I hope it’s finally here. It’s my favourite time of year – when life returns to the landscape. Little green things pop out of the decaying detritus of last year’s verdant life. The deer and moose – those that survived the winter – can be seen browsing the new shoots of grass – their fur is splotched with bare patches of molting winter fur. They lose their coats and I lose mine. I can walk outside without my winter coat, gloves and hat.
Although the bears, cougars and coyotes are here all the time – we see traces of them more frequently. The bears wake from their winter slumber and prowl for sustenance. Here in Bragg Creek they’re looking for garbage, bird seed, feed for livestock – anything to fill their bellies before their natural forage becomes abundant. Bears have learned to adapt to our way of life. We raise chickens and harvest honey from bees. We feed horses with oats and we leave a lot of edible waste. The bears take advantage of that.
That’s a big concern for Alberta Environment and Parks biologists. They think bears are an important part of the natural balance. They’re important to the biological diversity that they study and manage in the wild lands that surround us. I look out my window and see wilderness. I’m so fortunate. But, I also have a responsibility to ensure that wilderness is secure – so the bears and I can live together.
One of the bear-human conflict specialists, who works with the government to develop techniques for people and wildlife to coexist, sent me some government produced brochures to help us learn to live together. See below. There is a lot of that stuff. This set of documents suggests that we consider using electric fences to protect attractants from the bears. If you raise chickens or keep beehives or have livestock feed or even if you’re out hunting, you can use an electric fence to discourage bears or other predators from taking advantage of a fast-food, easy meal. It’s very cool modern tech designed to educate bears to understand the boundaries between human and natural food sources. The thing is, bears aren’t very smart in the ways of the modern world – but we are. So, it’s up to us to ensure that we can live together.
The electric fence document contains a short list of suppliers where you can purchase the fences and everything from bear spray to cannons used at airports to scare off birds.
I reset my weather station for the new year yesterday. It’s minus 24 C today, so It seems to be a good time to talk about the West Bragg Creek weather station. The station supplies data on temperature, wind, humidity, barometric pressure, etc.. I transfer that to a web page using Weatherlink software. That program also produces charts based on the last seven days’ data. When I reset, I lost that data, so there is no historical data now, but it will fill up over the week. I've been providing weather data since 1998, I think (memory is going). The data is uploaded to services, including Weather Underground, NOAA and APRS. WU has a great smartphone app that shows my report as IALBERTA258. My weather page, www.braggcreek.ca/weather, also has a webcam image of Moose Mountain. I think I’m using my seventh camera. It took about a year to figure out how to get an HD image, but I’m pleased with the result. The page is updated every 15 minutes. I tweet snowfall amounts on my Twitter account @braggcreekca
Bragg Creek Scarecrow Festival
This the fourth Annual Scarecrow Festival. It's so much fun! Just as the leaves fall and turn brown, colourful scarecrows start popping up all around the hamlet and beyond. It's a contest actually. During the first week of November the entries will be judged and chosen as the best in their category. Best "human" scarecrow,
Best animal scarecrow,
Best multiple character display,
Best celebrity look-alike,
Best overall scarecrow(s). Some, like the Outdoor guy getting electric therapy at the Physiotherapy are tied to the business or creator and some, like Trump's Wall are tied to current events. Some are simple and some elaborate. Lots are scary - tied into Halloween and many are traditional. They're all great, as they bring fun, colour and character to Bragg Creek.
The Bragg Creek Heritage Festival has become an annual event, much to the credit of the Bragg Creek Historical Society and its supporters. Intrepid explorers and devout Christian missionaries came first along with the North West Mounted Police. Then pioneers like the Fullertons and Connops came to till the soil and raise cattle. That occurred at the end of the 1800s. But, most of the “history” of Bragg Creek took place during the beginning of the 1900s. The first settlers in Bragg Creek were located near what is now St. Francis Stables, formerly the Saddle and Sirloin Ranch. That’s where A.O. Wheeler, a Dominion Land Surveyor, came across John and Albert Bragg in 1894. They were 12 and 17 years old at the time. They stayed for a couple of years then returned to their home in Nova Scotia. More
July 23, 2016
An outstanding outdoor event for the whole family
What a great parade - cute kids, horses, cowboys, cowgirls, country and bagpipes played by Katherine O'Neill. Our annual celebration of summer, soaked in sun, smiles and sprayed with water. Sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, the Community Association and featuring the businesses, organizations and people of Bragg Creek, it shows their pride in our community and the land where we live.
