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Banff, Canmore & Area

Come Home to Canmore


Greet Adventure from your Front Door

Those unfamiliar with Canmore may think of it as the gateway to Banff, but for those who live here, Canmore is the center of mountain adventure. It’s the kind of town that you can visit for a weekend, but as you get ready to leave, you realize that you’ve only just begun to scratch the surface of what you can do here.

The clean alpine air somehow convinces you to get outside even on the coldest days, and mountain shade provides a welcome respite from the hot sun in summer months. The town is one that thrives on community and togetherness, and its growth is easily attributable to visitors quickly realizing that while a weekend in Canmore is nice, a lifetime of weekends is ideal. Here, living and adventure are mutually inclusive.

The landscape of Canmore is vast, but the amount of land available for residential building is small in comparison. Commitments to maintaining wildlife corridors and the natural environment for all who experience the town make opportunities to purchase a new home a rare commodity. Unlike Banff, which has a ‘need-to-reside’ policy preventing part-time and vacation ownership in the townsite, Canmore allows anyone interested in living in the mountains a place to hang their coat after a day outside.










Stewart Creek, nestled at the base of the iconic trio of peaks known as the Three Sisters, is a burgeoning community of open and green spaces begging to be explored. It’s a location close to downtown, but it affords the quiet, laidback lifestyle for those trying to get away from busy urban centers. When you need them, scenic river pathways lead you into town where you can live the outdoors and experience the arts within minutes of each other.

The views are stunning: Pigeon Mountain to the east, Cascade Mountain to the west.

It’s an escape, but it’s not isolating. The innovative, contemporary mountain architecture of Stewart Creek reflects rustic lifestyle and luxury, and the community attracts newcomers and longtime residents, first-time homeowners and retirees. It offers something for everyone.

Stewart Creek extends to buyers the convenience of working with homebuilders, like Devonian Properties, Distinctive Homes, QuantumPlace, Renaissance, Versant at Stewart Creek, NuAlpine, and Legend Developments, who want to customize or modify homes to fit a buyer’s needs. Offering a range of homes, from single-family to duplex-style and multi-family units, the builders of Stewart Creek design and construct residences so that they accommodate the lifestyles of the homeowners living in them.

The best way to experience Canmore is close up, so do it! Come to town and visit Stewart Creek and pick out the views you will look forward to for decades. Take a walk though a show home or sales center and stay a while; this is your home now, too.

Visit tsmv.ca for more information.



Layer Up

Winter in the Canadian Rockies is predictably unpredictable. While cold temperatures are guaranteed, warm Chinook winds can sometimes have us thinking about spring in January. The best way to dress for the varying weather conditions of the Rockies is to dress in layers so that as the temperatures change, you don’t have to.

BASE LAYERS sit closest to your skin and keep you dry by wicking away moisture.









  1. Helly Hansen Lifa Merino Crew. 100% merino wool conbined with Lifa® Stay Warm Technology in a 2 layer construction. Available at Helly Hansen
  2. Patagonia Capilene® Midweight Zip-neck. Superior warmth, breathability and moisture-wicking performance. Available at Patagonia Banff and Valhalla Pure Outfitters
  3. Lolë Shop Lolë Banff, Jasper, and Valhalla Pure Outfitters
  4. Icebreaker Sprite Hot Pants (w) and Anatomica Boxers (m). Available at Valhalla Pure Outfitters. Icebreaker also at Chateau Mountain Sports (Banff, Lake Louise), Monod Sports, Wilson Sports Lake Louise and Gravity Gear Jasper
  5. The North Face Warm Me Up Tights (w) densely knit, compressive tights that are warm, breathable and moisture-wicking. Available at the North Face Banff. The North Face also at Sports Experts and at Wild Mountain Jasper. Icebreaker Oasis Leggings with fly (m). Enough warmth under a pant for really cold days in winter sports.
  6. Smartwool PhD Ski Medium socks. Breathable Merino blend with targeted ventilation zones and cushioning. Available at Valhalla Pure Outfitters. Smartwool also at Monod Sports, Wilson Sports and Chateau Mountain Sports.














MID-LAYERS wick away moisture, too, but they also add insulation.








  1. Helly Hansen Astra Jacket. A mix of insulation and jersey, this jacket is as fashionable as it is functional. Available at Helly Hansen.
  2. The North Face Ventrix Hoodie. A lightly insulated hoodie that features state-of-the-art Ventrix™ ventilation for balanced warmth and breathability. Perforations in key areas are designed to expand and dump heat or contract and retain as you move. Available at the North Face.
  3. Marmot Toaster Capri. Quick-drying, Primaloft®-insulated tight. Available at Valhalla Pure Outfitters.

OUTER-LAYERS fit comfortably over your base and mid-layers to protect you from wind, cold and precipitation.









  1. Helly Hansen Elevation Shell. A jacket tested by professional free skiers and constructed with superior breathability, this shell features large cuffs that are easy to adjust with your mitts on. To maintain airflow and wicking capabilities, the jacket is designed to keep your backpack from pressing against your body. Visible colours and a relaxed fit are safety and function features worth wearing. Available at Helly Hansen.
  2. Arc’teryx Sentinel Pant. Made with GORE-TEX® and lined with flannel, these pants enable movement while keeping you protected. Available at Monod Sports.
  3. Camp Brand Goods Heritage Toque, Hestra Army Leather Heli Mitt and Sorel Joan of Arctic Boots available at Valhalla Pure Outfitters.
  4. Buff Knitted Polar Neckwarmer. Buff available at Ultimate Ski & Ride, Monod Sports, Chateau Mountain Sports, Valhalla Pure Outfitters, and Sports Experts.


By: Nicky Pacas
Photos: Jade Wetherell
Art: Alex Mukai Jr.

