Local News & Events

Bigfoot May Roam in Banff

Thursday 1st September 2011
by Cathy Ellis, Rocky Mountain Outlook

Bigfoot believers claim they have DNA evidence that proves the mythical half-man, half-ape-like creature has been roaming the forests of Banff and Kootenay national parks.

A group known as Sylvanic, a dedicated bigfoot research organization, say they collected hair samples and video evidence this spring of the elusive creature.

Their belief has sparked some serious interest – and the Banff area is soon to be featured in an episode of the popular Discovery Animal Channel show, Finding Bigfoot.

“I find the story interesting, and stranger things have been known to happen,” quipped Banff Mayor Karen Sorensen.

Bigfoot, also known as sasquatch, is generally believed to be a mythical ape-like creature that has been reported living in forests, mainly in the Pacific Northwest of North America.

Earlier this year, there were rumours of a sasquatch sighting near Silvertip in Canmore and there was also a sighting of bigfoot on the shores on Lake Minnewanka, which turned out to be hoax.

According to a website on Alberta sasquatch sightings, there have been about 25 sightings of the mythical creature or signs of their tracks since the mid-1980s, including a couple in Jasper National Park.

With Banff being featured on an upcoming episode of the hit television show, it’s sure to place the spotlight on Banff National Park – a boon for the local tourism industry.

“We’re always thrilled when people want to come and explore the landscape, but this is certainly a new twist to it,” said Julie Canning, president and CEO of Banff Lake Louise Tourism.

Scientists generally discount the existence of bigfoot and consider it to be a combination of folklore, misidentification, and hoax, rather than a living animal.

The main reason behind this assertion is because of the large numbers thought necessary to maintain a breeding population for the creature to be able to survive.

That said, a few scientists have expressed interest and belief in the creature, including Jane Goodall, considered one of the greatest authorities on chimps and apes.


21st Annual Canmore Highland Games

The weather this weekend this looks good. And that pleases one group in town in particular: Three Sisters Scottish Festival Society’s 21st annual Canmore Highland Games is held today, at Centennial Park.

In past years, the Games have been plagued by bad weather resulting in a less-than-desired attendance but this year organizers are hoping for a big crowd.

The dancing will be in the same spot as last year, but due to previous years’ poor weather, it has been moved into a tent for this year.

This year’s music features Tiller’s Folly — a Vancouver trio — taking on the afternoon’s entertainment; with veteran journeymen The Mudmen sure to enliven the nighttime crowd at the Games. There will be 200-plus dancers, and 15 bands at the Games.

The Games’ Sally Garen said, “Really what we try to do is to provide the best entertainment possible,”

“You don’t have to be Scottish, you don’t have to be Celtic, even though it is a celebration of the Celtic spirit.

“We like to just bring people together to enjoy all the events.”

Between 6,000 and 8,000 people are expected to filter through Centennial Park gates today.



Bow Valley Celebrates Canada Day in True Canadian Style

This year’s Canada Day celebrations ended with a bang as evidenced in Banff, above.

In Canmore itself, the festivities kicked off bright and early with a pancake breakfast in Centennial Park.

The famous Canmore Canada Day Parade itself kicked off at noon, this year following a different route f or the first time in its 30-year history so as to provide increased accessibility for more residents and visitors and overall better views to spectators.

The parade kicked off at Fairholme Drive and 15th Street, affording Bow Valley Seniors Lodge residents the opportunity to see the parade from their homes. After about one and a half hours, the parade will finished up at the corner of Main Street and Railway Avenue.

The Centennial Park festivities then continued through the afternoon, featuring music from The Calgary Stetson Show Band, Calgary Round-Up Band, Red Deer Royals, Calgary Stampede Showband, Jump Start, The Scottish School of Piping, and Calgary Police Service Pipe Band.

As ever, the festivities closed with the traditional Canada Day firework display at Millenium Park .


Fairmont Banff Springs

Golf Course Turns 100

July 28 2011
by Justin Brisbane, Rocky Mountain Outlook

Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course

The long and storied history of the Fairmont Banff Springs Golf Course has close ties to the emergence of Banff as a massive tourism destination.

From meager beginnings, it quickly became a course of note, attracting royalty and celebrities to its greens.

