Category Archives: John Andrew McKiernan

Cold Hard Facts about the Icefields Parkway and Athabasca Glacier

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Banff and Jasper National Parks, Alberta

by John McKiernan
Staff Writer

The Icefields Parkway is easily one of the most popular attractions to the visitors of the Canadian Rockies whether it be from Banff or Jasper National Park. You may have read our articles and blogs but for those who want to show off their extreme knowledge before visiting – here are the cold hard facts.

The Canadian Rockies has no shortage of ice and glaciers.

The Canadian Rockies has no shortage of ice and glaciers.

The Icefields:

• It covers 325km squared – making it comfortably the largest body of ice in the Rocky Mountains.

• Its highest point is Mt. Columbia at 3745 m (12,284ft)

• The average elevation is 3000m (10,000 ft)

• The greatest estimated depth is 365m (1200 ft)

• The average snowfall is 7m (23 ft) every year.

• Uniquely it drains into the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic Oceans.

The Columbia Icefields are considered one of the largest accumulations of ice and snow south of the Arctic Circle, and can reach depths of 2,000 feet. The Columbia Icefields is incredibly important for the northern hemisphere’s water supply as it feeds all three oceans – Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic.

The Ice Explorer takes you right out onto the glacier.

The Ice Explorer takes you right out onto the glacier.

The Athabasca Glacier:

• It is 6 km squared in area.

• It is 6km long.

• Its depth is 90-300m (270 – 1000 feet) – The ice is as thick as the Eiffel Tower is high.

• It has icefall movement of 125m / year (400ft)

• It has turn around movement of 25m/year (80 ft)

• The icefalls elevation is 2700m (8900ft)

Once, the Athabasca Glacier flowed north to the present site of Jasper before joining other glaciers and cruising south east past Calgary. This journey, much like trying to get through Vancouver in rush hour, took many centuries. The Athabasca is slowly flowing downhill from the Columbia Icefields similar to the flow of a river.

There are trips to the Icefields and the Athabasca Glacier that go from both Banff and Jasper National Park. Don’t forget to show off your new information!

Flying to the Canadian Rockies

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Banff National Park, Alberta

By John McKiernan
Staff Writer

Do you remember the days when flying from A to B used to cost an arm and a leg and then another arm? Long gone are the ridiculous prices. Competition has increased rapidly over the years much to the delight of jet setters. You can fly from Calgary to London for as little as $250 if you plan far enough in advance. Depending on price, fly to Calgary if you are coming to Banff / Lake Louise and to Edmonton if you are coming to Jasper. It is also possible to fly to Vancouver though a ten hour (scenic and not as bad as it sounds) drive is the price you will pay.

Leaving on a jet plane - you know that you'll be back again!

Leaving on a jet plane - you know that you'll be back again!

Airlines:

Air Canada / Jazz: These guys cater for all. International flights connect through all the usual cities such as Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa. Their list of destinations nationally or otherwise is pretty comprehensive.

Others: American, Continental, Delta, Horizon Air, Northwest, United, Westjet airlines.

From Britain and Ireland: Air Transat, British Airways, Flyglobespan, Thomas Cook, Zoom.

Hint: For those travelling between Canada and Britain, there is a little known website called CanadianAffairs. If your timeframe is flexible, this is comfortably the cheapest option around. Just don’t tell too many people!

Once you land at your destination, the distances vary. Renting a car or taking the bus with a company like SunDog is usually the best option. Some of the road trips from the airport can actually be quite enjoyable, even the 10 hours from Vancouver. Some, however, are a little on the boring side (Edmonton to Banff). Either way it will be worth it when you set your eyes on the stunning mountains that stand guard around the Rockies’ towns.

Other ways of getting to the Rockies’.

Drive From Edmonton Airport to Banff

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Road Tripping the Rockies

Banff National Park, Alberta

There are several ways of getting to Banff and the Rockies. If you are flying into Edmonton, the best way to get to Banff is via car. The drive is not the most exciting in the world but if you do it the right way and have some decent cd’s, it will take you between 4 or 5 hours. You can rent a car from the airport. The distance between Edmonton International Airport and Banff is 450km (280 miles). Trust me when I say, following these directions will save a lot of frustration. I have spent far too many hours trapped in Calgary suburbia on my way to Edmonton. Though the houses are lovely, everyone wants to make it to Banff as soon as possible.

Driving a car from Edmonton is the quickest way to make it to the Canadian Rockies.

Driving a car from Edmonton is the quickest way to make it to the Canadian Rockies.