What to do during Ice Magic & Snow Days

By: Calli Naish


The days are getting longer, the snow is getting deeper, and it’s the perfect time to celebrate winter in Banff and Lake Louise because Snow Days and Ice Magic start this week!


January 18, 19 and 20

Watch artists turn massive blocks of ice into glittering sculptures at the Lake Louise Ice Carving festival. The event takes place at the Chateau Lake Louise and although tickets are required between 10 am and 5:30 pm on weekends, the sculptures can be viewed for free outside of these times and during the week.

Photo by Kelly MacDonald, courtesy of Banff & Lake Louise Tourism











January 19

The pressure is on at the One Hour, One Carver, One Block speed-carving event! Watch 10 carvers compete as fast as they can outside the Kokanee Kabin at the Lake Louise Ski Resort, and then vote for your favourite sculpture. The carving will take place between 2:30 and 3:30 pm, but you can always check out the impressive results after the competition is over.

Photo by Kelly MacDonald, courtesy of Banff & Lake Louise Tourism











January 19

Test your ingenuity and your nerve by entering the Cardboard Sled Derby and racing your own handmade sled down Mt. Norquay. Be sure to design a trendy toboggan because prizes are being awarded for best overall, as well as fastest sled and best crash. The event begins at 7 pm and entry is $10 at the door.


January 19 & 20

Lace up your skates and join DJ Hunnicutt and DJ Co-Op at the All-Canadian Skate Parties. The parties are family friendly and are hosted at the Banff High School field from 7 to 10 pm on Friday, and from 1 to 4 pm on Saturday.


January 20

Watch local and international snow artists put the finishing touches on the infamous Snow Days snow sculptures from 6 to 9 pm. You can find these masterpieces at the Bear Street festival area where there will be bonfires and dancing into the night.

Photo by Kelly MacDonald, courtesy of Banff & Lake Louise Tourism










Photo by Kelly MacDonald, courtesy of Banff & Lake Louise Tourism




















January 20 & 21

Celebrate the snow with FIS World Snow Days! To encourage families to get out and explore the snow, kids will ski for free all weekend at the Lake Louise Ski Resort. Plus there are family discounts on tubing and on lessons, making it the perfect time for skiers and non-skiers to enjoy the slopes together!


January 20, 21, 27 and 28

Learn how to snowshoe at the Snowshoe Sampler! Meet on the Lake Louise shoreline between 10 am and 3 pm for some games and activities led by a Parks Canada interpretive guide. Snowshoes are provided so it’s the perfect time to try out a new winter sport.


January 26

Experience an evening of winter celebration at the Lake Louise Torchlight Dinner. The evening begins at 3:30 pm with après drinks and appies at the Whitehorn Bistro, where you’ll be entertained with an ice carving demo before doing some carving of your own as you ski by torchlight down the freshly groomed runs. The evening finishes off with a buffet dinner at the Sitzmark Lounge and live music by One Night Band. If an evening of dinner and dancing sounds great, but you could do without the skiing, no worries; you can purchase tickets specifically for the post-ski activities. This event is popular so be sure to book your spots ahead of time!


January 27 & 28

Excite your creative side at the Ice that Inspires carving demo, where one of the carving competitors will demonstrate the precision and artistry of ice carving. Tickets are required and the demonstrations take place between 10 am and 5 pm at the Chateau Lake Louise.


All Festival Long

Step 1: Consult this map (for snow) or head to Lake Louise (for ice)


Step 2: Find the 10 snow sculptures in downtown Banff (plus 2 at Mt. Norquay), or the ice sculptures outside the Chateau Lake Louise


Step 3: Take a moment to take in the magic of winter in the Canadian Rockies


Step 4: Tag @whererockies in your favourite winter masterpiece photos and we’ll feature them in our Instagram Story



On January 20, 21, 27 and 28, free shuttles will run from the Lake Louise Samson Mall, to the Upper Lake Louise Parking Lot. The first shuttle leaves from the Samson Mall at 10:30 am and the last shuttle leaves from the Upper Parking Lot at 6 pm. No pets will be allowed on the shuttle.


Olympic Legacy

Photo credits: Glen Crawford and the IOC Olympic Report











30 years after 88, the Olympic spirit is still strong in the Canadian Rockies

As 2018 welcomes another Winter Olympic cycle, this time in Pyeongchang, South Korea, a celebratory mood of athletics and nationhood is in the air. The Winter Olympics honour the best of snow and ice, and they remind us what incredible feats the human body can accomplish in sub-zero temperatures.

The Canadian Rockies has a rich history and relationship with the Olympics. In 1988 Canmore and Kananaskis Country played host to the Nordic and Alpine Skiing events for the Calgary Winter Olympics. With the Canmore Nordic Centre and Nakiska built specifically for the ’88 Games (the 15th Winter Olympics and Canada’s first as host), the legacy of the Games continues to live and thrive in the Rockies as those venues are open to the public and to high-performance athletes, teams, and competitions.

An impressive number of winter athletes and Olympians call the Rockies home. Ryan Smyth, who was born in Banff, had a successful 19-season career in the NHL; in 2010, Brian McKeever became the first Canadian athlete named to both the Olympic and Paralympic teams; and Mike Robertson won the silver medal in snowboard cross at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.

To honour the XXIII Winter Olympiad in PyeongChang, and to fête the season of snow and ice, here are four profiles of winter Olympians with close ties to the Rockies.

Thomas Grandi, Alpine Skier (1994, 1998, 2002, and 2006 Olympian)







Born in Italy, but raised in Banff, Grandi is one of the Rockies’ most recognizable and admired athletes (he even has a run named after him at Norquay!). At 15, Grandi was chosen to be a forerunner for the Giant Slalom and Slalom events held at Nakiska for the ’88 Games. Unfortunately, an injury prevented Grandi from forerunning and left him watching from the sidelines on crutches. But the experience wasn’t all bad. Watching the events with special attention on the Canadian and Italian athletes is what Grandi explains as the catalyst to solidifying his dream to be an Olympic Skier.

