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CONCIERGE Q & A

Angela O’Brien, senior executive host at Casino Nova Scotia.

By Trevor J. Adams

Angela O’Brien is the senior executive host at Casino Nova Scotia on Upper Water Street. She graduated from Saint Mary’s University and has a true love for Halifax. She is a professional affiliate with Les Clefs d’Or Canada, which has provided her great opportunities for creating partnerships within the hospitality community.

What’s an ideal destination in the Halifax area for a late-night snack?
Antojo Taco + Tequila on Argyle Street has expanded to a late night Munchies Nocturnos menu and serves tacos until 1:30 a.m. Thursday to Saturday. It’s a great addition to the late night food scene in downtown Halifax!

If you only had one day in Halifax this month, how would you spend it?
Have to start with a coffee at Coffee Matters in the Brewery Market on Lower Water Street, explore the Halifax Brewery Farmers Market and take a stroll down the Halifax waterfront. Stop by to see Julie for an afternoon tour of the Halifax Distillery, and learn how JD Shore rum is crafted. No tour is complete without a tasting! For dinner I would go to one of my all-time favorites, da Maurizio. Great Italian food and excellent service in a romantic setting. My favorite dish is the gnocchi; I highly recommend it!

Who’s your favourite newcomer to the city’s dining and nightlife scene?
Bar Kismet recently opened on Agricola Street and is absolutely charming. The casual quaint atmosphere is a great place to share small or large unique plates with a great selection of craft cocktails.

Where should visitors go to find a unique memento of their visit to Halifax?
Amos Pewter in the Historic Properties on the Halifax waterfront has quality hand-crafted Nova Scotia products. A great selection of jewelry, ornaments, and household items to start your Christmas list.

What’s the most common question visitors ask you about Nova Scotia?
What’s the must-see-and-do activity in Nova Scotia? My answer is always to hike the Skyline Trail along the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton. It’s an easy seven-kilometre hike with stunning views of the ocean and rolling green landscape. It’s a great place to watch the sun set and you may even see a moose up close and personal.

 

Canadian Rockies Farm to Table

Surviving the Mountains on High-Quality, Locally-Grown Food

By Ken Wetherell

Illustrations by Lyuba Kirkova

You are strolling down scenic Banff Avenue; rugged, snow-capped mountain peaks ascend on all sides and you are taking your first breaths of fresh, crisp mountain air. You have arrived. But suddenly you are hungry — the fresh air of the Rockies has given you a voracious appetite for some locallly-grown food. Luckily, the prairies  of  Alberta, just east of the mountains, and the lush mountain valleys and river deltas of British Columbia are local farm havens. For example:

Beef and Pork
Benchmark Angus is a family-run ranch where premium, hormone-free Angus cattle graze the wide-open prairies.

Blue Ridge Farms produces grass-fed Angus beef, pasture raised poultry and purebred pastured pork.

At Broek Pork Acres, free-range Berkshire hogs, known for outstanding quality, texture and flavour, are raised on natural hay and grains without antibiotics, growth stimulants or animal by-products.

Redtail Farms is a third generation family farm that produces grass fed and finished beef, pastured pork, and natural honey. Their Scottish Luing cattle and Berkshire pigs are hormone- and antibiotic-free.

Bison
Carmen Creek raises bison that are free of additives, antibiotics, hormones and stimulants. The bison are raised on three local ranches.

Photo courtesy of Carmen Creek

Chicken, Turkey and Eggs
Mans Eggs produces organic and free-range eggs from small hen flocks on sixteen local farms.

Maple Hill Farms produces specialty chicken that is grain-fed (no animal by-products), antibiotic-free and humanely raised. They also produce free-range and certified organic eggs.

Ridge Valley Farm raises free-range chickens and turkeys in a humane environment using natural, locally-grown feed containing no artificial hormones or antibiotic growth promoters.

Stonepost Farms produces free-range eggs, chickens and turkeys, naturally grown produce, unpasteurized honey, and humanely raised grass-fed beef and pork.

Honey

Greidanus Honey Farms produces unprocessed honey, without blending or pasteurizing, collected from hives located in clover-rich fields.

Milk and Cheese

Fairwinds Farm produces organic milk, yogurt and cheese from goats that are fed an organic whole grain treat when they are being milked, and spend the rest of their summer days roaming the fields and eating fresh grass, which is converted to organic hay for their winter dining pleasure.

Sylvan Star Cheese produces lactose-free Gouda, Swiss and Edam cheeses from heat- treated milk containing no additives or antibiotics.

Vegetables

Broxburn Farm grows organic greenhouse peppers, tomatoes and cucumbers, as well as outdoor berries, vegetables and herbs.

Photo courtesy of Broxburn Farm

Mans Organics grows certified organic onions, shallots and garlic outdoors, and tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers in a half-acre greenhouse.

Photo Courtesy of Mans Organics

Poplar Bluff Organics grows speciality organic potatoes, beets, carrots and parsnips.

 

Now that you’ve got the low-down on locally farmed food, how can you sink your pearly whites into some of it? Here are some of the ways:

 

In Banff, The Bison Restaurant and Terrace’s menu features a map indicating where ingredients are regionally and provincially sourced. For example, you can enjoy a roasted Broxburn cauliflower salad with your Benchmark beef.

At the Rimrock Resort Hotel in Banff, you can reserve a table at Eden and enjoy fresh organic Alberta vegetables, caviar from Northern British Columbia and aged Gouda cheese from Sylvan Star. Or try the Maple Hill chicken from the Primrose Restaurant menu.

