Jasper National Park, Canada

Day 681

     We traversed the Canadian Rockies on the Trans-Canada Highway (this highway travels through all ten provinces of Canada from the Atlantic Ocean on the East to the Pacific on the West). With spring arriving, water was pouring down the mountains.

     Jasper National Park is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies, located in the province of Alberta, the park includes the glaciers of the Columbia Icefield. The Columbia Icefield is the largest ice field in the Rocky Mountains, located astride the Continental Divide along the border of Alberta and British Columbia

     An ice field is an expansive area of interconnected glaciers found in a mountain region.

     Jasper Hawes, orginally from Missouri, came to this area around 1817 from Montreal on a contract as a clerk and operator of a trading post here for the North West Company, a competitor of the Hudson Bay Company. The area around his trading station was named Jasper, after him. The park was established on September 14, 1907 as Jasper Forest Park, and was granted National Park status in 1930, with the passing of the National Parks Act.

     Our truck effortlessly pulled the 8 ton Sphinx over the Canadian Rockies.

     We are staying in the Jasper National Park. The first thing we had to do was chase the wildlife off our site.

     We took a bus tour to the Glaciers and the Columbia Ice-fields. The neat thing about this bus, it had a front mounted camera with a video display at your seat, therefore not only could you see the view out your side window, but also from the front of the bus.

     This peak is part of the Continental Divide. This is the only Continental Divide in the World where the water goes to three oceans, West to Pacific, East to Atlantic, and North to the Arctic Ocean.

     The Athabasca River originates from the Columbia Glacier of the Columbia Icefield in Jasper National Park. The river was swollen with Glacier melt, which made an impressive water falls.

     The Glaciers are receding.

     We took an Ice Explorer out onto the glacier

     Which allowed us to walk on the glacier:

     Went on the Glacier Skywalk, a glass bottom walkway over the Sunwapta Valley and River. This is where the glacial waters begin their long journey to the Arctic Ocean. Unlike the glass walk at the Grand Canyon, you can wear your own shoes, and they let you take your camera.

     Can’t be afraid of heights.

Technical Stuff:

Banff, Alberta, Canada to Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada: 182.1 miles

4 hours 25 minutes

10.2 MPG

Diesel: $1.41 Canadian per liter

Banff, Alberta, Canada

Day 679

  

     In 1882, the Canadian Pacific Railway was building the transcontinental railway through the Bow Valley in this newly acquired territory of the new Canadian Nation. 

     Bow Valley is a valley located along the upper Bow River in what is now Alberta, Canada. The name “Bow” refers to the reeds that grew along its banks and which were used by the local Indians to make bows. The Peigan Indian name for the river is “Makhabn”, meaning “river where bow weeds grow”

     Three Canadian Pacific Railway workers stumbled upon a series of natural hot springs in 1883 here and wanted to develop it for commercial application. After much controversy and debate, the Canadian Government claimed the area as it’s First National Park. The area became popular with tourists because of these springs and easy access by the new railroad. This resulted with the city of Banff being settled in 1886.   

      The area was named Banff by George Stephen, president of the Canadian Pacific Railway, recalling his birthplace in Banff, Scotland. The Canadian Pacific built a series of grand hotels along the rail line and advertised the Banff Springs Hotel as an international tourist resort.

   

     We went to The Cave and Basin and viewed the hot springs. The 3 railway workers first notice the hot springs by the smell of sulphur coming out of this cave hole.

     For years people came to this pool, called the Basin, to enjoy its warm, mineral-rich spring-fed water. They were drawn here to soothe aching joints, or to dive and swim in its bubbling depths. 

     Bathers loved the Basin for its year-round warm waters, and beautiful color, preferring it over the dark and sulfurous Cave pool.

     Due to high bacterial counts, the Basin was closed to bathers in 1971.

     We hiked along the Bow River.

     Two miles down, the tranquil river becomes raging rapids

     We portered around the rapids a 1/4 mile

     to the water falls.

     We also stopped at the Royal Sewer:Technical Stuff:

Calgary, AB, Canada to Banff, AB, Canada: 71.4 Miles

2 hours 3 minutes

8.9 MPG

Diesel: $124.4/liter Canadian 

Fort Calgary, Canada

Day 677

     Fort Calgary, originally called Fort Brisebois, was established on April 10, 1875  by the North-West Mounted Police, located at the confluence of the Bow and Elbow rivers in what is now Calgary, Alberta, Canada. 

