parkdistillery.com


Unpretentious fare like cheese puffs, wings and pints are on the menu at the Banff Legion, where the crowd is loyal and friendly and unapologetically old-school. Paint nights, Bingo Thursdays and Free Pool Fridays allow for interactive evenings, while the no-hats-no-swearing Legion rules ensure the night’s festivities remain green-coded from start to finish.

Insider tip: a bingo blackout can win you up to $1,000, but it would be bad form not to buy a round if you do take the pot.


This quintessential mountain-town pub has been in business for more than two decades and is beloved by locals for its cheap drinks and holein-the-wall feel. Here you can watch the game, play darts and earn the gratitude of your friends with a round of reasonably priced shots. Amiable owner Tommy Soukas can often be found slingin’ pints and framed photos of visiting celebrities underscore this pub’s universal appeal.

120 Banff Ave., 403-762-8888


Perched above the strip, the Banff Ave. Brewing Co. has a reputation for great views of the town, top-notch pub food and, of course, beer. Believe the hype: the Reverend Rundle Stout is creamy, smooth and approachable and the Banff Ave Blonde Ale cuts the richness of indulgent menu offerings like thick, buttery pretzels with beer-cheese fondue dip. The quality fare and fun atmosphere make this spot an après-ski essential.

110 Banff Ave. (second floor), 403-762-1003, banffavebrewingco.ca


This low-key gem on the campus of the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity has lounge seating and big windows that look out at the surrounding peaks. The view is spectacular at sunset, making it a perfect start to any night.

Part-café-part-wine bar, you can fortify your carbohydrate reserves here with a flatbread pizza while indulging in a glass of prosecco (or two) before you head back into the town of Banff.

107 Tunnel Mountain Dr., 403-762-6141, banffcentre.ca

92 Banff Ave., 403-762-2550, banfflegion.ca

Banff-goers of a certain age might remember this space as the notorious nightclub and bad-decision factory Silver City. These days it’s home to High Rollers, a bowling alley-beer hall-pizza joint. Lace up a pair of retro-styled kicks and hit the lanes, then move the party over to the neon-lit bar area where long wooden tables practically guarantee that you’ll end up making friends. You can expect the popular New York-style thin-crust pizzas you’ve ordered to disappear like the Millennium Falcon (so get a bunch) while you’re deciding which beer to order next from the 48 taps.

110 Banff Ave. (lower level), 403-762-2695, highrollersbanff.com

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1 MACLAB BISTRO High Rollers. Maclab Bistro. Maclab Bistro photograph by Chris Amat; High Rollers photograph by Orange Girl


Most nights, when you reach the top of the staircase leading up to Wild Bill’s, you’ll see live music being played and a rocking dance floor (last fall they had a Spice Girls cover band up there that completely dominated). Oh, and there’s a mechanical bull as well, so if “danger” is your middle name you can clamber onto it and get tossed about madly as the crowd cheers before you’re launched into the air like an uncaged dove. In short, Wild Bill’s lives up to its name: it’s raucous, busy and a whole lotta fun. 201 Banff Ave. (second floor), 403-762-0333, wildbillsbanff.com


This rowdy watering hole at the Samesun hostel is notorious for something called the “Agwa Bomb” — part Bolivian liqueur and part Rockstar energy drink, this shot glitters like an emerald and overwhelms with its herbaceous unfamiliarity. Programming here runs the gamut from the popular taco specials, to bingo, trivia, open-mic nights and karaoke, so prepare to warble like a songbird should a microphone suddenly appear in your hand.

433 Banff Ave., thebeaverbanff.com


The ultimate end-the-night spot in Banff dishes up bottle service, a raging dance floor and enough spilled liquor to glue your shoes to the ground. As you floss and fist-pump while dappled in the rainbow lights, you might catch sight of a tall, furry, lumbering sasquatch shaking it amongst the partiers. It’s no hallucination; the bar’s namesake mascot comes out at night to bring mountain folklore to life.

120 Banff Ave., banffnightclubs.ca

Wild Bill’s. Dancing Sasquatch. Agwa Bombs. Wild Bill’s photograph by Dan Evans; Beaver Bar photograph by Claire Tomlinson

The Social Side

of Working Out

More than just a place to sweat, fitness studios and gyms are increasingly becoming places where members find a sense of community.

Kaysi “Kay Slay” Fagan, at the centre of the community at Undrcard Boxing Studio. Undrcard photograph by Michael Benz

After my husband died from cancer in June 2013, I hid at home for weeks, devastated and stunned. I couldn’t make eye contact with strangers or converse with anyone outside my inner circle. I cowered at the sounds of the Stampede outside, never more proudly rowdy than in those early post-flood days of 2013.

Several weeks into my hermitage, I received a mass email inviting me to a free Stampede spin class at Peloton Cycling. It arrived as a relic from my old life; Spencer and I had been riding at Peloton for nearly a year before he got sick. The owner, instructors and other members knew what happened. Some had sent flowers and attended his funeral.

