Eaton's on 8th Avenue decorated with flags for the Coronation, 1953
No celebrity was safe: Jazz great Duke Ellington with his white hat, 1953
Job counselling for immigrants, 1955. Some of these men had jobs within hours of arriving in Calgary
Refugees from Budapest, December 1956

In 1953, a new Queen for the United Kingdom and Commonwealth was crowned. The coronation was celebrated around the world, especially wherever the map was coloured pink to denote Britain's former imperial possessions. In Canada, many still regarded themselves and their country as British, and Calgary was no exception. The city might have been more Scots than English, but a strong attachment to the monarchy prevailed. When Princess Elizabeth and her dashing consort, Prince Philip, visited Calgary in 1951, the city was enchanted. For the coronation, flags bedecked the city and shop windows had patriotic displays of the glamorous young monarch.

Behind the outpouring of patriotic sentiment, however, the ties to the mother country were in fact swiftly eroding. The Canadian Prairies were not strangers to immigrants from other parts of Europe. In some rural areas of Alberta after the turn of the century, one could hear as much Ukrainian or German as English. The attachment of other European immigrants to the British Empire had always been limited. The children of these homesteaders came to cities like Calgary after the war in search of more opportunities. Immigration from overseas swelled in the aftermath of the war, as many left shattered homelands and others, like the Hungarians after 1956, fled political turmoil and oppression. Even the million or so immigrants to Canada from the British Isles could not slow the change to a more diverse society, which began in the Fifties and progressed rapidly in the following decades.

The economic and cultural influence of the United States was particularly marked in Canada after the war. Calgary always had a strong American connection through ranching, farming and oil. Large numbers of Americans came to Alberta early in the century to homestead or ranch, and the nascent oil industry in Turner Valley attracted more Americans to Calgary. The post-Leduc boom created a veritable invasion of oilmen from Texas and Oklahoma. The Palliser Hotel became a colony of drawling oil barons, while geologists and engineers as well as tool pushers and roughnecks decamped into the rest of the city. Upscale districts like Mount Royal saw a proliferation of Fourth of July barbecues as American oil executives took up residence, while in new suburbs a neighbour might be a recent arrival working for a giant multinational. Many had spent years in exotic locales like South America pursuing oil, and brought an international perspective to the city.

While the Canadian tour of Queen Elizabeth in 1959 would draw thousands to catch a glimpse of the country's monarch, the Calgary she visited was already very different from the city of 1951. Just as Canada was in the process of discovering a national identity that was not British but something new, the city was reinventing itself. The white Stetson became emblematic of Calgary's hospitality and its ranching roots, while the trans-border oil connection made it the most "American" of Canadian cities. It also increasing made Calgary a city connected to the world.