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Best of the Backcountry: Mount Engadine Lodge

The last time I stayed at Mount Engadine Lodge, I was 16 years old and my dad was turning 50. I’d spent years within the same proximity of the Lodge, skiing and training on the Mt. Shark cross-country trail system a few kilometers up the road, but I never had the opportunity to stop in and see the space. During the celebration of my dad’s birthday (to which my parents had invited several close friends), I seem to recall everyone having a really good time. What I remember of my personal time at the Lodge as an unimpressionable 16-year-old is that I slid the family SUV into a snow bank after finally being granted the rights to a learner’s driving permit.

Looking to replace my shameful memory of bad driving, I found myself back at Mount Engadine, 16 years later, 16 years wiser, and ready to create new (but no less impactful) memories.

Everything about Mount Engadine Lodge is welcoming, even the signs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mount Engadine Lodge is located at the bases of Mt. Engadine and Mt. Shark in Spray Lakes Provincial Park. Easily accessible from Calgary and Canmore, and operated by Castleavery Hospitality Ventures Inc., the Lodge is a backcountry dream. It’s a space that reminds me of a deep backcountry lodge: there is no cell phone reception; there are no televisions; and meals are served so that everyone sits together at one big table, family-style. It’s a space that begs you to slow down and to enjoy being. Because of its location in the Provincial Park –one away from major highway traffic and light pollution— Mount Engadine Lodge is a good reminder of what silence sounds like; it’s a rare type of quiet that makes me appreciate being disconnected from my phone and email.

If you *have* to connect to wifi, it is available in public areas. Connecting with the fireplace is a lot more rewarding, though.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unlike a deep backcountry lodge, however, Mount Engadine is open all year and you can access it by car whenever you want. It doesn’t take a helicopter ride or an elaborate five-hour ski to get there. So if you want to bring your luxury bathrobe and a change of clothing for every possible weather event, go ahead and do it.

 

Even when the weather is frightful, the deck at Engadine is delightful. You can also see some of the guest cabins near the main lodge. Photo credit: Sebastian Buzzalino

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you never left your room at Mount Engadine Lodge, no one would blame you (especially because the rooms come with locally-made soap from the Rocky Mountain Soap Company). Photo credit: Sebastian Buzzalino

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like most backcountry lodges, the experience at Engadine is intimate. Accommodating a maximum of nineteen guests each night, the all-inclusive style of the Lodge encourages guests and staff to connect through conversation during meals, which often leads to conversations between meals, too. What begins as small talk about the day’s adventures among guests quickly evolves into praise for Chef Mandy Leighton’s three-course dinner (for your reference, during my stay I was treated to a plated appetizer of elk ribeye, a main course of grilled herbed chicken with mushroom and white wine risotto, and grilled broccolini, and finally earl grey crème brulée for dessert). It’s praise that comes upagain during breakfast, afternoon tea, and when you open your bagged lunch.

Brunch is made better with mimosas. Photo credit: Sebastian Buzzalino

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’re an adventurer, Mount Engadine Lodge’s location is perfect for quick access to backcountry skiing terrain, groomed cross-country ski trails, snowshoeing and fat biking trails. There are sets of snowshoes and two fat bikes designated for guest use, so if you don’t have your own equipment or if you want to dip your toes into some outdoor winter fun, the Lodge has you covered. And at the end of the day, no matter what you did (or didn’t do), you’ve earned yourself a seat in the wood-fired sauna.

Skiing in the meadow below Mount Engadine Lodge. Photo credit: Noel Rogers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perfect grooming on the Mount Shark cross-country ski trails

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mount Engadine Lodge really delivers. From the setting to the meals, and from the activities to the accommodations, the new memories that I’ve formed have successfully replaced the shadow of my 16-year-old self, and they encourage me to return to the Lodge as frequently as possible—something that I plan on doing, whether for the night or just for brunch.

For more information on Mount Engadine Lodge (including details on making reservations for Sunday brunch), click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By: Nicky Pacas

For the Love of Love! Valentine’s Day in the Canadian Rockies, Part 2

Let’s get real for a second: Valentine’s Day is so much more than one day. It takes coordination. It takes foresight. It takes the perfect card or box of chocolate curated well in advance of what is touted as the most romantic day of the year.

