Fancy yourself a CSI fanatic or a devourer of mystery novels? Then you’ll love unravelling the mysteries to be found in Canmore and area during October when crowds are gone, and hotel rates drop.
By day, you can witness one of the planet’s most significant migrations that happened for decades without anyone noticing. Along the mountain ridges above Canmore thousands of golden eagles wing their way south each fall (on a day with favourable winds more than three hundred can go by). A curious geologist – Peter Sherrington – discovered the bird migration in 1992.
Now each autumn until November 15 tourists can drop in on volunteers near Mount Lorette and help count eagles or learn why the birds choose the Bow Valley for their fall travels. I spotted fifteen in just over an hour but brought binoculars; without them, you can’t see the eagles.
By night, the Theatre Canmore Ghost Walk offers Friday and Saturday tours of haunted sites and stories of visitors long-departed (and a few stuck in the ghostly realm). Thomas, a guide draped with a long Victorian-style cape, an intense stare and dim lantern-led me to the dark shores of Policeman’s Creek. “I had a medium on this tour once,” he uttered solemnly, “she said she could see Lisa’s ghost behind me!” Lisa is believed to be the ghost of a girl who drowned in a swamp under what is now the town’s recreation complex. One Zamboni operator working alone at night, “heard strange noises, then someone crying ‘mommy, mommy’. After that, he refused to work alone,” intoned Thomas.
I learned some ghosts, like me, like to travel. Thomas said the apparition is known as “man in brown tweed coat” appears at both the Canmore Opera House and the Heritage Park Opera House in Calgary. “Bad things happen if you sit in his seat,” explained Thomas, “ a perfectly sound chair might suddenly collapse, or your drink will tip.” In both places, the third seat in the third row is left for the ghostly opera lover, lest an earthly customer has an unsettling experience!
Wanting to keep my mystery vibe going, I stayed at Basecamp Resorts where instead of picking up a key at the front desk, the key lock code and room number is emailed to you. With imagination, it feels a bit cloak and daggerish and is the perfect site for more ghostly explorations.
Across the street, I found Miner’s Lamp Pub, where many Canmore mysteries are solved, and skeletons and ghouls decorated the patio. A family seated next to me let their kids run unattended through the Halloween maze, proof the spirits here were friendly (as well as liquid). The menu unravelled other whodunits I’d been pondering. Why were there wild bunnies everywhere? Where did the name of the Three Sisters Mountain come from? Sprinkled next to dinner entrées and the brekkie options were answers: A disgruntled miner let his rabbit ranch run free to annoy his neighbours and a young man thought the mountain peaks looked like nuns (His uncle was Mayor at the time, so he got to name them)!
I finished my visit having unravelled several secrets and wondered how many other travellers will unlock Canmore’s fall mysteries.
The author travelled to Canmore in October 2019. She was a guest of Basecamp Resorts and Theatre Canmore but these organisations did not review or approve this article.