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Canmore, Alberta facts for kids

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Town of Canmore
Canmore from Mount Lady Macdonald in May 2009
Canmore from Mount Lady Macdonald in May 2009
Flag of Canmore
Official logo of Canmore
Queen Town of the Rockies
Town boundaries
Town boundaries
Canmore is located in MD of Bighorn
Location in MD of Bighorn
Canmore is located in Alberta
Location in Alberta
Country Canada
Province Alberta
Region Alberta's Rockies
Municipal district Municipal District of Bighorn No. 8
Adjacent Improvement districts Improvement District No. 9 and Kananaskis Improvement District
Founded 1884
 • Village January 1, 1965
 • Town June 1, 1966
 • Land 68.47 km2 (26.44 sq mi)
 • Urban
12.96 km2 (5.00 sq mi)
Highest elevation
1,480 m (4,860 ft)
Lowest elevation
1,375 m (4,511 ft)
 • Town 15,990
 • Density 233.5/km2 (605/sq mi)
 • Urban
 • Urban density 1,023.7/km2 (2,651/sq mi)
 • Municipal census (2014)
 • Estimate (2020)
Time zone UTC−7 (MST)
 • Summer (DST) UTC−6 (MDT)
Forward sortation area
Area code(s) +1-403, +1-587
Highways Hwy 1 (TCH) Trans-Canada Highway
Hwy 1A
Hwy 742
Waterways Bow River
Public Transit Service Roam

Canmore is a town in Alberta, Canada, located approximately 81 kilometres (50 mi) west of Calgary near the southeast boundary of Banff National Park. It is located in the Bow Valley within Alberta's Rocky Mountains. The town shares a border with Kananaskis Country to the west and south and the Municipal District of Bighorn No. 8 to the north and east. With a population of 14,798 in 2020, Canmore is the ninth-largest town in Alberta.


North West Mounted Police barrack Canmore HPIM4264
North-West Mounted Police barrack

Canmore was officially named in 1884 by Canadian Pacific Railway director Donald A. Smith (later 1st Baron Strathcona and Mount Royal). It was named after Malcolm III of Scotland who was also nicknamed Canmore. Canmore is Gaelic for "Big Head"

In 1886, Queen Victoria granted a coal mining charter to the town, and the No. 1 mine was opened in 1887.

By the 1890s, a North-West Mounted Police barrack had been instated on Main Street, but it was vacated in 1927. The building was restored in 1989 and it is under the care of the Canmore Museum and Geoscience Centre.

The coal mining industry in Canmore boomed well into the 20th century. In 1965, with a population of 2,000, Canmore was incorporated as a town. By the 1970s the market for coal was diminished, and in 1979 Canmore Mines Ltd. ceased operations. As a result of safety and reclamation policies instigated by the province of Alberta, all but a few mining structures were demolished in the following year; only the lamp house and a few mine entrances remain today.

Canmore's economic future seemed dismal until the announcement in the early 1980s that Calgary would be hosting the 1988 Winter Olympics, and that Canmore would play host to the Nordic events. This resulted in an increase in tourism, and Canmore began to develop into the recreational tourist destination it is today.

The Canmore Hotel sits on the main street as it has for over 100 years. The building has changed very little in this time making it one of the most distinguishable landmarks in Canmore. The hotel celebrated its 120th anniversary in October 2010.


Three Sisters Rocky Mountains viewed from Canmore, Alberta
Cascade Mountain from Canmore

Concerns over Canmore's urban growth adjacent to provincial and national park land has led to many efforts to place a limit on future development. The town is expected to reach its maximum "build out" following the completion of the SilverTip and Three Sisters Mountain Village developments sometime around 2015–2020.

Bisected by the Trans-Canada Highway, located on the Canadian Pacific Railway and run through by the Bow River, Canmore is ideally situated on a number of major transportation routes, which has influenced its tourism-based economy and historical mining industry.

Much of the Canmore area has been designated a wildlife corridor. This corridor allows animals such as bears, cougar, wolves, and elk to move between habitat patches, where they can find food, escape predators, breed, give birth, and establish territories.

Despite its modest population and environmentally friendly image, Canmore is highly sprawled and segmented (due to wildlife corridors, highways, the railway, and the Bow River) and takes over one and a half hours to traverse by foot. The pedestrian-friendly town centre surrounds 8th Street, or "Main Street" (as it is known colloquially), which was originally a residential road with some of the oldest architecture in the town; now, however, it is lined with small shops, restaurants, and galleries. Much of the recent development is taking place in Three Sisters Mountain Village, SilverTip Resort, and around the town centre.

A series of hiking, mountain biking, equestrian, and paved trails traverse the Canmore area. Major trail systems are located on the Benchlands of Mount Lady Macdonald, at the Canmore Nordic Centre, and along the north slope of Mount Lawrence Grassi. Many of these trails, and others around the community, are located within Bow Valley Wildland Provincial Park and Kananaskis Country. Some of these, including the Montaine Traverse Trail and the Highline Trail, have been improved by the Town of Canmore, the Government of Alberta, the Municipal District of Bighorn No. 8, and various stakeholders (Bow Valley Mountain Bike Alliance, the B.V. Riding Association, and local hiking groups) in order to balance recreational opportunities with environmental sustainability. Much of the upgrading has been accomplished by volunteers organized by the Trail Care Program of The Friends of Kananaskis Country.

