Fish Creek Park – Part 2

After our last visit to Fish Creek Park, we just had to go back and see it again.  This time we went to a different part of it.

We’ve had some terrific mid-winter weather lately and a lot of the snow and ice has melted.  It was nice to see some water again.  The ice formations by the riverbanks were impressive, as were the large chunks of ice that had broken away from the sides.

As we stood admiring the view by these two trees….
We noticed that one of them had been slightly nibbled – could it be evidence of a beaver?
The ducks didn’t seem to mind the ice, and there were lots of them (including some black and white ones), both on the water and flying around overhead.
As we were walking back to the car, (as we had decided to go back to where we saw the Owl on our first visit), we saw four or five Blue Jays flying around in a tree.  Here’s one…
Arriving back where we had seen the Owl before, we wondered if we would be lucky enough to see it again.  We weren’t to be disappointed as we came across it in just about the first tree we looked up at!  But look carefully (easier once you get beyond the first of these photos)…there are actually two Owls snuggled together in the tree.  We have since been told that these are Great Horned Owls.  They were huge.
As we continued walking into the woodland, we were greeted by 3 deer.
There were still plenty of birds around despite it being the depths of winter.
As we were making our way back through the trees, the light was fading, giving them a lovely warm glow, which the picture doesn’t really do justice.
We would definitely recommend a visit, on a nice day.  The park has such a feel good factor about it.  For free entertainment, pretty much on your doorstep, it is hard to beat.

2010 Olympic Torch Run In High River – A Little Piece of History

The Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics are nearly upon us.

In the run up to the games, the Olympic Torch has been on a 106–day long relay journey across Canada, with the flame covering some 45,000 kilometres in that time!  The torch relay has been a huge event over here, a source of great local pride as it has visited one community after another.  We have been amazed by how much support there has been. So on day 81 of the relay, when the flame reached High River, we thought we just had to go and witness what could be a once in a lifetime event.

This is one of the Olympic flags that were lining the local streets.

As the torch was planned to run past our office, we decided to put up our RE/MAX balloon.

The presenter was very good, and very engaging.  We have seen him on news coverage also hosting these events elsewhere so he might have covered a good few kilometres himself by now!

Darrel Janz is our local news presenter on CTV – he too was one of the presenters.

He introduced a local Jazz band comprising of 3 local schools and they were pretty good…here’s a video of it.  If you are reading this on Facebook, the video may not work and so you can click here to see this post on our blog.

This was followed by a painter sponsored by the Royal Bank of Canada, who just seemed to use his hands to paint as his canvas constantly spun in front of him.  He was quite amazing to watch.  But you just can’t help yourself, you have to ask “do you know what it is yet?”

The finished painting (a picture of an Olympic Torch Carrier), was presented to the Mayor for it to stay in High River.
Coca Cola were handing out special 2010 Olympic branded aluminium bottles of Coke.

Janet managed to get hold of the Olympic Torch…

Another local group performed on the stage…

We were lucky enough to have High River local, and top country act, George Canyon as the big star of the show.  Here is George singing “Somebody Wrote Love”…

…and “Ring of Fire”

As he was coming off the stage, we managed to get a few more shots of him.
Here’s the torch coming into High River and making its way to the stage.
The torch on stage and lighting of the couldron.
The Mayor and assorted other local politicians and eminent folk…
The Torch Running past the office in High River on its way to Okotoks.
It was indeed quite something and we are both very glad we had the opportunity to experience it – we were surprised by how much you are drawn into the spirit and emotion of it.

Fish Creek Provincial Park

As Sunday was such a beautiful day here in Calgary and surrounds, we just had to take advantage of the sunshine and the warm temperatures.  We decided to explore Fish Creek Provincial Park, something that has been on our list of things to do for a long time.  We walked for about an hour and a half and it soon became apparent what a vast park it is.

We have since learned, that the park (located in the southern part of Calgary), is one of the largest urban parks in North America, stretching 19 km (11 miles) from east to west and is over three times the size of Vancouver’s Stanley Park.

The Bow River and the Fish Creek pass through the park, which spans the width of the city.  This is a picture of a bridge, over the very frozen Fish Creek.

There are a variety of paved and unpaved pedestrian and bicycle trails that connect the park to the city’s extensive trail system.
The park features 80 kilometers (50 miles) of trails, of which 30 kilometers (19 miles) are paved, and it is home to a large variety of natural wildlife, including Deer, Coyotes, Owls and Beavers.  We were lucky enough to have this Owl fly right past us, and we chatted to another couple who have recently seen a Porcupine in the park.
The park features a number of different picnicking and forest areas and of course, the obligatory fire pit / barbecue, which was giving off some fantastic aromas!
We also saw this very noisy Woodpecker…
…a Tree Creeper…
…and of course, some Deer.
 As the light started to fade, the frozen Fish Creek looked stunning.
Two fishermen in the rather fast moving Bow River.
Ice forming at the edges of the river.
The trees looked beautiful as the sun went down.