The shortest way to go about things from Edmonton is to drive south on Queen Elizabeth II Highway (it used to be called Highway 2) to Calgary and then go west before you reach Calgary. This is important as you want to avoid the city traffic at all costs. The best way to do this is to go to Airdrie which is the last town before you reach Calgary. When you reach the end of Airdrie, turn west onto Big Hills Springs Road. When you reach the T – junction with Highway 22, go south. Drive all the way through Cochrane and when you reach the interchange that connects to the TransCanada Highway (Highway 1), turn west towards Canmore and Banff.

Alternatively, below are the Google Map directions. Now all that remains is to enjoy your stay in Banff.

Edmonton International Airport

Leduc, AB, Canada

1. Head south on Airport Rd 1.8 km

2. Merge onto Hwy 2 S/AB-2 S via the ramp to Red Deer/Leduc 264 km

3. Take exit 258 to merge onto 16 Ave NE W/HWY-1 W 3.3 km

4. Slight right at HWY-1 W 120 km

5. Take the exit toward Banff 0.5 km

6. Turn left at Banff Ave 4.2 km

Filming the Canadian Rockies

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How to Film the Canadian Rockies

Banff National Park, Alberta

By John McKiernan
Staff Writer

The Canadian Rockies are more beautiful than a Victoria’s Secret model pouring your favourite beer while your football team thrashes its opponents. Though photos of this great mountain range can be stunning, sometimes it just doesn’t do it justice. In the last few days I have followed Banff cameraman Andrew Frazer around as he shot some of the Rockies’ most awe inspiring footage. Everything from rutting elk fighting to a bald man slipping on the ice, there is no shortage of material to shoot. For those thinking about taking the video camera up to Banff, Andrew has happily given his insight into what to expect.

Scenes to film just out at you in the Canadian Rockies.

Scenes to film just out at you in the Canadian Rockies.

How have you found it shooting videos in the Rockies?

It has been a very enjoyable experience. I have done quite a lot of filming before but up here it makes my job so much easier with such beautiful frames all around me.

Is there anything you have particularly enjoyed filming here around Banff?

Lake Louise was stunning. The weather was absolutely perfect and there was just one canoe gliding across the lake. That sort of thing doesn’t really come across as well in a photograph. I also followed a deer through the woods a few hours from Banff. He wasn’t shy at all and just kept on eating as I followed. They were some really good shots.

Do you think equipment plays an important role in the quality of your footage?

Definitely but having said that, the equipment I have is fairly basic. If you have a high definition camera and tape and you know how to frame a shot, it can really look great. These days, it is possible to get really cheap equipment that will film great stuff.

Cameraman Andrew Frazer - probably best behind the camera!

Cameraman Andrew Frazer - probably best behind the camera!

What is your favourite town in the Canadian Rockies?

I think Banff. The people are so friendly and it really is a pretty little town with pretty little people! I love just filming people walking around. Everybody seems so relaxed up here.

Have you had any run ins with dangerous wildlife?

Not yet. It is strange because I would desperately like to get some close up footage of a Grizzly but on the other hand, I think I would soil my pants if one was standing in front of me! I have filmed a few cougars but I don’t think they knew I was there!

For more videos of the Rockies, check out our new Videos section at Rockies.com!

Best Hotels of the Canadian Rockies

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Lake Louise Inn

Banff National Park, Alberta

By John McKiernan
Staff Writer

It is a pleasure to write an article about a hotel that finally appeals to everyone. Though it is nice to casually read a review of 5 star hotels, it is also comparable to looking at pictures of models in magazines. It is never going to happen unless you are extremely rich. The need has always been there for a hotel that offers great facilities but room rates that are affordable for anyone looking to take a break in the Canadian Rockies’ jewel of Lake Louise.

Affordable rooms with great views in the Lake Louise Inn.

Affordable rooms with great views in the Lake Louise Inn.

The Lake Louise Inn is refreshing. It is completely unassuming, unpretentious and really does appeal to everyone. Most hotels in Lake Louise can boast a view to die for (the Fairmont Chateaux in particular with its stunning lake view) and the Lake Louise Inn is no exception. Front Office Manager Steve Mossman filled me in on what makes the Lake Louise Inn different. “We have 14 different types of rooms that suit everybody’s budget – everything from beautiful two bedroom suites to lofts that can fit 8 to economy rooms for people looking for a cheap weekend.”

Though the hotel seems relatively small, it has a lot of slightly hidden charms. Aside from the Timberwolf Restaurant’s array of Italian food, there is also the option of eating in Legends restaurant or enjoying a drink in the Explorer Lounge. The peak season is in July and August according to Steve: “It is always busy around the summer and in the winter especially around the World Cup race when there are only 2 hotels open. We have all sorts of specials during the year. Valentines is always big and the ski and stay package is a constant favourite.”