You can now find Grandi running the Paintbox Lodge, a boutique hotel in Canmore that he owns with Sara Renner, a four-time Olympian and medal winner, and a longtime member of the Canmore Nordic Ski Club, who happens to be his wife. When he’s not at the hotel, you can find him on the slopes of Norquay, where he runs Giv’er Grandi, a program for Bow Valley kids looking to learn the elements of racing in a fun environment.

Rosanna Crawford, Biathlete
(2010, 2014, and 2018 Olympian)







Born in Canmore, Crawford describes her hometown as a playground. With endless opportunities from her front door, she has been preparing for her third Winter Games on the trails she’s been familiar with since childhood. In fact, Crawford notes that the Cross Country World Cup trails at the Canmore Nordic Centre are similar to the trails she’ll be racing on in PyeongChang. Though she wasn’t born in time to take in the ’88 Olympics, she explains that without them, she wouldn’t be where she is today.

Jennifer Heil, Freestyle Skier
(2002, 2006, and 2010 Olympian; 2006 Olympic Champion)

When Jennifer was young, her family spent family ski days at Jasper’s Marmot Basin because of its close proximity to her childhood home in Spruce Grove, Alberta, where she was born. Heil’s father, Randy, explains that Jennifer showed an interest and natural talent for skiing at an early age: when she was about five years old, Randy lost sight of Jennifer while waiting for the Poma lift at Panorama. To his amazement, when he looked halfway up the hill, he found her riding the Poma to the top all on her own!

It’s no surprise that Heil was quickly dubbed “the Phenom” by her coaches and peers. The Alberta Ski Team had to lower its age restrictions so that Heil could join. Before she was on the team, the Heil family split its time between Fortress Mountain, where Jennifer’s older sister trained with the Ski Team, and Sunshine Village, where Jennifer would spend her days on the slope.

Chandra Crawford, Cross Country Skier
(2006, 2010, and 2014 Olympian; 2006 Olympic Champion)










Chandra, the older sister of Rosanna, was born in Canmore and learned to ski on the same trails where she later won a World Cup medal. She is one of Canada’s most influential athletes, having founded an empowerment through sport program to keep girls in sport through their teenage years.

In 2006, Chandra won the hearts of people around the world for her passionate singing of the national anthem from atop the podium at the 2006 Torino Olympics. But she didn’t stop winning hearts then; she won the heart of her husband (or perhaps more accurately, he won her heart) when she tested his “date-ability” by taking him down Delirium Dive, Sunshine Village’s most challenging off-piste terrain.

While dreaming of standing on top of a podium and singing the nation’s anthem is as close as most of us will ever get to becoming an Olympic Champion, you can rest assured that you don’t have to be an Olympian to train like one. And the best part is, you don’t have to limit the post-recovery pints for calorie counting if you don’t want to.

Train like an Alpine Skier:

Wake up early to beat the crowds at the ski hill and work on your speed as you race down freshly groomed runs. If you are in Lake Louise, ski the same courses used by Downhill and Super-G athletes during the Audi FIS Ski World Cup; the faint blue lines marking the course are visible long after the world’s best are racing elsewhere. Grandi recommends the runs off the Summit Platter on the front side of Lake Louise where there is steep, fall line skiing—it’s a showoff run, and “when it’s good, it’s super fun.”

After skiing, make sure that you replenish expended calories with food that fills you up, because you’re going to have to hit the gym later in the afternoon to work on strength and balance. Then, get a massage. Sage advice from recovery guru, Jodi Perras, explains the benefits of massage here.

–> Want to read about ski hills in the area? Check out our Ski Guide

Train like a Cross Country Skier:

Credit: John Gibson











When it comes to cross country skiing, technique work is essential. Chandra recommends that you book a ski lesson with a certified instructor from Trail Sports so that you feel as comfortable as possible on your skis.

After your lesson, head out on the ski trails at the Canmore Nordic Centre and ski to the Chandra Crawford Hut where you can eat your packed lunch in a warm space. The Bagel Co. can make you a hearty lunch for ski days, and Beamer’s Coffee (120, 737 – 7th Ave, Canmore) makes muffins large enough to feed an entire family.

Train like a Biathlete:

Credit: John Gibson








Europeans love watching biathlon in the same way that Canadians love watching hockey. Train for adoring fans by getting a lesson on the shooting range with Try Biathlon before you put in time on your skis. Want to get some practice at home? Try doing 30 pushups as fast as you can before you successfully thread a needle five times in a row. Controlling your heart rate and breathing is something you will put into practice on the range.

Make sure that you punctuate your workouts with coffee. Biathletes have an affinity for good brew (it’s the perfect pre-workout beverage) and you’re likely to rub shoulders with a few of Canada’s best in one of the local coffee shops.

Train for Curling:

We didn’t interview any Olympic curlers, but that doesn’t mean you can’t rent a sheet of ice at the Fenlands Rec Centre  or at the Canmore Golf & Curling Club, and train to win. In Jasper, Pyramid Lake Resort clears the ice on the lake so you can practice curling in the most Canadian way possible: with logs. See our other suggestions for Pyramid Lake activities on p xxx.

Reward yourself with a good meal or drink post-workout. The new Folding Mountain Brewing can replenish your calories in liquid form and with solid fare from their kitchen. If you’re in the mood for seafood, make sure to visit Fiddle River to fuel up on healthy Omega-fats from fish.

However you choose to ring in the new Olympic cycle, be it by your own athleticism or by raising a glass to your favourite athletes, do it with pride and cheer. Dust off your party shoes and give Hidy and Howdy (the Calgary ’88 mascots) a run for their square dancing money as you celebrate the excitement of PyeongChang.

