We found Canmore to be a quaint little town, very peaceful and surrounded by the beautiful scenery of the Rocky Mountains. We arrived late afternoon on a mid June Saturday and were welcomed with dark swirling clouds that looked like they would drop their contents any minute, however luck was with us and the rain held off to 8pm.
On our walk into town we had to cross an open railway line that ran across the road, an amazing sight for 5 minutes as over 100 freight carriages rolled by, imagine the power of the engines.
Very soon into the town with its shops, restaurants, tourist facilities etc. It kept us busy for a few hours until we chose a restaurant for dinner.
Our youngest daughter has been living in Alberta for a few years now and she and Ryan suddenly decided that it was time to get married! In checking out possible venues for a winter wedding, they liked what they found out about the Bear & Bison Inn in Canmore. This little town specializes in both tourism and weddings, with the Bear & Bison alone hosting about 60-70 weddings per year. The size of the establishment perfectly fitted the limited number of guests that had been invited and, with a fresh coat of snow the day before, it was an extremely picturesque sight!
I had never even contemplated that someone would want to hold a wedding outdoors at night in the wintertime Rocky Mountains, but that is exactly what they decided to do! Fortunately, the weather cooperated, with a balmy -3 C (27 F) for the half-hour ceremony in the outdoor gazebo, with a nice open fire helping to keep the temperature comfortable. Nevertheless, it was quite bit different from our days in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea where Carolyn was born all those years ago!
Afterward, we all retired to the dining room where we were served an amazing meal, speeches were made and the dancing began! It all worked out amazingly well as the 'Brown' family members converged from Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Alberta to take part in Carolyn's wedding.
A short drive through Banff township will bring you to the Banff Gondola ride complex, where you can get to the top of 7490-ft (2280-m) Sulphur Mountain the easy way! We had made this trip in 1982 while returning to New Brunswick following the completion of my 3-year work contract in Papua New Guinea, so it was time for another look. This time we ascended on a brand-new Swiss-engineered gondola, opened in 1998 following replacement of the original 1959-built contraption. Each of the 40 gondolas can hold four passengers and they quietly whisk you up the 2300-ft elevation difference to the top of the mountain in only 8 minutes.
We had some spectacular views of the wintery Rocky Mountain scenes from the restaurant/observation complex at the end of the ride. However, the C$25 (US$22) cost per adult ride was not exactly a give-away!
During the day of the wedding, the Bear & Bison Inn requested that all guests leave for a few hours while they prepared the Inn for the evening wedding ceremony. With a picnic lunch provided by them, we all headed off the short distance to Banff National Park, one of Canada's UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We passed some large elk grazing in the forest beside the TransCanada Highway just before we reached the outskirts of Banff. Before entering the townsite itself, we first took a short detour to the Two Jack Lake/Minnewanka Lake area where summer camping sites and hiking trails have been established. Most of this area was closed in winter, but it was still beautiful with the fresh snow on the trees and the lakes frozen solid. The second photo shows the view westward, where Mount Rundle towers over the Banff townsite. Down on the lake at the right side of the photo can be seen a 4WD pickup truck that has managed to get itself stuck in the deep snow covering the lake. There was a fairly steep road to even get down to the lake and it looked like they were waiting for something to arrive to do some towing. This was my first time in the Rockies during winter months, so I really enjoyed the difference from the usual summer greens. It was while we were standing here that we had our 'Warnings & Dangers' experience!
Have you ever explored a cave? No, not one with a staircase cut into the rock for accessibility. No, no. I mean a real, natural, almost unmodified from nature cave?
You have a short 20 minute hike up the mountain side to the cave entrance. Once there, you put on your overalls, helmet with spotlight and battery pack.
Then you enter the cave. It's damp and always 5 degrees above zero. In the overalls they provide I was perfectly comfortable.