A bear was reported trying to break into a grain shed on the weekend in West Bragg Creek. The bear was unsuccessful. Please ensure attractants such as pet food and livestock feed are adequately secured from bears and other wildlife. Fresh bear scat was seen on Forestry Way about the same time. If you have a public safety related wildlife concern, please call the Report a Poacher line at 1 800 642 3800.
A bear travelled through our area enroute from Hinton to the Kananaskis Lakes. They live all around us. The Townsite of Redwood Meadows has just produced and update to a 2010 report titled, “Bear Hazard Assessment Update for the Greater Bragg Creek Area of Southern Alberta”. It’s a very interesting read.
There's lots to see and do in the Elbow Valley. Some say climbing to the summit of Prairie Mountain is a must do, others climbing Moose Mountain. The Beaver Lodge trail is great. But really the Little Elbow Recreation Area is the ultimate outdoor experience in the Elbow Valley. Allen Bill Pond is gone forever. Who knows if they'll rebuild the Elbow Falls Recreation Area. But Little Elbow's got it all; stunning views of the Rocky Mountains, a family and friends freindly refuge from the city beside Forgetmenot Pond, a horseback adventure into the backcountry, a challenge to your fitness and endurance cycling long distances over obstacles and rough terrain. You can cast your fishing line into the pond to see if you can land one. You can celebrate living in one of the most scenic and rugged areas of Canada by hiking into the alpine ridges that offer exquisite vistas of the Eastern Slopes of the Rockies. It's 31 km west of Bragg Creek on Highway 66, but getting there is half the fun. The ony problem is, it's too popular. You might have trouble finding a parking spot or a picnic table. But it's all worth it. That's even more true if you get a chance to see the wild horses that live in the area year-round.
Needless to say the flood of 2013 caused a lot of damage. Businesses were forced to cover onerous repair costs. Some were driven out of business and some of our fine restaurants are gone and may not come back.
Those of us who live in West Bragg Creek, Wintergreen and the area in between didn't suffer much direct damage, but we had to endure the better part of 3 days stranded. When they closed the bridge over the Elbow River, those on the other side couldn't get home and those at home couldn't get out. No phone, no Internet. Some people walked overland, through the Jumpingpound lease to feed their livestock. Those were stressful days. With only one way out we could be in a lot of trouble in the event of a gas leak, a forest fire or a flood.
Finally, 3 years later, Rocky View County has earmarked $140,000 to find a way to solve the problem. During that time the solution became more difficult when the provincial government reached agreement with the Tsuu T'ina Nation to swap reserve land on the city border for land north of Bragg Creek. The reserve land was needed for the South West Ring Road. The thing is, the Bragg Creek land, now reserve, is where the overland emergency exit road pretty much has to go. So, although the county says the road is a priority, finding a solution will be tricky.
If you live in or near the wilderness, or if you visit, the chance is that you'll come in contact with bears. Usually that means you get to see their rear end as they run to get away from you. But, sometimes things go the other way and you're in the middle of a bear-human conflict. Alberta Parks does a lot of outreach education to keep you and the animals safe. On April 9, 2016 they held "Bear Day" at the Nordic Centre in Canmore. They demonstrated how they trap and track bears, how you can avoid harm in 98% of conflict situations using bear spray and they had an expert talk about bear safety with a room full of exhibits about living with wildlife. You can find a fair amount of information on the topic on this site. There is a lot more on wildsmart.ca
After a couple of years of consultation with the community and urban planners, Rocky View has come up with a "Revitalization Plan". The 68-page report contains a lot of ideas for building pathways to promote a healthy lifestyle. It suggest ways to build flood resistant buildings and develop facilities to stimulate tourism and the local economy. The core of the hamlet will be transformed by high density multi-storey, multi-family housing, a senior's residence new hotels and restaurants. There's a very intriguing "adventure centre". The planners and the community did a lot of work developing the plan. They would like you to review the entire document. If you can't devote that much time and effort, some of the highlights are available here.
