The New West – Calgary

Calgary is situated in the foothills of the Blue Canadian Rockies, where the snow-capped mountains often look as though they are painted on the sky for an awesome sight when you have your morning coffee.  The weather is moderate.  Although there is a saying in Calgary ‘If you don’t like the weather – wait 10 minutes and it will change.’

Calgary - Voted Cleanest City in the World

Calgary – Voted Cleanest City in the World

Calgary is situated on the clear, clean waters of the Bow River – which runs out of the glacier fed Lake Louise.  It was originally a popular gathering point for the Blackfoot natives.  The Bow River was a  place where the tree branches were material for bow and arrows.  With a chinook that can blow through often, the temperatures could warm and the snow go away at any time, including the winters.Calgary is Canada’s newest city and in my opinion, by far the cleanest city.  With the head-offices for oil companies galore, it has the largest population of Americans outside the USA in the world. Most people share optimism and a desire to work and thrive.

A fort was established in 1875 by the North-West Mounted Police and the original founder – Sam Livingstone – was already settled in the area;  The fort was called Calgary which is Gaelic for ‘swift waters’.

The settlers of the area were mainly ranchers and often those ‘second-sons’ of aristocrats.  The Canadian Pacific Railroad ran through Calgary and created a settlement of what is known as ‘China Town’ now as well as a landmark hotel made of sandstone – The Palliser, which is still in downtown Calgary.

Palliser Calgary Hotel

Palliser Calgary Hotel

Calgary was a small settlement until oil was discovered in the Turner Valley, Black Diamond area and in the early 1900′s the city started thriving. There has been no looking back.  Calgary is a bustling, thriving city where it always seemed to me – about every 10 years, old dirty buildings/areas are torn down and new, clean buildings replace them. Some people don’t appreciate that – but to me Calgarians definitely understand the difference between old junk and real heritage landmarks.  There are old buildings that are maintained of course.

It is a transient city and may be a reason people are so friendly.  My two sons were born in Calgary but that seems to be a rarity. Most people seem to come to Calgary to work.  My romance story One Dance with a Stranger takes place in Calgary.  My romance story Alberta Wild Rose takes place in Calgary’s fascinating surrounding area (the Lost Lemon Mine) and the story I am working on now Seraphim will mainly take place in Calgary.

Cowboys and country - Background for Sophisticated Cowboy


The book – Calgary, Spirit of the West by Hugh A. Dempsey is a great book on the history of Calgary.




Here are a few websites with information on visiting Calgary.

Visit Calgary

Calgary Attractions

Discovering Your Peaceful Place

Banff, Alberta is a busy town set in Canada’s first National Park.  With busy shops, restaurants, hotels and many tourist attractions it wouldn’t be a first pick for a ‘peaceful’ place.

town of banff

a downtown view of shops in Banff

Banff Spring Hotel

The sight of the Banff Springs, (Canadian Pacific Railroad Hotel) is impressive but not peaceful.

If you drive a little further, behind the Hotel and you will discover the beauty and stillness of the Bow River Falls.  The sound of running water and the pristine beauty of the forests surrounding the river bring peace if you listen.

bow river fallsbow river falls

Is everything in Texas bigger? – Travel Memories

I often inserted remarks when talking with people in Texas that some people might not see the humor in.  But Texans did.  It was fun.

I would say something like ‘Alberta is bigger than Texas‘.  A remark that was met with ‘no it’s not‘.  Then I would say ‘Alberta beef is better than Texan beef‘.  After saying ‘No it’s not,’ I often got puzzled looks and a comment ‘You’re not anything like I imagined a Canadian would be like.’  It seemed to be a real ice-breaker.


Welcome to Alberta – the New West.

Finding Friday – What’s in a name?

History in the Canadian West

Did you know Saskatchewan (a Cree word) and Calgary (A Gaelic word) mean the same thing?  Both mean ‘swift waters or currents’ in English.

Although Saskatchewan has two rivers named ‘swift waters’ as both the North and South Saskatchewan rivers run through the province, Calgary has no river called Calgary.  The two rivers that run through the city of Calgary are the Bow and the Elbow River.   The Bow River was named because of the trees that lined the river creating branches which made excellent bows for the Natives.  The Natives often camped alongside what is known as Calgary today. The warm chinook winds created relief from cold, harsh winters. Both rivers get their clear, pristine waters from glacier fed Lake Louise, considered one of the seven natural wonders of the world.Carol's Picture & Tim Horton's

Alberta was named after Princess Alberta, Queen Victoria’s daughter. It was originally part of Rupert’s Land, a vast area owned by Prince Rupert one of the owners of the  famous Hudson’s Bay Company. The Hudson’s Bay Company is the oldest mercantile company still in operation today. Their trading posts were scattered all over western Canada.  Alberta became part of the Northwest Territories when Canada purchased the western lands from the Hudson’s Bay Company.  In 1905 Alberta and Saskatchewan became provinces.