Todd Kunst, the owner of Canmore’s Sage Bistro, notes that he and his team “source quality ingredients from local purveyors and producers of fine foods to bring the best taste to your palate.” Vegetables from Broxburn Farms, Broek pork, Sylvan Star cheese and Fairwinds goat products are all on the menu.

The Fairmont Banff Springs hotel is unrivalled in its fine dining choices. Vegetables from Poplar Bluff or Mans Organics can be found in most of the hotel’s restaurants, along with Mans eggs and Greidanas honey. As well, you can find goat milk and goat cheese from Fairwinds Farms at the hotel’s 1888 Chophouse. Down the hill at the Waldhaus, enjoy cured sausages from Valbella or Ridge Valley chicken.

Photo courtesy of the Fairmont Banff Springs

At Olive Bistro in Jasper, chef and owner Darryl Huculak sources food locally because he wants his “restaurant to have a smaller ecological footprint, and because fresher food simply tastes better.” While much of his produce is from the Jasper Community Garden and his own small greenhouse, Darryl also sources poultry and pork from Blue Ridge Farms, and beef, eggs and produce from Stonepost Farms.

There is no shortage of farm-fresh foods to fuel your adventures in the Rockies. So eat well, burn o those delicious calories in one of the most popular mountain destinations in the world, and repeat.

The Rockies are Rough

YOUR SKIN DOESN’T HAVE TO BE

Words by Nicky Pacas

Photos by Rachel Boekel Photography

1

Being a ‘Mountain Man’ isn’t just about growing a beard; it’s about the skin, too. The Rocky Mountain Soap Company has made a collection of Men’s Stuff to help the roughest lumberjacks smooth things out after a day outdoors. Try the Soothing Face Cream, Energizing Face Scrub and Restorative Eye Cream to moisturize, exfoliate and prevent premature aging.

2

Do you have dry skin? Stop in at the Willow Stream Spa or the Spa at the Jasper Park Lodge and find relief using products by Kerstin Florian. The Rescue Cream was engineered specifically for Banff’s climate, the Neroli Water is perfect for use during or after air travel, and the Brightening Eye Cream instantly hydrates and smooths fine lines.

3

Stress stinks. Literally. But the ‘Tranquility’ line by [comfort zone] is a holistic relaxation treatment system with essential oils selected for their anti-stress properties. Try the Tranquility Body Lotion, Shower Gel/Cream, or Roll-on Fragrance for scents of sweet orange, Damascus, rose and cedar wood. Find [comfort zone] products at the Kananaskis Nordic Spa and at the Rimrock Resort Hotel Spa.

4

With a name like Achy Muscle Bath Bomb in a Bag by Simply Soak, need we say anything more? Find the powdery bath bomb at Project A in Canmore and bask in the anti-inflammatory properties of white willow bark and comfrey.

5

Break off a square from Field Kit Co.’s Travel Soap and clean up with scents like “The Lumberjack” (wood + smoke) or “The Explorer” (bergamot + ginger). If it’s your hair and skin that needs some extra love, add moisture with Dry Skin Facial Oil and Premium Hair Oil by Velvette Organics. All available at Project A.

Keep your skin feeling hydrated with essential oils from The Rocky Mountain Soap Co.’s Hydrating Outdoor Spray. Even though it’s not a bug spray, you can use it as a natural alternative to keep bugs at a distance.

6

Protect your peepers with a pair of Smith Sunglasses. Going out on the water? Opt for a pair of polarized glasses so that you can see through the glare. Available at The North Face, Helly Hansen and at Valhalla Pure Outfitters.

Find extra protection with a ball cap from The North Face, available in-store or at Wild Mountain and at Sports Experts.

Choose sunscreens made with zinc for protection and shea butter for moisture.

Try Éminence OrganicsTropical Vanilla Day Cream, an organic, natural, biodynamic and sustainable moisturizer with an SPF of 32, or the Sunscreen from the Rocky Mountain Soap Co., which uses a non-nano zinc oxide to provide broad-spectrum protection against UVA and UVB rays. Find Éminence products at Mountain Wellness Day Spa and at Verde Day Spa.

The Breakout Buster from RMS can be used for bug bites and acne spots, but the moisturizing and soothing elements of this stick also work wonders on sunburnt lips.

 

Survival of the Fittest

Art by Colleen Campbell

Words by Nicky Pacas with help from Dieter Regett of Jasper Discovery Tours

Each year, after the harsh and inhospitable winter climate begins to soften into spring, the wildflowers (arguably the most resilient survivors of mountain weather) emerge alongside snowy and jagged trails, adding pops of colour to a grey landscape. As summer draws nearer, each major vegetative zone of the Canadian Rockies —Montane, Subalpine, and Alpine—plays host to a wide range of flora. In this issue, we’ve given you an illustrated guide to six varietals that bloom or change from the early spring until the end of September, each one playing an important role in its ecosystem.

Share your photos of these species in their natural habitat and use the hashtag #WhereRockiesWild for a chance to be featured in an upcoming issue.


CUTLEAF ANEMONE; PRAIRIE CROCUS

 

Pulsatilla patens

A harbinger of early spring, the Prairie Crocus often begins to emerge from the ground before the snow has melted.