Remember in the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast when the Beast asks Cogsworth how he should win Belle’s love? Cogsworth tells him to do the usual things: “flowers, chocolates, promises you don’t intend to keep.”

For Valentine’s Day this year, don’t be a Cogsworth.

Last week we gave you some suggestions for how to show your love, and we’re back with a new list for you this week. The editors at Where Canadian Rockies are rooting for your Valentine’s Day success!

 

Valentine’s Week at the Creek

Maybe you love love so much that you want Valentine’s Day to last longer than one day. Maybe you don’t want to feel the pressure of demonstrating your love on February 14th and you think the 15th is more meaningful. Whatever your feelings are, think about booking a package at Baker Creek Mountain Resort in Lake Louise.

When you book a room through their “Valentine’s Week at the Creek” package, Baker Creek offers you a sweet treat upon your arrival, complimentary skate and snowshoe rentals, a fire pit reservation with an unlimited wood supply, and a fireside gourmet hot chocolate and s’more station.

The offer runs from February 14th to February 18th and starts at $150/night. There is also a special Alberta Resident Room Rate that starts at $139/night.

If you really want to impress your Valentine (or yourself, for that matter), enjoy the specially crafted tasting menu at the Baker Creek Bistro ($39 per person, plus tax and service).

For more information or to book your room, call 1-403-522-3761

Baker Creek Mountain Resort

Cozy up by the fire at Baker Creek

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love’s-a-Brewin’ at Kicking Horse

If ‘beer’ and ‘Valentine’s Day’ are synonymous for you, book a seat at the 2018 Brewmaster’s Dinner hosted in the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort on February 16th.

At 7700 feet with 360-degree alpine views, experience mountaintop dining with canapés and an appetizer from the menu that boasts Surf & Turf and Vegan Pasta for entrées and a deconstructed lemon pie for dessert. Yes, you read that right: a deconstructed lemon pie (va va voom!)

You’ll also hear from Kent Donaldson from Whitetooth Brewing, and from Paul Walker of Stanley Park Brewing. At $79 (plus tax and gratuities) per guest, celebrate Valentine’s Day (or beer) on a Friday and show your true love that Brewmasters know how to do things right.

For booking or more information, call 250-439-5553

Dine on top of the world at the Eagle’s Eye Restaurant

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eagle's Eye Restaurant at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort

Picture yourself taking in the 360-degree mountain views during the 2018 Brewmaster’s Dinner. Photo: Liam Glass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For when Two is Better than One

Mountain Wellness Day Spa in Jasper makes it impossible for you to pull a Cogsworth with their Spa Packages for Two. Choose packages that range from a couple’s massage to body exfoliations and wraps (mimosas included!) to impress your best Valentine (or Galentine).

If you really want to step things up, book a Deluxe Package for Two offered exclusively at the Chateau Jasper location. Choose a Romance, Escape, or Wellness package and soak in their tub-for-two (…bathing suits optional!). Spa Packages for Two are offered all year, so we won’t blame you if you start celebrating Valentine’s Day on a weekly basis

For information or booking, call 780-852-3252

 

There is nowhere else you need to be once you’re on the massage table at Mountain Wellness Day Spa in Jasper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Market for Love

If you are in Canmore on February 14th, book a table at the Market Bistro in Three Sisters and enjoy an evening of delicious food and live music. The three-course menu features scallops, a baked goat cheese salad, beef brisket, salmon wellington, and a lava cake.

In 2017, the chef at Market Bistro was awarded “Best Chef of the Festival” at Canmore Uncorked and we can see why. The flavours on the Valentine’s Day menu are sure to impress, and at $55 per person, Valentine’s Day can be affordable but taste expensive.

Dinner seating begins at 5 p.m. with live jazz starting around 6 p.m.

For more information and for booking, call 403-675-3006

 

My Fair Romance

All year, the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge offers a Romance Package and we think there’s no better time to take advantage of it.

Stay for two nights in a Fairmont Room and receive wine and chocolate truffles upon your arrival, a $300 credit at the Fairmont Spa, a dinner for two, and daily breakfast at the ORSO Trattoria.

