As the old saying goes: “behind every man, there is a brave woman”.
During the maiden voyage inaugrating the construction of the the Canadian Pacific Rail (CPR), the wife of the first Canadian Prime Minister, Lady Agnes Macdonald, was very fascinated with the beauty of the Rocky Mountains. As a result she decided to trade her comfortable first class seat for a place at the front of the engine on the cow catcher to admire the views directly. In this way she travelled the remaining route from Lake Louise to Vancouver, ca 1000 km. To honor that brave feat a few places in the Rockies have been named after her name…
For many Poles Canada evokes the thoughts of beauty and prosperity. Today it is quite easy to visit this beautiful country as there is no visa required for us. The best time for coming is definitely the summer as the winters can be pretty severe. I highly recommend the western part of Canada with its two provinces here, i.e. Alberta and British Columbia. The richness of nature is breathtaking and the hotel-camping infrastructure is superior to the US.
One of the places worth visiting is Banff National Park, the second oldest national park in the world after Yellowstone. In this vast area one can visit the picturesque city of Banff with its hot springs and the gondola to the Sulphur Mountain. For our first campsite we chose a place on Lake Minnewanka south of Banff. Snowcapped hills, thick woods and crystal and ice cold lake water radiate unique energy. Speaking about the cold water I could not resist the “everything is possible” temptation to have a swim in the ice cold lake. The most thrilling aspect of it was getting the naked head under water while crawling forward.
Near Banff it is worth visting Lake Louise and the neighboring, other ice lake called Morraine Lake. The color of the water in those lakes is fabulous. On a sunny day their surface reflects the surrounding glaciers. Many places offer interesting hiking trails with frequent bear warnings.
Speaking about bears, we received a few days ago an email from our friend and loyal reader from the US, Walter, with an article about a recent fatal accident in Yellowstone, in which a grizzly female attacked a pair of hikers killing one of them. Though it was the first fatal accident in the past 25 years in Yellowstone, the bear danger is real.
Travelling further west we enter the next Canadian province, British Columbia. The landscape continues to be picturesque. Yoho and Glacier National Parks, Roger’s Pass, Golden and the following place of our camping, Revelstoke. The latter place was named after Lord Revelstoke, whose bank saved CPR from bankruptcy. Still today Revelstoke has strong ties with rail. It hosts an interesting Railway Museum situated right by the CPR tracks.
Built between 1881-1885 this transatlantic railway linked east and west of Canada enabling faster development of the whole country. Its constructors faced many challenges while building it. One of them was securing the maximum gradient of 2,2%. To achieve such a parameter in mountainous terrain special eight-shaped tunnels had to be built in a place called Kicking Horse Pass. Driving the route 1 from Calgary to Vancouver you can often see passing CPR trains along the way having 100+ cars.
After two days of camping in Revelstoke we head further west to our next destination, Vancouver. The views remain spectacular.
As Lady Agnes put it after while travelling at the front of the rail engine:
„There is glory of brightness and beauty everywhere, and I laugh aloud on the cowcatcher, just because it is all so delightful!”