Saturday, 11 June 2016

Pacific NW 6 - into Canada

Calgary. This must have been boom city after the railway arrived in the 1890s. The centre is full of substantial turn of the century banks and stores, many of fine design. It was strange to be in a city after all the quiet and small towns and empty countryside. The blue hole seemed to have caught up with us, with scorching hot weather for our stay. Just a few hundred miles north there were major forest fires, as the spring rains had failed to arrive and temperatures soared way above normal. It's a prosperous city but with many green spaces. We walked along the river through a series of linear parks, and to a 'historic' district of mostly 1910s/20s houses, then past the stadium of the Calgary stampede.
Gail joined us for this second leg of the trip. We stayed at the Fairmont, one of the original Canadian Pacific hotels built along the line to encourage tourism in the 1890s. It has grand public spaces and the rooms are recently refurbished but retaining an old school grand hotel feel. Some good restaurants too, including a modern Indian restaurant on the main drag, complete with cocktails.
But we were glad to get off into the wild again, on a great loop through the Canadian Rockies (we travelled around 2900km in all). Setting out through Calgary's sprawling modern gated suburbs and then south through an old mining area Crowsnest Pass. This valley is on such a huge scale that the ravages of the old mine workings don't make much of an impact. The towns are dying, although we managed to find an excellent ice cream shop. So to Fernie for one night.
This is a nice little town with pleasant tree-lined walks on levees beside the river – a fast mountain river with churning clear waters. After walking a while we found a very pleasant pub with a terrace to enjoy the late afternoon sun – so pleasant we ended up staying to eat there.

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