Blooming Period: as early as March, but often seen from late-April through June

Location: Blooms in the Montane Zone; find the Prairie Crocus in the Saskatchewan River Crossing area, on the north shore of Johnson Lake, on the Bow Valley Parkway, and on the trails starting from 5th Bridge.


GLACIER LILY

Erythronium grandiflorium

Another harbinger of spring, the Glacier Lily grows at the edges of melting snow drifts.

Blooming Period: Late-April through June

Location: Find Glacier Lilies in the Alpine Zone at Bow Summit, Sunshine Meadows, and at Parker Ridge.


PAINTBRUSH

Castilleja species

The flowers on a Paintbrush can vary significantly in colour; from red to orange, light pink to white, even purple.

Blooming Period: April-September

Location: Blooms across all mountain zones. Find Paintbrushes on the Opal Hills Loop in Jasper (look for the trail kiosk in the upper parking lot at Maligne Lake), the Flower Loop/Overlander Trail, and at Sunshine Meadows.


TWINFLOWER

Linnaea borealis

A sweet-scented and trumpet-like flower.

Blooming Period: June and July

Location: Find Twinflowers in the Subalpine Zone locations of Stewart Canyon (follow the Lake Minnewanka shoreline to the Stewart Canyon trailhead kiosk), Bourgeau Lake Trail (approx. 13km west of the Mount Norquay interchange), the lower falls of Johnston Canyon, and many trails around Lake Louise.


WESTERN WOOD LILY

Lilium philadelphicum

Generally a solitary plant, the Western Wood Lily is a strikingly beautiful flower. Because of its beauty, it is often picked by admirers, resulting in its disappearance from some areas.

Blooming Period: June and July

Location: the Wood Lily blooms in the Montane Zone and is often found in grasslands and woodlands. Look for lilies on the north shore of Johnson Lake, on the Bow Valley Parkway, and on the Montane Traverse Trail.


LARCH TREE

Larix

Although Larches are conifers, they lose their needles in the fall. Before the needles fall, however, they turn from a bright green to a brilliant yellow, adding one last burst of colour to the landscape before winter’s arrival.

Notable Change: the needles often change colour in mid to late September

Location: Look for larches in the Subalpine Zones of Larch Valley, Chester Lake/Chester Creek, and Healy Pass (leave from Sunshine Village, behind the main gondola station)


For a list of tours and guides who can help you access some of the locations mentioned here (in addition to many others), see pages 73 and 144 of our online magazine.

National Indigenous Peoples Day 2018

It’s National Indigenous Peoples Day and the unique heritage and significant contributions of First Nations, Metis and Inuit Peoples are being celebrated throughout Canada!

 

Here are some ways you can join the celebrations in the Canadian Rockies

 

Canmore

Visit the Chiniki Cultural Centre and participate in the free events they are hosting. From 10 am-1 pm one of the Chiniki Elders will be dressed in full regalia and giving tours of the cultural exhibits and tipis. At 1 pm dancers and singers will be hosting a mini pow wow outside, performing traditional dances and answering questions. The Pow Wow will conclude with a special friendship dance. Throughout the day you can enjoy First Nations inspired cuisine from Stones Restaurant and they will be providing bite-sized bannock to visitors!

Photo by Bob Hawkesworth, courtesy of the Chiniki Cultural Centre

Head to the Canmore Market where Lifeways has been welcomed as a vendor. You can check out the work of local First Nations artists and say hi to some of the Nakoda artisans!

Photo courtesy of Lifeways

Hang out in Canmore for the day! Not only is there a lot of great stuff to check out at the market, there is a parade at 11 am and events at Centennial Park during the afternoon. You’ll have a chance to experience dancing, drumming, storytelling and Indigenous food. There will also be an artist market. After you’ve visited the park head to artsPlace and check out the Indigenous Art Exhibit.

 

Banff

Visit the Banff Centre where Brenda Holder will be leading two medicine walks at 5 and 7 pm. At 5:30 pm you can take a tour of the Walter Phillips Gallery followed by a tour of the library where there will be displays featuring indigenous artists contributions. After the tours attendees will be lead to the Max Bell Building for Film Screenings curated by Jade Nasogaluak Carpenter and at 7:30 pm Dale Mac will be performing a free concert!

Jasper

Head to the Jasper Information Centre Lawn. In Jasper,  National Indigenous Peoples Day is hosted by a different Nation each year. This year the Sunchild Cree First Nation will be hosting events including music starting at 11 am and a demonstration Pow Wow at 2 pm.

 

Kootenay Rockies

Stay at St. Eugene where they will be hosting a Pow Wow with the Ktunaxa Nation on June 24th. Resort staff will be wearing shirts that celebrate the resort’s Ktunaxa culture and ownership. Across from the resort the ʔaq̓am (St. Mary’s Indian Band) will be hosting celebrations from 1-7 pm with beading, hide tanning, drum making, traditional games and a BBQ.

 

Photo by Chris Istace, courtesy of St. Eugene

 

Celebrate in Fernie with outdoor storytelling with Ktunaxa legends and Metis stories. Make sure to bring an item for the potluck lunch.

 

Outside the Canadian Rockies

Visit Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump and learn about its vibrant and unique heritage at the award-winning interpretive centre.

Stay at the Stoney Nakoda Resort and you will have the perfect basecamp for experiencing all of the events taking place in Canmore and Banff.

Photo courtesy of the Stoney Nakoda Resort & Casino

Dine at the Grey Eagle Resort where Chief Chiniki is preparing some incredible meals.