On the way home the stunning sunset rounded off a very enjoyable day.

More information on Fish Creek Provinal Park can be found at the following link: Fish Creek Provincial Park


Our Last Evening & Drive Home from Montana

Now on our final evening in Helena, and after a heavy day of walking, (downtown in the morning, followed by the museum and then some last minute shopping), we decided to go for a drive before dinner.  We got some lovely views, just as the sun was setting.  We also saw loads of deer.

I think we found the house of our dreams (a little blurry as we sped past in the car)
The next day, an early start was needed as we began our journey back to Okotoks, starting with the winding road through the mountains (Wolf Pass), but thankfully visibility was good.
After a brief stop in Great Falls, Montana (which, on first appearances, does not strike us as a place to rush back to), we reached the Canadian border crossing.  We were dealt with by the grumpiest guard ever!  He barely made eye contact with us.  Every question was “barked” at us.  He asked to see our passports, asked where we lived and what we had been doing in the US.  He asked us how much we had purchased in the USA (in Canadian dollar value – we were prepared for this).  As he handed our passports back without a smile, he said “go on” and slid his window shut!  So, seemingly, he was satisfied with the answers we gave.  He didn’t even ask to see our Permanent Residence cards.  On the upside, unlike the hour or so we spent at the US border on the way south, here, there was no one in front of us, we didn’t have to get out of the vehicle and we were through the border in probably 5 minutes.  Unpleasant that he was, 5 minutes with Mr Grumpy was never going to take the edge off what had been a hugely enjoyable short break.
Then it was straight (almost literally) back to Okotoks!
Just as we were hitting home, the sun was setting and we were treated to yet another stunning sunset.
It was a great experience and we really enjoyed our trip and now can’t wait to do it again.  We have all sorts of ideas for future Canadian and USA road trips!

The State Capitol Building in Helena

Whilst we were in Helena, which is the state capital for Montana, we went to see the Capitol building.  We are always amazed that, in this day and age, you can just walk freely around State Capitol Buildings.  There is a security guard at a desk in reception but apart from welcoming us, all he did was give us a sheet to enable us to do a self guided tour, and off we went!

The building is faced with sandstone and on its east and west wings, granite.  It is topped with a copper dome. 

Large, impressive central staircase.
At the top of the stairs, there is a statue of Jeanette Rankin who was the first woman to be elected to the United States House of Representatives and the first female member of the US Congress.  She is sometimes referred to as “the Lady of the House”.  She also joined the campaign for womens suffrage and was a lifelong pacifist and voted against the entry of the United States into both World War I and World War II.
Also at the top of the stairs is a statue of Wilbur Fisk Sanders, who helped found the Montana Historical Society as he was so keen to document Montana’s history.  In 1889 the Montana Legislature selected him to serve as one of its first US Senators.
Above the next staircase, there is a lovely stained glass window.
View of the stairway up to the next level.
Looking up into the dome
Corridors were lined with Christmas trees that had been decorated by local children.
Senate Chambers
House of Representatives Chambers
Behind the speaker’s chair, on the wall, is what is considered to be the masterpiece painting by Charles M Russell, who we mentioned in our first Montana post.  It is called “Lewis and Clark Meeting Indians at Ross’ Hole”, which is on a 12 x 25 foot canvas.  It dates from 1912.
 Bell donated to celebrate Montanas 100th Birthday on 8th November 1989.
And of course, very impressive bathrooms!
A rather stunning tree outside, covered with ice.
It’s a beautiful building and it is fabulous that you have such freedom to enjoy it.  Long may it stay that way.
The next and final part of our account of our trip to Montana will follow in due course and it will cover our last day there and the journey home.

Helena, Montana – A Bit of History

Helena owes its existence to the discovery of gold, silver and lead. 

In 1864 a group known as the “Four Georgians” (John Cowan, Daniel Jackson Miller, John Crab, and Reginald, or Robert Stanley) stumbled upon gold in what is now Helena’s main street. The claim was staked and named “Last Chance Gulch.”  (A gulch is a deep V-shaped valley). 

As the gulch began to fill with people, the miners decided they needed to come up with a name for the town. The “Four Georgians” originally named it Crabtown, after John Crab. Searching for a new name, the miners decided on a name of a town in Minnesota, pronounced Saint Hel-ee-na. Over time, the pronunciation changed to Helen with an “a” on the end and “Saint” was dropped from the name.

In 1875, Helena became the capital of Montana Territory. When Montana became a state, the fight for the location of the state capital began.  Helena won, and in October 1898, ground was broken for the State Capitol Building . 

