It is great when we stay somewhere that we had randomly chosen and end up loving it. Perhaps it was chosen because it was cheap, en route elsewhere or we just stuck a pin in the map but for whatever reason Canmore has ended up being a true gem in the Canadian Rockies. And who are the Three Sisters you are wondering? Well the three peaks in the centre of the title photo are know as the Three Sisters. The original name was the Three Nuns because when they are shrouded in snow the grey and while contrast makes them look a bit like the heads of three nuns in their veils.
More on Canmore
The town is just outside the southern boundary of Banff National Park and the majority of people head straight past the turn off, which I suppose we would have done if we hadn’t booked an Airbnb here. Jon touched on a few of Canmore’s highlights, naturally prioritising the awesome Grizzly Paw Brewery, but here are a few more bits and bobs about the place.
For starters, bet you didn’t know that Canmore in Scottish Gaelic means “Big Head” (or not so literally Great Chief). No, there is no First Nation mountain called Big Head but strangely, in 1884, the town was named after Malcolm III of Scotland whose nickname was Canmore. I think this came about because it was named by a Director of the Canadian Pacific Railway who just happened to have been born in Scotland. Still a bit of a throw-back to choose the nickname of an 11th century King.
To keep the Scottish theme going, the local Scottish Association hold the Canmore Highland Games in September each year. We missed this by one week but it would have been interesting. They go all out on it with a pipe band, tossing various bits of wood and, my favourite, some highland dancing in kilts!
The Mines of Canmore
The town grew in size when mining for coal started in 1887 and it continued output until 1979 when the mine closed down. There are relics of the town’s coal mining past throughout the town but the largest is the Canmore Engine Bridge which used to carry trains from the mines down to the main line. Now it is just a very grand pedestrian bridge which is part of the many Bow River walking and cycling trails. As the town began to decline when the mines closed, just in the nick of time, the Winter Olympics 1988 were awarded to Calgary and Canmore hosted all the Nordic events. This put Canmore on the map and it has continued to provide a whole plethora (good word) of recreational activities since then.
Main Street Canmore
The Main Street is a mix of shops and bars. It has a really nice atmosphere and, dare I say it, a much more comfortable feel that it’s neighbour, Banff. Jon headed off to the barbers while I mooched around the second hand book shop and tea shop. There are a couple of the original wooden buildings dotted along main street which give it that historic feel. Just to add to the mix there is also a pimped up Routemaster bus selling mexican food and a traditionally yellow school bus selling ice creams. Main street has it all going on.
I think we both agree though that the best thing about Canmore is when you lift you eyes upward and see the surrounding mountains. They seem to look different each day depending on how the light catches them, where the clouds are and what angle we are looking from. We can never get enough of the views, especially when the river is in the foreground.
Onward to Calgary
After 10 days of walks and views to die for, we had a booking with the Brewsters bus to head back down the Trans Canada Highway to Calgary. After dropping off a few passengers at the airport it was a seamless journey from Downtown Calgary by local bus to our new Airbnb in Winston Heights. This time we have a lovely self contained unit at the rear of the main house – bit like a very luxurious shed at the end of their garden. Not complaining though it is fitted out beautifully and has everything we need. Although there does seem to be a man with some sort of facial hair occupying the armchair! (Comments please!)
23.8 – 28.8.2016