Mountains located adjacent to and visible from the townsite are:


Canmore's climate is relatively mild compared to some other regions of Alberta. It does not have an Environment Canada weather observation station, but the nearby town of Banff has an average high of −3.1 °C (26 °F) in January, with relatively low humidity. Summers are short with daytime temperatures ranging from 18 °C (64 °F) to 22 °C (72 °F).


In the 2021 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, the Town of Canmore recorded a population of &&&&&&&&&&015990.&&&&&015,990 living in &&&&&&&&&&&06804.&&&&&06,804 of its &&&&&&&&&&&09173.&&&&&09,173 total private dwellings, a change of 14.3% from its 2016 population of &&&&&&&&&&013992.&&&&&013,992. With a land area of 68.47 km2 (26.44 sq mi), it had a population density of 233.5/km2 (605/sq mi) in 2021.

In the 2016 Census of Population conducted by Statistics Canada, the Town of Canmore recorded a population of 13,992 living in 5,738 of its 7,963 total private dwellings, a 13.9% change from its 2011 population of 12,288. With a land area of 69.43 km2 (26.81 sq mi), it had a population density of 201.5/km2 (522/sq mi) in 2016.

The population of the Town of Canmore according to its 2014 municipal census is 13,077, a 6% change from its 2011 municipal census population of 12,317. At its current population, Canmore is one of the largest towns in the province and is eligible for city status. According to Alberta's Municipal Government Act, a town is eligible for city status when it reaches 10,000 residents.

About 1.5% of residents identified themselves as aboriginal at the time of the 2006 census.

As recorded in the 2016 Census, about 81% of residents identified English as their first language. About 5% of the population identified French as their first language and 2% identified German as their first language.

Arts and culture

Canmore has one museum, the Canmore Museum and Geoscience Centre (CMAGS) located along 7th Ave in the Canmore Civic Centre. In 2006, the Museum entered a Fee for Service agreement with the Town of Canmore to "act as the custodian of the Town's heritage, maintaining and preserving its artifacts, archives and to built heritage and to interpret this heritage through exhibitions and interpretive programming for residents and visitors on a year-round basis".

Big Head Canmore b
The Big Head sculpture in Canmore, located on main street north side of the bridge over Policeman's Creek

Many feature films have been shot in the Canmore area, including Brokeback Mountain, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, Open Range, The Edge, Legends of the Fall, Shanghai Noon, Mystery Alaska, Snow Dogs, the pilot episode of Everwood, and others. The town was also popularized by the late John Morgan of the Royal Canadian Air Farce with his monosyllabic character "Mike from Canmore".

Festivals and annual events

  • The award-winning food festival, Canmore Uncorked, is hosted every April for 13 days of special set-price menus from local restaurants, culinary events, cooking courses, and a long table dinner.
  • The 24 Hours of Adrenalin is a mountain bike race series held at a variety of locations across North America, with annual stops in Canmore. The race consists of hundreds of solo or team riders competing to ride as many laps as possible within 24 hours, on a challenging 16 km circuit at the Canmore Nordic Centre.
  • The Canmore Winter Carnival is a celebration of the season and a popular community tradition for more than 20 years with events including ice carving, snow sculpting, dog sled racing, the Bonhomme Carnival, and more!
  • The Rocky Mountain Ski Challenge is an annual ski marathon hosted by the Canmore Nordic Ski Club.
  • The Rock and Fossil Show is co-presented by CMAGS and APEGGA. Anyone can bring their rock or fossil find to have it evaluated by a professional geologist. The event is usually held in October.
  • The Canmore Folk Music Festival is held annually on the Heritage Day long weekend in August at Centennial Park on the Stan Rogers Stage. The festival has played host to the likes of Ry Cooder, Stan Rogers, Arlo Guthrie, The Arrogant Worms, The Paperboys, The Rankin Family, Moxy Früvous, Oscar Lopez and many other notable artists. The Canmore Folk Music Festival is the longest running music festival in Alberta, and in 2007 celebrated its 30th year.
  • The Canmore Highland Games are presented annually by the Three Sisters Scottish Society on the September long weekend. They are in their 17th year. The games host a ceilidh, heavy lifting competitions, piping and drumming, and highland dance events.
  • Mozart on the Mountain is an outdoor concert presented annually by the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra.
  • The annual Festival of Eagles is a celebration of the golden eagle autumn migration over Canmore and the Bow Valley. The weekend celebration, currently in its 13th year, includes guided hikes, bird walks, interpretive displays, theatrical performances and guest speakers. Spotting scopes are set up at Canmore Collegiate High School.
  • The Vic Lewis International Band Festival is held every November. It is in its 11th year. The festival hosts up to thirty-two concert bands, wind ensembles and jazz bands from across Alberta who play for some of the most well-known band directors in North America. Previous directors have included Tim Salzman, Paul Read, Gillian Mackay, and Tommy Banks. More than 800 students in junior high and high school bands perform for adjudicators, participate in workshops, listen to faculty recitals and give public performances during the two days and two nights of the festival. The festival takes place at Canmore Collegiate High School and the Canmore Recreation Centre with evening gala performances at the Oh Canada, Eh?! Theatre.
  • The annual Canmore Children's Festival is a two-day event providing an array of children's entertainment, including acrobats, magicians, jugglers, music, theatre, storytelling, crafts, stilt-walking, dancing, face painting, and clowns.
  • The Canmore ArtsPeak Arts Festival and the Canmore Winter Carnival give participants the opportunity to discover local venues such as the Octave featuring live music produced events, including the work of local artists and cinematographers.