The historic downtown area of the capital city is situated in a steep gulch with parts of the city perched on surrounding hillsides. This picturesque setting opens up into a wide valley to the north. On the upper-eastside sits Montana’s State Capitol.  It seems strange that we are in awe of these magnificent buildings when we used to see them all the time in the UK, but it is nice to see.


Helena’s glorious past can also be seen in the spectacular 19th-century mansions, which are absolutely huge.  Some of the architecture would not look out of place in the UK.

The St. Helena Cathedral is an imposing building.  It is modelled after the cathedral in Cologne, Germany, and is a replica of the Votive Church in Vienna. The twin spires rise 230 feet above the street.
This is the original Governor’s Mansion, constructed, in 1888.  It contains 20 rooms and seven fireplaces, all restored to turn-of-the-century elegance and furnished with antiques. We did not manage to get on a tour of the mansion this time, but hope to on another occasion.
The Montana Museum houses one of the country’s most important collections of Charles M. Russell, a well known artist in the US and Canada.
The museum is quite large, and we didn’t manage to get around it all, but for $5.00 each and the option to go back for a second day, free of charge, it is very reasonably priced.  It covers history from the first nations, building of the railroads and hotels, to the gold rush and much much more.
This is a model of the bufallo jumps. 
Standing face to face with this bear sends a shudder down your spine, even though we know he isn’t about to pounce!

This, even more so

A buffalo

At -19, it was just the day to wear a Buffalo skin, just like the First Nations people did in the past.  It feels about the weight of a Bufallo as Jan staggered around under the weight of it.

This is a rare White Bison (not Albino as it has some dark hair, horns and eyes).  Only one white bison is born in every half million births.

Outside the museum, there is this statue depicting western culture.

And this 2 and a half ton metal bison skull which is 24 feet wide and 7 feet high.

We feel as though we have only scratched the surface on this visit and we very much look forward to returning at some point in the future.

Over the days ahead, we’ll publish some pictures from our tour of the State Capitol building and then some coverage of our return to Canada.


Moving To Canada?

Are you moving to Canada? Let us help you.

Eamonn is a Realtor licensed to operate in Alberta, so if you are looking to relocate to Alberta and buy property here, drop Eamonn a line. Contact details follow later in this post. Janet is the Office Manager of the same, supportive and hugely experienced, RE/MAX real estate brokerage that Eamonn is a Realtor at.

But I’m not moving to Alberta but to another Canadian Province instead?

Via the RE/MAX network of real estate offices that Eamonn is associated with, he can help you find a Realtor that suits YOUR needs and personal preferences, pretty much anywhere in Canada, so again, drop Eamonn a line.

But should I make contact now…I’m not moving to Canada for months or even years?

That’s fine – we have been through the process you are going through and know how slowly the wheels can turn. We understand the million questions racing around your head about a myriad of subjects, not just property. As such, it is never too early to establish and build a strong and trusting relationship. Many people contact Eamonn way ahead of when they actually intend to move here and buy a home – he treats everyone the same, with total dedication to helping address all manner of concerns and issues, not just real estate ones. So get in touch – even if your plan is to rent a property in the first instance and buy later.

But how can I trust you – you’re just someone else on the internet?

We understand. So, take a bit of time to get to know us before making contact. We are totally non pushy and are an “open book”. We share our lives with thousands (literally) of people, all over the world, via this blog. So sit down with a beverage of your choice and enjoy a walk through our lives here in Canada. You will hopefully realise we are anything but frightening or false and will feel comfortable enough to email us to say “Hi”. We’re here to help.

OK, nice blog, but I’m still unsure…

Caution is sensible! Then know that Eamonn gives freely of his time to help people looking for advice on moving to Canada. In most cases, the recipients of the advice are people that we have no hope of ever doing business with. We do this on a variety of immigration related internet discussion boards. To date, across these various boards, we have posted over 1,600 times.

Whether it’s a word or two of encouragement or congratulations, looking up a key fact or spending hours researching and relaying informal advice about emigration routes open to individuals and family units, we give freely of our time to help others. If we do that for people we will likely never do business with, imagine how hard Eamonn (with Janet’s assistance) works for his clients. If you use such discussion boards, you’ll always know it is us. We always use screen name, “Getting There”.

Indeed, we are so happy to share our experience of moving to Canada that we wrote an article for the British Expats website editorial team and they decided to publish it. You can read the article here.

Jan & Eam Emigrate From The Uk To Alberta

Ready to make contact?

If so, we’d love to hear from you. Here’s how.

Email Eamonn at

or come and take a look at Eamonn’s Real Estate and Relocation website at and use the contact options on there.

or if you use Facebook or Skype, add Eamonn O’Gorman of Okotoks, Canada as a friend/contact.

To those of you that have already selected Eamonn as your Realtor/Relocator, thank you – it’s great working with you.