This fall, I was lucky enough to spend a couple of hours in Canmore on the drive to Golden, BC for a weekend stay. Despite being a quick stop, it left an impression and I can honestly tell you that its reputation as the gateway to the Canadian Rockies is well-deserved. Canmore is the largest mountain community in the Alberta rockies and a four-season destination in its own right. Whatever your inner outdoor enthusiast desires, you can find it here. The sheer number and variety of outdoor activities found in and around Canmore is just plain impressive. From hiking to mountain biking to horseback riding to skiing and ice climbing, you can find it all here. And the local businesses make it possible for you to show up with just your credit card, buy all your outdoor gear right there, and go on just about any adventure you desire, coming back to your pick of fantastic accommodations and stellar food selection from among local restaurants.
From what I could tell, there are two parts to Canmore: the cute-as-a-button mountain town downtown and the slightly more pedestrian greater Canmore that follows the highway and offer even more businesses, restaurants, accommodations, and services. I was dropped off downtown for a couple of hours while my partner saw to some business in the area and the time I spent in town was very enjoyable.
In its own way, Canmore reminds me a little of St. John’s, Newfoundland. Not in its aesthetics or character, per se, but in this one parallel I could draw: you can go from walking among quaint storefronts and bustling life to finding yourself in the most picturesque mountain surroundings on an epic nature walk. Nature trails run right through downtown Canmore and everywhere you look, there are mountains.
I was lured by this spectacular-looking boardwalk trail and I wasn’t the only one. People were out for bike rides, walking their dogs, and stopping to take pictures (because, honestly, you can’t not want to keep a memory of this place in photographic form). This is a well-used town and it was really lovely to see.
I crossed a couple of rivers doubling back to town and met a number of friendly people along the way. In fact, judging by the number of pleasant interactions with strangers on my fairly short walk (and I’m not one to easily strike conversations with unsuspecting strangers!), this is one of the friendliest places I have ever been to.
One man stopped to chat with me while I was snapping pictures from a bridge. The beauty of the region makes you want to share the experience and he was kind enough to tell me that if I come to that spot at 7am and look over in the direction he indicated, I could witness the most glorious sunrise over mountain peaks.
Another couple stopped to chat with me about the wild bunnies that seemed to be everywhere. The minute you stray from the main street, you will start noticing bunnies in people’s backyards. These are not wild hares. No, no. These are the cute and cuddly bunnies people keep as pets. Except they’re running around on their own, usually in small packs. They come in just about every colour and had me absolutely enchanted.
Well, as I learned from the couple that stopped to chat with me, apparently Canmore has the cutest infestation problem: bunnies. Somebody kept a pair in the backyard and they escaped, proceeding to do what bunnies do best: reproduce at an incredible rate. Now Canmore is overrun with bunnies and not everyone laughs about it. In fact, the chair of their local garden committee quit because the bunnies kept eating everything. If this is the kind of problems Canmore has, I am seriously considering packing my bags and becoming a resident!
And did I mention the relaxed attitude and the sense of humour on Canmore’s residents? From quirky decorating that doesn’t take life too seriously to community gatherings in local teashops, this is one of the most welcoming places I was lucky enough to pass through. I will happily visit again.