 

We encourage everyone to participate in the celebrations today and we hope you will share your experiences with us  and let us know about any other events taking place today and throughout the year!

 

 

 

 

How to Survive a Vacation with Your Family

By: Nicky Pacas

If no one has a temper tantrum or slams a car door, did a family vacation even happen?

Photo Credit: Park Canada/Ryan Bray

We’ve all been there: excited for a family trip. The bags are packed, the hotel or campsite is booked, the car is gassed up — what could go wrong? It turns out, a lot! As much as we love our families, sometimes it seems impossible to survive a vacation with them. Luckily, we’ve compiled some tips and suggestions to help you maximize your trip and minimize your stress. Surviving a family vacation? Piece of cake.

1. Don’t Over-plan: Don’t plan on doing everything during your vacation; give yourself time to enjoy each activity and leave a little wiggle room in case you want to linger on a hike or on a canoe ride. Planning too many activities can make you feel frantic and leave you feeling like you might need a vacation after your vacation.

Using a tour company can alleviate the stress of dealing with details on your holiday. Because tour companies know the Canadian Rockies like no one else, you can trust that your adventures will be well-planned and organized. You might even be able to try something you wouldn’t have access to without a guide.

For early risers, book a Morning Wildlife Tour with Maligne Adventures in Jasper. Since most wildlife sightings occur early in the morning or later in the evening, depend on the expertise of the guides to get you to the right places to see mountain fauna (they have a 95% success rate) during a three-hour tour by vehicle.

Photo Credit: Ross Pugh, Maligne Adventures Wildlife Guide

For rock lovers, book an experience with Canmore Cave Tours and explore water-worn passageways and the beauty that hides beneath the mountainous landscape. A guide and the right equipment gives you access to the places that go unseen by most. Cave Tours typically have a minimum age requirement of 10 years old, but some educational offerings are accessible to all ages.

If you aren’t sure what hike best suits the abilities of your family members, get in touch with White Mountain Adventures for guidance on their hiking packages. Don’t see anything you like? Book a private or custom tour for an expertly arranged experience.

2.Know your Limits: if you have never climbed a mountain before, don’t plan on summiting the highest peak for your first activity. Start with reasonable activities that allow you to test your comfort level and skills before trying something bigger.

Whenever possible, pick an experience that offers variation so as to accommodate everyone’s abilities. Banff Trail Riders hosts two different (but equally fun) ways of getting to their Cowboy Cookout at 3 Mile Cabin: by wagon or by horseback. For family members aged 8 and older, the horseback ride is a guided tour along the base of Sulphur Mountain. For family members younger than 8, or for those who aren’t as keen to ride a horse, the wagon ride gets guests to the cookout after a scenic tour along the Bow River. No matter how you get there, you’ll all be eating together.

Not everyone can hike to great heights. For the best alternative to hiking, see our hot tip on gondolas and chairlifts.

Photo Credit: Banff Trail Riders

3. Pack your Snacks:  Don’t rely on eating a big breakfast or a big lunch to get you through your activities in the Rockies; nothing ruins a great day like being hangry. Packing small, easy-to-eat snacks can be a life-saver when you’re out on the trail and still far away from the parking lot. Visit the bulk section of the grocery store to stock up on nuts and dried fruit to put in your backpack. Energy bars, beef jerky and bananas also make good trailside treats. Remember to pack out your wrappers and peels so that you don’t leave attractants for the wildlife in the area.

For a family-friendly restaurant that is perfect for pre- and post-adventure fueling, visit Communitea in Canmore. With a friendly and healthy menu for kids (and a play area to keep them occupied), adults can indulge in a meal for themselves. Bonus: Communitea opens early (8am) and celebrates Friday with cupcakes!

Photo Credit: Orange Girl Photo

For other family-friendly eating options that can satisfy even the pickiest eaters, visit Craigs’ family restaurant in Canmore, Earls in Banff, or O’Shea’s Restaurant in Jasper.

If you’re looking for places to buy your snacks, find a list of grocery stores in our magazine on pages 92, 102 and 156.

4. Pack your Clothes: The weather in the Canadian Rockies is predictably unpredictable; it can be hot and sunny at the base of a mountain, but windy up top. Make sure that you bring layers so that you can plan for sudden changes in weather. Having extra clothes also makes it easy to move between activities without having to first stop at your hotel room or campsite.

For a list of shops that will outfit you for the mountain weather, see pages 91, 98, 104 and 156 of our magazine. Don’t forget your sunscreen! On page 26, see some of our favourite products to keep your skin protected from the elements.

Photo Credit: Jade Wetherell

5. Think about Interests: Do you love water activities? Do your kids love water activities? Sometimes the things we’re interested in doing are very different from the things the rest of the family enjoys. Make sure that you balance everyone’s interests, even if that means going to a museum for an afternoon instead of riding bikes. Chances are that you will be able to persuade your family members to do the things you enjoy if you show the same interest in their desires.

If you are up for adventure but the rest of your family wants to cool down in the water, why not make the best of both worlds and go whitewater rafting? Jasper’s Whitewater Rafting takes clients (kids must be at least 6 years old) through exciting rapids for speedy adventure. Jasper Raft Tours offers a gentler alternative to whitewater rafting through their tours designed for the entire family. With local guides who have grown up in Jasper or lived in the town for a long time, visitors are led on a sightseeing adventure down the Athabasca River.

