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Calgary vs Winnipeg – which one will rise to the top

Calgary vs Winnipeg – which one will rise to the top? 

Comparing Calgary and Winnipeg? It can be difficult, as both have definite strengths as well as weaknesses. Luckily for you, we’ve done most of the legwork to try and see which of the two wins which categories.

If you’re someone who enjoys exploring a diverse art scene and indulging in free activities all over the city, you might just find yourself falling in love with Winnipeg. However, if you’re the business-minded type with aspirations to climb the corporate ladder, Calgary might just be the answer to your prayers. 

Below, we take a closer look at several factors to answer which city comes on top. 

Size or Land Area of Winnipeg vs Calgary

Calgary is 77.87% larger than Winnipeg, with the former having 825.3 km² of land while the latter has 464.1 km² of land. 

Both are considered fairly sizable cities, however, with Calgary being 23rd on the list of Canada’s largest cities by land area and Winnipeg being 52nd. 

Population of Winnipeg vs Calgary

Calgary’s population is bigger by 42.88% than Winnipeg’s, with Calgary having 1,070,930 people at present compared to Winnipeg’s 749,534. 

These figures aren’t exactly unexpected, of course. Calgary is a bigger city compared to Winnipeg, so it’s to be expected that there are more people in it. 

Culture and Lifestyle in Winnipeg vs Calgary

Winnipeg is for those who are looking for a city that has a colorful arts and festival scene. In fact, it’s home to a lot of artistic organizations like the Manitoba Theatre Centre, Rainbow Stage, and Royal Winnipeg Ballet. 

On the other hand, Calgary is perfect for people who enjoy the energy of fast-paced city life. The culture is more business-centered, though people still know how to have fun in this city, especially through rodeo shows and horse racing.  

The culture of both cities developed through different factors like history, demographics, geography, and the like. With that in mind, it’s obvious that there are bound to be stark differences between the two. 

The Similarities 

  • Both cities have residents who are avid fans of ice hockey and football. 
  • Both cities have a strong sense of community, which is why people from Winnipeg and Calgary are both extremely friendly. 
  • Residents in both cities have an undying love for outdoor adventures. 

The Differences 

  • The vibe in Calgary makes you feel more fueled up to go for a corporate work setting whereas in Winnipeg, you’ll feel more inspired to get out of the rat race. 
  • A lot of people in Calgary are more inclined to shop from big shopping centers, while people in Winnipeg seem to go for smaller businesses, boutiques, and thrift stores
  • The Winnipeg art scene is rich with various events that happen all throughout the year in terms of theatre, ballet, music, and comedy shows. It’s also where you can find distinguished artistic organizations. Calgary also has a thriving art scene, but it seems more vibrant in Winnipeg because of the diversity. 

Transportation in Winnipeg vs Calgary

Public transportation in Winnipeg and Calgary is readily available to residents for an affordable price. However, when comparing the prices between the two, it seems that it’s more expensive to get around Calgary compared to Winnipeg. 

You can see it when breaking down common transportation costs. Riding the local transport in Winnipeg by using a one-way ticket would cost you CA$3.15. Meanwhile, the same ride in Calgary would cost CA$3.60, which is a bit more expensive. 

If we were to compare the monthly pass in both cities, it would cost CA$106.00 in Winnipeg and CA$112.00 in Calgary. Again, it’s more expensive in Calgary. 

Moving forward to taxi rides, a typical 1 km ride would cost an average of CA$1.60 in Winnipeg and CA$1.96 in Calgary. This is interesting because the cost of gas in Winnipeg (CA$1.58) at the moment is slightly more expensive compared to Calgary (CA$1.40). 

Attractions and Entertainment in Winnipeg vs Calgary

Both cities have vibrant attractions and entertainment options, but if you’re looking for a rich and diverse art scene, you may prefer Winnipeg. It’s also cheaper to visit Winnipeg because there are often a lot of free activities. 