Whether you are working off a tight budget with your family or traveling the Canadian Rockies on business, you should take a look at the Lake Louise Inn. Pool, small gym, hot tubs, steam room and a beautifully quaint tea house are just a few of the things that make this hotel so attractive. Though it may not help you with those models in the magazine, at least you will know what it is like to have the best service at prices that won’t stop the kids from heading to University… where they will put pictures of models on their wall. It’s a viscous cycle of a world!

Where to Use the Internet in Banff

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Where to Use the Internet in Banff

Banff National Park, Alberta

Not to sound too much like my mother but these days the Internet is everywhere. There are IPhones, Ipods with internet and laptops that are so small that those cursed with chubby fingers struggle. The world of information is at your fingertips. In Banff, many people are surprised about the lack of choices when it comes to finding a computer to use or a place to take advantage of wireless. Me and my chubby fingers have compiled a list of the places you can head to check your email and see if the dating agency has gotten back to you yet.

Free Internet in Banff

Banff Public Library – 101 Bear Street

There is a clause to the freedom of the Banff Library service. Perhaps due to an overabundance of people traipsing into the delightfully quiet building and chatting on their facebook for hours, the library people have set limits. You are free to use their computers for research (work, resumes, tourism, etc) but for communications (facebook, email, etc), you must pay $1 for 30 minutes. The same applies for wireless use.

You can research your Banff trip for free in the Banff Public Library.

You can research your Banff trip for free in the Banff Public Library.


Job Resource Centre – 314 Marten Street

Same sort of rules apply here. You can use it to help find a job but not to find out what that Porn Stars name really is.

Starbucks and Second Cup

If you are the proud owner of a laptop, this is easily the best option. You get 2 hours free wireless per session. You only have to fork out $2 on a small coffee to feel morally justified. The connection is fast and there are plenty of plug sockets around to keep the battery full. Can’t decide which one to choose? Second Cup is proudly Canadian but Starbucks plays great music.

Not So Free Internet in Banff

Banff YWCA – 102 Spray Avenue

$1 for 10 minutes (coin operated). This is not cheap nor is it the best option but if you are in a rush, step right up.

Cyberweb Internet Café – 215 Banff Avenue

If you just want to check your emails really quickly, this may not be the best option. At $6 an hour, it’s just not economical. However, they do have a special for $5.30 all day which doesn’t really make sense but who are we to argue. If you need to do a lot of research or work, this is the best place to go. It’s nice and warm too.

The Underground – 211 Banff Avenue

There are better options around Banff for sure but $6 a hour in the Underground is another option to consider.

Interview with a Banff Worker

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Interview with a Banff Worker – Stephanie Young

Banff National Park, Alberta

By John McKiernan
Staff Writer

Where are you from Stephanie?

I’m from Kaikoura in New Zealand.

How long have you been in Banff?

Well I got here October 08’ but left for four months to travel UK, Ireland, home for a while and then the US. I’m back now for the winter season.

"Exaggerate your resume. Everyone does it!"

"Exaggerate your resume. Everyone does it!"

What brought you here?

Snowboarding basically, big mountains, just to do “a season”.

Do you like it?

I love it. That’s why I’m back!

How did you find getting employment?

Pretty easy actually. I got a job immediately through the work fair but I had to hang around for a month before it started on the slopes.

Where do you work now?

I’m working selling some of my favorite items in the Liquor Depot on Marten St. and also working as a waitress part time in The Keg.

How do you find the wages?

Really low compared to back home but if you get into the hospitality side of things, it can really be worthwhile. When you take tips into account, it is better paid overall to New Zealand.

What’s your favorite thing about Banff?

The people and also the size of the place. The size of the place really suits me.

What’s your least favorite thing about Banff?

Well, you can get the “Banff Blues”…It is so small here that you get to know everybody and it can sometimes get claustrophobic. It’s good to get out sometimes even if it is to Calgary!

Any Advice for Job Seekers now?

Yep. Lie, lie, lie. Everyone does it. If you don’t, you will get left behind! Also keep harassing them and you will succeed. Don’t tell my boss that I said that though!

Working in Banff – Where to Start

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Working in Banff – “Doing a Season”

Banff National Park, Alberta

by John McKiernan
Staff Writer

The Canadian Rockies and Banff, in particular, are usually considered holiday destinations for most people. However, as the tourists begin to arrive in their droves; someone has to be there to provide the necessary services for them. The feeling of anticipation for the winter season is already bubbling in Banff and job vacancies are popping up everywhere from town centre to ski hill. Below is some information to help you find your feet.

