2013 Southern Alberta’s Heritage Loop Tours
From the majestic Rocky Mountains of the Crown of the Continent to the deep sculptured river valleys of the Canadian Badlands, experience southern Alberta’s heritage and discover unique western landscapes. Walk through the Canadian Badlands where dinosaurs once roamed. Learn how the ancient Plains People hunted buffalo for their survival. Hear the stories of early settlement, where horse-drawn vehicles and steam engines carried people and cargo across the prairies. Visit historic sites where North West Mounted Police confronted whiskey traders and brought law and order to the west. Discover how irrigation fostered agricultural production and how coal mining attracted settlers to the western frontier.
Canadian Badlands Circle Tour
The first cultural adventure starts in Calgary and then extends through the Canadian Badlands. Your first stop will be Heritage Park on Heritage Drive in southwest Calgary.
Discover How The West Was Once!® at Heritage Park Historical Village. With a thundering steam train, paddle wheel boat, antique midway, roving theatre group, delicious treats, and an ever-changing cast of village characters, you’ll be captivated by the past like never before. There’s a new memory to be made every day at Calgary’s living historical experience.
During your visit, also explore Heritage Town Square, a 1930s style urban streetscape located just before the Park gates. Stroll through four vintage-inspired shops, have a photo taken at the Antique Portrait Studio, experience automotive history at Gasoline Alley Museum, and savour distinctly Canadian cuisine at the elegant Selkirk Grille. Heritage Towne Square is open year-round and the Historical Village is open seasonally. www.HeritagePark.ca 403-268-8500.
Royal Tyrrell Museum
After an overnight in Calgary, set your GPS for Drumheller and travel northeast for 90 minutes to the Royal Tyrrell Museum. Experience this world renowned museum and research facility located in the rugged beauty of Alberta’s badlands. Journey through time and come face-to-face with some of Canada’s mightiest dinosaurs, dynamically displayed in nine ever-evolving galleries. Sign up for a program where you can unearth fossils in a realistic quarry, make your own fossil replicas, or take a guided hike through the badlands. New for 2013—explore one of the largest living collections of prehistoric plants in Canada in the newly renovated Cretaceous Garden. Drumheller has a variety of accommodations to choose from. www.tyrrellmuseum.com 403-823-7707
Next stop is Brooks, 145 kms southeast of Drumheller. Uncover the fascinating story of Brooks Aqueduct National and Provincial Historic Site. This enormous concrete structure spreads across the parched prairie landscape like a giant centipede. Learn about the importance of prairie irrigation and why the Canadian Pacific Railway constructed the Brooks Aqueduct as a part the Eastern Irrigation District. Get your camera ready as you walk along the new wetland interpretive trail and listen to red-winged blackbirds and meadow larks nesting in their natural habitat. www.brooksaqueduct.org 403-362-4451 (summer only)
Dinosaur Provincial Park
From Brooks Aqueduct, travel north to Dinosaur Provincial Park. This World Heritage Site is famous for its fossil finds, where you can imagine walking in the footsteps of dinosaurs. After a full day of adventure, overnight in Brooks before completing your circle tour back to Calgary.
Crown of the Continent Circle Tour
The next tour, also starting in Calgary, includes visits to two heritage attractions, and then continues south into Blackfoot territory where cultural experiences are as varied as the natural landscapes.
If only these walls could talk? Take your time to get to know the Lougheed family at Lougheed House National and Provincial Historic Site. From 1891 to 1936, the family of Senator James and Lady Lougheed with their six children called this magnificent sandstone mansion their home. In the heart of downtown Calgary, this house was a political and social hub. Fortunately, you don’t need the walls to talk to hear the house’s amazing stories. Simply join one of the guided tours. Afterward, be sure to explore the gorgeous gardens and enjoy an elegant lunch in The Restaurant at Lougheed House. www.LougheedHouse.com 403-244-6333
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump World Heritage Site
Drive 90 minutes south on Hwy #2 to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump World Heritage Site, located above a vast stretch of wind-swept prairie on Highway #585 northwest of Fort Macleod. The site features a sandstone cliff embodying 5,700 years of dramatic history. Built right into the escarpment, you can also tour the award winning five-level interpretive centre. Hear stories told by Blackfoot guides of the ancient buffalo hunting culture, where the Plains People relied on the buffalo for almost everything they needed to live successfully on the Great Plains. The complex organization of this communal buffalo harvest provided food, shelter, clothing, and tools for an industrious people. www.HeadSmashedIn.org 403- 553-2731
From the Buffalo Jump, drive to Fort Macleod and visit The Fort Museum of the North West Mounted Police and First Nations Interpretive Center. Imagine eight magnificent horses charging full speed straight at you. Hear the battle cry of the riders dressed in 1800’s North West Mounted Police scarlet tunics, with lances lowered for the attack. Seconds before they reach you, the riders expertly turn, so close you can smell the sweat of the horses as they charge past. You can also immerse yourself in the past by slipping on the scarlet red and gold trimmed Mounted Patrol Serge, complete with pith helmet, and be part of the Fort’s “Groom a Horse” program. The musical ride, which is the only one of its kind in Canada, is just one of the exciting experiences awaiting you. www.nwmpmuseum.com 1-866-273-6841
Main Street in Fort Macleod National Historic Site is also Alberta’s only designated Provincial Historic Area. The Empress Theatre built in 1912, maintains its original charm and decor from its earliest years. This nostalgic theatre offers a great mix of live concerts and theatrical performances, musicals, festivals and nightly movies.