If you like seeing natural views, it’s best to go to Calgary. This city is rich in natural wonders and surrounded by them as well. You can do a quick trip to myriad natural attractions and go back to your hotel room in Calgary within the same day. 

Places to Go in Winnipeg vs Calgary

The famous local attractions in Winnipeg are The Forks Market, The Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the Assiniboine Park. Alternatively, a lot of people go to Calgary to see the Calgary Tower, the Studio Bell, and the Prince’s Island Park. 

Both cities offer an assortment of places to explore, but we find it’s easier to get around Winnipeg without spending a loonie because there are plenty of free attractions. It does arguably lose to Calgary in natural wonders, though.

Things to Do in Winnipeg 

  • Take advantage of the free activities – As mentioned, while there’s a lot to do in both cities, we found that there’s plenty more to do in Winnipeg that is completely free. You can check out the Old Market Square for example. (Trust us, it’s much cooler than it sounds!) Here, you can enjoy a plethora of activities like live performances, interesting local markets, and more. You can go ice skating here too during the winter season. 
  • Explore the local music scene – One of the best places to go to explore the local music scene is the King’s Head Pub where you can catch these shows on a regular basis.
  • Watch shows by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet –  One of the things Winnipeg is famous for is the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, a prestigious ballet company that has been around since the late 1930s, making it the oldest ballet institution in North America. Catch one of their shows while you’re there!
  • Go thrift shopping – There are plenty of thrift stores in Winnipeg where you can score unique pieces at great deals. A lot of people would tell you to check out the Value Village and our Winnipegger friends seem to second that. 

Things to Do in Calgary

  • Watch the Calgary Stampede Calgary Stampede is an outdoor rodeo event. It’s so famous that it attracts more than 1 million visitors every year! As if that wasn’t enough to convince you to visit Calgary for the rodeo show, you’ll also be able to catch chuckwagon racing, the fantastic parade, and the powwow at the Calgary Stampede.
  • Learn about the local history – Before you call this educational experience a snooze fest, you’ll be surprised about the plenty of fun activities you can do at the Heritage Park. Here you’ll get to hop on a nightingale rail car, see an extensive collection of vintage cars, and even experience exciting seasonal events.  
  • See interactive art displays – At the TELUS Spark Science Center, you’ll see how they combine art and science together in a series of fun interactive exhibits all ages would enjoy. 
  • Check out the surrounding places – Yes, we know. This is a list of things to do in Calgary. We’re adding this because it seems that a lot of visitors of our city seem to also love checking out the surrounding areas. While staying in Calgary, a lot of adventurous visitors like going on a day trip to Aspen Crossing, Dinosaur Provincial Park, Banff, and more. 

Cost of Living in Winnipeg vs Calgary

It’s much more expensive to live in Calgary than Winnipeg when comparing costs. In particular, the costs for housing, utilities, transportation, and childcare are much higher in Calgary. 

The data in the table below is from Numbeo. As you can see, Winnipeg wins by a landslide if you’re seeking a city with a lower cost of living. 

ExpensesWinnipeg CostCalgary Cost
Housing (Average Rent per Month)
1-bedroom apartment (within city center)CA$1,243.75CA$1,781.14
1-bedroom apartment (outside city center)CA$1,278.64CA$1,509.55
3-bedroom apartment (within city center)CA$1,980.71CA$2,967.78
3-bedroom apartment (outside city center)CA$1,914.05CA$2,386.41
Utilities (Average Monthly Bill)
Utility bill for one personCA$235.19CA$347.20
Internet planCA$85.25CA$96.25
Transportation (Fare)
1-way ticket (local transport ticket)CA$3.15CA$3.60
Monthly pass (local transport ticket)CA$106.00CA$112.00
Taxi ride (normal tariff)CA$1.60CA$4.50
Gasoline (1 liter)CA$1.58CA$1.40
Childcare (Tuition Fee)
Preschool (monthly)CA$738.60CA$1,204.77
International Primary School (yearly)CA$22,470.67CA$28,775.00

Career Opportunities in Winnipeg vs Calgary

If we based it on the in-demand jobs in both cities, it seems there are plenty of career opportunities in Winnipeg in sectors such as construction, and hospitality. Meanwhile, it seems that Calgary is a goldmine for engineering, finance, and education. 