      The Canadian government created the North West Mounted Police in 1873 as a para-military police force that would establish Canadian Sovereignty, put a stop to the whiskey trade, and befriend the Indians in preparation for the treaties that would open the land for settlement. “F” Troop, under the leadership of Inspector Éphrem Brisebois, travelled to the Bow and Elbow Rivers to establish an outpost part way between Fort Macleod (see day 673) and Fort Edmonton. 

     Éphrem A. Brisebois was born March 7, 1850 in South Durham, Canada East, now part of Quebec. He initially named the Fort after himself. He was despised by his men, and was replaced in 1876. The Fort was renamed Fort Calgary by Colonel James F. Macleod, after Calgary House, a castle at Calgary Bay on the Isle of Mull, Scotland. The name of this area by the Indians was Moh’kinsstis, or Elbow.

     Between 1876 and 1914 the Fort grew into Calgary Barracks and became the center of a flourishing community that ultimately became the City of Calgary.  

     But then the railroad cameDay 677 Ft Calgary Alberta, Canada 0846_Fotor_Fotor

     The land had been settled, treaties made with the Indians, and the Fort was no longer needed. In 1914, Fort Calgary was sold to the Grant Trunk Pacific Railway for use as a rail terminal. They demolished all the fort buildings. No trace of the Fort now exists, just this empty lot. 

     Standing on the site of what use to be the Fort, you can see the Bow River.

     Turn 180 degrees, what use to be the open prairie for miles and miles, is now the city of Calgary. 

     Looking up to what use to be hundreds of geese and birds, you now see

Cochrane, Alberta, Canada

Day 676

     Cochrane was established in 1881 as the Cochrane Ranche, after Matthew Henry Cochrane. It became a village in 1903 and incorporated as a town in 1971.

     Matthew Henry Cochrane was born November 11, 1823 in Lower Canada, the son of Irish immigrants. He was a Canadian industrialist, livestock breeder and politician, serving 31 years in the Canadian Senate. His Ranch in Alberta was one of the largest in the British Empire.

     We walked the ranch, which was originally over 40,000 hectares, but because of modern development and changing times, only a fraction of the original ranch land is left. 

     As far as the eye can see, was originally this ranch. Now, a superhighway and development occupy this once cattle laden land. 

He rode tall in the saddle

when I went to take a closer photograph, my flash startled the horse and threw him. 

Technical Stuff:

Fort Macleod, Alberta, Ca to Cochrane, Alberta, Ca: 131.1 miles

2 hours 57 minutes

9.9 MPG

Diesel: $3.00/gallon

Frank, Alberta, Canada

Day 675

     We are now at Crowsnest Pass in Alberta, Canada. Rivers born in Canada’s Rockies carved passes eastward to Hudson Bay or westward to the Pacific Ocean. This one was long used by Indians.

     Searching for gold in 1873, Michael Phillipps was the first white man to cross the Canadian Rockies through this unexplored pass. The Crowsnest Pass is the lowest through the Rockies passes on the Continental divide in this area

     Tidbit of Information: A continental divide is a ridge of elevated terrain that separates the drainage basins of a continent. Rivers west of this divide will drain toward the Pacific Ocean, rivers east of the Divide toward the Atlantic.

     Henry L. Frank was born in Ohio in 1851. He was a self-made entrepreneur who invested in various enterprises. He had various coal mines in Montana, where he was active in politics and the community. In his home city of Butte, Mr. Frank was a prominent business man, being one of the heaviest mining operators and real estate holders.

     In 1901 rich veins of coal were discovered in Crowsnest Pass.      Frank developed the Canadian-American Coal and Coke Company to mine the base of Turtle Mountain in the Pass. Native oral history refers to Turtle Mountain as “the mountain that moves.”

     He built the town of Frank, named after himself, to house the mine workers and stores to support them. The town’s grand opening was on September 10, 1901. The mine was a success, and by 1903, 600 miners worked and lived in Frank. 

     We wanted to view this historic mining community, so we drove to Frank. Standing on one of the main streets, on the edge of town, this is what we saw: 

     At 4:10 in the morning of April 29, 1903, the tip of Turtle Mountain broke loose, slid down and decimated part of the Village of Frank.

