Sep 28, 2008 - Alberta, Canada, Finances, Travel, Work    3 Comments

Calgary, My Enchanted Land, and the End of the Road?


The only thing on my schedule for today was a visit of Fort Calgary. It’s a small museum, but the exhibits about the NWMP and the history of Calgary are quite interesting. I was accosted at one point by a retired RCMP officer who proceeded to talk my ear off for about twenty minutes about his career, his uniform, Mountie training, career opportunities within the force, his son who is serving at the detachment in Inuvik, our mutual feelings about Ottawa vs. The West, and more. It was really interesting!

As I was about to leave the fort, the lady at the admissions desk called me back and gave me some information about another museum that might interest me that is only open tomorrow (more about that tomorrow *g*) and then she gave me information on a walking tour of downtown Calgary, a scenic detour on the way to a cemetery, details on how to find a particularly interesting gravestone, a brochure about a rock garden that is a must see, and, finally, a map illustrating filming locations in the Calgary area. Whew!

I did only part of the walking tour, which was mostly a gentle stroll down Stephen Avenue, Calgary’s former main street. The architecture was exquisite!!! During a pre-WWI boom, a lot of Calgary’s original wooden buildings were replaced by sandstone structures that really reflect the amount of wealth coming into the city at the time. The Doll Building was my favourite.

The Hudson’s Bay store left me awestruck. It takes up a whole block!

I then returned to my car and proceeded to Spiller Avenue, from which she told me I should take the steepest side street I could find and that I would know why at the top; all of Calgary was laid out below me!

Next on the list was the cemetery.

The Reader Rock Garden was attached to the cemetery. I enjoyed clambering up and down the stone paths even if there wasn’t much in bloom at this time of year.
It was two by this point and I had nothing else planned for the day. So, I took a gander at the movie locations map. You wouldn’t believe the number of major Hollywood pictures filmed in the Calgary area, everything from Robin Williams’ ‘RV’ to Clint Eastwood’s ‘Unforgiven’ to Ang Lee’s ‘Brokeback Mountain’ (a lot of which was filmed near the town on the outskirts of which I’m currently living).

My Enchanted Land

Until the late ’90’s, I could recognize a certain landscape, or a variation thereof, in numerous movies, but I didn’t realise that it was truly one landscape from one region. It was a landscape of mountains, plateaus, and valleys; the perfect setting for everything from ‘Legends of the Fall’ to ‘The Edge’, movies set in a gentler time or about a rough wilderness. Then one day I watched the dueSouth episode ‘Call of the Wild’ and recognized this landscape in it. I did some research and discovered that my enchanted land is called Kananaskis country and it is in Alberta.

Why my enchanted land? There is a book I reread many times in my youth called ‘Cat, Herself.’ It tells the story of a family of tinkers in Scotland. Tinkers are travelers not unlike the full-time RVer. The main character, Cat, had a grand-mother who referred to Ben Loyal as her enchanted land. The expression stuck in my mind.

So, looking at the movie locations map today, I noticed a route marked the Kananaskis trail. It looked like perhaps three to four hours driving time total.

I wanted to go, but I hesitated. What if my enchanted land turned out to be two beautiful peaks surrounded by condos? Perhaps I should do what I did in 1998 when I purposely avoided Sherwood Forest, just leave it as a land out of dreams.

But I was so close. I decided to go.

I’ll let just a few of the pictures I took tell the rest of the story.

The End of the Road?

There is so much work here in Alberta, more jobs than there are workers. From an employment point of view, this should be the end of the road for me until the spring. But I really don’t think that Miranda could be made comfortable enough to endure a Calgary winter and I’ve endured enough miserable winters in the mobile home to know what I’d be getting into. But all these jobs! So, I’ll confess that I’m looking, just for curiosity’s sake, for an indoor place where I could park Miranda for the winter and live in her, like a heated garage or plane hangar.

To give you an idea of what the employment situation is like, let’s go back for a moment to my very first morning in Alberta, back when I was in Lloydminster. I decided to treat myself to a Tim Horton’s coffee before pushing off. I went in, ordered my coffee and muffin, and was about to leave when someone called to me. It was the manager. He wanted to know if I owned the RV outside and, if so, if I’d be interested in a couple of weeks worth of work.

I haven’t shared that story because I felt no one would believe it. But the woman at the museum today did and she said she had a job for me for the winter if I wanted it.

That doesn’t make actually looking for work particularly appealing.

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  • Alberta is a buyers market for jobs right now. The Tar Sands are drawing all available workers, leaving the lower part of the province labour hungry. I Hinton last year most restaurants were closed with signs on the door saying they had no workers. The only place open was McDonalds and they had only one till open with customers lined up far outside the door.

    It would be very hard living in Miranda in a Calgary -40 winter and I believe that although wages are in the high range, so are rents. If you have aplicable skills perhaps the international oil companies might be a place to start looking. Your wages will have to be at the higher end of the scale to make up for the high cost of living in that area. Have fun!

  • I’ve endured 40 below winters in my mobile house with poor insulation, drafty windows, and pipes that wouldn’t stop freezing. I’m envisioning that’s what such a winter would be like in Miranda. Hence the heated indoor space idea. I’m imagining that if jobs are so numerous and housing in such demand, people might turn a blind eye to someone living in a storage facility in her RV.

    But that’s really all just talk at this point. I don’t particularly want to endure another 40 below winter. 🙂

  • […] National Park is one of those regions that, like Kananaskis Country in Alberta, has inflamed my imagination for years. While I would love to explore the region in depth and camp […]

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