If I lived in Canada I would want to live in Banff. But wait! I couldn’t! More on that later.
Joe and I just took an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime trip on the Canadian Rocky Mountaineer Railway. We did a full circle loop in western Canada through the Canadian Rockies, beginning in Vancouver and crossing over to Banff and Lake Louise.
From there they motor coached us up to Jasper, where we experienced the ice field and Joe walked on a glacier. (After my ankle-shattering, stepping-on-a-boat ordeal, I refrained from that particular adventure.) Next the railroad took us back over to Whistler, then down to Vancouver and ultimately to Seattle. We never slept on the train. Each night we disembarked and were bused to our hotels. We met a lot of nice people (many from Australia) and ate way too much.
We arrived in Banff on a beautiful 70 degree day (they use Celsius up there, which was eternally confusing for me). Our hotel, the Rimrock, included a beautiful view right outside of our window of several mountains framed by pine trees. It was actually hard to leave the room with that kind of view.
The next day they took us on a half-day tour and the town began to sink into a snowstorm that ended up a whiteout blizzard. I had to buy a jacket! (It was already 50 percent off and was billed in Canadian money, so what a great deal I got for a reversible, waterproof, mid-weight jacket that says “Banff” on it!) Back at the hotel, the mountain outside of our window had completely disappeared into an unending haze of white. By the next day it was back, surrounded by 60 degree temperatures.
Whereas these unusual weather conditions may seem to make Banff less desirable, it did not dampen my love of this location. Some people are enamored of big cities. I’m entranced by small towns with great character. (Maybe I got that from my own hometown, eh?) Quaint shops with all things Canadian and restaurants offering exotic things like elk pizza and huge hand crafted chicken pot pies abound. Tucked in the midst of a set of mountains with snow draping the peaks, Banff is just charming!
They gave us a pass for the shuttle, which took us anywhere in town we wanted to go. I could have stayed forever… not really though, first because I am an Ohio girl through and through, but also because one has to apply to live in Banff.
Yes. They have a population cap of 10,000. Those wanting to live there must apply; among the requirements, the applicant must either have a job or own a business in Banff. Retirement has settled too firmly into my life to get a job and I have no desire to ever own a business. That means I shall, indeed, remain an Ohio girl.
I’ve had my issues with our homeowners association and the architecture committee in the community where we recently moved, but in Banff the entire town is subject to such scrutiny when it comes to each and every nail hammered into the outside of the houses. They want to maintain the uniqueness of the place and, to quote our tour guide, “We want your grandchildren’s grandchildren to be able to appreciate the beauty and character of Canada.”
They are very tough in Canada. The fine for littering is $1,000. Guess what? We never saw any litter! It is a law in British Columbia that no burger can be served at anything less than well done! (Little charcoal parties come delivered to the table, so try something else, like that elk pizza or chicken pot pie.)
Bottom line, though you’ll probably never be allowed to move there, please do visit if you get the chance. I loved it and am so glad we had the chance to visit. My jacket will be a happy reminder of a happy time.
Oh, one disclaimer — those “all things Canadian” turned out to be made in the Philippines and China, proving they’re no better off than we are! Oh well!
Pat Gorske Price graduated from Oberlin High School and taught English and drama there for 12 years. In retirement she continues to enjoy writing and theater. Comments can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org.