Since our very first trip to Canada in July 2013, Mrs K and I have been telling anyone who’d listen our dreams for a return. Finally, we are here; we’ve spent the last four months exploring the west coast and islands, saving our favourite area for when my parents could join us, and they could see what all the fuss is about.
Calgary is a young and vibrant city at the foothills of the Rockies and a good base from which to explore the world famous Banff national park and rearwards onto the prairies. So when Dr and Mrs K ‘senior’ arrived on Tuesday, we had a breathless itinerary laid out. Drives into the Rockies, gentle walks around grand lakes, day-trips into the wild prairies.
That’s all been curtailed somewhat by wildfire smoke in the neighbouring province of British Columbia blown eastwards. Wispy smoke creeps across the mountains and into the metropolis, which while not that unpleasant, diffuse any of those famous panoramic views. So we’ve done ‘city stuff’ this week.
The city of Calgary has superb museums that explain the challenging history of this region. The Calgary Fort, at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers, marks the first established settlement for Calgary. From here some of the connections were made with the first nations, and the agreements for the use of the land in this region were signed 100km away. In the Fort Museum, you can read the original treaty and make up your mind on its balance and fairness (or lack thereof).
Another great place for the young & old was the Heritage Park. It is a sprawling reproduction of ~1860s-1940s Calgary. A beautiful steam train circumnavigates the park connecting you to a paddle steamer cruise around the lake. The central village has the traditional shops for sweets, treats and oddities. A period amusement park was buzzing with children. Many of the shops are still ‘working’; you could watch the blacksmith light up his steam powered grinder to finish off a hammer head, or peer into the stables as the farrier was preparing the horses for a day in front of the carts.
After all that I’m looking forward to getting back out into the countryside.
The smoke has been dissipating slow, and so we hope to make the trip to Lake Louise tomorrow – around 8 am is my favourite time to arrive as it’s still pre-tourist-bus-drop-off-time and the sun is rising over the mountains. I do so hope it’s clear when we get there to justify the early alarm call!