Author: Nicky Pacas

Fire + Ice

By Calli Naish

Each year as the larch trees yellow and summer fades to fall, we wait in patient anticipation for the temperature to dip below zero so that we can warm up by an open hearth. In honour of this tradition, here are some suggestions for this winter’s hottest ice activities and coolest fireplaces.

Embrace The Ice

Climb it. When asked, “what is ice climbing?” Kris Irwin, owner and lead guide of Rockies Ice and Alpine Specialists, gives a slight chuckle before providing the obvious answer: “The act of climbing frozen water with ice axes and crampons.” But this is just the beginning of his insights on the “low impact, high intensity” sport many people are eager to try. The fact that outfitters offer ice climbing instruction (complete with equipment) for beginners and experts alike is one of many reasons Irwin sees so much interest in the sport. People often come to the Rockies for the intensity associated with skiing, but not everyone is able to ski. The nature of ice climbing offers the heights and exhilaration visitors are searching for, without the same stress on the joints. With the age of climbers ranging from eight to eighty, it is a sport that most anyone can try. And unlike skiing, where your lift pass determines your location, climbing will have you following a guide to the best spot for the day. When temperatures are severe, south-facing falls at lower elevations make for a warmer experience; north-facing climbs at higher elevations are perfect for days when we find ourselves welcoming a warm Chinook wind. Other great outfitters offering ice-climbing instruction by experienced guides include Yamnuska Mountain Adventures and Rockaboo Mountain Adventures.

Photo courtesy of Kris Irwin Collection

Layer you can’t live without:

For ice climbing, Irwin suggests a seriously insulated coat with a hood as a must have.

Walk it. If heights seem daunting, appreciate the icy topography of the mountains (and the brave climbers who tackle them) with both feet planted firmly on flat ground. While many people come to the mountains for adventure, we can’t really blame others who visit simply for the landscape. The Canadian Rockies offer unparalleled visuals with snow-covered trees, winter wildlife, endless views, and of course, impressive ice formations. From that first glimpse of ice on Cascade Mountain to the awe you feel looking over Athabasca Falls, the towering masses of ice are fascinating whether you find them around Banff  or Jasper. Get up close and personal during an ice walk. Admire natural ice sculptures from the steel catwalks of Johnston Canyon, search the icy rock walls of Grotto Canyon for native pictographs, and discover the secret behind Medicine Lake’s disappearing act at Maligne Canyon. Though you can explore these canyons on your own, a guided tour will provide you with ice cleats (an ice walk essential) and a guide to offer insights on the area. Discover Banff Tours, White Mountain Adventures, Banff Jasper Collection by Pursuit, and Maligne Adventures provide guided tours.

Photo courtesy of maligneadventures.com

Layers you can’t live without:

For ice walks, dress for a day of skiing complete with snow pants. The guides at Maligne Adventures insist you don’t forget your gloves because the “look, but don’t touch” rule doesn’t apply to ice.

Fish it. If your understanding of ice fishing involves a solitary man shivering over a hole in the ice, then you might be stuck in the past. The sport has evolved to be a social event that is fun for all ages. With heated huts, it might be icy, but it’s not freezing. Head out with Banff Fishing Unlimited onto the beautiful frozen Spray Lakes surrounded by towering mountains. Take a moment to appreciate the serenity before crawling into your fishing hut with a couple of friends. Spend the morning immersed in conversation, and by the afternoon, you’ll be feasting on your fresh catch. Those looking to head into the parks and surrounding areas with their own gear can visit local information centres in Banff or Jasper  to find details on fishing permits and where to get their hooks under the ice.

Layer you can’t live without:

For ice fishing, no one should head out without a toque; however, this item is so essential to Canadian winter warmth that it should probably never leave your head.

Skate on it. Against the backdrop of the towering Victoria Glacier, join together in cold camaraderie on Lake Louise where hockey enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels can lace up their skates and get their sticks on the ice. If you want to join in without a puck, don’t worry: there is plenty of room on what has been considered the “World’s Best Skating Rink.” While it’s certainly the most impressive rink in the mountains, it’s not the only one. In fact, you could probably plan a whole trip skating the natural rinks of the Rockies making your way from The Pond in Canmore, all the way up to Lac Beauvert and Pyramid Lake in Jasper.

Photo by Jake Dyson

Layer you can’t live without:

For ice skating, skates are kind of a must. If you don’t have your own you can rent a pair in Banff or Jasper. Be sure to rent a helmet for the smaller skater-tots out there.

Find Your Fireside

Indulge in a meal that will warm you from the inside out. Boasting menu items like Alberta game meatloaf and a full roast chicken dinner, the floor-to-ceiling stonework of the hearth may not be the most impressive thing at The Iron Goat in Canmore.

Photo courtesy of The Iron Goat

Charcuter-eat at Canmore’s Table Food + Drink, where you can melt into the sofas on the lounge side of their double-sided fireplace. Order big knowing that the extra calories are helping you add a layer of warmth for your next day out on the ice.

One-up the candlelit dinner and curl up close to someone you love for a romantic fireside evening. After dinner at their heritage dining room, find quiet intimacy by spending the night in a cabin at Emerald Lake Lodge west of Lake Louise. The tranquility and seclusion of the area offer a winter getaway and the welcome hug of a comfortable armchair.

Photo of Emerald Lake Lodge by Kendal & Kevin Photography

Heat up on skates at Baker Creek Mountain Resort between Banff and Lake Louise. If there was an award for the most fire, they’d win. With two fireplaces inside their bistro and three fire pits outside, you’ll be begging to go out in the icy cold. Thankfully, they’ve obliged with a free skating rink (and rentals on-site) to enjoy before you head in for dinner.

