Victoria Day adventuring took Mr. P—being a special friend to the places where History and Nature get all smushed together—to Nikka Yuko Japanese Garden, on the shores of Henderson Lake in Lethbridge, Alberta.

One of many parks across Canada designed in commemoration of Canada’s 100th birthday in 1967 (like Confederation Park in Calgary), the Nikka Yuko garden specifically honours the contributions of Japanese pioneers in southern Alberta.


At the front gate



We learned that Japanese gardeners prune trees to make them look all svelte and well-proportioned; that water is the heart of a Japanese garden and symbolizes purity in Japanese culture; that gardeners should never underestimate the importance of a Well Placed Rock; and that you’re not allowed to wear shoes in the nifty pagoda that smelled like cedar.


All in all, a peaceful stop on a rainy Victoria Day, and we didn’t forget to commemorate our friendship at the Friendship Bell, make a wish in the mysterious well in the forest, or nearly get our feet sliced off by samurai swords.



Contemplative at the waterfall


Hope everyone else had a good Victoria Day!


We were guests of the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta (town motto: WE HAVE HOODOOS!) yesterday for Alberta Culture Days. Free admission to provincial sites this past weekend. This is not a Public Service Announcement for obvious reasons, but thank you for the free admission anyway, Royal Tyrrell.

The overriding question: Why is that dinosaur (skeleton) trying to eat that other dinosaur (skeleton)?


So much violence transpiring behind him


Not at the Royal Tyrrell, but Drumheller’s largest T-Rex


Love in the jaws of death (inside Drumheller’s largest T-rex)

IMG_5320 IMG_5350 IMG_5352 IMG_5321 IMG_5355


This lovely building has a sad past: it operated as a Catholic residential school on the St. Mary’s Indian Reserve from 1910 to 1970. Its inmates were children from the five bands of the local Ktunaxa Nation within British Columbia, as well as children from the Okanagan, Shuswap, and Blackfoot Nations.

Today it has the distinction of being the sole former residential school building in Canada now operating as a fully Aboriginal-owned profit-seeking venture, no small feat given the Indian Act’s constraints on reserve economies, as former St. Mary’s chief Sophie Pierre explained to the Globe and Mail in 2012:  “We were five Indian bands without two nickels to rub together, and we managed to put together a $40-million resort.”



Looking toward historic residential school barn (now pro shop)

St. Eugene resort is a good place to stay and explore the Cranbrook area, including the national historic site of Fort Steele (once an up-and-coming frontier community that was gradually abandoned when the railway was constructed through nearby Cranbrook instead). At Fort Steele, historic re-enactors evoke the region’s mining, British colonial, frontier town, and North-West Mounted Police-post past, and steam train rides offer views of the St. Mary’s and Kootenay Rivers.

All in all, a good time even on a rainy Labour Day weekend ….


Mural in Cranbrook, BC


Early morning pancakes in Cranbrook, BC


Fort Steele heritage town


Convenient hitching post for toddlers, I mean, horses




Jailhouse, part of government building that showcases how British colonial officials came to the region to oversee mining claims in the 1850s, et cetera…


…convenient in the modern era for locking up husbands….


Vintage fun


Fort Steele national historic site of Canada (first North-West Mounted Police post in British Columbia, est. 1887)


St. Eugene’s Catholic Church, est. 1897, St. Mary’s Indian Reserve 


Kootenay River

IMG_5191 IMG_5192 IMG_5162


Peace Bridge


Quintessential Canada Goose

IMG_3774 IMG_3787

Just a Sunday afternoon stroll to the Bow River and Prince’s Island Park to watch the geese hanging out on the still-unmelted ice. It’s spring and we live in the most beautiful place on earth.

Mr. P was playing “camping and fishing on the river,” using long sticks to spear leaves out of the open water near the rocks. He had quite a pile of caught fish when he was done (and muddy pants and shoes).

The man doesn’t need to be told what to do around a river. It’s instinct.

This was our fourth weekend in a row bumming/day-trippin’ around the mountains as a family. March is an awesome time to visit Banff. Ski season is winding down, and the throngs of summer tourists are nowhere in sight. For anyone who has fought the crowds or tried to find a parking spot in Banff on a busy summer day or a long weekend (like Family Day in February), it can feel exceedingly liberating and peaceful to stroll up Banff Avenue in springtime. Try it!

Continue reading