If someone needed advice on how to prosper despite an apparent identity crisis, the people of Red Deer would be fine resources.
Red Deer sits just about exactly halfway along the highway between Alberta's two main cities, and part of its economy is based around that very geographical circumstance. An entire convention and meeting industry trades on the idea that people can meet halfway between Calgary and Edmonton.
Red Deer's main drag, for those who don't take a highway by-pass around, is lined with restaurants and services aimed at people who want to take a break from the three-hour drive.
But there's much more to Red Deer, which got its name from an Indian legend and Scottish settlers. It's the central Alberta service centre for farmers, ranchers and the blue-collar side of Alberta's boom-and-bust energy industry.
Residents enjoy a beautiful, rolling oasis along a river valley, within an easy drive of the region's rare lakes and, to the west, Rocky Mountain House and the mountains.
And forget about Red Deer being stuck in the dual orbits of its big neighbors. The city has a strong sense of community pride, not to mention its own junior A hockey team, international air show, exposition and distinctive Highland Games. It even has its own official cookie.