Elevation Place

Elevation Place opened in April 2013 as Canmore's new recreation facility. Construction of the facility began in 2012 to replace the Canmore Recreation Centre (the community's old facility). The facility offers an 8-lane 25m lap pool, a world class climbing wall developed by Walltopia, two cardio rooms, a strength room, and a host of fitness programs. Elevation Place also houses the community's library and a local art gallery.

Canmore Nordic Centre

View across the Valley taken from The Nordic Centre

The Canmore Nordic Centre was originally constructed for the 1988 Winter Olympic Games. Cross-country skiing, biathlon, Nordic combined, and blind cross-country skiing events were held here. The Canmore Nordic Centre provides world-class trails for use by cross-country skiers, mountain bikers, unicyclists, trail runners, roller skiers, and hikers. It also has disc golf courses, and orienteering. It has provincial park status and is administered by Alberta Development. The centre was re-developed for the 2005 Cross-country World Cup and future international events. The Nordic Centre hosts national training camps for Canada's biathlon and cross-country ski teams, in addition to providing winter and summer recreational facilities to the general public. It has some 60 kilometres (37 mi) of world-class cross-country and biathlon trail systems designed to meet international Nordic competitive standards. The trails are groomed and trackset to accommodate both classic and skating techniques on the same trail. A 6.5 kilometres (4.0 mi) track is illuminated for night skiing.

The Day Lodge at the Canmore Nordic Centre offers services such as a cafeteria, meeting rooms, maps and information, day lockers, showers, washrooms, equipment rentals, and lessons. During the summer months the Centre converts to include mountain biking facilities and plays host to several national and international mountain bike events annually. The Nordic Centre also operates an 18 "hole" disc golf course during the summer months.


Albert Mainstreet Canmore looking east HPIM4263
Mainstreet Canmore
Canmore Alberta Logo
Town logo until 2012

The Town of Canmore originally depended on the coal mines. The 1988 Winter Olympics revived the economy and set the grounds for a high-end bedroom and get-away community which would depend on construction and tourism income.


Canmore is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. Climbing is popular with traditional, sport and multi-pitch climbs throughout the Bow Valley, and the area is a world destination for ice climbing. Kayakers and canoeists can enjoy guided trips with one of the many local outfitters, or independently navigate the surrounding rivers and lakes. Caving enthusiasts will enjoy the extensive Rat's Nest Cave. Mountain bikers will enjoy the extensive trail network in the Canmore area and can check for updated trail reports.

The local Alberta Junior Hockey League team is the Canmore Eagles. In 2001, Canmore resident and Eagles goalie "Double Blocker" Dan Blackburn, was drafted into the National Hockey League to play for the New York Rangers. The two-time Stanley Cup-winner Brayden Point has played for Eagles. The local Bantam hockey team is the Canmore Eagles. The hockey movie Mystery, Alaska (1999) was filmed in Canmore.

Canmore is the official home to the Canadian National cross-country skiing and biathlon teams. This, combined with the Canmore Nordic Centre has resulted in the town becoming a magnet for aspiring athletes in both sports. Full and part-time athletes can be seen training around town and in the local area all year around.

On February 22, 2006, Canmore local Chandra Crawford won the gold medal in the women's cross-country 1.1-kilometre sprint at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy. Beckie Scott, gold medalist in the women's cross country skiing pursuit race in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah also makes her home in Canmore.

The Canmore Nordic Centre is a destination for many large sporting events. During the summer season, mountain bike races (including the World 24 Hour championships in 2009 and the Canadian National Championships in 2010) are held there. During the winter season, the facility sees several cross-country ski races, ranging from local events to the FIS World Cup in 2005, 2008, 2009, 2012, and 2016.

Canmore United is the highly popular and successful local soccer team, participating in the summer Bow Valley Soccer League, as well as tournaments in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Alberta.

The Canmore Youth Skate Park was built in the summer of 2009.


Health care is provided at the Canmore General Hospital.

Transit is provided by Roam transit.

Notable people

  • Paige Cooper, Canadian writer
  • Brian McKeever, paralympic skier and biathlete, Olympic medallist

See also

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