These people I’d been sweating beside on stationary bikes — sometimes with my husband alongside me making quips about losing consciousness from effort — are my clan, even though most of them I never even see outside of the studio. I’m not sure I would even recognize some of them on the street without the sheen of 60 minutes’ worth of sweat. But in there, we’ve built a fellowship of people who encourage each other through the tougher moments in class and share stories of our lives outside the studio. We’re drawn there for the fun of pretend-racing each other up famous climbs of the Tour de France, but also for something more.

So, I decided my first public outing after Spencer’s death would be spin. I needed humans around me in the kind of environment where my loss wasn’t the centre of attention. I needed to be part of a group doing something together, a collective experience entirely unrelated to cancer and death and grief.

I arrived wearing dark sunglasses (I wore them everywhere those days as a kind of shield). Studio owner Martine Yzerman greeted me with a hug. We both kind of cried and shrugged; nothing more needed to be said. My sister Sarah was also along for the ride and she and I chose bikes at the back of the room. With a boom-boom version of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” bouncing off the walls, she leaned over and patted me on the back in support. “Just like they do in the Tour,” she said, which made me laugh. It was something like normalcy, even if it wasn’t.

At their core, fitness studios and gyms are places for exercise, for pushing up the heart rate, for developing fast legs or pert booties or powerful right hooks under the guidance of a motivating instructor. But there’s also more to them than the promise of a good sweat. In many cases, fitness studios play key social roles in their members’ lives, offering a sense of belonging and a kinship with people they might not otherwise meet.

Kaysi Fagan started boxing with Calgary legend Mike Miles nearly two decades ago. When she moved away for law school and later lived in different cities, she sought out boxing studios, looking for people with whom she could connect. “I always felt I had a touchstone, like a community that I could just plug into, because wherever you go in the world for a job, a jab is still a jab, a cross is still a cross. It’s that community aspect that led me to stick to it,” Fagan says.

Today, Fagan is back in Calgary, a criminal defence lawyer and an instructor at Undrcard Boxing Studio (where she teaches under

the name of Kay Slay). The open foyer at Undrcard has a 20-seat bar that serves coffee, juice and snacks, so members and drop-in clients can linger and chat outside of their classes, or just pop in and hang out even if they’re not doing a class.

Fagan says she’s seen an evolution in the way people socialize around fitness. More people use fitness now as the hook to get together with friends, much like the way people often get together for a drink or a movie. “Even for me, personally, now it’s more like ‘let’s do a class, or go for a workout, and we’ll get a coffee before or grab a bite to eat after,’” Fagan says. “It creates this really organic sense of accountability to the workout and a sense of belonging to a tribe.”

As the way we live has changed, so does the way we connect to people. We’re more likely to move away from where the places where we grew up, to live alone, to not have kids. We work longer hours and spend more time sitting at desks so our need for physical recreation has perhaps never been greater. Churches historically have served as centerpieces in our communities, where vital connections were built, but many of us are less likely to go to church than Canadians a few decades ago.

But the human need for belonging ranks just behind physiological needs and security in Maslow’s famed hierarchy of needs. As a result, we’re seeking out new ways to connect with others. It’s not surprising, then, to see fitness studios and gyms — places we regularly gather to put ourselves through shared experiences of exertion and enjoyment — become more than simply a place to get a sweat

“I always felt I had a touchstone, like a community I could just plug into, because wherever you go in the world for a job, a jab is still a jab, a cross is still a cross.” —Kaysi

on. As one spin devotee recently said to me regarding her Saturday morning class: “it might be the only time I really have a conversation with someone on the weekend.”

In my five years of cycling at Peloton, I’ve watched friendships form, romantic relationships blossom, business connections be made, even lives change through fundraisers. But the smaller

Avenue Calgary .com 79
Peloton Cycling.

connections matter, too, like learning that the young woman who cycles in the same row as me is also a widow, or that the octogenarian in the afternoon class rode from Banff to Jasper 40 years ago with her girlfriends on their children’s single-speed bikes.

Stacey Kolenick used to work out at home every day, plié-ing and squatting to barre DVDs. In 2013, Kolenick saw a notice that Barre Body Studio — the first barre studio in Calgary — would be opening in Ramsay and she decided to give studio classes a try. Recently, she attended her 1,000th class.

While Kolenick says she enjoys the variation in the routines and the motivation she gets from the instructor, mostly it’s the sense of belonging and friendly camaraderie that keeps her coming back five days a week at 6 a.m. The studio fills with familiar

faces of women ranging from age 18 to well into their 60s. These women have encouraged Kolenick throughout her two pregnancies, welcoming her back with photo requests when her sons were born. “We’re there to encourage each other, support each other. There’s no judgment,” says Kolenick. “While you’re in the studio, you become a part of everybody’s life.”

