Railway and Mining Heritage

Canmore and Kananaskis haven't always been tourist meccas. In fact, as the cluster of hotels on Railway Avenue sometimes painfully reminds visitors, Canmore was a railway town -- the hotels back onto the still-active tracks -- before it was anything like a holiday destination. While Banff was a tourist destination from the get-go, Canmore, founded in 1884, was a blue-collar coal-mining town. At the turn of the 20th century, Canmore was part of Banff National Park and remained so until the 1930 National Park Act deemed mining inappropriate for a national park. Rather than removing the mine, they moved the park boundary. Bankhead, a coal-mining town near Banff at the base of Cascade Mountain, was shut down, and many of its houses were moved to Banff and Canmore.

Ha Ling Peak

Ha Ling, a cook for the Canadian Pacific Railway, took on a bet: Some put C$50 on the chance that he couldn't climb a local mountain, plant a red flag on the summit, and come back down in less than 10 hours. According to the Medicine Hat News of October 24, 1896, Ha Ling had started his climb at 7am one day the previous week, and was back in time for lunch. Unfortunately, nobody believed him. So he did it again. Taking a crowd of doubters with him as witnesses, he scrambled up the mountainside and planted a second, larger red flag beside the first. Locally, the peak became known as Chinaman's Peak, in his honor. In 1997, as a nod to both the famous climber and its less-than-politically-correct colloquial moniker, the peak was renamed for its famous climber. Ha Ling Peak is now marked with a plaque at a park across from the Canmore Nordic Centre on the Spray Lakes Parkway, just south of Canmore's main street. You can still climb Ha Ling Peak via a relatively easy path on its south side.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.