We made the trek from Victoria, British Columbia on the southern tip of Vancouver island to Lethbridge, in the southern reaches of Alberta to celebrate Thanksgiving with family. By car, it’s a ferry ride and fifteen hours of mountain driving – or, three hours flight time. We usually put our air miles to use and fly, as we did this time. We flew to Calgary, stayed overnight at a hotel near the airport, and the next morning took the connector flight to Lethbridge, Alberta – or L.A. as it’s often referred to.
That flight is an experience. From the departure gate, we board a bus that takes us to the far end of the apron where our ride awaits. The aircraft is a Beechcraft turbo prop that holds about eighteen people, and it’s full. It’s a cosy experience.The seats look like they were borrowed from a kindergarten class, but every seat is a window seat. The flight from Calgary takes forty-five minutes.
Lethbridge is also my home town and soon familiar landmarks appear on the horizon. Our flight path takes us over the high level bridge that spans the mile and a quarter river valley carved by the Old Man River. It’s difficult to get a decent photo from the aircraft window, but here are some ground photos of the big bridge.
The modern City of Lethbridge, with a population approaching one hundred thousand, is located near the site of the original settlement, of Fort Whoop-Up. The fort was a trading post established in 1869 by two American traders. Originally named Fort Hamilton after one of the founders, the fort earned a wild and lawless reputation.
One type of alcohol sold by the Whoop-Up bandits was known as Whoop-Up Bug Juice, a highly prized alcohol spiked with ginger, molasses, and red pepper. It was then coloured with black chewing tobacco, watered down, and boiled to make “firewater”.
The reputation of Fort Whoop-Up led to the establishment of the North West Mounted Police and their famous march west in 1874. Reminiscent of on present day ‘war on drugs’ efforts.
Fort Whoop-up has been re-created in Indian Battle Park in the Riverbottom near the big bridge.
This photo overlooks the river valley towards the site of the original fort near the junction of the Oldman and St. Mary’s rivers. The Rocky Mountains are just visible against the horizon.
We often stay at Paradise Canyon, a timeshare and golf resort in the valley. It’s a beautiful setting, and we’ve been here so often that it feels like our home away from home – but the weather is subject to rapid change at this time of year.
This photo is from our timeshare unit two days ago.
This was the scene when we looked out today.
We enjoyed a wonderful thanksgiving feast with family, and I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving.
WOW! Extraordinary pictures, John! Your trip sounds like a true adventure. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be able to go the last 45 minutes in the plane you described. I’m okay with large commercial jets, but props, no no no! I would have to find another way to get there. The area looks stunning, but you can keep the snow. October snow makes for a long winter. We were still 70° F today, Monday, Oct 10th. Our Thanksgiving holidays are farther apart than I thought they would be. We are still harvesting here in Minnesota. What determined the date for Canada’s Thanksgiving?
Being with family is so important at this time of year. Glad you and Jan-Louise were able to be with Scott and his family. Blessings to all. Keep the snow up there, okay?
This reminds me of driving (yes, driving) from Saskatoon to Vancouver Island for Christmas back in the 80s. Quite the adventure, sometimes. Hope you had a happy Thanksgiving.
nice description and photos, John…SNOW!!?
Yes, we had four or five inches two days ago. Really quite beautiful with the trees changing colour and bright blue skies. It’s warming up over the next few days, so it won’t last.