Relax by the fire in style after an icy day in Jasper. Take in the views from the Skyline Lounge at the Lobstick Lodge or head to the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge and settle in with a local brew in the lakeside Emerald Lounge.

Start your day when the sun goes down and have your fire on the rocks where the only thing hotter than the fireplace is the cocktail menu. Though Park Distillery is located on busy Banff Ave, once you walk upstairs you’ll find yourself transported to a back-country cabin. The drink menu is nearly endless and it features concoctions shaken with Park’s own spirits, making it an ideal place for a fiery sip. 

Wherever you choose to take off your toque, you’ll find that cozying up to an open fire is the best way to recount the icy adventures of the day.

Building 93 North

By: Nicky Pacas

Think of the coolest thing you’ve ever made. Maybe it’s the Christmas decoration you crafted in kindergarten that your mom still hangs on the tree. Maybe you’ve brewed some drinkable beer out of containers stored in your basement. Maybe you built a shelf that from afar, doesn’t look too crooked.

Yeah, your cool creations are pretty legit. But your cool creations are nowhere near as cool as what Max Flowerday and Sam McEwen are making.

Sam McEwen (L) and Max Flowerday (R) at their shop in Canmore, AB. Photo: Mikey Stevenson

Building 93 North

Highway 93 North is one of the most scenic highways in the world. It navigates through two national parks and connects Lake Louise with Jasper. It’s as infamous for its breathtaking views as it is for suboptimal driving conditions in the winter. It took 600 men ten years to build the road (most of it was completed by horse and hand because there was only one tractor per crew). And since its completion in 1940, the highway, also known as the Icefields Parkway, has been a hotspot for sightseeing, wildlife encounters, and as the starting point for some of the best mountain adventures the Canadian Rockies offer.

It’s also the inspiration for the name of Flowerday’s and McEwen’s burgeoning business, 93 North Skis.

Operating out of a small shop in Canmore, AB, Flowerday and McEwen are handcrafting skis. Both are mechanical engineering graduates from Queen’s University with backgrounds in ski racing. To say they’re still passionate about skiing would be an understatement.

The seed for 93 North Skis was planted when Flowerday and McEwen would go backcountry skiing together: conversations on the up-track about what makes a good ski became the catalyst to McEwen’s research on actually building skis. Then, as Flowerday puts it, “we met for a beer and we made a list of everything that we would need [to make our own skis].” A partnership was built.

Constructing skis initially began as a hobby. Working together in the evenings and on weekends, the pair would develop plans for building skis; they’d talk about it, and then they’d do some work. But, like with most hobbies, work and life would take over and the project would get dropped for a little while before its seductive charm would woo them back into production.

In July 2015, the first prototype was made and they tested it on glaciers before refining and reworking their ideas into other prototypes. Cut to a year later, and McEwen and Flowerday made the executive decision to leave their engineering jobs to pursue ski production fulltime. Originally, they planned to work in Calgary, but after considering the best fit for their business, a serendipitous opening of a shop space in Canmore pulled them westward. In September 2016, the team behind 93 North Skis had moved to Canmore, and by December, the products they made as hobbyists were transforming into something professional.

With the transformation from hobby to profession now complete, Flowerday and McEwen are building some seriously good skis. The Andromeda and Andromeda 166 are versatile skis designed for the variable conditions of the Rocky Mountains. Primarily off-piste skis with the capability to hold an edge on-piste, the Andromedas handle ice, wind-swept slopes, and powder—they’re durable, but they perform well. In other words, you can have your Andromeda cake and eat it, too.

It’s not by chance that the skis work so well in the Rocky Mountains; Flowerday and McEwen tested different materials in their prototypes and ultimately decided on constructing a ski with a maple core. The maple is durable, but lively. It is a consistent wood with minimal defects and a dense grain structure that ensures strong binding retention. The p-tex used as the sidewall material was specifically chosen because of its performance in cold weather (ABS plastic gets brittle in the cold), and poplar has been added to complement the maple. And though it doesn’t take 600 men 10 years to complete a pair of 93 North skis, it does take Flowerday and McEwen about ten man-hours to handcraft each set.

Sam McEwen and Max Flowerday working on a pair of skis.
Photo: Mikey Stevenson

Max Flowerday at work on a pair of 93 North skis.
Photo: Mikey Stevenson

The thoughtfulness in the construction and design of the Andromedas isn’t something you can easily see (it is something you can feel). But if you had to look for something indicative of precision and expertise, look no further than the artwork on the skis. Local artist Emily Beaudoin (@emily.beaudoin) was chosen by McEwen and Flowerday to create the top sheet designs for the Andromeda and the Andromeda 166. Her precise line drawings and integrated watercolours are a callback to artwork from a contemporary world of minimalist designs. Even if you’re not a skier, you could take a pair of skis home just to hang on the wall.

A pair of 93 North skis with art by Emily Beaudoin. Photo: Mikey Stevenson

Working with Beaudoin is only one of the ways that 93 North Skis is keeping things local. By establishing relationships with local guides and athletes, McEwen and Flowerday have set themselves up to be in Canmore long term. And like most locals, they’re super friendly and want you to pay a visit to their shop; they’ll show you their process and let you know how you can demo a pair of skis. You can even sign up for one of their ski workshops and build your own set of skis (just watch your cool factor increase when you replace your shoddy shelf with some sweet boards).

Visit 93NorthSkis.com to get in touch with Flowerday and McEwen or to read more about their hand crafted skis. You can also visit one (or all) of the retailers selling 93 North skis so that you can take advantage of the winter that has finally graced us with its presence.

93 North Retailers:

Ski West in Calgary
Vertical Addiction in Canmore
Pure Outdoors in Jasper
Soul Ski and Bike in Banff
Ernie’s Sports Experts in Grand Prairie

The photos in this story were taken by Mikey Stevenson. To see more of his photography, visit his website here.