Bragg Creek Scarecrow Festival 2015
The festival runs from the first Friday in October to the first Sunday in November. You be the judge. Pick up a ballot at My Favourite Store or The Moose Mountain General Store and choose the best scarecrow in about a half-dozen categories. The event organizer says there are more scarecrows this year than ever before. So you have lots to choose from. They are scattered all over the place - from here to Springbank, but most are in the hamlet.
Castle Wilderness to receive Provincial Park protection
Shannon Phillips, Minister of Environment and Parks, announced significant new protection for 1,040-square-kilometres of the Castle Wilderness area. This will restrict logging and protect the watershed. People in Southern Alberta have effectively campaigned for this over many years. Today’s announcement will ban logging, mining and also provide protection for fish and animals. The area will become a Provincial Park and Off Road vehicles will be limited to marked trails.
This video is a little different in that I used a hand-held (shaky) camcorder to capture the bull moose and also for the slow motion video of the bees. This one is a little longer because I also got a beaver falling a tree at the end of the month. This beaver works at night so the video is a little difficult to see what's going on, but it helps if you enlarge it to full screen. We have two families of deer in our yard, one with 3 fauns, one with two. And then there is the bobcat, shown at the beginning.
There are now 57 videos on the channel covering a wide range of topics; from tools to outdoour activities.
I get periodic news updates from the Ghost Valley Community who are currently waging a campaign to stop clearcut logging in their area which includes Kangienos Lake where trumpeter swans are living. They have organized a field trip for 108 students to learn about the swans and the Ghost Valley watershed.
In other news, community members have asked to meet with Spray Lakes Sawmills to discuss their concerns about the “Detailed Forest Management Plan” SLS is developing for the area. The conditions SLS set for this meeting would be laughable if they weren’t so demeaning. This led me to reflect on the campaign to oppose logging in the Elbow Valley and West Bragg Creek.
The Bragg Creek Community Association sponsored a “Bear Aware” presentation on May 30, 2015. Jay Honeyman, the Alberta Parks wildlife biologist who deals with human/bear conflicts delivered a most informative talk, complete with charts, maps, videos and photos. A large group of about 90 people attended; families, young couples and seniors were there.
University of Calgary, Environmental Science Program students presented their research projects at Redwood House on April 17, 2015.
We can say we're sorry for the damage we've done to the planet, but they're saying enogh is enough and we need to fix this. The flood of 2013 was a wake-up call. There is a wealth of new information available about the importance of watersheds. These research projects can help us start to adapt and recover.
The Ghost River Community sponsored a presentation titled “Water . . . Bears . . . Landscape” on April 14, 2015 at a church hall in Northwest Calgary. The featured speaker was Kevin Van Tigham. The Calgary location was important as the Ghost is a relatively remote wildland, upstream from Calgary where 30% of the floodwater originated in the 2013 flood. It is also an area that is being heavily logged and where off-highway vehicles (OHV) are causing significant disruption to the landscape. Like the Elbow River watershed, the Ghost watershed is a critical source of water for Calgary.
It's snowing today, March 15, and likely there is more to come, but we kind of dodged winter this year. Since the second week of January we've had, what seemed to be, a very mild winter with very little snow. The chart below shows a comparison of the temperature from January through mid-March for the year 2000 and 2015. Y2K was chosen because it was a milestone and because the data was available; kind of like because it was there. The chart also shows snowfall which is reported on the braggcreekca Twitter account. All data was recorded at the West Bragg Creek Weather Station. This is by no means a scientific analysis, but if you look carefully you will see the highs are higher in 2015, the lows were lower in 2000 and there were more periods of warm weather in 2015. OK, so it's not a dramatic difference, but it felt like that to me.
History is cool - or should I say it's legit. At the recent meeting Bragg Creek Historical Society we discussed when events can be considered historic. I said "yesterday is history".
