The Canadian Rockies cut a jagged line between British Columbia and Alberta, and just an hour west of Calgary, Canmore is the quickest, easiest portal to their peaks. Like many mountain towns, this one professes to be laid-back, but seeing as wintertime isn’t its peak season, it can back that up more than most.
In terms of the chill vibe, it helps that Canmore isn’t built around a typical ski resort. Those are within reach (Banff’s Mount Norquay and Sunshine Village are 20 and 35 minutes away, respectively), but the town doesn’t live to feed the powder hungry in the same way. There is skiing five minutes from town, but it’s the less ostentatious cross-country variety. To explore the Canmore Nordic Centre’s 65-kilometre trail system only costs $15 for the day, and rental equipment is $30. Doing a loop on a weekday at 10 a.m. feels meditative—all I hear is the swish of skis on snow and my own rhythmic breathing.
You’d rightly suspect that people who are fed up with the peal and pace of city life flock to a place like this, and Sky McLean is one of them. To get closer to the mountains, the Toronto-raised real estate developer moved to Calgary first and then committed to Canmore. In 2017, she launched Basecamp Resorts. The flagship property features 30 self-check-in apartment-style suites clad in crisp whites, light woods and modern animal accents. To feel simultaneously small and spoiled rotten, sit in the rooftop hot tub with a cup of coffee and take in the towering wall of mountains directly ahead.
This year, McLean opened The Lamphouse Hotel, which is particularly suited to urbanites looking to temporarily escape the city but not their mid-century design sensibilities. If the peace and quiet gets to be too much, though, down the street there’s the Drake Public House, which has live music most nights, including, for those looking to belt out a country ballad themselves, Karaoke Mondays.
CANMORE’S LAMPHOUSE HOTEL