Starting at $599 per night, the Jasper Park Lodge will make you feel like royalty.

For more information, click here, or call 1-866-540-4454 to book your package.

The Romance Package at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge includes a $300 credit at the Fairmont Spa

 

 

Top 5 Things to do at the Canmore Winter Carnival

Winter often gets a reputation for its harsh weather, keeping us locked indoors, and for a muted colour palette. But we think winter deserves to be celebrated! While winter weather can sometimes hurt our faces, it also lets us ski and skate and slide. We can drink hot chocolate without regret (we need it to stay warm, right?), we can cozy up to warm fires, and we can experience our mountain terrain in different ways. There’s also no better way to celebrate winter than to take part in the Canmore Winter Carnival, which runs from February 1st to the 11th. With lots going on, here are our top five things to do this year:

 

1. Opening Night!
Friday, February 2

Bring your kids and celebrate the opening reception of the Canmore Winter Carnival at the Canmore Civic Centre. From 5 p.m. – 8 p.m., grab a marshmallow and cozy up to a bonfire while you take in live performances and a DJ. A display of children’s art will also be on show.

Maple Taffy Temptations. Photo by Jvan Ommeren

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Ice Carving Competition at the Civic Centre
Saturday, February 3

The Ice Magic festival in Lake Louise is over, but the magic lives on in Canmore! Watch carvers impressively transform blocks of ice into sculptures that fit this year’s theme of Hockey. Competition begins at 9 a.m. with judging at 3:30 p.m. Is there a sculpture that you like the most? Cast your People’s Choice vote and see who wins the award at 4:30 p.m.

Joe Martin of Canmore works on his first place award winning owl ice carving at the annual Ice Carving contest in the Canmore Civic Centre at the Canmore Winter Carnival on Sunday, February 5, 2017. photo by Pam Doyle.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Snowy Owl Kid N Mutt Races
Sunday, February 4

The Canmore Nordic Centre hosts world-class competitions on a regular basis, and this event is no different! Come up and cheer on teams of kids and sled dogs as they race for glory and kibble. Races are ongoing between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.

While you’re up at the Nordic Centre, why not try a drop-in cross country ski lesson at Trail Sports? On weekends and holidays, the local shop located at the Nordic Centre hosts 1.5 hour group lessons (both skate and classic techniques are offered) for $45/person. No pre-booking is required, although you need to register by 10:30 a.m. Lessons begin at 11 a.m.

Kid N Mutt Races at the Canmore Nordic Centre. Photo by Pam Doyle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Rogers Hometown Hockey
February 10 & 11

If the good ol’ hockey game is the best game you can name, then make sure you experience a weekend-long celebration of all things community, and all things hockey! The event takes place in downtown Canmore on Main Street (8th St) and at the Canmore Civic Centre.

There will be performances by On-the-Bench and by country music star, Paul Brandt. You can also take part in family-friendly activities like the Rogers Fan Hub, the Sportsnet Virtual Photo, a McDonald’s Ball Hockey Rink featuring local Minor Hockey teams, a Playmobil Kids Zone, the Scotiabank Community Locker Room, a Dodge Stow n’ Go Challenge, a Dr. Oetker Giuseppe Pizzeria, and much more.

With community events like pancake breakfasts to fuel you up, you can be at your best for the live pre-game and NHL game broadcast between the Calgary Flames and New York Islanders, hosted by Ron MacLean and Tara Slone.

You can also catch a glimpse of hockey greats, Ryan Smyth, Brendan Morrison, and Lanny McDonald

Parking in Canmore is limited, so ROAM Transit is offering free local transit service on February 10th and 11th. For information on the transit schedule, click here.

For more information on Rogers Hometown Hockey, click here.

 

5. Log Sawing Competition
Sunday, February 11

Grab your plaid-print flannel and make your way down to the Log Sawing Competition. Between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., watch feats of Canadian athleticism as competitors aim to be the faster sawyer.

All cheering should be done in Canadian (eh! eh! eh!)