The "Our Foothills" book is considered the bible of history in the area; but it only covers the years up to 1940. Judy Norman, the leading light of the society, wants to pick up at 1941 and carry on. I recently purchased a copy of Our Foothills and used it to produce a cleaner Acrobat document than the one I had on this Bragg Creek - Gateway to Kananaskis web site. So an upgraded copy is available. I also copied the first 65 pages covering general information about the area. I also got a copy of "Chaps and Chinooks" which I used to copy the preface. So how legit is history? I learned that we have our own Buffalo Jump. Our Head Smashed In is along the Jumpingpound Creek. You can see it when you cross the creek when driving on Highway 1.
Joan Merryfield (nee Burby) has lived here all her life. She watched as the Two Pine School was planned, built and inaugurated in 1932. She married Jack Merryfield and raised a family. Joan wrote a wonderful account of the origin of the Two Pine School which was located on Highway 762. She remembers riding her horse to school for Grade one with her older brother John and sister Margaret.
Joan’s daughter, Marie Nylund, Judie Norman (nee Baptie) and Barb Teghtmeyer (nee Elsdon) helped me develop an article about the first schools in Bragg Creek. It recounts some of the history of the Sugar Shack, The First Bragg Creek School, and the Elsdon Room, the change room by the skating rink, which was the teacher’s residence for the Two Pine School where Barb’s mother, Mary Blair lived when she was the teacher there.
Many of the people in this history, the Fullertons, Burbys, Connops, Elsdons, Bapties and Merryfields left their mark on our community – some on creeks, mountains, trails, buildings and farms.
Judie Norman is spearheading an effort to create the Bragg Creek Historical Society.
A major reorganization of government ministries took effect September 15. Sustainable Resource Development used to be responsible for industrial development in the eastern half of Kananaskis. The western half was managed by Tourism, Parks and Recreation. Then SRD absorbed the Environment Ministry a few years ago to form ESRD. Now they have absorbed the Parks part of the Tourism, Parks and Recreation ministry. So Alberta Parks, all of Kananaskis, is now under the jurisdiction of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development. TPR used to have rules governing parks in western Kananaskis, while ESRD had few, if any, rules governing the eastern part except for the Provincial Recreation Areas which were managed by Parks. The PRAs are areas like Elbow Falls, Allen Bill and the parking lot and about 100-metres around it in West Bragg Creek - out to where the dogs on leash signs are.
Who knows what this means. It may be good that Kananaskis is now managed by one ministry, but I think it would have been better if the ministry was Tourism, Parks and Recreation.
There is a lot going on here, for such a small rural community. A lot of it has to do with arts and culture, but there are many services that help us live our lives, learn and endure traumatic events. We also have a thriving business community that, despite the devastating flood of 2013, soldier on. This list of links doesn't include individual businesses, but it does point to the business association where you can find the commercial interests. Similarly it doesn't include links to all the outdoor groups that are active in the area, but you'll find the link to the links. What it does do is cover the territory - the Web sites, Facebook pages and Twitter accounts for all the non-profit and representative organizations that maintain up-to-date information on what's going on in and around Bragg Creek. Although it tries, this site can't be everything to everyone, but it does have a lot of useful information and now it has a portal to even more.
This is the third edition of the image gallery. Here you will find photos of Bragg Creek and Kananaskis taken over the last 15 years, showing the environment, the lifestyle and the culture that makes this such a unique place to visit, to live, to work and to play. It is organized into albums dealing with; Animals, Antiques, Around & About, Bragg Creek, Bragg Creek Days, the Elbow River, Kananaskis Country, Maps, Moose Mountain, Nature and Scarecrows. Some photos show things you may never see like a moose calf, some show things you may never see again like Allen Bill Pond and some of the businesses that have come and gone. Some show things you probably don't ever want to see again - the devastating effect of the 2013 flood. And then there are the things that fill our lives with joy, making us appreciate that we live in a wonderful place among wonderful people.
The options for high speed or broadband Internet in rural areas are severely limited. You may be able to get fixed wireless where the signal is transferred using radio waves from a transmitter/receiver on a local tower or as shown in this article and video you can get a dish installed to connect to a satellite in outer space.