The cave is actually a series of interconnected chambers. The connections between each chamber are very small. With the help of your guide, you will be able to get through very incredibly small openings. It's quite a unique experience.
The day before, I had gotten just a little too much sun. This cave adventure is the perfect thing to take you out of the sun for several hours.
On our way to Kananaskis Village after exiting Trans Canadian Highway 1 on an empty road by comparision we spotted a sign which simply said "Point of Interest"
Then we saw O'Shaughnessy Falls - made all the prettier with just us to visit.
Strolling along Policeman's Creek on a summers day is so relaxing. Beautiful scenery surrounds you as you ponder natures many wonders - including wildflowers, ducks, great jagged mountains to tiny butterflies - inspiring & no one to share it with save a few locals.
Only got 2 hours to learn all about Canada? This show runs you through about 125+ years of history using songs and comedy skits. Fun & educational too!
And of course you get to enjoy an excellent meal. My compliments to the chief.
When I attended, there was a whole bus load of tourists from the States in town. I had a couple from Texas on one side of me and a couple from Virginia on the other side of me. While no hostilities happened, I stood ready as a Canadian to perform my sworn duties as peacekeeper.
Canmore is a pleasant town to walk around. The locals are a friendly interesting bunch of people who welcome visitors warmly. We found this little wooden church - "Ralph Conner Memorial United Church " built in 1891 & had a nice chat with the guy painting the picket fence.
The Three Sisters are part of a jagged mountian range. Lots of places in the town use the mountain name in their logos.
See these sisters change their minds depending on mood & of course weather - just like real sisters
The Smith-Dorrien/Spray Trail above Canmore is a gravel road which travels through the heart of the scenic Smith-Dorrien Valley. There are many places to stop to take in the breathtaking views! Lots of hiking too!
The Spray Lakes Trail starts north of the Canmore townsite, and leads you to some of the most breathtaking scenery in the area. From the townsite, you can see the trail snake up the side of a mountain.
Not to fear, the road is fairly safe, just drive carefully, as it can narrow and wind at times. The road soon turns into gravel and into what is called the Smith Dorrien trail, and takes you by the beautiful Spray Lakes Reservoir. The Smith Dorrien eventually ends in Kananaskis Country, near the Upper and Lower Lakes. A good day trip is to do a loop by starting at Canmore, and then driving back to town using Highway 40, taking in Kananaskis as well.
Visible from the Trans Canada, and a well-known landmark, The Three Sisters stand watch over the town of Canmore.
They were named in 1883 by Major A.B. Roger, who discovered the Roger's Pass. It was snowing heavily one night, and he looked up at the three peaks -- calling them The Three Nuns. This eventually evolved into The Three Sisters.
Quarry Lake Park is where the locals go to walk the dog or just relax beside this pretty lake that is tucked under Mt. Lawrence Grassi and Ha-Ling Peak.
Hard to believe that this lake, surrounded by wildflowers, was a strip mine in 1970. The coal seam that is located beneath the lake produces methane gas which you can see bubbling up from the lake bottom. Maybe that's why the rainbow trout that live here seem very happy.
Grab some food in Canmore at Marra's Grocery or one of the other places, and have an impromptu picnic; or just take a stroll around and take in the scenery -- the lake gives you great views of Canmore.
This short, easy hike, with one moderate section has beautiful views of the Canmore townsite and Spray Reservoirs, plus a gorgeous waterfall. The trail leads to two popular emerald-green pools with interpretive signs.
Take the difficult trail; the only way it is difficult is in terms of footing, and has one steep section with stone steps. The easy trail is a boring access road
Grassi Lakes was named after Lawrence Grassi, a well-respected mountaineer and guide in the Banff Area. The stone steps you will use on the trail plus the the quaint wooden branch bench was built by him. Small and stout, he had fantastic strength, and was known for carrying injured hikers on his back.
You can also see his handiwork at Lake O'Hara, where he built a trail with stone steps. He was an incredible man.