Perhaps my favourite thing about Banff wasn’t the Rockies, or the emerald lakes, or the magpies chilling out by my front stoop. Nope, it was the incredible sense of community, even with the large number of expats breezing through on a temporary basis.
When Cailin and I first started a-Twittering about Banff, there were immediately a dozen responses. A giant bear named AlbertaBoss piped up, and then of course the notorious Banff_Squirrel couldn’t help but stick his nose in. We became buddies with BigBearinBanff. They said they groomed their elks for us, and the Squirrel even began wearing a sou’wester and later took time out of his busy schedule to pose for photos with us. We were welcomed into Banff with open arms and lots of beers.
Yep, by 3 p.m., Cailin and I had joined Pam of Spunky Girl Monologues for an impromptu brewery tour at the Banff Ave. Brewing Company, where you can literally buy quarts of beer in milk jugs. They also have something called the Donald Trump Poutine, aptly dubbed because it’s so rich and saucy.
We met a bunch of tourism reps, all super friendly and interested in our journey, drank some more, and then headed to the Eddie Burger Bar for some elk burgers and a Trash Can…a conglomeration of alcohol and Red Bull, with the can crushed up inside the mug. I remember my delight/terror upon pulling out the can only to discover half the booze still inside. Gravity eludes me.
Oh yeah, we also had “Pickle Backs”: a shot of whisky followed by a shot of pickle juice. We think Pam was trying to kill us.
Did I mention that Banff is about 90% populated by Aussies? It’s actually incredible; I was genuinely surprised to meet other Canadians. Even the brewmaster at the Banff Ave. Brewing Company is Australian. And since this mixture of expats and Canadians makes for a deadly combination of drunken debauchery, the nightlife in Banff is very, very intense. Super-mega-awesome-fun-pants-wild.
When I returned a few weeks later with my Moose Network tour, we ended up at the Dancing Sasquatch where a Sasquatch literally stood outside to greet visitors.
Later, me and some new friends from Saskatchewan bought cans of beer from some guys on the street, sat on the sidewalk drinking them, and watched Peace Officers cruise by in amusement. That whole scene just makes me LOL right now, alone in my bed, like an asshole. Let me repeat: Peace Officers, not Police Officers.
Canada, this is how effective tourism is done. By creating an experience filled with Peace Officers, Sasquatches, Trash Cans, groomed elks and talkative squirrels.
It’s kinda cool. I mean, we met with tourism folks and other travellers whom we instantly bonded with. I guess that’s what happens when you live in a town entirely built on tourism—you form connections as quickly as possible before it’s time to move on. There’s no screwing around (figuratively, at least), and you get that instant feeling of, “Gee, I’d fit in here.” Kinda like how I felt in Montreal, but on a much smaller scale…which is a surreal experience given the ultra-cliques that form in small towns such as the one I grew up in. I met a dude on my white water rafting tour with whom I bantered back and forth and decided I wanted to have his babies, and then saw him later passing by in the street. Unfortunately, Corbin and I were in a fake relationship at that point. So the boys stayed very far away. Damn you Corbin, and your sexy high-fives. Random hot dude to whom I gave my business card: call me.
In other words, I wouldn’t mind living in Banff for awhile. Even if the elks remain poorly groomed.