Follow your career path in Banff.

Follow your career path in Banff.

Job Resource Centre

In Banff town centre, there is an extremely helpful Job Resource Centre run by Michel Dufresne. If you are arriving in Banff and don’t know where to start looking for work, this is easily the best place to start. The staff are numerous, knowledgable and extremely helpful. Amongst other services, they provide resume and cover letter writing assistance, internet access, career coaching, local job postings and a resource library. There are also free fax and phone services to call potential employers . This service is free, available in French or English and open all week.

Banff Address: 314 Marten Street

Ph: 403 760 3311

Banff@jobresourcecentre.com

Canmore Address: 710 – 10th Street

Ph: 403 678 6601

canmore@jobresourcecentre.com

Looking For a Job in Banff

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How to look for a job in Banff

Banff National Park, Alberta

By John McKiernan
Staff Writer

Although Banff is not generally considered a place where people come to follow their careers, it has a lot else on offer for the prospective worker. The variety in jobs to work is practically endless. The best way to start looking for work is by heading to the Job Resource Centre or simply turning up and picking and choosing between the ‘Help Wanted’ signs. However, there are alternatives.

Resume

Depending on the season, competition can be fierce for the jobs in town. Get into the Job Resource Centre and ask for help “localizing” your resume. Banff is a bit different to what you may be used to. One page of your resume will usually suffice. It has to be concise and informative. Keep in mind that employers have to read through a mountain of resumes, they may not want to read about your pet parrot, even if it can sing the Canadian national anthem. Though we would never suggest lying on your resume about experience, the odd …exaggeration is almost expected up here!

Working on the ski hills is a popular option during winter in Banff

Working on the ski hills is a popular option during winter in Banff

Persist

There are a lot of great bars in Banff. It is very easy to hand out a few resumes and sit contently in the bar waiting for that phone to ring (don’t forget to always have credit on your cell). What you should notice fast is that employment is a revolving door up here. The reasons vary. Often after the summer season, there is a huge exodus as French Canadian workers return east, students head back to the library / student bars and those that remain move up in the pecking order. When Sunshine Village opens in November, many people leave their jobs in town to start work on the hill. Employers wont mind if you return every week asking if there is any vacancies. If anything, they will be impressed by your persistence.

Lower Your Standards

As mentioned earlier, this is not the place to come to follow that lucrative career as a child Psychologist. Though there may be limited opportunities in your chosen field, it is more likely that if you want to be able to ski / snowboard around Banff in winter, you will have to try something new. Just like you would when drunk in a bar, you have to be ready to lower your standards. For example, it is difficult to jump straight into serving with those beautifully large tips on offer but there are other ways in. Dishwashing or dish pig as it is affectionately known in Banff is a good way to get your foot in the door. It is a small town and in the blink of an eye, you too could be looking back nostalgically on those days spent having fun in the restaurant kitchen.

Perks

Yes, some jobs pay absolutely awful but have a look to see what perks are on offer. Many employers provide accommodation and food either free or subsidized. Many employers such as Sunshine Village will provide you with your ski pass which saves a small fortune. If you work in a ski clothes store, you will get big discounts for your gear and possibly ski passes too. The difference between $9 an hour and $15 an hour may seem huge but ask about the perks and you may be surprised.

Which Job Suits Your Social Life?

Like most seasonal workers, it is likely you have moved to the Rockies with the main purpose of hitting the slopes as much as possible. Ask questions about what hours and shifts you may be working. There are few things more depressing than finding that your work schedule is so hectic that your ski’s or snowboard remain practically unused.

Where to Look For Work

Look at the local boards around town and check the local free papers which come out on Tuesday and Thursday. If you are currently reading from out of town, here are a few sites to get you a head start.

banff.ca

banffcragandcanyon

rockymountainoutlook

positivepeopleplacement

diversifiedstaffing

jobbank

Moving to Banff

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Moving to Banff

Banff National Park, Alberta

By John McKiernan
Staff Writer

If you have arrived at this page, the photos you have seen should be enough for you to see why people move to Banff whether it be for seasonal work or for good. Surrounded by protective, stunning snow-capped mountains and with quaint little streets, Banff can’t help but make you feel healthy. However, keep in mind that buying and renting in this beautiful town  are two very different things.

Buying

Banff has a relatively controversial law that insists that anyone buying property in Banff must pass the “need to reside” clause before they can buy property. This is more or less exactly what it hints at. There are many stipulations such as proving that you will actually be working in the park to get through before you are permitted to buy that dream house (with costs as expensive as ever, it may well be a dream house!). Talk to a real estate agent about the intricacies of such a purchase or buy property in equally gorgeous Canmore only 20 minutes away.

