Category Archives: Seasonal & Public Holidays

Lake Louise for New Year

We hope you all had a wonderful New Year.We decided to spend it in the Rockies as we had been desperate to see what they are like in the winter. Having now returned, we can’t find the words to describe the beauty of it all, (some blog this, eh!) We hope the following photos and videos will give some sense of what it is like.

The drive up to (and in and around) the Rockies was spectacular.

We had our New Year’s dinner in Banff at a restaurant called the Saltlik Steakhouse.

We had Blue Crab & Shrimp Cakes and Almond Crusted Cheese Pate to start, followed by a lovely juicy steak for Eamonn and steak and lobster for Janet. Unfortunately we didn’t have room for desert. It was a fabulous feast and it warmed us nicely – which was good as it was absolutely freezing outside!

Whilst in Banff we saw some rather large Elk complete with their winter coats.
Banff townsite looked the picture of Christmas. Here’s the high street.

We then headed to our hotel, located about 30 miles north of Banff, at Chateau Lake Louise.
We were held up slightly on the way by a snow plough that had fallen over! We can’t imagine why…it’s not like they get much snow up here…just the occasional “dusting”!
Our room at the hotel was fantastic. The view by night and day was stunning. As you can see, we had a view of the lake with the mountain backdrop. The room was cozy and warm and we really didn’t want to leave! They had horse drawn sleighs taking people for rides around the lake.
The hotel foyer looked exceptionally seasonal.
And over the preceding months, the catering team had spent countless man hours constructing this “to scale” replica of the hotel, apparently correct in every detail, made entirely out of sugar!

The hotel had prepared an area of Lake Louise as a skating rink, and just for good measure, planted an ice sculpture of the hotel in the middle of the rink! At “minus plenty” degrees Centigrade, there’s no danger of this melting until Spring!
Dawn breaking over the mountains on New Year’s Day was a fairly special view from the hotel room window…
On New Years day we went for a walk on the frozen lake (just to prove we can walk on water!) and to take a closer look at the ice sculpture. That was quite something. The video below gives you a little panoramic tour of Lake Louise, from the middle of the lake, starting and finishing at the hotel and circling around the tree lined mountains. Needless to say, the only way we would have achieved this when we were here in the Summer would have been to rent a boat! The crunching sound you can hear is the snow beneath our feet as we circled around.

Obviously, it’s no surprise to see icicles in this sort of environment but we had never seen any quite like these – you really don’t want one of these falling on your head.

We then drove on to Johnson Canyon which, in the Summer, is a series of waterfalls. We have done the walk several times, but never like this. First of all it was -20°C and Janet’s scarf and hair froze! Also, if you blow your nose and put the tissue in your pocket, it freezes, (bet you’re all glad we shared that snippet of info with you aren’t you!)

The walk was cold but amazing. The river that normally rages through the canyon was still running in places but under a thick layer of ice. It was making an eerie banging sound under the ice which made us think of horror films where someone gets trapped beneath, (are we weird!?!). When we got to the lower Johnson Canyon waterfall, it was covered with a thick shell of ice and icicles but you could still see it flowing in places underneath, which was completely bizarre! The ice was blue and white. This is really hard to describe but really amazing to see. The video below doesn’t do it justice.

We both had a really lovely time. It was the perfect way to see in the New Year. The drive home on New Year’s Day wasn’t too bad either as we had an opportunity to pull over and watch the sun set over the mountains.
Lots of Love

Christmas Day 2007

So we’ve made it…our first Christmas as residents of Canada. Whilst it’s strange to be away from our families, we are also proud of what we have achieved in making it through the Canadian immigration process and then actually making the move across in October, finding a house and car and getting ourselves settled.
2008 will present us with all sorts of challenges, not least getting financially established as the search for work begins in earnest in January – but with all the hurdles we’ve jumped to get here, we feel confident about our ability to wrestle to the floor, all the big tasks ahead.
From a very mild Okotoks (it hit 6°C today – with a clear blue sky and lots of sun!), we wish you a very Merry Christmas.

Lots of Love

Fireman’s Santa Parade

Each Christmas Eve evening, the local fire brigade (situated just around the corner from our house) do a tour of Okotoks with a Fire Engine decked out with lights and a santa.

Although this video is not as good as we would like, we wanted to test posting a short movie to the blog and so fingers crossed this works and you can view the mini parade. Try clicking on the triangular “play” button just beneath the picture below.


Heritage Park – 12 Days of Christmas

A few days back, we took a visit to Heritage Park, a “historical” (in North American terms) village situated in the west of Calgary. We visited in the Summer when we were here on a research trip and really enjoyed our day, so we thought we would pop back to take a look at their “12 Days of Christmas” presentation. A selection of photos follow and we hope you can see what a pretty (and interesting) place it is. Each of the buildings started life elsewhere in Canada and were moved piece by piece to Heritage Park where they were reconstructed. You can go into each of the buildings and speak to well informed guides dressed appropriately for the time period.

It was a fairly cold day (about -6°C) but with the sun shining brightly and the clear blue sky, the wintery scenes were that much more beautiful. The last shot is from the edge of the park, looking across the now frozen Glenmore Resovoir towards the Rockies.


We’ve got competition…

A family member was asking us the other day if the Canadian’s make much of Christmas. The answer is yes – if the use of Christmas lights is any form of indicator. We previously posted some shots of our first attempt at applying some Christmas lights to our house, but some of the houses down around our local streets have rather left us “in the shade”.

We especially love the world’s biggest candy cane below…that’s a VERY big house and quite where they sourced a candy cane of that size, we have no idea. You’ll see what we mean below.

The last one is of our house again…after we’ve added some lights to the tree outside.


Christmas is coming…

…and Jan has got into the spirit by getting the decorations up.
First up were the outside lights and the candy canes.

And then she got stuck into the tree.

We sited the tree upstairs in the “bonus room”. This left us with the problem of there being no tree downstairs. Jan was also struggling to accomodate all our decorations on the tree (as we tend to collect them as we go along our travels). The only answer was a second tree, a 7.5 feet one that we have sited in the dining area (or the “nook” as the Canadian’s call it).

Yes, that’s a beaver under the tree!
Throw in an Advent Calendar…

And an emerging yuletide village…

And we’re done! Now, bring on the food!


Changing of the seasons…

Do you remember that late summer scene of the lake out the back of our house…

Look what a few weeks of cold weather and some snowfall has done to it..

The lake has completely frozen over. It looks stunning. The Canadian’s seem an enterprising bunch and they certainly love the outdoors, evidenced by the following…

This is one of maybe 5 different ice rinks that the locals have created for themselves on the lake. You have to admire their determination. It is a significant job to shift that much snow to expose the ice and then they spend an age trying to smooth the surface. Then it snows again and they have to clear the rink again!

It’s fascinating to watch them at work and then to see them enjoy the fruits of their labours.