Friday, 21 August 2015

Not so Heritage, Heritage Road Rally

One of the activities advertised during the Crowsnest Pass Heritage Days was a Heritage Road Rally. The idea was that you would check in at the museum in Coleman and pick up your instruction kit before heading out on the self-timed drive, checking in at several additional stops along the way before returning to the museum and depositing your time and entry into the prize box. 

This sounded like a fun way to spend the afternoon with my three girls and grandson. All went well as we checked in and picked up our package (the first group to do so) and proceeded to complete the safety waiver before reading our list.  This was our first clue that this may not have been what we expected. Rather than descriptions and directions, the list gave clues such as, “if you were getting married who would you have cater it? You’ll find it right around the corner.” Hmm…not exactly what I would call a heritage clue but we drove around the block and found a sign for a B&B that catered weddings. The building had been the first mercantile in Coleman but there was no mention of this in the clue. Also, the instructions told us to get a stamp from each location but there was no one there when we visited the front desk (even after making noise as the sign suggested). 

Feeling somewhat discouraged we decided to go on to the next clue. It seemed to direct us to another local business that served cinnamon buns and then another restaurant seemed to be the third location. This was certainly not what we thought we had signed up for so after convincing the eight-year-old that there was likely more fun to be had elsewhere, we gave up (not something I tend to ever do!).

On our drive back from Sparwood the other day we had noticed a nice roadside pullout at Crowsnest Lake so decided to check it out as a potential spot for lunch. We loaded up the rubber dingy and paddles in my daughter’s mini-van and stopped at the local Subway for sandwiches (a very busy place on a holiday Monday I must say). After the short drive past the Alberta Visitor Information Centre we were happy to find a shady picnic table on the shore.  I must say the child’s lunch was consumed in record time as he couldn’t wait to hit the water. 

His first passenger was his mom, of course, as he got the hang of rowing rather than paddling like he does in a canoe. I have to say he did a very good job of heading out for the opposite shore…thank goodness for life-vests – I was a little nervous they would spring a leak (thank goodness for life jackets). He was really excited when a train came by, winding along said opposite shore, and decided he would have to make it over there on our next visit. (Maybe we should bring our canoe next trip!)


While we were picnicking there was a fairly steady stream of visitors, many stopping for a smoky and a pop being sold by a vendor in the parking lot. Many of these appeared to be regulars so I would say they have a pretty good business going. I’m sure there are times many of us would appreciate a roadside stop where we could at least pick up a cold beverage during a long traffic filled holiday weekend drive! Although I would say the vault toilets were not as welcome but were equally busy. Both they and the overflowing trash cans could have used a service but then again it was late afternoon on the holiday Monday so to be expected I suppose.


All in all it was a very good day even though it started out less than promising. Would we attend the Heritage Festival again, yes! The Crowsnest Pass has many things to see and do, including the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre, Leitch Collieries, the Bellevue Mine, the Bellevue cemetery and many more. We have Experience Alberta History Annual Passes so don’t have to pay admission to the Frank Slide Centre which makes it even more affordable. 

I've sent our feedback and suggestion to the organizers to possible change the road rally to include information on the heritage of the area. I understand there are sponsors who want to bring visitors into their establishments but adding some interesting facts and locations would make it a lot more fun for families and help educate people about the importance of the area in the settlement of Alberta and Canada.