The August 1 hailstorm did some major damage and brought down the wireless Internet service I was using. I need the Internet to operate my business and support this web site, so I had to find an alternative.
Bragg Creek is about to change in a big way. The 15-year moratorium on development in the hamlet, due to water services problems is gone. There are new commercial interests and new development pressures. I thought it a good time to take a snapshot of the community as it is in 2014 and what it is like to live here. The idea for this article grew out of a meeting my neighbours and I had with a wildlife conflict biologist from Environment and Sustainable Resource Development. Part of the article is designed to help new residents adjust to living with the wild creatures that are all around us. So this should be of particular interest to those thinking about buying a home here or those who are moving in. Ever wonder how Bragg Creek got its name? It's in here along with a pretty comprehensive guide to the services and facilities available to you.
The flood of 2013 had a devastating effect on many of the favoured picnic areas and trailheads like Allen Bill Pond and Elbow Falls. But there are many other places to take your family and friends when you visit the Elbow Valley and West Bragg Creek
Whatever your preference for enjoying the trails, here's an interactive trail locator
Elbow Valley trails and facilities locator map
Explore this interactive map to find all the trails in the Elbow Valley, including the new trails in West Bragg Creek. Roll your mouse over the trails to find their names and length. You can also roll over the symbols on the map including the red dots for day use areas and the campground symbols to locate campgrounds and the number of campsites available there.
I installed a new weather station, a Davis Instruments Vantage Pro2 on Wednesday, January 8 and it started recording the temperature here in West Bragg Creek about a kilometre east of the Kananaskis boundary. It captures a lot more weather data; humidity, barometric pressure and when it rains, it will record how much. Then on Friday I got the mast for the anemometer installed on my roof and it started recording the wind speed. The weather station does this every 15 minutes.
I also got a new setup for the video capture of the Moose Mountain image on the weather page and in the upper left of this page. You can see it here: Bragg Creek Weather. The camera is the same, but the way it gets onto the web page has changed dramatically. I was using ancient technology, a Windows 98 computer with a "Snappy" video interface that fed the video image into an LPT1 printer port. You have to be a geek like me to appreciate that. There is a Twitter feed on the weather page that I use to report snowfall amounts.
I hope you'll rely on for your weather updates from Bragg Creek.
The Tsuu T'ina nation voted to accept an agreement clearing the way for the completion of a ring road through southwest Calgary. It will connect Glenmore Trail at 37th St. to Highway 22X near Spruce Meadows. The nation will give up 460 hectares of land in exchange for $340-million and 2,150 hectares of land. They get 5,018 acres transferred to them with approval to purchase another 320 acres for $1.6-million. Read the media release. A large part of those 8.3 sections of land is known as the Jumpingpound lease which borders Bragg Creek. In fact it looks like the new reserve lands touch Kananaskis in the west, Hawkeye Ranch, Faun Hills, the Our Lady of Peace ranch and Wintergreen, connecting to the existing reserve in the east. I guess there will be a bunch of other properties bordering the reserve. Several ranchers have grazing leases on this territory which they paid for. So we can assume they will be compensated for the loss of the land. That's an additional cost not reported in the announced agreement. Other than that this shouldn't change much as there are lots of properties bordering the reserve and Redwood Meadows is on the reserve. As far as I know the Tsuu T'ina make good neighbours.
If you scroll down the page you'll see an idea for a second exit out of West Bragg Creek I proposed after the June flood. It runs over the new reserve lands. I wonder what the nation will think of that proposal.
This means we're cut off from Rockyview with the only open land to the south of us in the M.D. of Foothills.
This is a proposal for an emergency exit for residents of West Bragg Creek and Wintergreen in response to a disaster like a flood or wildfire when the bridge is unreliable. In the 2005 flood the bridge over the Elbow River on Balsam Avenue was briefly closed as it was considered unreliable. At that point there was no way into or out of West Bragg and Wintergreen. Again in 2013 the bridge was closed but this time for 2 1/2 days. Some folks were shut out and some shut in. I'm not aware of anyone who experienced a life threatening trauma, but it could easily happen.