Photo Credit: Jasper Raft Tours

6. Have a Plan B: In Lynda Pianosi’s book, Take a Hike with Your Children, all of the hikes that Pianosi recommends have a “Plan B”—each hike is close to a playground or interpretive centre so that if your kids won’t budge beyond the trailhead, you can still make the most of your location.

Pick up a copy of Lynda’s book at Café Books in Canmore. Some of our favourite hikes include the Fenland Trail in Banff, Cougar Creek in Canmore, and Morraine Lake Shoreline in Lake Louise. The Red Squirrel Trail in Jasper is close to the townsite and accessible for all walking abilities.

Try turning your adventures into a treasure hunt by finding as many of Parks Canada’s Red Chairs as you can. The Red Chairs have been placed in special locations around Banff and Jasper National Parks, and are meant to encourage people to connect with each other and with nature. Some are easy to find, others require a little more effort, but all of them are worth the views they provide. There are 13 Red Chairs locations in Banff National Park, and 7 locations in Jasper National Park. Visit the Parks Canada website for the exact Red Chair locations.

Bonus: youth (17 and under) receive free admission to Parks Canada places this year. That means free admission to all national parks, national historic sites, and national marine conservation areas operated by Parks Canada!

7. Find Time for Yourself: this is your vacation, too! Make sure that you set some time aside so that you can get some exercise, some alone time, or maybe even a meal at a restaurant that you’ve been eyeing. Take advantage of locations that have childminding or hotels that offer babysitting services.

If you need to take a little time for yourself but you aren’t travelling with a babysitter (let’s be honest, most of us don’t), there are still ways to keep your kid(s) occupied while you try some exploring or activities of your own.

Take advantage of the child daycare services at Lake Louise while you enjoy the Lake Louise Summer Gondola or an open chairlift. The daycare is fully licensed and will take kids as young as 18 days! Full day and half-day rates are available.

At Elevation Place in Canmore, get a workout in at the pool, in the gym or at the climbing wall while your little one enjoys the “Lil’ Bears Den” childminding services. A maximum stay is two hours and children must be between 6 months and 7 years old. If your workout lasts under two hours, take advantage of the Good Earth Coffeehouse on site and relax for a while—you’ve earned it.

In the Canadian Rockies, survival isn’t about being the fittest; survival (especially on a holiday with your family) is all about planning. But once you’ve made the plans, don’t forget to relax and enjoy yourself!

Keep reading through the magazine for hot tips on sightseeing, entertainment, food and more.

Photo Credit: Ross Pugh, Maligne Adventures Wildlife Guide

Surviving the Sights

By Calli Naish

One glimpse of a turquoise-blue glacial lake peeking out from between the peaks is enough to remind you that the Rocky Mountains offer more wonder than one could ever hope to uncover in a lifetime. For over one hundred years, visitors from across the globe have come to discover the secrets that linger atop the summits and within the valleys.

Fishing near Banff, Byron Harmon/photographer, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Byron Harmon fond (V263/na-448)

Mountain Rivers

Known as the “greatest land geographer that ever lived,” David Thompson mapped 3.9 million square km of North America and went blind in one eye from constantly staring at the sun and the stars while navigating. He travelled from the Bow River Foothills to British Columbia by way of the mountain river systems to extend the fur trade routes to the Pacific. Accompanied by his wife and three young children (see our magazine for tips on surviving your own family road trip) he navigated the Columbia River and established Kootenae House outside of Kootenay National Park.

The many rivers, lakes and streams surrounding the Columbia River are known for having an abundance of trout, and the East Kootenays have become world renowned for fly fishing. Kootenay Troutfitters and Kimberley Fly Fishing offer tours for beginner and experienced anglers. If you won’t be travelling as far west as Thompson did, you can fish the Rockies on your own, or with Banff Fishing Unlimited. No matter where you cast your line, you’re guaranteed to be surrounded by the timeless beauty of the mountains.

Mountain Guides

As tales of the early Rocky Mountain explorers and surveyors made their way east, the Canadian Pacific Railway moved west across the Great Divide into British Columbia, bringing curious travellers with it. Seizing entrepreneurial opportunity, Tom Wilson (known for his rediscovery of Lake Louise and Emerald Lake) started a guiding and packing outfit in Banff, providing guides to accompany surveyors, mountaineers and climbers on their expeditions. Two of his most notable guides were Bill Peyto and Jimmy Simpson.


The town of Field, BC, was first established in 1880 and it quickly attracted visitors who wanted to explore the natural wonders of the area now known as Yoho National Park. Experience the allure for yourself by hiking around Emerald Lake  or by renting a canoe from Emerald Sports to paddle on the emerald-coloured water.



Bill Peyto was one of the foremost guides of the early days of tourism in the Rockies. He wore two pairs of pants, slept with a pistol under his pillow, and is rumoured to have once brought a wild lynx into a bar. He crossed Bow Summit to find an oddly shaped lake that would later become his namesake, and he was one of the first Park Wardens in Banff. He also guided the early climbers who dreamed of completing first ascents of Rocky Mountain peaks. In 1901 he guided one such climber, James Outram, to Mount Assiniboine where Outram became the first climber to summit the “Matterhorn of the Rockies.”

