Southern Alberta

Province

The term “hidden gem” is used to describe something that is outstanding and but not necessarily obvious to most people. That’s what I wanted to learn about Medicine Hat, so I met up with Attiya Fune and her parents to explore the city and learn about the more off-the-beaten-path places for visitors.

It’s often the little things that make the heart grow fonder in relationships, but that, I discovered, can also apply to your old home city. I recently made a return visit to Medicine Hat where I hadn’t lived in more than two decades only to find the city had changed – a lot.

It’s been a few years since I lived in “The Hat” as we used to call it. So, when the chance came along to go back and experience Medicine Hat on a brewery tour, I was pretty excited. It would be interesting to see how much the city has changed. One thing’s for sure, there weren’t any craft brewers like Hell’s Basement Brewery and Medicine Hat Brewing Co around when I lived there. Today, they’re putting the small southern Alberta city on the international craft beer map.

The wind is strong from the east. Our jackets flap, our hair tangles and our invisible scent carries with the wind. If it was our day for driving the buffalo over the edge of the cliff, we’d go hungry. The massive mammals would have smelled us long ago and thundered away. At Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump World Heritage Site near Fort McLeod, you find out just how much that buffalo meant for survival for the Blackfoot Nation.

“We like to say that Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump and the Royal Tyrrell Museum are the battleships, and we are the Royal Yacht,” says Howard Snyder, manager of the Remington Carriage Museum with a twinkle in his eye. There is indeed a regal feeling about this grand building – at 64,000 square feet – full of carriages that have transported dignitaries such as Queen Elizabeth II, Pierre Trudeau, and Ulysses S. Grant.

Nestled in the southern Canadian Rockies, the Crowsnest Pass – or fondly referred to as “The Pass,” boasts spectacular scenery, a rich coal mining history, friendly communities, and great hiking. Whether you’re just passing through and want a short hike to break up the drive, or have a weekend to bag some peaks, there is a wide range of trails in The Pass that will take your breath away. With so many hikes to choose from, I called upon local residents, Pam Drover and Heather Davis, to help select the top 5 hikes in the Crowsnest Pass.

“This is one of the tougher routes I run,” says Chris Humphries as we finish warming up. “The hills are killer, and they sneak up on you,” he says of the route that makes up Medicine Hat’s popular Conquer the Ridge half marathon.

The Cypress Hills rise 600 metres above the surrounding prairies making them the highest point between the Canadian Rockies and the East Coast. The unique mix of climate, geography, and ecosystems create a home for an extensive diversity of plants and animals. The entire area is also steeped in rich history with archeological evidence confirming human habitation as far back as 8,500 years.

Everybody loves the mountains, but nobody likes the long drive out to see them. If you make the trek, you’ll often find yourself among throngs of tourists, standing in queues from sunrise to sunset. It’s a beautiful landscape, but one full of selfie sticks, elbow bumping and mounting frustration.

In front of me, on a polished long table in a refurbished industrial building on the outskirts of Medicine Hat, sits a piece of wood cut in the shape of the province of Alberta.