Source: Best Health magazine, March/April 2015
When cross-country skier Sara Renner’s pole broke during the team sprint event at the 2006 Olympic Games in Turin, Italy, what could have been tragedy turned to triumph after Norwegian coach Bjørnar HŒkensmoen handed her a replacement ‘ and she and partner Beckie Scott raced on to win the silver medal. (HŒkensmoen’s show of international camaraderie earned Norway more than 600 messages of thanks from Canadians and a whopping 8,000 cans of maple syrup.) Now retired, Renner and husband Thomas Grandi, also an Olympic alpine skiing veteran, are proud residents of Canmore, AB, and owners of Paintbox Lodge, a five-room boutique hotel.
One of the reasons Renner loves Canmore is that you don’t really need a car to get around. ‘I never drive,’ says Renner. The town, which has a year-round population of 12,317, offers public pathways along all rivers and streams. Whether by foot, inline skates, bike or even (conditions permitting) skis, Renner says Canmore is an incredible place to be human propelled. In the warmer months, you can even head to Banff via the paved, 20-kilometre Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail, says Renner, adding that it’s easy to cut the trip in half by taking the bus ‘ which has bike racks ‘ one way.
During the winter, check out Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park. It has more than 65 kilometres of multi-use cross-country trails and is one of the few remaining operational Olympic Nordic skiing venues in the world. The park begins farming snow in the summer months, so at least one trail system is operational by mid-October. Renner calls the trails ‘the best in the world,‘ and it’s only a 25-minute walk from their home.
Where to stay
Solara Resort & Spa
187 Kananaskis Way
Massive luxury suites make for comfortable getaways for couples or families. If you can drag yourself away from that cozy spot in front of your suite’s fireplace, head to One Wellness & Spa downstairs to fit in a workout ‘ Pilates, TRX and personal training are all on offer ‘ or go for a steam, sauna or spa treatment.
Where to dine
Set in an old home just off Main Street, Tapas offers Spanish-style hot and cold sharing plates alongside an extensive list of wines, cava and homemade red or white sangria. The kitchen will happily recommend or adapt menu items to meet gluten-free, vegetarian or other dietary needs. And you’ll want to save room for dessert, from classic blueberry cheesecake to peanut butter mousse with chocolate-covered banana popsicles.
Canmore Organic Chef
Instead of dining out, why not get delivery with a twist? Chef Oscar George Bayne will show up at your door with all the ingredients for a gourmet dinner party or tasting menu featuring seasonal, local, organic and/or free-range items; dishes can be adapted for any dietary restrictions. Or book him for a cooking class in the big open kitchen at Paintbox Lodge.
1600 Railway Ave.
A favourite of Renner’s, this bright, modern restaurant serves up an eclectic menu of ‘good whole food” internationally inspired salads, sandwiches, curries and small plates such as tuna tartare ‘daily for lunch and dinner.
Where to shop
101’830 Main St.
Stock up on fitness and active-lifestyle gear from multiple brands at this cute boutique that’s part of a Pilates studio. Shop for yoga clothes from Vancouver-based Tonic, or travel-friendly dresses from Montreal company Fig, alongside bags, mats, foam rollers and other props and accessories.
What to do and see
Inside Out Experience Snowshoeing
Outdoor guides (who are available year-round) take guests on winter tours using trails all around the region. The half- or full-day snowshoeing adventure excursion includes stories of local history, ecology and geology, as well as hot chocolate, snacks and, for all-day snowshoers, lunch. Consider booking a wilderness survival course, too, to learn how to start a fire safely, create a shelter and purify water.
826 Main St., Suite 205
Target your core, hip and thigh muscles at a barre fitness class with owner Melissa Semenek, whose cheerful demeanour only seems to build as she guides you through.
700 Railway Ave.
Features at this brand new downtown multiplex include a climbing gym, a cardio and weight room and an aquatics centre with competition-length lap pool, leisure pool with sloped bottom, water slide, children’s play area, steam room, 25-person hot tub and relaxing ‘lazy river.’ The public library is on-site, as is a daycare that will keep kids occupied for $6 an hour.
Calendar of Events
Blitz Snowshoe Fun Run
Strap on your snowshoes and choose between 5K and 10K distances for this fun run or walk around the trails in nearby Lake Louise.
Canmore Winter Meltdown Triathlon
Do all three events (mountain biking, running and cross-country skiing) on your own or split the challenge among two or three teammates at this fun and challenging race for all levels. Proceeds support Canada’s national cross-country ski team.
April 7 to 19
Celebrate the best of the town’s food and drink scene with events including a wine festival, a craft beer festival, a long table dinner, dine-arounds and prix fixe menus at more than 30 restaurants.
Image courtesy Tourism Canmore