Bill Peyto bringing live lynx to zoo [Banff], ca. 1915, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Don Harmon fond (V265/123/na66-467)

If you’ve come to the Rockies for the heights that Outram sought, head to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort or Mount Norquay for a guided via Ferrata climb. At Kicking Horse, experienced climbers can tackle “465 m of pure bliss,” and newcomers can try a more progressive route. If you find the climbing daunting, opt for a walk across the suspension bridge instead. The via Ferrata routes at Norquay range from beginner to advanced, accommodating all types of adventurers.


If you’d rather sightsee than climb, take the short hike to the Peyto Lake Lookout, north of Lake Lousie on the west side of the Icefields Parkway, and see the same sights that Bill Peyto witnessed over a century ago. Adept hikers can explore the surrounding trails or scramble up higher for an even better view of the famous wolf-shaped lake. 


After covering most of Canada and the western United States as a railcar stowaway, Jimmy Simpson eventually settled in the Rockies. He had been inspired by a brief encounter with Bill Peyto and was “determined to emulate [him] or die trying.” Originally hired for his cooking skills, Simpson joined Tom Wilson’s guiding outfit and soon learned how to expertly ride and pack cayuses (mountain ponies). He became a revered packer and guide, leading scientists and big game hunters, as well as famous climbers and mountaineers. Simpson traversed so much of the Rockies that Mary Shäffer wrote of him, “Jim’s axe in this country has done more to make the old trails passable for future comers than any other…”

Jimmy Simpson, ca. 1908, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Jim Simpson family fond (V577/5/pg63/na66-265)


Stretching between Banff and Jasper National Parks, and crossing the Continental Divide, the Columbia Icefield  has been fascinating visitors for centuries. You can experience the marvel for yourself by booking an icefield tour or by walking the Glacier Skywalk, which overlooks part of the largest field of ice in the Rocky Mountains.


Simpson’s mountain exploits would not have been possible without his pack horses, and although there are now many ways to explore the Rockies, doing so by horseback still offers an experience unlike any other. Tour the Bow Valley with Banff Trail Riders and you can catch a glimpse of the Cave and Basin while you ride along the Bow River. In Lake Louise you can head out with Brewster Adventures and ride to the Lake Agnes Teahouse, or to the Plain of the Six Glaciers. And if you are in Jasper you can ride along the Athabasca River with Jasper Park Stables.


When Jimmy Simpson first saw Bow Lake in 1898, he regarded it as the most beautiful place he had seen in Canada and vowed that he’d “build a shack” there someday. Visit Num-Ti-Jah Lodge, his “shack” on Bow Lake, and appreciate the same beauty he was inspired by over a century ago.


Mountain Secrets

Mary Schäffer studied flower painting and began her Rocky Mountain adventures around Banff, Laggan (now Lake Louise) and Field, examining the flora of the mountains with her husband, who studied botany. Although her early travels did not take her far from the railway tracks, she ventured further into the wilderness with each return trip, ultimately setting her sights on finding an elusive lake. In July of 1908, after two summers of exploration, her party finally found itself on the shores of Chaba Imne, the fabled lake that had previously been known only to the Cree and Stoney People. And on a shaky, hand-crafted raft that they called the “HMS Chaba,” they sailed out on Chaba Imne, or as it is now known, Maligne Lake.


Though most people now come to Jasper by car, you can still explore the area in the same way the first tourists did: by train. Sundog Tours offers rail tours along the Fraser River with views of Rearguard Falls, Mount Robson (the highest peak in the Rockies), and the Cariboo Mountains.


While, the HMS Chaba had to be abandoned on the shores of the lake, there are thankfully a number of different (and more reliable) ways to discover Maligne Lake. You can rent a canoe from the Maligne Lake Boathouse or book a cruise and tour down the lake to Spirit Island, one of the most iconic locations in Jasper National Park. If you’d rather explore from the shore, visit the Maligne Lake Chalet or hike the Mary Shäffer Loop. By boat or by boot, be sure you keep your eyes peeled for the wildflowers that brought Mary Shäffer to the Rockies.

Travel has come a long way from canoes and pack trains, but the mountains still offer the same mysterious wilderness that drew the earliest visitors to the Canadian Rockies at a time when travelling the mountains was as much about survival as it was about exploration.

 

The historical photos in this story have been generously provided by the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies.
The Whyte Museum is celebrating 50 years of sharing the history and culture of the Rocky Mountains.

Spring Skiing in the Rockies

With warmer weather in the forecast, we can finally start thawing out after a particularly cold and snowy winter. So take off your coats, put on your sunglasses, and head for the patio; it’s time for some spring skiing!

Photo courtesy of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

Music

Spend a weekend at Sunshine because starting April 7th, Sunshine Village will be hosting concerts every Saturday and Sunday afternoon! Get a few runs in and then head over to Mad Trappers where different artists perform each weekend.

 

Visit Lake Louise on any of these incredible musical weekends!

March 31/April 1 – BIG FONTS

April 7/8 – Abbey Rodeo

April 14/15 – Aaron Pollock

April 21/22 – Sam Bailey Band

April 29 – Rumspringer

May 5/6 – DJ CAIN.1 + Friends

 

Head to Panorama for the High Notes Music Festival on March 23-25th. Friday night features an evening of live music, food and wine. See headliners Jay Gilday, The Burn Ins, and Scenic Route to Alaska on Saturday night!

 

Get excited for the Whitetooth Grill concert series at Kicking Horse!

March 24 – Eric Larocque

March 31 – John Jenkins’ Small Town Revival

April 7 – Eric Larocque

April 14 – The Pickups

 

Check out the Kokanee Freeride event at Marmot Basin on April 14th. The whole event takes place at the mid-mountain Paradise Chalet Patio so that you can catch a few rays while you listen to live music and chow down on a BBQ lunch!

