Some say the most significant legacy of Expo 86 is our SkyTrain. It certainly is a fitting legacy for a world’s fair whose full name was World Exposition on Transportation and Communication.
The SkyTrain ― which now runs all the way to Surrey ― is a narrow elevated train. Too narrow, in my mind, as it’s too much of a crush at rush hour. And it’s so narrow that, when you compare it to subway trains like those in Toronto or New York, it feels like you’re riding a toy train.
The SkyTrain is all modern, though. It was the world’s first completely automated (read: driverless) rapid transit system. Daily ridership is around 400,000 passengers.
Here’s another mountain. Just because.
This one is called Cascade Mountain. It’s the largest mountain abutting the townsite of Banff. I took this photo from Johnson Lake as well.
I posted my postcard shot of Mount Rundle last summer. That’s the view most people see of Mount Rundle as they drive past it when travelling along the Trans-Canada Highway.
This view ― not the postcard shot ― was taken from the other side of the mountain. The lake is Johnson Lake.
This view is from the top of Sulphur Mountain in Banff National Park. Take a deep breath: those are the Rocky Mountains you’re looking at.
There are two ways to get to the top of Sulphur Mountain: you can hike up or you can ride up. The hike up isn’t a long one (5.5 km), but it is all uphill (elevation gain of 650 m). The Banff Gondola is a lot easier and a lot quicker. It runs year round and takes you from the Banff Upper Hot Springs to the top of the mountain in just eight minutes. (Those hot springs, incidentally, are how Sulphur Mountain got its name.)
Once you’re at the top of Sulphur Mountain, you have a 360-degree view of the Rocky Mountains.
Dizzying, isn’t it?
I don’t want to overwhelm you, so I’m posting only a photo of the view to the east. That’s the town of Banff nestled around the diminutive Tunnel Mountain in the centre of the photo. Behind Tunnel Mountain is Cascade Mountain, and to the far right of the photo is Rundle Mountain.
It first dawned on me that people from outside our country had some wildly out-of-date notions about Canada on my first ever trip to Europe. It happened when one of my Dutch cousins began asking questions about what life in Canada was like.
“And the cowboys,” she said. “You have lots of cowboys, right?”
I hesitated. I was acutely aware that I was about to burst her fantasy bubble.
“Uh, some,” I said. “You mostly see them at the rodeos.” I think an awkward attempt to explain what happens at rodeos followed ― awkward because I had never actually been to a rodeo. I quickly changed the subject.
Then again, if you are a couple of Italian tourists visiting Calgary during Stampede Week ― like the ones I met standing beside me at the parade ― it’s easy to go home and think Canada is all about the cowboys.
I suppose there are worse stereotypes out there.
The Calgary Stampede (also known as The Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth) finished up just a week ago. I went this year for my first time ever ― and had a blast.
First held in 1912, the Stampede became an annual event in 1923. These days, the rodeo attracts competitors from all over North and South America.
The Treaty 7 First Nations have been an integral part of the Stampede since its beginnings.
In addition to the parade (which starts the Stampede off with a bang), the rodeo, and the chuckwagon races, there are lots of animals to see.
There’s also a midway, and lots and lots of live music. And pancakes.
And, every year, the Indian Village.
If you’re feeling underdressed, don’t worry. There are plenty of places where you can get your proper Stampede attire. For a price.
The Calgary Stampede celebrates Alberta’s history, but also its present. Ranching is big business in Alberta ― half of the country’s beef is raised here.
I’ve lost touch with those Dutch cousins of mine, so I don’t know if they ever made it to Canada. But if they did, I sure hope they got to see a cowboy or three.
I’ve been hanging out in Alberta for the past ten days, which means I have a whole whack of photos to go through. That will take me a while because, well … you know. It’s summer.
And so, to keep this blog rolling, here’s a photo I took last summer. This is downtown Calgary. Which is exactly where I was two days ago.