In days gone by, the Calgary Municipal Railway operated a series of tramlines to serve the transportation needs of a growing city.
Starting in 1912, residents living in the midtown neighbourhoods of Connaught and Victoria Park could board a streetcar at 17th Avenue on a route known as the Belt Line. The tram followed Macleod Trail north, making its way through the downtown core along Stephen Avenue before travelling back down 14th Street S.W.
The Belt Line streetcar may be gone, but the community that bears its namesake continues to chug along at a steady pace.
The Beltline was established in 2003 when Connaught and Victoria Park amalgamated. It is now one of Calgary’s fastest-growing communities, offering a mix of high-rise apartments, office complexes and shopping within walking distance of the downtown.
With future development, even the Beltline’s streetcar system could make a comeback. In 2004, city planners envisioned a return of the tramline as part of the Midtown 2100 Urban Design Strategy. The Beltline Planning Committee pitched a similar plan to residents in 2010.
Who knows? By this time next century, Calgarians could be riding the rails in the Beltline once more.
Where to Eat
Open daily until 1 a.m., Una’s selection of artisan pizzas and pinots is worth the occasional lineup.
(618 17 Ave. S.W., unapizzeria.com, 403-453-1183)
The former childhood home of George Stanley (best known as the designer of the Canadian flag) is now a cozy French Canadian restaurant. Try the fondue for two.
(1111 7 St. S.W., laurierlounge.com, 403-228-3771)
Exposed brick and 1930s-era art deco create a comfortable, yet classy atmosphere for this casual bistro. Chef Justin Leboe’s menu is based on seasonal ingredients and slow, low-temp cooking.
(308 17 Ave. S.W., modelmilk.ca, 403-265-7343)
With a Pacific Rim-inspired menu and an ever-evolving cocktail list, Hotel Arts’ stylish resto-lounge is the perfect place to bring an out-of-town guest for dinner and drinks.
(119 12 Ave. S.W., hotelarts.ca, 403-266-4611)
Canada’s favourite pastry becomes haute cuisine at this Beltline bakeshop, which features a new doughnut creation every month alongside staples like maple bacon and Nenshi’s salted caramel.
(100, 1414 8 St. S.W., jellymoderndoughnuts.com, 403-453-2053)
Where to Shop
A Vintage Affair
This former pop-up fashion store is now a permanent fixture in the Beltline, offering hip, one-of-a-kind vintage clothing, accessories and home decor at thrift-store prices.
(107, 638 11 Ave. S.W., 403-835-6697)
Browse fashions amidst the French Victorian-inspired interior of historic Sandringham House and get fitted for the perfect pair of jeans at Azul’s denim bar.
(914 15 Ave. S.W., azulcouture.com, 403-695-1320)
This eyewear emporium specializes in frames from international designers, including Paris’s Anne et Valentin, London’s Claire Goldsmith and Thom Browne of New York.
(806 16 Ave. S.W., brassmonocle.com, 403-228-9191)
The O’Connors family has been dressing Calgarians for more than 50 years. Their 12,000-square-foot store carries men’s formal and casual wear, footwear and accessories. Across the street is O’Connors Woman.
(1415 1 St. S.W., oconnors.ca, 403-269-4996)
More than just a stationary store, The Social Page has unique gifts, invitations and knick-knacks to celebrate any occasion.
(839 10 Ave. S.W., thesocialpage.ca, 403-245-8868)
Celebrating a decade in the Beltline, the Maria Toms name has become synonymous with casual elegance in home decor from furniture to Farrow & Ball wallpaper.
(1015 11 St. S.W., mariatomas.com, 403-233-9055)
What to Do
This commercial gallery showcases local and national contemporary artists including Barbara Amos, Connie Geerts, Eleanor Lowden Pidgeon and David Zimmerman.
(628 11 Ave. S.W., gibsonfineart.ca, 403-244-2000)
Da Vinci would have felt right at home among the paints, brushes, sketchbooks and canvases at this one-stop art supply shop.
(1518 7 St. S.W., monalisa-artmat.com, 403-228-3618)
This sassy salon’s product lineup includes a collection of locally made, dessert-scented hand lotions and nail polishes with names like “8:01 p.m. second date.”
(113, 638 11 Ave. S.W., urbanvenus.ca, 403-266-1158)
A traditional Turkish shave at London Barbers, including a hot towel, straight-edge shave, waxing, nose hair trim, moisturizer, cologne and massage is the ultimate in facial hair care. (1108 4 St. S.W., londonbarbers.ca, 403-457-4545)