While there are obvious differences, there’s also a similarity between the two. It seems that registered nurses are included in the list of in-demand jobs in Winnipeg and Calgary. 

Based on Immigration Canada, the most in demand jobs in Winnipeg are registered nurses, heavy equipment mechanics, heavy equipment operators, transport truck drivers, and cooks. 

On the other hand, the top jobs employers are looking for in Calgary are software engineers, registered nurses, financial analysts, project managers, and mechanical engineers. 

Diversity in Winnipeg vs Calgary

Both Winnipeg and Calgary are diverse cities based on the percentage of ethnic groups and the multicultural events being observed all year round. 

Based on data from Wikipedia, both cities are fairly diverse if we were to look at the demographics in numbers:

Ethnic GroupWinnipegCalgary
East Asians3.81%8.49%
Southeast Asians12.70%8.56%
South Asians5.44%10.97%
Latin Americans1.21%2.47%
Middle Easterns1.40%3.55%

As you can see, there are plenty of ethnic groups in both cities. We also think it’s worth noting that both cities have several multicultural events all year round. 

For example, in Winnipeg, there’s the Folklorama, Culture Days Manitoba, and Manito Ahbee Festival. On the other hand, Calgary has the Calgary Turkish Festival, Chinatown Street Festival, and Greek Festival. 

Healthcare in Winnipeg vs Calgary

Winnipeg and Calgary are cities with good and affordable healthcare. However, if we look at the numbers, it seems that Calgary scored higher on the Health Care Index on Numbeo compared to Winnipeg when it comes to equipment, efficiency, and responsiveness. 

That said, it’s important to note that Winnipeg doesn’t fall far behind.  

Canada is recognized as a country having one of the best healthcare systems globally. For this article though, we’ll take a closer look into two Canadian cities – Winnipeg and Calgary. 

If we look at the Health Care Index in Winnipeg, it only has a score of 68.11 whereas Calgary has 72.72. Though the numbers aren’t that far off, it’s obvious that Calgary wins in this round. 

Let’s see why this could be. 

If we were to compare the expertise of the medical staff, accuracy in medical reports, and pleasantness of the staff, it seems that both cities scored very high. 

However, when it comes to responsiveness of the staff in the medical institutions, Winnipeg got a low score, while Calgary’s is on a moderate level. 

Overall, the healthcare in Calgary and Winnipeg seem efficient for its citizens however, Winnipeg could improve on their responsiveness in order to please and accommodate more patients. 


While both cities have their own strengths, there are several factors that would completely depend on the individual which one they like best. 

So, which one do you think suits you better? To recap, we compare them below side by side for the last time to help you decide.  

FactorsThe Better CityWhy
SizeCalgaryCalgary is the bigger city when compared to Winnipeg.
PopulationCalgaryCalgary has a bigger population.
Culture and LifestyleTiedBoth cities have distinct personalities when it comes to the culture and lifestyle.
TransportationWinnipegWinnipeg is the clear winner when it comes to transportation, not because of the efficiency (which is tied) but because of the costs.
Attractions and EntertainmentTiedBoth cities offer interesting attractions and entertainment, which is why we consider them tied.
Cost of LivingWinnipegThe cost of living in Winnipeg is far lower.
Career OpportunitiesTiedThere are ample career opportunities in both cities, just with different industries of concentration.
DiversityTiedBoth cities have diverse ethnic groups and offer multicultural events to be enjoyed all year round.
HealthcareCalgaryCalgary’s health care seems to be rated higher by users than Winnipeg’s. However, it’s worth noting that both cities have affordable and efficient healthcare systems.

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