Elbow Valley and West Bragg bridges were broken in the June 2013 flood
The bridge over the Elbow River on Highway 66 in Kananaskis is seriously damaged. Without the bridge it is impossible to get to any of the features and facilities located in the Elbow Valley. Elbow Falls, Allen Bill Pond, Forgetmenot Pont, the Little Elbow Recreation Area, Moose Mountain trailhead, all of the campgrounds, and trails that make up the most popular recreation area in all of Alberta are now inaccessible. A temporary span is under construction, but it will likely be months until the bridge can be repaired.
The bridge over Bragg Creek leading to the parking lot in the West Bragg Creek Recreation Area was closed for a bit less than 3 weeks. To access West Bragg Creek trails people had to park before the bridge and fjord the creek on a temporary bridge. The crossing was very easy and safe. Except for some minor inconveniences the trail system was open and accessible. An exception existed for horse trailers. There was no place to turn around near the bridge, so trailers had to turn and park at the Texas Gate.
This is a good time to provide the link to the Kananaskis Conservation Officers trail reports. These are excellent guides to conditions on the trails; particularly important at this time of year with lots of rain, and lots of mud when the snow melts.
I stopped at the original Trading Post on White Ave. recently where I learned a few interesting facts about the Pow Wow from the owner Barb Teghtmeyer. The Pow Wow attracted 5,000 visitors in 2012 and there were 1,000 dancers registered. Another fascinating fact; an adult sized jingle dress should have 365 bells attached.
This video shows the traditional dancing, drumming, singing and game playing that make up the annual celebration known as a Pow Wow. The dancers wear colourful and often dramatic traditional outfits to compete in dance competitions in categories like the grass and jingle dance.
The Tsuu T'ina are one of 45 First Nations in Alberta. The video shows which bands are covered under Treaty 7 and where the nations are located in Alberta. Everyone is welcome to attend the free Pow Wow; a traditional festival where the Tsuu T'ina play host to natives from across North America many of whom camp on the grounds in RVs or tipis.
Moose mountain stands out to the east of the other Rocky Mountains west of Calgary Alberta. That makes it accessible. It is also just 7,995 ft. tall and you can drive to the trailhead just 1,565 ft. below the summit. The hike is 4.1 km long one-way and you can usually get in and out in about 5 hours. There is a fire lookout on the summit. Many people like to climb to the summit on the summer solstice when we get 16 hours and 33 minutes of daylight. It is usually windy and often cool if not cold. Watch this 3-minute video of an ascent to the summit on the summer solstice of 2012.
and a guide to help you plan your push for the peak.
Bragg Creek recognized as "Historicaly Significant"
On January 17, 2012 national news organizations reported that Bragg Creek has been designated a "Historically Significant Place in Canada" due to it being the location of the first Youth Hostel in Canada. The hostel, opened in July 1933, was the work of Mary and Catherine Barclay who wanted "to enable youth to find wholesome companionship ... travelling inexpensively, and acquiring a knowledge of their neighbour's land and customs...”
There are 60 National Historic Sites in Alberta. Fort Calgary and Banff Springs Hotel are among them.
It's late October. Most of the leaves have fallen and it's slim pickings for the moose and deer. I noticed some movement through the patio door and the dog started barking frantically. There, a few feet from my window was a moose - on my deck - happily munching on the leaves of the mountain ash tree that grows through the deck.
Moose on the deck
Your guide to a full-of-fun destination in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains near Calgary and Banff. Drive the Cowboy Trail to Kananaskis and outdoor adventure. Explore the horseback, biking, and hiking trails. Enjoy a day in the country, unique shopping, fine dining and accommodation.
Information on facilities and attractions in this 4,000 square kilometre recreational playground. Explore the Elbow valley. You can access the trails, rivers, ponds and mountains along highway 66 and in West Bragg Creek. You'll find picnic areas interpretive trails and campsites.
Outdoor adventure awaits on the trails and recreation areas around us. Catch some culture in the Bragg Creek Centre. Share the fun at our annual events. Your guide to the trails, events and activities in Kananaskis.