Calgary crossword designer enjoys success with Canadiana puzzles: ‘It’s awesome!’

Chris Rose didn’t plan on tackling any crossword clues when he arrived at Calgary’s Chinook Centre mall to do some Christmas shopping.

But he was ready when Gwen Sjogren approached him with a fun challenge.

“So, the answer has two words and seven letters in total, and the clue is ‘city between Calgary and Edmonton,’” Sjogren said.

It didn’t take Rose long to come up with the correct response – “Red Deer.”

Sjogren is a crossword designer, at the mall promoting her new book of puzzles, O Canada Crosswords 19.

“I’ve done eight of these ‘O Canada’ books,” Sjogren said. “And obviously with Canada in the title, I focus on Canadiana as much as I can.”

Shopper Rami Meihrai enjoyed her chance to try her hand at one of the clues.

“One word answer, three letters,” Sjogren said. “Bisects Calgary.”

“The Bow River,” Meihrai said.

Sjogren also focuses on Canadian subjects in the puzzles she puts together for airline in-flight magazines.

“It’s kind of nice to know that maybe I’m getting the message about Canada out to people in other parts of the world,” Sjogren said.

At a time when so many people are spending so much time on their electronic devices, she says printed crosswords are a tradition worth preserving.

“It’s challenges your brain,” Sjogren said. “But it’s also fun.”

She’s encouraged by the holiday season response to her latest book.

“Just looking at Calgary right now, I see that a lot of the stores are slowly selling out of the book,” Sjogren said.

Shopper Jen Enns likes the idea of people spending time doing Sjogren’s crosswords.

“(It’s) better than video games,” Enns said. “Supporting Canadian learning…more about Canada. It’s awesome!”

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