Edmonton, the other large city in Alberta  is an English name and has a long history in England. Edmonton, was established as a town in 1892. The town was named after Fort Edmonton which had been established by 1795. The name of the fort was suggested by John Peter Pruden after Edmonton, London, which was his home in England as well as the home of Sir James Winter Lake, the deputy governor of the Hudson’s Bay Company at the time.

Forts in the West – Fort Whoop Up

Fort Whoop Up, located near present day Lethbridge, Alberta is a reason law and order in the west was needed.  Fort Whoop Up was a whiskey fort, run by scoundrels who had no conscience about who they hurt so long as they made money.  The Natives called this fort Many Ghosts which is a revealing title.

Fort Whoop Up - Murphy beside one of the cannons used for protection

Fort Whoop Up - View from fort - the train bridge Fort Whoop Up - wagon wheels propped against fort wall

Forts in the West – Fort MacLeod

When the Dominion of Canada purchased the Northwest Territories (present day Saskatchewan and Alberta) the first thing that was established is law and order.  A new police force, the North West Mounted Police (present day known as the Royal Canadian Mounted Police) established the first fort at Fort Macleod in Southern Alberta in 1873.Fort MacLeod - BuffaloFort MacLeod - ChurchFort MacLeod - Getting ready for Musical Ride

Fort MacLeod - Murphy hugs a horse

Fort MacLeod - NWMP ready for inspection

Fort MacLeod - Wood and Coal stove

Riding Shotgun – Mid USA

Most the country-side in the middle States are similar to their northern Canada provinces.  The people are similar too, especially in the farming communities.  North Dakota and South Dakota went on endlessly across flat/straight roads with a few differences from southern Saskatchewan.  There was an ad for Wall Drug Store that indicated some fabulous landmark would eventually appear.  It wasn’t quite what I expected but their sense of humor and guarantee that curiosity would make me stop is to be commended.  I also had the privilege of seeing ‘Historical’ Jamestown – the town of my father’s birth.  It was a great experience.  I really enjoyed driving through northern Michigan..  When I stayed in Marquette overnight – I thought it would be a place I could live – it was peaceful and beautiful on Lake Superior.  I reconsidered when I realized I’m not excited about humidity and it was there.  Some of the town names were exotic with promise – possibly not met?  Escanaba sounded like it should be in the Caribbean but instead it is  on the northern tip of Lake Michigan. When we crossed the Mackinaw Bridge the scenery was awesome.  It was late and George was tired so even though it was the middle of summer tourist season  we tried to find a hotel.  Once again the Best Western saved us.  Since it was so late they gave us a luxurious room for $57.00 – complete with a Jacuzzi tub where we could watch TV.  In the morning we had a free breakfast out on a patio before the heat of the day.  It was beautiful.  The bridge spans where Lake Superior, Lake Huron and Lake Michigan join.   We drove through Iowa and Radar’s hometown Ottumwa.  In Council Bluffs I had the experience of a desk-clerk asking me what ‘a’ Calgary was when I signed in to a motel.  In Kansas we stopped in a tiny restaurant (unfortunately I forget the name) where they served ham that was identical to the hams my dad used to cure.  It was fantastic.  I loved Montana – it was so much like my beloved Alberta.  In Oklahoma we were caught in the middle of a storm.  We had to stay in a small town Boise City with very few conveniences. All the streets were lined with semi’s and a small convenience store stayed open.  In the morning we could go again.

Last but not least, I am determined to go back and visit St. Louis.  I discovered they have the largest museum and center for Western North American History.  I should be able to stay for at least a few weeks of research.  I still laugh at the expressions I get when I am asked where I would like to go on holidays and I say St. Louis.

Riding Shotgun – North Eastern Seaboard

In the far north, the maritime provinces, Maine and parts of the north are places of small populations and country living.  In the state of New York there were large expanses of isolation and ‘untouched’ scenery.  It was beautiful.

When we reached Boston, the whole scenario changed.  By the time we reached New York city I was literally putting a perfume soaked Kleenex to my sensitive nose.  The smells were very unbelievable to my mind.  I suppose one might get used to it but to me – from the wide expanses of fresh air experienced in the west I just felt sick.  The traffic was heavy and confusing, especially in a semi.  I understand why there is a saying in the truck world – don’t give me trips east of the Mississippi.  There are low bridges, roads truckers aren’t allowed on – although people live there and require their furniture to be delivered and of course George was a moving-furniture driver.

