31 May

Local Travel: Atlas Coal Mine

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Alberta

Winter whips up the valley and gets caught in the coulees. Drawing the company issued coat closer does nothing to stop the bitter cold and driving winds from penetrating  as he trudges up the escarpment to the wash house.

Changing quickly he pulls his clothes high up in the rafters to keep them from the unavoidable the coal dust that permeates everything.

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Alberta

Although he has hurried he’s last in line at the lamp house. His light and helmet are duly noted in the ledger; a cost that will be marked against his daily wage tallying upwards everyday so that, some weeks, he owes more than he has earned and cannot send anything back to his family in Hungary. He is grateful, though, that there is work for him as he knows that many are turned away everyday.

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Alberta

‘Brassing in’ so that company officials know he is inside, he climbs up through the tipple along side the conveyor belt to the entrance of the mine.

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Alberta

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Alberta

Today is his lucky day as he’s assigned to the pony team meaning he’ll be able to stand during his shift rather than work doubled over in a cramped tunnel next to the smallest of coal seams. Gulch, his horse for the shift, was born in the underground stable and has never seen the light of day.

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Alberta

Calm, despite the darkness and noise, he spends the shift pulling the several ton coal carts through the shafts to the railway carts that will deliver it to the weigh station and, ultimately, down to the tipple. Time after time after time.

Atlas Coal Mine, East Coulee, Alberta

Twelve long hours later horse and miner finish up for the day. Battling the snow drifts that have built up during the day he makes his way to the Rosedeer Hotel at the edge of town.

Pushing past the ‘ladies’ at the entrance he enjoys a quick beer before heading up to his basic room and falling, exhausted, into bed for the night. Tomorrow is another day.

The Atlas Coal Mine is located in East Coulee just 15 minutes from Drumheller, Alberta. At $15, the tour was a great value really giving us a sense of what life must have been like for miners back in the early 1900’s.

You can still book a room at the Rosedeer hotel; $60 for a regular room or $65 for the ‘Honeymoon Suite’. At the very least you should stop in for a beer at the Last Chance Saloon. It’s much more sedate now than it was 100 years ago but you can check out the memorabilia and the bullet holes in the wall that tell the stories of a much different time.

This is NOT a sponsored post; we visited on our own dime and really did enjoy it enough to recommend that you visit too.

02 May

Local Travel: Wild Rose Brewery, Calgary AB

The weather has been dull and rainy here lately; it quite reminds me of winter back on the coast…except it’s May!

Saturday was sunny though and predicted to be the only nice day in the string of days to follow so we decided to head out to one of the local breweries for a tour.

Situated on a decommissioned army base Wild Rose Brewery won’t be winning any design awards but what this compact brewery lacks in¬†aesthetic it makes up for in atmosphere and flavour!

Wild Rose Brewery, Calgary, Alberta

The tour is $14 but includes a glass of beer to get you started. I opted for the Foothill Pilz; a great, light, pilsner perfect for summer sipping.

Foothill Pilz, Wild Rose Brewery

Anthony was a great tour guide dispensing all kinds of facts about the brewery and maybe even spilling a few secrets.

Wild Rose Brewery, Calgary, AB

It’s small. This is one of only two brewing vessels.

Wild Rose Brewery, Calgary, AB

Wild Rose Brewery, Calgary, AB

The fermentation towers finish the job off.

Wild Rose Brewery, Calgary, AB

And then it’s into kegs.

Wild Rose Brewery, Calgary, AB

Or to the bottling machine. Like I said, it’s a small operation…one six pack at a time here.

Wild Rose Brewery, Calgary, AB

Quite the record.

Wild Rose Brewery, Calgary, AB

You can get a Party Pig to keep in your fridge. Each has it’s own name.

Wild Rose Brewery, Calgary, AB

We were able to visit ‘The Pig Cave’ at the end of the tour.

Wild Rose Brewery, Calgary, AB

The taproom is small but homey feeling. No tv’s makes it much easier to enjoy a beer with friends.

Wild Rose Brewery, Calgary, AB

Wild Rose Brewery, Calgary, AB

Wild Rose Brewery, Calgary, AB

We decided to finish our tour with a taste of them all.

Wild Rose Brewery, Calgary, AB

Wild Rose Brewery, Calgary, AB

The IPA was a great standard but my favorite was the Belgian IPA with it’s spicy notes. Definitely worth a visit!

Wild Rose Brewery, Calgary, AB

26 Jan

Local Travel: Banff, Alberta


We are lucky enough to live within a couple of hours drive of Banff, in the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. It’s hard to believe that this international destination is actually in our backyard!

We took some time to visit this weekend.

Our first stop was, not surprising for us, the Banff Avenue Brewing Company.

Where they have a selection of house brewed beers that, I can assure you, are worth the trip. My favorites? The Head Smashed IPA and the Lower Bankhead Black Pilsner.

Adequately refreshed, we took the gondola up to the top of Sulphur Mountain.

 

 

 

The next day we headed to Lake Louise for some skating.

Next time, we’ll try the sleigh.

Believe me when I tell you that my pictures don’t do it justice. It is breath-catchingly beautiful in every season and always worth the trip!