The Road to the Rockies; Calgary to Canmore

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June 5th 2019
Published: June 5th 2019
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Tuesday 4th June 2019

The architecture in Calgary is a delight to the eye, compared with the uniform tall blocks in Toronto. It is modern adventurous architecture, not quite on the scale of London´s sensational skyline but pretty good! It is also a green city with several parks and open spaces and the walkways along the Bow River are delightful. Actually, we only spent the day in Calgary and now rather regret not having stayed longer.

Getting to downtown Calgary and parking there, however, was a nightmare; from the city limits in the north, to parking downtown by the Bow River took an hour and a half! Mind you, it might have been a little quicker if we hadn’t got lost (for the first time on this Canadian trip). Well, actually, not lost because we knew we were in Calgary and we were not at all worried, just frustrated because we couldn’t find the route we were looking for (road diversions due to road works didn’t help). Eventually, we found the way and then tackled the task of finding a parking space, which we did eventually ($12.80 for three hours, not bad in a city centre).

First stop was Fort Calgary, situated on the confluence of two rivers, the Bow River and the Elbow River! Such a magnificent and apt name, the confluence looks just like an elbow on the map (and a nice play on words with the principal river name too)! Fort Calgary was founded by James MacLeod who was Commissioner of the NW Mounted Police in 1876. He named the fort Calgary, which then became the name of the city which grew up around it.

The district called East Village in Calgary, down by the two rivers was pretty derelict until about ten years ago. Now it is completely re-vamped and re-vitalised. An old mattress factory is now a trendy eating and drinking place, where coffee is roasted, bread is baked (well not really, it is more like in-store bake-off but still smells nice) and the gin and tonics are poured most generously! It is a wonderful building, built in 1912 and used as an ammunitions factory in WW2.

Walking through downtown Calgary is so nice, large hanging baskets of flowers adorn the streets, trams and road traffic share space, fountains provide fun for the kids on a hot day in Olympic Park and the café culture has re-emerged after the long winter. A lively, bustling youthful city.

The Calgary Tower was built in 1968 and stands 191 metres tall. It is no longer the tallest structure in Calgary but still claims pride of place. Since we didn’t go up the CN Tower in Toronto due to the poor visibility when we were there, we paid our $16 each today and went up the Calgary Tower. Great experience, wonderful panoramic views from the top and we could see the Rockies! We stood on the glass floor of a bit that juts out from the circular viewing platform and took a photo of our feet (as you do)! Looking down was a bit dizzying!

Leaving Calgary was much easier than arriving and thanks to acquiring a city map, we quickly found our way out to the Trans Canada Highway to journey on to Canmore where we are now. Canmore is just on the edge of the Banff National Park (Banff is another 20 kilometres further on). We usually just arrive in a place and see what is available but this time we pre-booked a motel online because we knew that this week the accommodation was well-booked up. Mistake! We have a grotty room: not good value for money at all. However, it is in walking distance of Canmore centre, which we shall explore tomorrow (the little boutiques and cafes looked nice as we drove down Main Street earlier). We pre-booked two nights, so shall be here again tomorrow, then on Thursday we shall move on to Banff. The weather has been hot today, it got up to 28 degrees, but tonight the temperatures are forecast to plummet back into low single figures and snow is on its way for the weekend! We shall not be camping! Just hope the rain and snow that is on its way doesn’t make the grizzly bears stay indoors. We want to see some (so long as it is not at close quarters). Before attempting any hiking trails, we shall buy some pepper spray. Also, John’s nice new camera with the decent zoom is not waterproof!

Despite the shabby motel that we are in, the location is fantastic. We are surrounded by mountains with snowy peaks, the valley is lush and green and along the road there is a little grassy area full of prairie dog burrows. As one walks by, they pop out, sit up, scrutinise the intruders and then dive back down underground again. We just love the little prairie dogs; they are cheeky little characters and fun to watch.

Wednesday 5th June 2019

Canmore is a cosy little mountain town, once hub of a small coal mining community and now a centre for ski tourism in the winter, sightseeing, hiking and climbing in the summer. Altitude just over 1,400 metres. We spent the morning wandering around the town, had a pub lunch (Yes! A real pub called the “Rose and Crown”) and the afternoon walking along the creek path. The little creek, called Policeman Creek because it runs alongside the NW Mounted Police barracks, is a haven for beaver whose little dams can be seen at intervals along the way. Policeman Creek and Cougar Creek both run through the town as does the prime waterway, the Bow River. Canmore is surrounded on all sides by mountain peaks, the highest rising to over 3,000 metres and this morning’s sunshine provided us with spectacular views. This afternoon the skies darkened and the temperature has now dropped again.

Tomorrow we move on to Banff just a short distance further up the Bow River Valley. Tomorrow, 6th June, is of course a Remembrance Day, 75 years since D Day. My dad was also born on 6th June, in 1916. We used to joke and look to see if he had three 6s somewhere on his head! On 6th June 1944, on his 28th birthday, he was on the Isle of Wight waiting to cross to France. Luckily, he wasn’t sent on the 6th which was D-1. My dad went over to Normandy on D-6, on 12th June, then stayed in France quite a while, moving up as the German army retreated. So, whilst enjoying the privilege I have in being on holiday in the Rockies, I shall also be thinking of Dad on his day tomorrow.

Additional photos below
Photos: 27, Displayed: 26


6th June 2019
Prairie dog! What a great little fella!

6th June 2019
Prairie dog! What a great little fella!

I reckon your coffee is just as good if not better!
7th June 2019

Calgary and Canmore
Hi Viv and John Love the blog especially the ohitoes of Calgary and Canmore. They both look very interesting. What an amazing country Canada is. Thanks for taking us there with you love Barb and Dave. xx p.s. the 75 anniversary of D day was quite something and you must be very proud of your Dad. I think those who survived the beeches were lucky.
8th June 2019

Hi Both, I was very interested to read about Calgary and see your photos. I always picture it as a snow-covered, mountain resort. Clearly 'not so'! Also, I can't get my head around 30 degree temps in the daytime falling away at night with forecast of snow in a couple of days. It's bizarre.. As Barbara mentioned the 75th Anniversary of D-Day was moving and I see we all thought of our Dads and where they were in June 1944. Mine would have been 24 based in Burma. I was very interested to read that Viv's Dad's birthday was 6 June and he went to Normandy on 12 June. I remember from chatting with Barbara that her Dad was based in Italy. Thank God our Dads came through it all but what dreadful events they saw. On a very different note I saw a wonderful exhibition of paintings by the Spanish artist, Sorolla, at the National Gallery yesterday. Beautiful images of children playing on beaches dappled in bright mediterranean sunshine. They were a joy.!
9th June 2019

Hi Ann. We have had quite a lot if snowfall. In June!!! I love Sorolla by the way xxx
9th June 2019

Hi Ann. We have had quite a lot if snowfall. In June!!! I love Sorolla by the way xxx

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