Dan Brown, left, and Clayton Williams compete in the log sawing contest as Woodpecker European Timber Framing project manager Markus Temmen supervises at the Canmore Winter Carnival on Sunday, February 5, 2017. Photo by Pam Doyle

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More information on the Canmore Winter Carnival can be found here.

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

@brycebrownimages

www.brycebrownimages.ca

Kahli Hindmarsh

@kahliaprilphoto

www.kahliaprilphoto.com

 

Pam Jenks

https://500px.com/jenksphoto

 

Elnaz Mansouri

@elnaz555

www.elnazmansouri.com

 

Leslie Price

@leslieprice1121

 

 

Brad Orr

@wbradorr

www.bradorr.ca

Tyler Parker

@tylerparkerphotography

Kyla Black

@gatheringdustphotography

www.gatheringdustphotography.com

 

Mike Hopkins

@mikehopkinsphotography

www.mikehopkinsphotography.com

 

 

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!

A Toast to Craft Beer and Local Liquor

By Keili Bartlett

Something’s brewing in the Canadian Rockies, and it’s not just the bubbling hot springs. Local businesses have tapped into the fresh (and cold!) glacier-fed waterways to produce a more alcoholic type of liquid.

Park it here. Gleaming stills and tanks are prominently positioned for all to see at Park Distillery.

Park it here. Gleaming stills and tanks are prominently positioned for all to see at Park Distillery.

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Bow Valley’s Best Après Ski Entertainment

By Naomi Witherick & Keili Bartlett

There’s nothing better than ending a perfect day on the hill with some après ski antics. Start with live music at Bow Valley ski resorts, then catch indie film screenings or hang out with the locals at themed pub nights.

Banff Entertainment

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5 Places to Discover Bow Valley Art

By Where writers

Add some culture to your Bow Valley vacation with these art galleries, exhibits and displays in Banff and Canmore.

Canmore, Banff, museums, galleries

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5 Insider Camping Tips

Sep. 9, 2016
By Naomi Witherick

Planning a camping trip in the Canadian Rockies but new to the wilderness? Take some advice from local pro Tom Coker.

Canadian Rockies camping tips

Coker appeared on Woods Canada to compete for the title of “Canada’s Greatest Explorer”. Image by Woods Canada.

The Canmore-based outdoor enthusiast and contestant on this summer’s Woods Canada knows what he’s talking about. As well as his recent appearance on the show, Coker has diploma in outdoors activities. (more…)

Top Things to Do in the Bow Valley

Aug. 30, 2016
By Where writers

The Bow Valley has tons of things to do. From hiking trails with quaint tea houses to fishing, watersports and visiting cute husky puppies there’s something of everyone.

Bow Valley Things to Do

Photo credit: Paul Zizka

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Facts & Legends: Alberta’s Ammolite Gemstone

July 4, 2016
By Jack Wennot

Ammolite gemstones are prized by tourists, First Nations and feng shui practitioners. Derived from the colourful shells of 70-million-year-old Alberta ammonite fossils, these rare gems have immense appeal to Rockies visitors.

Quality ammolite is found within the Bearpaw Formation near the St. Mary River. Although Indigenous peoples of southwestern Alberta have cherished ammonites for centuries, it was only in 1981 that ammolite was awarded official gem status by the World Jewellery Confederation.

Ammonite fossils make beautiful ammolite jewellery.

Ammonite fossils make beautiful ammolite jewellery.

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Our Canmore Shopping List

April 25, 2016
By Afton Aikens, Ashley Materi & Jen Groundwater

IMG_2863-3

Blast from the Past
Five reasons we love the original antique postcards at Sunny Raven Gallery:

  • Cultural History: Images of tent camps, Swiss guides and railway cars give a glimpse into early 1900s life in the Canadian Rockies.
  • Labour of Love: Card makers hand coloured black and white images to bring scenes to life.
  • Environmental Insight: “I’ve had scientists and biologists buy early cards that show forest cover, and benchmark glacier recession,” says gallery owner Meg Nicks.
  • Communication Trends: Messages on early 1900s cards were written in small spaces on the front; only the address went on the back.
  • Creative Presentation: Nicks sells framed and unframed cards; choose how you want to display your piece of Canadian Rockies history.

(more…)