From Fort Macleod drive 50 kms east on the Hwy #3 to Lethbridge and stay overnight. In the morning visit Fort Whoop-Up National Historic Site. Long before there was an Alberta or the Mounties, there was a thriving but illegal whiskey trade in the Oldman River Valley. Built by American traders in 1869, Fort Whoop-Up attracted scoundrel traders and the Blackfoot to the Fort, bringing horses, and buffalo robes in exchange for whiskey.
Today the whiskey is gone, but Whoop-Up’s colourful characters are still here throughout the summer in spontaneous skits around the grounds. Brace yourself – gunfights have been known to break out, along with daily cannon fire. Taste the past with a piece of fresh fry bread, or something more conventional from the cook shack. Feel the roll and bump of a wagon ride while touring the river valley, try your skills as a blacksmith, or sit in a storytelling session. www.fortwhoopup.com 403-329-0444
Remington Carriage Museum
From Lethbridge, travel south on Hwy #5 to Cardston and the Remington Carriage Museum. Participate in a guided tour of the brilliantly designed galleries in the world’s largest carriage museum. Discover over 250 authentic horse-drawn vehicles. Each
display tells a vivid story, such as a caboose which carried farm children to school over snow covered roads or the oldest remaining Concord stagecoach a vehicle type made famous around the world by the Hollywood westerns. You can see how these vehicles are conserved in the Museum’s restoration shop. Watch a farrier hard at work, visit four-legged friends in the stable, and of course take a carriage ride. www.RemingtonCarriageMuseum.org 403-653-5139
Prince of Wales Hotel
From Cardston, travel west along the Cowboy Trail to Waterton Lakes National Park. Perched high overlooking Waterton Lake and Village, the Prince of Wales National Historic Site, stands in grand solitude, one of the most photographed hotels of all time. Known for culinary excellence, breathtaking views, and rustic charm, the hotel offers a variety of guest rooms and suites from quaint to opulent in style. Guest rooms maintain their 1930s appeal and character, while upscale suites provide luxurious accommodation in a majestic setting. www.glacierparkinc.com/prince_of_wales.php 403-236-3400
After spending a special overnight in Waterton Lakes National Park, drive north, through Pincher Creek and then west towards the Crowsnest Pass to connect with nature and industry as you explore the
preserved ruins at Leitch Collieries Provincial Historic Site. Capture the essence of this ambitious coal mining company and discover details of their successes and failures. Create your own experience as you explore the new interpretive tour through the mine manager’s residence and the power plant, past the tipple, the washery and the coke ovens. www.leitchcollieries.org 403-564-4211 (summer only)
From Leitch, travel 1.5 kms west through the Frank Slide debris zone, which is an eerie experience. The Frank Slide Interpretive Centre pays homage to Canada’s deadliest rockslide. At the Centre hear the extraordinary tale of the night in April 1903 when 82 million tonnes of rock came crashing down from the side of Turtle Mountain, burying a portion of the mining town of Frank forever. Guests discover why the mountain fell, and learn about its geological history. When will the mountain fall again? Friendly staff members weave tales of the area’s coal mining history and convey stories that visitors never forget. www.frankslide.org 403- 562-7388
From the Crowsnest Pass, travel back to the Cowboy Trail, Hwy #22 and complete your journey back up to Calgary. This is a circle trip you will certainly want to take.