 

Slush

Shake the Lake will have you dancing, feasting and cheering! On April 28th, head to Lake Louise and watch (or compete) in the Rail Jam/Slush Cup extravaganza! There will be a daytime après ski party and an after party in the Lodge of the Ten Peaks!

 

The Slush Showdown Pond Skimming Cup will be awarded at Panorama on April 7th. Can you make it across the pond?

 

The Slush Cup & Pig Roast Party takes place on April 15th at Kicking Horse. Throw on a costume and try to cross 75m of slush!

 

The Slushshine Rail Jam at Sunshine Village is part Rail Jam, part Slush Cup, and it is going to be a blast! So sign yourself up, or mark your calendar for May 19th, and watch riders and skiers take on a series of challenging features set up over water!

 

The Slush Cup on May 21st at Sunshine Village is the last slush cup of the year, so plan to be there and get rowdy while competitors attempt to make one last skim across the pond!

 

Just for Fun

Indulge your sweet tooth at the Kicking Horse Sugar Shack on March 24th and 25th where you can try maple syrup on snow, listen to live music, and eat A LOT of taffy!

 

Compete in the ShredAbility Fundraiser at Sunshine Village on April 7th! This mountain treasure hunt has teams of two completing adaptive challenges all over the mountain in support of Rocky Mountain Adaptive!

 

Test your building skills and design a dummy for the Panorama Dummy Downhill on April 8th! Can your creation make it down the slopes, or will it crash? (don’t worry there’s a prize for that too!)

 

Hula downhill on April 21st at Marmot Basin’s Aloha Cup! This all-ages race is full of banked turns, rollers and small jumps; it’s a fun way finish off the season. There are prizes for fastest run and for best costume, so grab your skis and dress to impress!

 

Get creative and build a cardboard sled for the Annual Lake Louise Cardboard Box Downhill Derby on April 22nd! Prizes will be given to the 3 fastest racers and the three coolest sleds, so remember: style counts!

 

Whether you are singing, skiing, or soaking wet (post-slush cup), enjoy your sunny spring days on the slopes!

Alberta Ballet’s Cinderella

Photo by Paul McGrath

Relive this childhood classic with the Alberta Ballet’s production of Cinderella! Adapted from the original 1697 Charles Perrault version, this romance follows the hopes, dreams, and wishes of a servant girl and her adventures with wicked stepsisters, a magical godmother, and a handsome prince. Get swept up in the captivating magic with vibrant sets and costumes—and a search for true love.

Cinderella | March 22–24 | $55–$145
Jubilee Auditorium |  11455-87 Ave. | 780-428-6839

The Best of Banff: Bison Restaurant

If you’re looking for a restaurant where bright and airy meets romantic and rustic, look no further than the Bison (211 Bear St, Banff). The restaurant boasts natural light thanks to three walls worth of windows, and the recently renovated space now gives customers an intimate look into the kitchen where the seasonal, regional, and Canadian menu items are prepared.

Dining Room at the Bison Restaurant

The renovated space at the Bison boasts bright light and an open concept. Photo Credit: Orange Girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s hard to say what the best part of the Bison is because there is so much to appreciate; from the menu to the service, the Bison doesn’t cut corners.

If you’ve dined at the restaurant before, you’ll notice some changes to the current menu—fear not, though, because the same farm-to-table ethos is present in your options. Instead of filling up on one main dish, the portion sizes of the dishes have been made smaller so that you can order more to your table. Even better, the prices on the menu reflect the smaller portion sizes so that what you spend on several dishes now is what you would have spent on one main dish in the past. The menu is such that you don’t have to limit yourself to one choice, and sharing is made easy.

Knowing where your food comes from is also made easy: the menu features a map indicating where ingredients are regionally and provincially sourced. Should you need some recommendations, order (I repeat, ORDER!) the heritage wheat sourdough with cultured, housemade butter. There’s butter, and then there’s butter from the Bison (I’m still trying to figure out how I can bulk order their sourdough and butter). For main dishes, don’t hesitate to order the Alberta lamb or the bison burger.

Sourdough at the Bison Restaurant

Heritage Wheat Sourdough
Photo Credit: Orange Girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alberta Lamb Bison Restaurant

Alberta Lamb

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bear & Flower Pork Katsu at Bison Restaurant Banff

Bear & Flower Pork Katsu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bison Burger at the Bison Restaurant Banff

Bison Burger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you want a restaurant experience that makes you feel like you’re at a Calgary hot spot with Banff scenery, you won’t be disappointed at the Bison. The service is excellent and the waitstaff are well versed in all aspects of the menu so that recommendations and suggestions are educated and thoughtful responses to your needs and desires. Everyone from the hostess to the manager treats you like you’re someone important, and in a transient town like Banff, that level of service isn’t easy to find.

Eating at the Bison makes me feel like I’m a cooler person than I really am. You might feel that way, too.

Make a reservation by calling (403-762-5550) or by visiting the website where can book a table online (www.thebison.ca) for dinner or for Sunday brunch.