Banff Avenue is beautiful all year round.

Banff Avenue is beautiful all year round.

Renting

Seasoned world travelers and renters are probably quite used to using Craigslist as a medium to find an apartment. Not so in Banff. Though there are a few (not so trustworthy) options posted on the site, there is little one can do before actually reaching Banff. Families are perhaps best to have a look at renting through one of the real estate agents around the town centre such as Alpine Realty and Bow Valley Realty.

However, those on more of a budget – get ready for some competition! First of all, take a walk around all the town’s notice boards (generally in the malls and internet cafes). This is where real bargains come and if you have arrived with very little in the savings department, there is more of a chance that you won’t have to pay that often crippling damage deposit fee (usually one month’s full rent).

Try to be the first to the local newspapers. The Banff Crag and Canyon is published every Tuesday and has a host of options to choose from primarily in Banff. The Rocky Mountain Outlook is published every Thursday and focuses more on Canmore renting. Both papers have very useful sections and are the main way that landlord and potential tenants communicate locally. There are literally dozens of people who look at these apartments so try to look at as many as possible in as quick time as possible before handing over that precious deposit.

Buying property in Banff is no walk in the park.

Buying property in Banff is no walk in the park.

What Sort of Prices Will I be Looking at?

Canmore is expensive and Banff even more so but there are good deals to be had if you have the patience. Obviously sharing a room cuts costs. Also don’t forget to ask the usual questions such as: are utilities included and how much the damage deposit will be. Here are some ideas of price to measure against.

Local Youth Hostel: Around $27 -$34 per night depending on the season. Paying weekly can reduce costs. Also ask if it is possible to work for your stay.

Room in shared house without lease: $500 to $600 per month

Room in shared house with lease: (6 months or a year): $400 to $700 per month

Apartment (1 – 2 bedrooms) with lease: $900 to $2000 per month

*It is possible to share a room for as little as $300 each through short term deals on the local notice boards around the restaurants and cafes of Banff.

Moving to Banff
By John McKiernan
Staff Writer for CanadianRockies.Net
If you have arrived at this page, the photos you have seen should be enough for you to see why people move to Banff whether it be for seasonal work or for good. Surrounded by protective, stunning snow-capped mountains and with quaint little streets, Banff can’t help but make you feel healthy. However, keep in mind that buying and renting in Banff are two very different things.
Buying
Banff has a relatively controversial law that insists that anyone buying property in Banff must pass the “need to reside” clause before they can buy property. This is more or less exactly what it hints at. There are many stipulations such as proving that you will actually be working in the park to get through before you are permitted to buy that dream house (with costs as expensive as ever, it may well be a dream house!). Talk to a real estate agent about the intricacies of such a purchase or buy property in equally gorgeous Canmore only 20 minutes away.
Renting
Seasoned world travelers and renters are probably quite used to using Craigslist as a medium to find an apartment. Not so in Banff. Though there are a few (not so trustworthy) options posted on the site, there is little one can do before actually reaching Banff. Families are perhaps best to have a look at renting through one of the real estate agents around the town centre such as Alpine Realty and Bow Valley Realty.
However, those on more of a budget  – get ready for some competition! First of all, take a walk around all the town’s notice boards (generally in the malls and internet cafes). This is where real bargains come and if you have arrived with very little in the savings department, there is more of a chance that you won’t have to pay that often crippling damage deposit fee (usually one month’s full rent).
Try to be the first to the local newspapers. The Banff Crag and Canyon is published every Tuesday and has a host of options to choose from primarily in Banff. The Rocky Mountain Outlook is published every Thursday and focuses more on Canmore renting. Both papers have very useful sections and are the main way that landlord and potential tenants communicate locally. There are literally dozens of people who look at these apartments so try to look at as many as possible in as quick time as possible before handing over that precious deposit.
What Sort of Prices Will I be Looking at?
Canmore is expensive and Banff even more so but there are good deals to be had if you have the patience. Obviously sharing a room cuts costs. Also don’t forget to ask the usual questions such as: are utilities included and how much the damage deposit will be. Here are some ideas of price to measure against.

Local Youth Hostel: Around $27 -$34 per night depending on the season. Paying weekly can reduce costs. Also ask if it is possible to work for your stay.
Room in shared house without lease: $500 to $600 per month
Room in shared house with lease: (6 months or a year): $400 to $700 per month
Apartment (1 – 2 bedrooms) with lease: $900 to $2000 per month
*It is possible to share a room for as little as $300 each through short term deals on the local notice boards.