     The primary cause of the “Frank Slide” was Turtle Mountain’s unstable structure. The rock layers of soft sandstone and hard granite, stacked like slippery playing cards, simply slid into the valley. 

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Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Alberta, Canada

Day 674

     I never heard of a buffalo jump until I visited the Buffalo Jump in Montana (see day 667). Now, I come upon one here in Alberta, Canada. In Montana, the starting point was the plains leading up to the jump, which we hiked, then hiked to the top of the jump, a 3 mile jaunt.

     Here, the interpretive center is at the base of the jump, were the Indians dressed the fallen buffalo. From there you take an elevator 6 stories up to the top of the jump. The intervening 5 floors tell you the history of the area, and a detailed description of how the jump was set up. 

     Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump is situated at the very southern end of the Porcupine Hills. They are a separate geological feature, not part of the Rocky Mountains. West of the Jump, is a natural U-shaped basin where the buffalo, grazing, were rounded up for the kill.

     Long lines of small rock piles, called cairns, were built in the Gathering Basin. The cairns, spaced 5 to 10 meters apart, stretched many kilometers west into the gathering basin and formed the drive lanes. (Since we are in Canada, I have to use their measurements.)  Like a funnel, the lanes converged to a narrow exit at the cliff. Several young men, the buffalo runners, located a herd and slowly directed them into the lanes. Buffalo saw the cairns as solid walls and moved deeper into the funnel towards the cliff. At the last moment the buffalo were startled into a stampede. Unable to stop, they fell from the cliff.

     A successful hunt probably killed several hundred buffalo. When the killing was over, buffalo carcasses were dragged downslope to the level prairie for butchering. 

     If you were the Indian that was tasked with urging the herd on, this was your view:

 

     The interpretive center had really cool carpeting. 

  

         In Blackfoot, the name for this site is Estipah-skikikini-kots. From what I can gather from this buffalo hide drawing, this is how the cliff got this name: 

     In 1812, a young brave wanted to witness the plunge of buffalo as his people drove them to their deaths over the cliffs. Standing under the shelter of a ledge, he watched the great beasts fall past him. The hunt was unusually good that day. As the bodies mounted, he became trapped between the animals and the cliff. When his people came to do the butchering, they found him with his skull crushed under the weight of the buffalo carcasses. Thus, they named the place “Head-Smashed-In”. And now, you know the rest of the story.

Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada

Day 673

     Fort Macleod, in Alberta, Canada, was established on October 18, 1874, with the arrival of the North West Mounted Police, led by Colonel James F. Macleod. James Farquharson Macleod was born September 25, 1836, in Drynoch, Isle of Skye, Scotland.

     The original fort was erected of log walls, rough planking, sod roofs and dirt floors. It was located on an island in the Old Man River valley, about one mile east of the present town. The island, now known as Macleod Island, was chosen for the site of the fort as it was both a picturesque and defensible location. However, it diminished in attractiveness with the arrival of spring flood waters, which rendered the site practically inaccessible. By 1884, the NWMP relocated their quarters to the south bank of the Old Man River.

     The Northwest Mounted Police had been formed to protect Canadian sovereignty in the Northwest Territory. This interest was being threatened by the American whiskey traders who were trading deadly “firewater” for buffalo hides, wolf skins, and other items of value. The arrival of the NWMP put an end to the illicit trade in the Blackfoot, Blood, and Peigan Indian territory of Canada. Moreover, they established an official federal presence in the North West Territories, which were being eyed by the United States for possible annexation, and effectively opened the Canadian West to settlers. Fort Macleod was the first permanent police post in the British North-West.

     The town soon followed, and incorporated in 1892. It became a bustling settlement, complete with a main street and a variety of commercial interests providing services to the region’s ranching industry. Development proceeded until 1906 when a fire destroyed most of the wood frame shops and businesses on Main Street. As a reaction to the fire, a law was passed requiring future buildings to be constructed of stone or brick, thereby changing the look of Main Street forever.

     Let’s not forget Dudley Do-Right, of the Northwest Mounted Police:

Technical Stuff:

Shelby, Montana to Fort Macleod, Alberta, Canada: 131.9 miles

3 hours 13 minutes

9.4 MPG

Diesel: $3.00