WA­TER’S WON­DERS

glaciers, rivers, falls & lakes your sum­mer play­ground

Where Canadian Rockies - - FRONT PAGE - By Afton Aikens

Wa­ter as Muse

From June 14 to Oc­to­ber 18, the Whyte Mu­seum of the Cana­dian Rock­ies in Banff (p 57) fea­tures an ode to ‘eau’. Wa­ter is a vis­ually stun­ning ex­hibit, show­cas­ing paint­ings, videos and in­stal­la­tions from the mid 1800s to to­day.

Anne Ewen, the mu­seum’s cu­ra­tor of art and her­itage, says there’s beauty and bleak­ness in the show. In our own back­yard, en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sues such as flood­ing and re­ced­ing glaciers are high­lighted through com­par­a­tive art and im­agery that may shock the eye.

Re­cent pho­to­graphs of shrink­ing glaciers con­trast with shots taken over 100 years ago by Vaux fam­ily mem­bers. Th­ese jux­ta­posed images are the fo­cus of an­other Whyte ex­hibit, Legacy in Time (p 56), which runs par­al­lel to Wa­ter.

Other pieces in Wa­ter re­flect the Cana­dian Rock­ies’ majesty, like an oil paint­ing by mu­seum founder Peter Whyte. His Mount Rin­grose, Oesa Falls por­trays a wa­ter­fall above breath­tak­ing Lake O’Hara (p 30). Whyte and his wife (and mu­seum co-founder) Catharine were avid hik­ers and painters of the re­gion.

Ewen is also ex­cited about an in­stal­la­tion by artist Faye HeavyShield. “She’s cre­ated over 100 lit­tle pa­per and wax boats. The in­stal­la­tion fol­lows the flow of the river nearby you—in our case, the Bow River (p 46),” she ex­plains. An­other piece is Shel­ley Ouel­let’s John­ston Falls from the col­lec­tion of the Al­berta Foun­da­tion for the Arts, which brings to life the pop­u­lar canyon hik­ing des­ti­na­tion (p 45) through 80,000 beads that pour downward and spill onto the floor.

Wa­ter is in­te­gral to Cana­dian iden­tity, Ewen says. “A lot of peo­ple, when they think about Canada, think about pris­tine wa­ter­ways and the canoe. I hope this ex­hi­bi­tion will help peo­ple rec­og­nize the pre­cious­ness of wa­ter, and think

about how they’ll re­spect it when they’re out on it or in it,” she notes.

World-Renowned Wa­ters

Wa­ter is his­tor­i­cally sig­nif­i­cant to this re­gion—it led to the cre­ation of Banff Na­tional Park. In 1883, three rail­way work­ers dis­cov­ered ther­mal springs at what is now the Cave and Basin Na­tional His­toric Site (p 57). An own­er­ship dis­pute en­sued, and in 1885 the fed­eral govern­ment made the area Canada’s first na­tional park.

To­day, you can soak in the min­eral-rich wa­ters of the Banff Up­per Hot Springs (p 89). At the Mi­ette Hot Springs in Jasper (nat­u­rally the Cana­dian Rock­ies’ warmest), wa­ter is cooled from 54°C to 40°C be­fore it en­ters the pool (p 148). The Koote­nay Rock­ies boast sev­eral heav­enly hot springs (p 34 and 35).

Vis­i­tors also come from afar to see iconic Cana­dian Rock­ies lakes, glaciers and falls. The aqua- ma­rine and bril­liant blue wa­ters of Lake Louise and Mo­raine Lake are bucket-list wor­thy. Rent a canoe (p 66) or walk the lakeshore (p 46).

Closer to the Banff town­site, ex­plore Lake Min­newanka—the na­tional park’s largest—by boat (tours and rentals p 66) or on foot. Nearby are Two Jack and John­son lakes (p 45). All three are great spots to spend a sum­mer day (Lake Min­newanka has a café with drinks and snacks; John­son Lake is ‘warmest’ for swimming). You’ll likely spot bighorn sheep out for a road­side stroll.

North of Lake Louise be­side the Ice­fields Park­way are Bow and Peyto lakes (p 43). At Bow Lake, gaze up at Bow and Crow­foot glaciers that feed the Bow River, which runs into the South Saskatchewan River and even­tu­ally Hud­son’s Bay.

The Ice­fields Park­way (p 43 and 131) traces the spine of the Con­ti­nen­tal Di­vide. One hundred glaciers grace its western flank. The most

fa­mous is the Athabasca Glacier at the Columbia Ice­field (p 44). The glacier makes up less than 3% of the ice­field, and over the past 125 years has lost half its vol­ume and re­ceded by 1.5 km/1 mi—a tes­ta­ment to wa­ter’s pre­cious­ness.

The Columbia Ice­field is vast; its melt­wa­ters feed the Pa­cific, Arc­tic and Atlantic oceans. Ven­ture onto the ice­field by Ice Ex­plorer tour or guided walk (p 76 and 142), or soar above the 215-sq km/ 130-sq mi area on a heli-tour (p 72 and 140). South of the Jasper town­site is Maligne Lake, the Cana­dian Rock­ies’ largest glacially fed lake. Cruise to iconic Spirit Is­land, rent a boat (p 137) or walk the shore­line (p 132). Fancy your­self an an­gler? Take a guided fish­ing ex­cur­sion (p 137).

How­ever you choose to dive into the Cana­dian Rock­ies this sum­mer, our glaciers, rivers, falls and lakes—not to men­tion tow­er­ing peaks— pro­vide an out­door play­ground like no other. Get out there and have an ad­ven­ture!

For vis­i­tors—and lo­cals on a stay­ca­tion—the Cana­dian Rock­ies are syn­ony­mous with big moun­tain ski­ing, hik­ing to pris­tine lakes and count­less other out­door pur­suits like ca­noe­ing on wa­ter­ways amidst peaks. While we’re far from the coast, much of our life­style re­volves around wa­ter. We glide on it, climb its frozen form, and yes, we swim in it (for a short win­dow in sum­mer). We pho­to­graph and ad­mire its beauty. The Cana­dian Rock­ies boast North Amer­ica’s three main wa­ter­sheds and a copious fresh wa­ter sup­ply. As a re­source, wa­ter is both pow­er­ful and pre­cious. It shapes moun­tains and val­leys, and sus­tains life. Wa­ter of­fers con­nec­tion to our en­vi­ron­ment, from adren­a­line-charged ad­ven­tures like river raft­ing to quiet con­tem­pla­tion of glaciers that span miles and mil­len­nia. Wa­ter cre­ates mem­o­ries, and in­spi­ra­tion for artists who in­ter­pret it through their works.

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