“It was nothing to start with and was only nine holes,” said long-time Banff golfer Eddie Hunter. “It was a pretty crumby looking course. But Bill Thomson was behind it. His energy got everything going. He created a community feeling to it, but it was meant for society types.”

However, it emerged into the crown jewel of Canadian golf and played a big role in Banff’s business community.

“It meant a lot to the business people and from the start there was a commitment for local representation,” Hunter said.

By 1910, when Parks Canada came into existence, Banff was the most famous Canadian destination in the world and Thomson was the man chosen to design its signature nine-hole golf course.

At the time, according to Banff Springs Golf Club Celebrating 100 Years author Ted Hart, Banff was still swaths of remote wilderness. Banff Avenue was a rough and unpaved trail and the Banff Springs Hotel and Cave and Basin were still burgeoning new attractions.

Thomson previously worked as a golf pro in Winnipeg before arriving in Banff, and the Scottish expatriate apprenticed under Tom Morris from St. Andrews in Scotland before coming to Canada.

Inspired by the landscape, he set out to weave the course between the valleys and glacial ponds near the grand hotel. It soon became the first golf course in the world that cost more than $1 million to build.

Opening day featured sand greens, since flooding had hampered much of the construction effort. However, on July 15, 1911, A.M. McMahon drove the first ball off the opening tee.

Initially, between 20 and 30 people a day were found on the nine-hole course and the following year the sand greens were replaced with proper turf. Thomson himself had the early course record, shooting a 32.

Donald Ross expanded the course to 18 holes and the federal government purchased the course in 1917 before it was expanded to 18 holes – thanks in part to the work of several ‘interned aliens’ forced to work at gunpoint who had been housed in internment camps near Castle Mountain. By 1917, more than 2,000 golfers per season were using the course and memberships cost $15 for the season.

In 1927, Stanley Thompson created the current layout, which pays homage to links courses while emphasizing the mountains on each hole. The influential golf course designer is credited with creating about 125 courses – 100 in Canada – and wanted “each tee to present a different picture of some vast mountain snow peak.”

The approximate pin placement still lies up with the surrounding peaks, which act as a guide for the golfer and Thompson created several holes that are still classics today.

His par 3 ‘Devil’s Cauldron’ was voted one of the best golf holes on the planet in 2000.

©2011 Great West Newspapers LP. All rights reserved.


Royals Visit Calgary


Royal Canadian Flag



In the final leg of their Canadian tour, Their Royal Highnesses Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, and Catherine, Dutchess of Cambridge, paid a visit to Alberta last week.

The Canadian tour fell on the 125th anniversary of the first royal visit to Canada, by then Prince William, later King William IV; and was the couple’s first official overseas visit as a married couple.

Their nine-day trip began in Ottowa where they attended this years Canada Day celebrations, proceeding through Quebec, Prince Edward Island and the Northwest territories before arriving in Alberta.

Arriving for their two-day stay in Calgary, they were presented with the traditional ten gallon hats in the White Hat Ceremony: the Calgary equivalent of receiving the key to the city.

The following day, they fully embraced the cowboy spirit, dressing from head to toe in cowboy clothes – including their new hats letting their hair down at the world’s biggest rodeo: the Calgary Stampede.

The Calgary Stampede had never seen anything quite like it, and the Duke and Duchess had never seen anything quite like the Calgary Stampede, as they arrived in town on a 100-year-old stagecoach with grins as wide as a bull’s horns.

In fact, the Duke was enjoying himself so much that he gave his bodyguards a moment of panic as he decided on the spur of the moment to take the reins of a chuck wagon, as well as clambering on top of a metal pen to get a closer look at a rodeo bull.

Royal Calgary Stampede 1

William made his last speech of the tour still dressed as a cowboy. “This is different,” he joked from beneath his ten gallon hat.

He paid tribute to the “Canadian family” and said he and his wife couldn’t wait to come back. He said:

“In 1939 my great grandmother Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, said of her first tour of Canada with her husband King George VI, ‘Canada made us.’ Catherine and I now know very well what she meant. Canada has far surpassed all that we were promised. Our promise to Canada is that we shall return.


“I can only say that the experience of this past seven days has exceeded all our expectations. We have been hugely struck by the diversity of this beautiful country: from Ottawa to Quebec; from Prince Edward Island to the Northwest Territories, and now the excitement of Calgary. And what about these fantastic white hats.”