In Calgary, we stayed in a modern Airbnb apartment in a ‘gentrified’ part of town which has a high number of Cantonese speakers, Ukrainians and East Indians. Indications of oil ups and downs: a ‘Halifax’ restaurant named ‘Duke and Grafton’ (two streets in downtown Halifax) and signs in the condo building urging residents to save costs.
Delighted to have a kitchen, we wandered the enormous superstore with its tanks of live fish and lobster and supersized packets of everything and went a little crazy on the shopping. Then MLH set off the smoke detector in the apartment grilling fish. I am getting good at jumping on a chair and resetting the smoke detector.
Daughter #1 was on holiday for a few days from her job at the Fairmont Lake Louise Hotel. We were thrilled to meet her boyfriend, a 6’6” Aussie. Three days later, we all had a crick in our necks from looking up to talk to him. Like a gentle giant, he took one step to our two steps when we walked. It was a logistical challenge to get all of us and our gear in the car to drive to The Rockies, and the boyfriend nearly got scalped when MLH closed the sun roof abruptly, but we were happy to have him to scare off the bears when we explored trails in Yoho National Park.
On National Aboriginal Day (Summer Solstice, June 21st) the longest day of the year, we had a dinner party for Daughter #1, her boyfriend and a school friend from Halifax and her partner who now live in Calgary. We spent a fun evening reminiscing about teenage years in Halifax and finding out how the living is for young people in Calgary. The bars are full all day of oil workers on their week off from Fort McMurray in the North, and most Atlantic Canadians stick together socially and just want to go back home.
I wouldn’t call Calgary a pretty city, but the history of its founding is interesting – control of the two rivers running through it belonged to the Hudson Bay Company for 200 years. When it gave it back to the government in 1870, whiskey dealers and debauchery moved in, so the government set up Fort Calgary with the North West Mounted Police. Then the railway came. In an area called Inglewood we visited Smithbilt, which has made Western hats for 100 years. A police officer was having his hat cleaned and re-formed while we were there. MLH bought a hat (second hand) and looks swashbuckling in it I think.
In the Rockies, Daughter #1 got us a room at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel on the highest floor and the mountain was so close we thought we could touch it. In the photo of the hotel, our room is just under the flag. They built the Banff Springs to bring tourists to the Rockies via the new railway in the early 1900s. “Since we can’t export the scenery, we’ll have to import the tourists” said Van Horne, General Manger of Canadian Pacific Railway; a shrewd business person. The tourists keep coming to Banff over 100 years later. We spent the afternoon around the pool, pretending we were 1930s socialites up from Chicago or New York. A glorious meal at a Swiss-style restaurant on the property, and then a walk by the Bow Falls to watch the sunset finished the day.
- Being so far away from the sea.
- MLH has never been at an elevation so high.
- Seeing silver birch and spruce so tall and straight, or Douglas Firs so wide.
- Stopping the car for wild mountain goats.
- Watching so many ground animals: prairie dogs, weasels, marmites, ground squirrels (no bears so far).