Take a look at the Canadian Rockies

Our first ever magazine cover contest was a smashing success! We received an incredible 239 submissions from 29 photographers. After we chose our cover (and our Last Look on the final page by Bryce Brown –see below), we reached out to everyone who submitted to the contest and asked if they would allow us to showcase some of their work. Read on to see a few of our favourite entries and you’ll understand just how hard our selection for the cover photo really was!

Bryce Brown



Kahli Hindmarsh




Pam Jenks



Elnaz Mansouri




Leslie Price




Brad Orr



Tyler Parker


Kyla Black




Mike Hopkins





Of course this list only scratches the surface of the work of these photographers and all of the incredible photography here in the Canadian Rockies. If you are dying to see more mountains, sunsets, skies and wildlife (who isn’t?) we’ve got you covered online (@whererockies)!

Thank you to everyone who submitted and keep an eye out for future contests!

Photographing Winter: an Interview with Cai Priestley

In October Where Canadian Rockies held a photo contest for our Winter magazine cover. For several weeks, we were overwhelmed by the number of quality submissions sent to us by photographers from all over the world. After much deliberation and debate, we chose Cai Priestley’s photograph of a red fox, taken on the Bow Valley Parkway, as our winner. The fox captured our attention because we couldn’t help but think it was looking right at us, demanding that it become our selection (we hope you feel the same way)!

Cai’s skills as a photographer extend well-beyond the fiery fox in the snowy landscape; his website (www.caipriestley.co.uk) offers stunning wildlife photography from Asia, North America, Europe, and Africa—we really think you should buy one of his calendars (!)

We wanted to know more about Cai, and he took the time to answer our questions about his bucket list, his training as a photographer, and the craziest thing he’s ever experienced while out photographing. Have a read below to learn more about the man behind the Winter 2017/18 cover:

WHERE ROCKIES: You are from Wales, but you specialize in Canadian wildlife photography; what brought you to Canada?

CAI PRIESTLEY: Back in 2008 I decided to do some traveling, with the intention of finding and photographing some wildlife along the way. I spent a couple of months in Africa and then came to Canada to meet some friends who were living in Banff.

My plan was to keep traveling around Canada for six months, but after seeing the mountains and some local wildlife, I decided to stay in Bow Valley for as long as I could. I’ve run out of work visas now, but I was able to live and work in Banff for five of the last ten years, and I hope to call it home again someday soon.

WR: You capture what seem to be really intimate moments with animals (a bear cub looking back at you while walking with her mom and siblings, the peek from a pine marten, the fox…!); how are you able to capture them so perfectly?

CP: I put in a lot of time looking for wildlife. I try to get out as often as I can, and by doing so, I’m always increasing my chances of having an incredible encounter with something really cool. When it comes to capturing an image that I’m happy with, it’s a whole other story. It’s not always glorious wildlife and great photos. There are a lot more failed attempts and missed opportunities.

WR: Were you formally trained in photography or are you mostly self-taught?

CP: I’m mostly self-taught, but I did do a short photography course as part of my art foundation in college. That was mainly working in the darkroom learning film processing and developing though. I’ve also had some great mentors along the way who have taught me lots, especially since arriving in Canada. John Marriott and Peter Dettling were both instrumental in helping me learn the ropes when it came to Canadian wildlife.

WR: On your website, you note that you came home because you’d reached the end of your working visa; do you want to come back to the Canadian Rockies anytime soon?

CP: I’d love to make the Rockies my permanent home someday, but in the meantime I’m visiting for a couple of months every year. It’s not ideal, but it’s the best I can do at the moment until I’m in a better position to be able to move back for good.

WR: Is there anything that you haven’t captured on camera that still remains on your bucket list?

CP: The holy grail of Canadian wildlife for me would be a wolverine, a cougar or a fisher. I’ve spent a lot of time looking for wolverine but the chances of ever seeing one let alone photographing one, are incredibly small.

WR: How do you describe your photography style?

CP: I’ve never really pinned down a particular style as far as I can tell. I like shooting very wide scenes that show a subject in its environment or habitat, but I equally like a nice intimate portrait where fur or feather detail can be easily seen.

WR: Where is your favourite non-Canadian place to shoot?

CP: I love photographing on home soil here in Wales, but most of my photography is done abroad these days. I visited Alaska very briefly a few years ago and it’s somewhere I’d love to return to someday.

WR: In a landscape with sublime mountains (the Rockies), why animal photographs?

CP: I love the mountains, and I can’t say no to a good sunrise or sunset, but I’ve been obsessed with wildlife from a very young age, so wild animals will always take priority over landscape images for me. Every time I stop to shoot a sunrise, I can’t help but thinking there could be a pack of wolves waiting patiently for me in a meadow somewhere, and that’s all it takes for me to turn my back on the scene and keep searching.

WR: Can you tell me about some of your Rocky Mountain Favourites (best places to dine, visit, etc.)?

CP: I used to be a huge Barpa Bill’s fan, and I still recommend it to anyone looking for the best burger in town, but since turning vegetarian my favourite dining experience has got to be Nourish.
When it comes to my favourite places to visit or spend time at in Banff, I’d have to say the Cave and Basin or the Banff Springs Golf Course. Both places are seriously beautiful and great for a stroll close to town.

WR: What is the craziest thing that’s happened to you while photographing?

CP: Luckily I’ve not had many crazy moments when I’m out taking photos. I try my best not to put myself in those situations, or in scenarios that could potentially turn ‘crazy’. Sometimes though, things happen that are unforeseen, and there’s been a couple of times where things could have turned sour.
One that comes to mind was not long after I moved to Canada, and I got fairly close to a cow moose in a meadow in Kananaskis. I had made quite a long silent approach towards her, and I was fully visible so that I didn’t spook her. She was comfortable enough with me to carry on doing what she was doing, as I’d shown her that I wasn’t a threat.

