Ever since arriving in Alberta, I have wanted to get a feel of the wild West. I dreamed of meeting the small town prairie feeling. I found it today!
We began the day saying goodbye to our pretty little campsite at Bow Valley before heading South into cattle country. Our plan was to visit Bar-U Ranch, which is a Canadian historical site displaying the life of actual cowboys. But having a bit of a drive ahead of us, we began the day driving towards Bragg Creek.
I can’t say much about this town, since we only stopped at the shopping centre. However, I really liked what I saw. The place was build with a very Western touch and has escaped the building boom thus far. There were no warehouse buildings and no cheap fast food chains. Rather all the shops seemed local and the eatery proved to be a brilliant spot. It was simply called Mountain Bistro Pizzaria, and I allow myself to do a bit of advertising for this place. The food was great. My boyfriend and I shared a fantastic pizza (for breakfast), while the adorable lady behind the counter charged our phones and cameras, chatting freely. We were far from the only customers and as time passed the place almost filled up with families and local cowboys. A good thing that is, since construction on the parking lot apparently was taking away some business from the usual ensemble of truck drivers. The lady was such a sweetheart and laughing and running around and making everyone feel great. I really do recommend this place should you be in the Bragg Creek area. Also the local café close by was a pleasant experience. The lady here was British which it seemed was not uncommon among the locals.
Bar U Ranch
Our next stop was Bar U Ranch, which is quite appropriate as we were planning on visiting the Calgary Stampede on the following day. Two of the former owners of the Bar U Ranch, George Lane and Patrick Burns, are among The Big Four who founded the Calgary Stampede (but more on that in my next blog).
Bar U is the only preserved ranch to commemorate ranching in Canada. It does so in a very active manner, though our visit was made difficult due to heavy wind. Visitors walk through main parts of the ranch where they can see how the place was run and how people on the ranch lived.
The ranch in itself is full of history having been the home of famous cowboy John Ware as well as the Sundance Kid (not Robert Redford, but the actual Sundance Kid, Harry Longabaugh). Also it was visited by Edward, Prince of Wales, who later abdicated the throne. No wonder Kate and William stayed clear of the place.
It is a nice place to visit though I imagine it is particularly made for families with small children. However, we did get to see a saddle maker at work and chat a bit with some of the people working there. The highpoint though was my boyfriends overjoyed expression when he found the stables and had a chance to say hello to the horses. If it hadn’t been for the wind getting stronger by the minute, I am not sure I would have been able to drag him away from there.
We left Bar U Ranch and had a coffee at yet another sweet little town named Longview, known for its Jerky. Now Jerky is apparently dried Canadian meet, which real cowboys simply can’t stop chewing. However, Longview also had a sweet little café with yet another laughing lady behind the counter. So in the end we drove towards Calgary after having met so many friendly people and seen a bit of ranching history in the beautiful South Alberta.