A trip to the Canadian Rockies is always a superb experience and a wonderfully scenic visit, but one of our favourite places to stop off at, is Canmore – just south of Banff. It’s an old mining town, nestled in between the mountains so you get 360 vistas all around – but without the touristy lure and trappings of Banff or Lake Louise. As a result, it’s much more authentic. The main street with shops are individualistic and it is riddled in character and a great atmosphere.
There are some lovely walks along the banks of the Bow River, but for our visit this weekend, we took a walk up to Grassi Lakes. Bears are still very active and the advice from the Information Centre is to ensure you have some ‘bear spray’, as the berries are starting to come out and are a major attraction for our furry friends.
Following a 90 second demonstration on what to do should we fall upon a grizzly and how to operate the canister ‘in-haste’ – plus signing a declaration that we wouldn’t use it for any other purpose – we were good to go. The resulting conversation from the 3 kids for the first 30 minutes into our walk, was a preoccupation into the detailed arrangements should we encounter a furry beast – not helped by suggestions of feeding the youngest as a sacrifice to it first, whilst the rest of us made off as fast as we could. The youngest was understandably perturbed by this proposal and it was concluded that it isn’t the ability to outrun the grizzly we need to be concerned about – just to be able to outrun the slowest member of our party … let me introduce you to the grandparents who are currently visiting ….!! The youngest was decidedly comforted upon this news that she wouldn’t be bringing up the rear.
Anyhow, this certainly took care of topics of debate during the amble, and created a distraction for the kids whilst they traipsed up the paths to an elevation of 1500 metres. There are 2 small lakes when you arrive – both a vibrant green and turquoise which makes the journey thoroughly worthwhile. You also get the view of the Bow River down in the valley overlooking the town of Canmore too. There’s a large waterfall to see and an opportunity to take lots of pics. It’s not a hard walk and reaps rewards for the small amount of effort required – it’s also extremely popular so get there early to benefit the most.
It was with slight disappointment we arrived back at the cars without an encounter or even glimpse of a grizzly – although if the bears had any sense, they’d wait till it was quieter in the evening to eat the produce in relative peace. Given my 3 kids, I wouldn’t have blamed them at all.
For the humans, there are some culinary delights worth testing out whilst in Canmore. The Rocky Mountain Bagel Company, on the Main Street makes 12 different varieties of bagel each night and the sandwiches they produce are mouth-wateringly tasty. We tried the ‘Mountaineer’ – pastrami, cheese, salad, mustard and gherkins – which we had on a jalapeno-cheddar bagel. Truly delicious.
Further down the street is the pub, restaurant and shop of the ‘Grizzly Paw Brewing Company’. A local producer, they have a modern, purpose-built brewery just 2 miles down the road which offers tours and ‘tastings’ too of all their ales. Those who don’t necessarily want alcohol (?), can sample their sodas which the kids loved. Needless to say, beers (not bears) and sodas were procured and consumed that evening …
There’s also one of the oldest buildings in Canmore to visit, built in 1893. Not old by European or UK standards, but significantly old in this area, and the original home of the Royal Mounted Canadian Police who were stationed in Canmore earlier last Century. Prior to this, were there any disturbances of any description, troops from Banff were called in and suffice to say, by the time they often arrived, the event had either culminated in disaster or has dissipated completely. Those were the days.
So, a good weekend was had by all and should you ever find yourself in this neck of the woods, give Canmore a visit and let me know what you think. I suspect you won’t be disappointed. In the meantime, we’re into our final week of the school term and the prospect of hunting for dinosaurs looms ever closer (and this isn’t a sarcastic reference to my parents – honest!). More to follow ….