What I hadn’t seen though, was the big bull moose that had emerged from the trees behind me and was making his way towards her. I got quite a shock when I eventually heard him thrashing his antlers in the willows just a few yards away. My exit was now blocked, and I had a river to my right that was way too deep and fast flowing to try and cross, especially with my tripod and camera. What ensued was a very intense twenty minutes where I stood still right in between the cow and bull, as the bull slowly closed the gap with his approach. Luckily, I didn’t have to get wet to make my escape in the end, as the cow decided to walk off in a different direction, which drew the bull away from my exit. As soon as I had enough room, I snuck out of there with a huge sigh of relief, and let him continue his advances alone.

Do yourself a favour and follow Cai on social media, @caipriestleyphotography + Cai Priestley Photography, you’ll be happy that you did.

The Winter 2017/18 issue of Where Canadian Rockies can be read here: http://rmvpublications.com/whererockiesdigital/

The Winter Issue of Where Canadian Rockies, featuring the photography of Cai Priestley


Sacred Bears

A conversation with artist Colleen Campbell about her show, Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bears: Each One is Sacred, on now at the Whyte Museum

By: Nicky Pacas

When you think of the Canadian Rockies’ wilderness, what do you think of?

For many, the black and grizzly bear populations are the most iconographic representations of wilderness, and their majesty (not to mention the potential to snap a picture of one) is what draws visitors from around the world into Banff National Park each year.

While our desire to see a bear in the wild is strong, is our understanding of bears in the wilderness equally as strong? Are bears honey-hungry like Winnie-the-Pooh? Or are they terrifyingly territorial like the grizzly bear in The Revenant? What is our relationship to bears?

In 1994, an independent research group based at the University of Calgary began a ten year study called the Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bear Project (ESGBP), where the “fundamental aim…was to contribute science-based understanding regarding the influences that people were having on the grizzly bear population” in an area known as the Canadian Rockies Ecosystem of Alberta and British Columbia. It was a comprehensive study, and at the time, was likely the most comprehensive study ever done on grizzly bears.

Fifteen years after the completion of the project, artist Colleen Campbell, who worked as a volunteer wildlife field researcher on the ESGBP, has put together a show titled “Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bears: Each One is Sacred,” which is on display at the Whyte Museum in Banff until January 28th, 2018. Completed with graphite, ink, and watercolour, the artwork visually and textually presents some of the findings from the ESGBP. I sat down with Colleen to ask her about exhibit:

NP/ Tell me about how your project began.

CC/ It initially began as writing—where do bears come from? Really and truly. I was in Victoria four or five years ago with just a sketchbook. I was stripped down with no distractions and could just be inside my own head. I was thinking about how I could show all the lives of the bears that we handled during the Eastern Slopes project and how individual each life is. How none of them [the bears’ lives] played out the same way.

30 pages later, I’d mapped out each life and a way of showing them visually [this is what evolved to become the show at the Whyte Museum]

NP/ What did you learn during the ESGBP?

CC/ That female bears have zones in which they aggregate with a higher density than predicted. The habitat of steep valleys and short seasons creates an overlap between females using the same region, and sometimes, bears unrelated to each other will become socially involved with each other. They trust each other with their young—two females can better protect five young than one female protecting two or three cubs.

NP/ What do you hope your exhibit shows?

CC/ The research from the ESGBP is now in the public domain, and even though the study yielded tons of information, the information in the final report is not expressed in a way that people can really absorb the impact of it. The final report doesn’t show how individual bears are.

If you read a piece of writing that says, ‘30 of 86 bears died from some form of human impact,’ that means one thing. But if you can see it on a wall and you see that a third of bears monitored during the study died because of humans, the visual becomes, in some way, more impactful.

For me, to draw the lives of the bears and to display them on a wall helps to demonstrate their individuality. We denigrate other species by generalizing their natural history. We’ve reduced them all to a little formula and we quantify them. We’ve done it to every other species but ourselves. I wanted people to realize that every bear is as individual as every human being we know.

This conversation has been edited and condensed.
To learn more about the individuality of bears and to see Colleen Campbells stunning artwork in person, visit the Whyte Museum where the show is on display until January 28th.

“Eastern Slopes Grizzly Bears: Each One is Sacred.” Credit DL Cameron for the Whyte Museum

Credit: DL Cameron for the Whyte Museum










Ready to Play

In the spring of 2018, five years after the flood, the rebuilt Kananaskis Country Golf Course will be once again open to the public.

By: Jack Newton

Recently I visited an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in four years. Even though she had been under the weather and had endured a long road to recovery, she looked great and gave me a warm welcome.

My friendship with the Kananaskis Golf Course began at her public debut in 1983. Like most Alberta golfers, I was captivated by the mountain beauty that architect Robert Trent Jones famously called “the best natural setting I’ve ever been given to work with.” After depleting my mulligans and duffing yet another drive, her clear Kananaskis River waters and steadfast Mt Kid views would soothe my high handicap soul.

In June 2013, the Kananaskis Golf Course fell victim to the floods that ravaged southern Alberta. Trees were uprooted, pathways were ripped apart, and fairways were buried under tons of mud. Although the destructive side of Mother Nature was fully revealed, no one guessed that it would take four long years and $18 million dollars before golfers would again ply these Rocky Mountain links.

The picturesque Kananaskis River in September 2018 bears little resemblance to the ranging torrent that destroyed the Kananaskis Country Golf Golf Course during the June 2103 flood.

I was amongst the first to return. As an invitee at the September 19, 2017 Sneak-a-Peek media event, I was privileged to play the Kananaskis Golf Course eight months before its public reopening scheduled for May 2018.

