Frugal RVing In South States - Ebooks

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Municipality of Crowsnest Pass

The Municipality of Crowsnest Pass is a series of 5 communities in Alberta, being the last stop before crossing into BC.  As a matter of fact, a good portion of the blue collar crowd in the area are employed 20 minutes away in the nearest BC town, Sparwood.

As for their origins, they were established at the turn of the previous century, basing industry on coal mining and forestry with a CP rail line conveniently passing by.  On April 29, 1903, Frank, the middle town of the 5, experienced rather a setback in its development when the top of Turtle Mountain decided to relocate to the bottom of Turtle Mountain – which a fair portion of the developing community of Frank had chosen to occupy.  Of the 100 residents living in the shadow of Turtle Mountain, only 23 survived the relocation of said mountain, most of which were children.  See this link for the local prospective of the historic tragedy.  (This is the first of a 4 link recount of the event as experiences by real residents.)

The rubble field left by the mountain’s collapse remains as an untouched monument to the tragedy, and amazingly enough, the graffiti artist have essentially respected the will of the communities (and the law) and left them unmarked.


Frank still functions today, though the majority of it is now on the opposite side of the highway.  It consists of old and new houses, a few small businesses, and an industrial side across the highway that has a lumber yard, storage facilities, and the recycling centre for the communities and the like.

To the East of Frank are Bellevue on the North side of the highway, and Hillcrest on the South side, and unfortunately, it too sits in the shadow of Turtle Mountain. (Which the First Nations people of the area had always called the Mountain that Walked – perhaps a foreshadowing that mining in its core was ill-advised... but I digress)

It has been known for a while that it is only a matter of time before the Eastern side will shake itself loose on Hillcrest.  Therefore, no further building is being done in the “condemned “ portion of the town, and those in the existing endangered portion are hesitant to renovate.

Bellevue is overlooking Turtle Mountain from a respectable distance, and is fairly well populated, and has a small commercial section with an awesome ice cream shop, post office, convenience store, and a couple other local businesses.


Meanwhile, going West of Frank, you get to Blairemore which is where the majority of the commerce is found in Crowsnest Pass.  It is an old fashioned, slow pace, friendly community that is very welcoming to locals, and visitors alike.

The Western-most community of the 5 is Coleman.  It is the one with the highest population, a bit of commerce,  and also the most widely spread of the 5.

Today, Ken and I decided to go for lunch, then explore Coleman, and then on to Crowsnest Lake.

Coleman looks very much like it did when it was established.  There are some newer buildings interspersed with the old, but it quite successfully respects its past and retains its links to the past.  We went to lunch at a place called Chris and Irvin’s Restaurant.  (Chris’ Restaurant to the locals)

It felt like walking into Molly’s Reach (if you ever ventured to watch Beach Combers in the 70’s).  It is a popular, bustling place that looks like it has been well maintained, but maintains the nostalgic air of 1975 when it opened (except for the debit machine).


Outside the restaurant in Coleman ... and inside ...


toward the kitchen ... and looking down a typical Coleman street.

(please feel free to check out my album for the rest of the shots)

After driving through Coleman, we drove a few kms west on the highway to the rest stop at Crowsnest Lake.  It was very windy, and we were witness to the “catcher’s net” at the bottom of the mountain at the roadside, prevent a small boulder (about the size of a 10 pin bowling ball) and then we watch the dust settle off it for the next couple minutes.  Again, it is a beautiful area, but pictures will tell better than I:


This is a set of communities that would feel quite homey if it weren’t for the constant winds through the mountains, and (where we are staying) the constant roar of traffic.  That, as well as the fact that it fairs about as well as the rest of Alberta when it comes to winter - keep us from settling in the area. 

The other day, we went out to Beaver Mines Lake and looked around.  It was a respectable enough area, but it paled compared to the welcoming feel of Allison Lake (also called Chinook Lake on many maps, but the locals have always known it as Allison.  What the province wants to call it is their business).

Unfortunately, thus far, due to winds and such, we have been unable to launch the kayaks.  It is my goal sometime this summer to get the outside at least as wet as the seat has gotten so far from the rains.

Well, I hope this has been excursion enough for now, it surely ensured solid sleeping for me :-)

So with that, I will bid you


No comments:

Post a Comment