Table for Two at the Bison Restaurant

Get cozy and comfortable at a table for two at the Bison Restaurant.
Photo Credit: Orange Girl

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By: Nicky Pacas

 

 

 

 

Nordic Tradition in Canadian Plaid

By Calli Naish

Tall trees and taller mountains: there couldn’t be a more perfect backdrop for Alberta’s first Nordic Spa. Nestled so comfortably in the Rockies that it seems like it has been there all along, the Kananaskis Nordic Spa combines elements of relaxation with the healing properties of water to create a spa experience unlike any other. The best part? You can stay ALL DAY LONG!

Hot tub with a view

Relax in the Spa Lodge

Founded in the Kneipp tradition of hydrotherapy, the spa features a series of outdoor pools of varying temperatures. You begin in a hot pool, then move to a natural pool slightly above body temperature, followed with a quick dip in the cold plunge pool before doing it all over again. This heat-cool-repeat cycle is designed to stimulate circulation and detox the body. The spa’s laid-back atmosphere, however, means there is nothing keeping you from spending all your time in the hottest tub or lounging in the salt-water float pool.

Hot Pool and Heated Robe Station

Hot Pool 

Cool Plunge Pool 

The spa also features Finnish, Barrel and Banya saunas, heated hammocks, social fire areas, and two steam cabins. The Eucalyptus Steam Cabin will use eucalyptus oils and the Alchemist Steam Cabin will offer a series of aromatherapy oils to compliment the changing seasons. There will also be an exfoliation cabin (not open at the time of this post) where you can rejuvenate your skin through self-exfoliating aromatic salts.

Finnish Sauna 

Barrel Sauna 

The spa is designed to accommodate everyone. Those who thrive on social energy may join in the company of others on the social side of the spa; however, those who are interested in meditative healing may enjoy the waters of the quiet pools or while adrift in the float pool (to be completed this summer).

Comfort in the Spa Lodge

The Spa Lodge has eight treatment rooms (and two couples’ rooms) where you can book a deep tissue, hot stone, or relaxation massage. The lodge is also home to the Spa’s Bistro where you can sip and savour with a view of the mountains.

Champagne in the Spa Lodge

The Relaxation Lodge, which will open in the summer, allows you to pair healing water therapies with mental recovery (which we could all use a little more of). There will be a dream lounge, a meditation labyrinth, heated lounge chairs with personal music stations, and finally, a 30-person yoga studio complete with aerial silk hammocks that yoga enthusiasts will appreciate .

The Spa Lodge and Bistro

The spa sells natural and sustainable beauty products by [comfort zone]. Currently, two lines are available (Skin Regimen and Tranquility), with plans to include more product lines as time goes on. Additionally, [comfort zone] Aromasoul oil blends will be featured within the spa treatment rooms and lodge.

Skin Regimen by [comfort zone]

Tranquility by [comfort zone]

Creating a “hot tub with a view” may have been the original goal for the spa renovation, but the Kananskis Nordic Spa has become so much more. Spa creators, Hank van Weelden and Jennifer Buckler, speak with such passion about their vision for the Knordic Spa that it is clear the project is a labour of love. Every detail has been curated to create an environment of true Canadian hospitality. So forget the typical spa stuffiness and slip into a guest robe designed in Canadian plaid. The tartan represents the four seasons in Canada, and the spa creators hope that you will embrace each of these seasons with equal fervor.

Canadian Plaid Robes

It’s all in the details

Planks made from trees felled at the site

Live edge wood adds to the rustic atmosphere of the spa

Founded on tradition, built of trees felled at its site, and immersed in Rocky Mountain culture, the Kananaskis Nordic Spa is designed to accommodate everyone by providing an atmosphere of collective healing and regeneration. Outside, the pools and buildings blend into the surrounding scenery seamlessly; inside, you are welcomed by the smell of cedar and the calm of a modern, yet rustic, communal space. Plaid robes, mountain air and Nordic knowledge: it is a place of mental and physical recovery enjoyed equally during the cold Canadian winter or in the short mountain summer.

Fireplace in the Spa Lodge

Phase 1 of the Knordic Spa is complete and will be open on weekends with most amenities available.

Phase 2 will be completed this summer.

Talent Spotlight: Sheldon Elter

Photo by Kevin Clark Studios

Actor, writer, comedian, musician, Canadian Idol contestant—Sheldon Elter has worn many hats over the course of his career. His true love, though, is the stage. “That’s where my heart and soul are at,” explains Elter. “Your art lives and dies in one performance. It feels more magical to me to be a part of that.”

One of Elter’s upcoming shows, Métis Mutt, began as a classroom project in 2001 and has been workshopped and performed across the country. The multi-layered theatrical version of Elter’s life story discusses his family and racial issues. “I’ve learned that the more you try to tell the truth, the more human you become,” he says. “[The play] transcends race and gender and just becomes a human experience.”

Writing such works is particularly important to Elter, and he’s thankful for the supportive and welcoming artistic community in Edmonton. “It’s really cool to be a part of contemporary Canadian work. I’ve been very lucky to have my own work produced, and patrons will actually go and see independent work,” he says. Elter avidly recommends that visitors venture out of their comfort zone and watch a play from the numerous independent companies in the city. “There’s always a chance to see a great show.”

If you can’t see him live, watch out for the fourth season of CAUTION: May Contain Nuts. The award-winning sketch-comedy series is due back on Canadian airwaves in the spring after being cancelled for several years. “When the network asked to bring it back, it was a bit of a shock,” says Elter, who both writes and stars in the show. “What’s so cool is that you’re working with your pals, and it’s all shot here so it’s all local talent. I think it’s some of our best writing.”