During their pre-game presentation, course general manger, Darren Robinson, and head of golf, Bob Paley, spoke from the heart. “We want this place to again to offer decompression, connection for friends and family, and engagement with nature,” they said. “To have people ride into this golf course in a vehicle other than a dump truck is pretty special. It’s really good to get some hugs.”

Out on the course, the crisp air, sun-bathed peaks, and camaraderie of my fellow golfers (plus a hot turkey sandwich from the new Mount Lorette Snack Shack) contributed to the enjoyment of the day. But most impressive was the course itself.

Calgary golf course architect, Gary Browning, and a legion of landscape contractors were tasked with the rebuild. “They are artists,” Robinson had enthused during his presentation, “the skill set employed to restore this course is humbling.”

During construction, Browning and course operator, Kan-Alta Golf Management, conspired to make a good thing better. “We had a fresh start,” noted Robinson, “so we went hole-by-hole to see what could be improved.”

Championship golf courses of the 1980s such as Kananaskis were built to challenge. “The tougher the better,” suggested Paley at the presentation. But by 2017 the paradigm had shifted; today the objective is to make courses more playable. Indeed, recreational golfers like me want to a play their round in less time, and we’re no longer eager to be beaten up in the process.

So now, the new Kananaskis Golf Course features two extra forward tees. Golfers can choose from six tee box options and play a round from 3800 to 7250 yards. During our game we drove from the third box, positions that were called ‘ladies’ tees’ in less politically correct times.

Fairway bunkers that previously consumed balls of less-skilled practitioners were eliminated or reduced in size. Plus, popular nineteenth hole facilities have been rebuilt so that they are bigger and better. Snack shacks are more elaborate, and the clubhouse patio is twice its former size.

Photo Credit: Steve Baylin

Despite all the money spent and the improvements made, I found the new Kananaskis Golf Course to look and play pretty much as I remember. This is a good thing. The fabulous Robert Trent Jones layout that won so many awards and endeared itself to so many golfers remains intact.

Since the pace of play was faster and I was more easily able to avoid hazards, I concede that my old friend has mellowed a bit with age. But she’s still an enticing beauty with charms to draw me back to her presence.

If You Plan to Play:

-Kananaskis Country Golf Course is taking corporate group bookings now. Call 1-403-591-7070.
-Individuals will be able to book tee times for the 2018 season in March. Call 1-403-591-7070 or visit kananaskisgolf.com.
-The Mount Lorrette course was fully restored by Fall 2017; its 18 holes will be ready to play in May 2018. Nine holes of the Mount Kidd course will open soon after, and by July 2018 all 36 holes will be hosting golfers.

Photo Cred: Steve Baylin

My golfing partners at the September 19, 2017 Sneak a Peek media event were Impact Magazine editor Chris Welner, Calgary Herald columnist David Parker and CBC Radio Homestretch host Doug Dirks. All three are better golfers than me.



Take a Hike!

Today is the last day of summer, but the smell of pumpkin spice has been creeping into the Canadian Rockies for at least a week as the temperatures have been steadily dropping. As sad as we are to bid another summer farewell, we are equally excited to usher in a colourful fall filled with new adventures and hiking. If you are visiting the Canadian Rockies for the first time, you are in for a treat: it’s larch season! Because we want you to make the most of your visit, we’ve turned to expert hiker, Marie-Eve Bilodeau (the Mini Mule), to give us some of the best larch hikes in the Canadian Rockies.

If you are in the Lake Louise area, Marie-Eve recommends Larch Valley, the Tea House at Lake Louise, and Saddleback-Fairview Mountain. Should your visit have you in and around Banff, try exploring Taylor Lake or Healy Pass. Finally, if you are on your way to the Rockies from Calgary, consider stopping at Chester Lake/Chester Creek for a mid-drive hike.

We recommend that you visit Marie-Eve’s website for information on the hikes (and to get some ideas for other fantastic hikes in the Rockies).

Some the of scenery on the way to Chester Lake.
Photo Credit: Marie-Eve Bilodeau

For trail conditions, closures, and warnings, visit:

Kananaskis Trail Reports

Banff National Park Trail Report

Jasper National Park Trail Report

Yoho National Park Trail Report

Kootney National Park Trail Report

-Happy hiking!

Canmore’s Summer Shopping List

By Keili Bartlett and Kaitlyn Forde

Venture into Canmore’s shops to see what the locals get up to when they’re not on alpine adventures. Creations of all kinds are inspired and made here.

Custom Made

Rudi Peet Canmore Jewellery

Where Canadian Rockies staff love the flowing, nature inspired shapes of Rudi Peet jewellery. Artist Alex Mukai Jr and publisher Jack Newton both commissioned Peet to design and handcraft their wives’ engagement rings, while associate publisher Glenn Miles purchased a Swiss watch for his wife. All three bring jewellery to Peet for quality repairs. “I trust him completely,” says Mukai.

Cherry on Top

Canary Frozen Yogurt Canmore

We’ve got the scoop on the best fro-yo in town. Canary Frozen Yogurt and Coffee’s cool, creamy creations start with homemade frozen yogurt or dairy-free sorbet. Choose from eight flavours, then add your favourite fresh fruit, candy and nut toppings. Indulge in a sugar high or a healthy-ish treat; the choice is yours!

DIY Souvenir

Canmore Quilt Sugar Pine

Do more than purchase a souvenir. Create your own! Sugar Pine Co Quilting and Knitting Shop Rockies-inspired quilting kits with unique and eclectic patterns of wildlife and mountains attract tourists of all ages. More of a knitter? Stop by Yarn and Co. for high-quality Canadian wool as well as classes for all levels. Check back in September 30 to October 1 for the Mountain Cabin Quilters Guild Show to see more than 100 quilts (some for sale!).

Sugar Pine Canmore Quilt Show

>> For more Canadian Rockies activities, shops, restaurants and entertainment, read our digital magazine.

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