While friendships do form amongst the membership of large chain gyms as well, boutique fitness studios have an ethos that tends to be more community-focused. At traditional gyms, users attend on their own schedule. They can put in their headphones and train alone and leave without talking to anyone else if they choose. At a smaller studio with set class times, clients arrive and leave on the same timetable, chatting as they wait to start or dress to leave. They bond over enduring the same workout, be it CrossFitters cheering each other through their physically demanding WOD (workout of the day) or barre studio clients offering smiles of support to someone whose leg muscles start quivering uncontrollably from the effort.

In a study done in the U.K., researchers looked at the importance of a sense of community in gyms, surveying clients of both a CrossFit gym and a traditional gym. They found CrossFit members felt a significantly greater sense of community and belonging compared with traditional gym members. Another U.K. study of the University of Oxford’s famed rowing team showed that exercising as a group releases a surge of endorphins in the brain, which, in this case, served to push up the rowers’ pain thresholds.

At Junction 9 Yoga and Pilates studio in Inglewood, the foyer buzzes with laughter and conversation after a weekday noon-hour class. Having a space for people to hang out in before and after classes is just what co-owners and cousins-in-law Kailey and Jilaine Beddoe had in mind when they set up shop in the two-storey building just east of the Elbow River.

Prior to starting Junction 9, the pair had often gone to yoga together and found they usually had to relocate to a café if they wanted to hang out and chat after class, as their conversation would typically be impeded by the rush of bodies coming and going at the studio. To prevent rushing their clients in and out of Junction 9, the duo opened a café that serves Phil & Sebastian coffee, tea, cold-pressed juice and kombucha on tap. “One of the things we really wanted was a sense of community,” says Kailey. “We weren’t specifically advised to build a space for people to hang out in, but for our vision and values it was important.

“You might be on your own mat, dealing with your own things during class, but there’s still a sense of belonging and support. That carries over when you also have a space to connect.”

In the five years since my husband’s death, I’ve continued going to Peloton two or three times a week, give or take. The community there has organized fundraisers for me, celebrated birthdays with me. And someone usually notices when I’m not there, or when I’m having a particular tearful day, or when I’m struggling physically and can’t keep up.

Someone notices. And that’s as big a draw as any physical benefits.

Barre Photography
Barre Body Studio.
by @miltonphoto; movie-night photograph by Blaire Marie Photography
“You might be on your own mat, dealing with your own things during class, but there’s still a sense of belonging and support. That carries over when you also have a space to connect.”
—Kailey Beddoe, co-owner, Junction 9 Yoga and Pilates
Rooftop movie night after yoga class at Junction 9.
Avenue Calgary .com 81 Celebrating Calgary’s best and brightest under the age of 40 for the Top 40 Under 40 Class of 2019 Nominate Someone Today! NOMINATE AT top40under40.com

The Forest and The Trees

This majestic metal tapestry dominates the wide-open north tower lobby of Brookfield Place in downtown Calgary. The artwork is a grid of 1,225 handfinished metal tiles, 35 tiles wide by 35 tiles high. Each tile is 24 centimetres square, detailed with raised linear segments interspersed with numbers. As winter light transits across the surface, rich metallic hues gleam.

The Forest and The Trees is a highmark in artist Micah Lexier’s long career. A recipient of the Governor General Award in Visual and Media Arts in 2015, Lexier has exhibited internationally and executed many public commissions. Born and raised in Winnipeg and educated at

the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, he now lives in Toronto.

Lexier began this project with a mid-century pattern book of floral designs for cross stitch, a humble graphic beginning that presented itself as an elaborate puzzle as the artwork was developed. He organized 269 initial squares into a design of 1,225 tiles by reorienting and duplicating. Each graphic design was reformatted with a 3-D printer into a low-relief sculptural tile, cast in aluminium and coated with bronze.

“I love it when an artwork is so much more than you imagined it would be,” Lexier said in describing his process. “I could not have anticipated that the bronze would be so responsive

TITLE: The Forest and The Trees, 2017

ARTIST: Micah Lexier


PROJECT MANAGER: Stefan Hancherow

MEDIUM: Cast aluminum tiles, bronze-coated with a patina finish.

SIZE: 8.4-by-8.4 metres; each individual tile is 24 centimetres square.

LOCATION: Brookfield

Place Calgary, 6th Avenue North Tower lobby, 225 6 Ave. S.W.

NOTE: The Trees, a companion piece by Lexier, hangs in the James K. Gray Galleria on the south side of the building. It is based on a blown-up detail of one of the tiles of The Forest and The Trees

to the light in the building, but this, in the end, has become the defining quality of the artwork for me.”

The Forest and The Trees is monumental. That the visual texture grew from embroidery designs depicting flora such as twin flowers and daffodils is a playful twist on the idea of landscape and a gentle reminder to those in the stunning office tower of the legacy of handcraft and the value of invention.

Lexier marks human time and effort, translating those ideas into material form. In this case, his complex, unfolding process gave rise to a wall of simple beauty that exerts a solemn grandeur.

82 avenueFEBRUARY.19
Photography courtesy of Arete Edmunds/ArtLine Photography WORK OF ART

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