I found it ironic that there is such loud noises and protest against Alberta for its’ ‘dirty, polluting’ oil and often these come from Eastern states and provinces.  Alberta and the west in both Canada and the USA will rival and surpass most areas of the world in cleanliness.  I am confused right now that there is a hysterical protest against both the Keystone Pipeline and the Northern Gate Pipeline, yet nothing is said or protested – against the dirty tankers coming to the eastern seaboard from dirty OPEC countries who do not have the rules and regulations in place that our Northern American counterparts do.

But I digress.  We had to go into downtown Manhattan.  First, George hired a guy to guide us to a spot near Time Square.  Another driver in his company had actually got stuck in the tunnel and had to be backed out in heavy New York traffic.  We had to follow a poorly marked sign to get off the bridge before we were too stuck.  When we got into Manhattan, I was curious.  This was New York.  The traffic was everything I had heard of.  There were cars parked along where George had to unload a dressmaker.  But there were two lanes of parking, one for deliveries.  The man my husband hired suggested I guarded the truck as they unloaded.  I soon saw why this was necessary.  Beside was a McDonald’s Restaurant.  I watched people going in and out – some riding bikes.  I didn’t know whether to laugh or call the police.  The amount of bikes stolen were surprising.  It was daylight and the streets were crowded.  The people were fascinating to me.  Often someone would walk by the trailer and look into the back, but seeing me standing there – they would move on.

Finally we were unloaded and had to take more furniture to Washington DC, so we had to leave immediately.  My experience was very educational.  I saw Times Square and Central Park.  I would love to fly into New York and see all I missed.

When we reached Washington the sweet smells of fruit trees in blossom mixed with freshly falling rain and sunlight, caused everything to change. But that will be another story because the South Eastern Seaboard deserves its’ own story.

Another – Riding Shotgun Trip


There is much traffic between Alberta and Texas or Louisiana.  Gas & Oil companies change their personnel about every two years between these places.  Calgary, Alberta has the largest percentage of Americans outside the USA in the world.  I found that a very interesting statistic.

As my husband was moving furniture at the time he often got moves to these states.  I decided to go with him to Louisiana one time as we could get down there on a Friday and he didn’t have to unload until the following Monday.

We spent a week-end in Lafayette, Louisiana. This trip was the most obvious ‘never seen before’ trip.  Wherever we drove – from eastern States, to the mid-west States and even the Pacific coast States there are similarities between Canada and the USA.  But there is no comparing in Canada when it comes to the bayous.

On Saturday we took a boat tour on the bayous.  From the eerie, hanging moss on the Cyprus trees, I had only read about in romance books  to the alligators we saw, I could only stare and try to drink in all the sights.  Deep pink flowers and waxy green foliage, floated on the water often looking like land.  Our guide told us the trunks of the Cyprus trees could be under water up to forty feet and still tower above us.  I could imagine voodoo rituals, ghosts and crawling monsters.  I saw alligators resting on rotting logs.  (My husband said they weren’t real . Mostly they didn’t move – he thought they might just be props for the tourists).  The water is murky, dark and mysterious.

Then I asked a few people where the best place to eat Cajun food was.  I was already hooked on the scrumptious tastes and since then I haven’t found a better cup of coffee – except maybe Quebec and of course Tim Horton‘s – my addiction of choice.  We went to a restaurant called PreJean’s and dined near a stuffed alligator.  The ambiance was perfect.  The food was out of this world. I can still imagine the taste of the chocolate dessert.  The people were so friendly.

On Monday we went to unload.  Our customer had a huge sprawling house beside the river.  The woman we moved was fun and entertaining. She actually gave me her full-length mink coat, saying she wouldn’t need it.  I could almost hear her ‘ha,ha’ in my mind.  But it was such a wonderful, thoughtful gift.

The air was hot and humid.  She explained that her skin just ‘slurped’ up the moisture when she got off her plane. (Calgary has extremely dry air). She had a long boardwalk along side the river and a boat dock.  Although she warned me to watch for poisonous snakes that crawled in the murky waters I couldn’t resist walking along side the river, drinking in the wondrous sights.

Then as the cardboard boxes were emptied and thrown out on the lawn to be flattened, I saw something else.  Little gecko’s – so irresistibly  cute and inquisitive crawled all over.  There were hundreds and hundreds.  I chased them – thinking this might be a wonderful gift to bring back for my two boys. They sure were quick.  They would stand on a box and wait for me – until I was close enough to reach out then they disappeared.  For anyone who thinks otherwise – I couldn’t have brought them across the border regardless, but the thought was fun.

Overall, my first trip to Louisiana is a warm memory of fun, beauty and a uniqueness I will never forget.  I have been to Louisiana a few times since, but my first trip was special.