Canmore and the Canadian Rockies

An Outdoor Adventurer’s Dream

West of Calgary on the Trans Canada Highway is an outdoor treasure trove of majestic mountains, scenic hiking trails and a modern, yet rustic, style of living.

Nestled under the watchful eye of the Three Sisters Mountain range, the town of Canmore is home to a population of 12,317 permanent and 5,982 non-permanent/second homeowners according to the Town’s website.

Named by Canada Pacific Railway employee, Donald A. Smith, Canmore has come a long way from its 1884 origins. The town would make its mark in the mining industry with Canmore Mines Ltd. before its closure in 1979. Canmore next made it’s mark on the map with the arrival of the 1988 Olympics in Calgary, with the small town playing host to the Olympics’ Nordic events.

Today Canmore is a bustling community full of veteran locals and young outdoor adventurers.

“It’s an interesting community to live in for sure,” said Hamish MacLean, editor of the Canmore Leader newspaper and three-year resident of the town. “It’s one that sort of seems to balance a number of different demographics…(for example) the old school locals who remember when the mines were open.

Another demographic MacLean mentioned is the 20-40 crowd, some just starting families, some single. “They’re very talented individuals who don’t necessarily spend all their time here but sort of become part of the community in their own way.”

An hour west of Calgary and 20 minutes east of Banff, Canmore is a veritable smorgasbord of outdoor opportunities for adventurers of all ages. In the summer there’s hikes mere minutes away and in the winter the Ski Big Three resorts of Sunshine Village Resort, Mt. Norquay and Lake Louise Ski Area and Mountain Resort are a quick trip down the Trans Canada Highway.

“I would say there’s a wide variety of things that go on but its very sort of outdoor culture,” MacLean said. “Getting outside is a big part of the lifestyle here for sure.”

While skiing and hiking and other outdoor events such as the Canmore Winter Festival are popular draws, Canmore is also a great musical venue according to MacLean.

“There are a couple of venues in town and in Banff that actually draw some credible music performances,” he said. “It sort of feels sometimes like it’s both a small town and really cosmopolitan, you have that mix.”

As far as homes in Canmore, 33.64 per cent of houses in the town are single-family, followed by 23.69 per cent in apartments and 20.39 per cent in townhouses of which 39.66 are owned, 25.71 per cent are non-permanent and 22.41 per cent are rented according to the Canmore Census 2011.

The census also covered employment in Canmore. The highest employment rate is in the accommodation and food sector at 17.14 per cent (more than likely stemming from the town’s popular tourism) followed by personal services, 11.77 per cent and construction at 10.16 per cent.

Canmore Nordic Centre
While the memories of the Olympic events held at the Canmore Nordic Centre may have faded, it has hardly diminished the appeal of the venue. Originally developed as a facility for the 1988 Winter Games, the centre is now host to a wide range of events and activities reflecting the very best that outdoor recreation in the Canadian Rockies has to offer. With more than 30 km of trails for biking and hiking in the summer and 65 km of groomed trails for cross-country skiing in the winter, the Nordic Centre has served as the training ground for Olympians like Chandra Crawford, Sara Renner and Beckie Scott.

Sunshine Village
A sure attraction for anyone choosing to call Canmore home is the close proximity of some of the country’s best skiing and snowboarding. Located less than 30 minutes away is Sunshine Village, home of the longest nonglacial ski season in Canada. Receiving up to nine metres of snow every year, the season can stretch from early November all the way to late May, culminating with the annual rite-of-spring known as the Slush Cup. With 3,300 acres of skiable terrain, there’s something for everyone – whether you’re a reluctant newbie or seasoned shredder.

The Canmore Multiplex
Scheduled to open this fall, the $39 million, 77,000 sq. ft. facility will eventually house an aquatics centre, climbing centre with 7,000 sq. ft. of climbing space and an 11,500 sq. ft. library – all right in the middle of downtown Canmore. Designed to offer “an inspiring gathering place that enriches the well-being, enjoyment and aspirations of the community,” the Multiplex will also feature local artwork in the form of an interior glass wall in the library. The commission for the wall is open to local artists, and closes on March 2.

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