Canmore, Alberta

Canmore is a town in Alberta, Canada, located approximately 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 12,288 in 2011, Canmore is the ninth-largest town in Alberta.


Canmore was officially named in 1884 by Canadian Pacific Railway director Donald A. Smith. 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 is now going through a restoration renovation. The hotel celebrated its 120th anniversary in October 2010.


Concerns over Canmore's urban growth adjacent to provincial and national parkland 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, cougars, 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 and takes over one and a half hours to traverse by foot. The pedestrian-friendly town centre surrounds 8th Street, or "Main Street", 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 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 in January, with relatively low humidity. Summers are short with daytime temperatures ranging from.


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 change from its 2011 population of 12,288. With a land area of, it had a population density of in 2016.
The population of the Town of Canmore according to its 2014 municipal census is 13,077, a 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.
In the 2011 Census, the Town of Canmore had a population of 12,288 living in 5,176 of its 7,973 total dwellings, a 2.1% change from its 2006 population of 12,039. With a land area of, it had a population density of in 2011. In its own 2011 municipal census however, the town counted a population of 12,317, a 0.7% increase over its 2009 municipal census population of 12,226. The 2011 municipal census also reported a non-permanent population of 5,982 for a combined population of 18,299.
About 1.5% of residents identified themselves as aboriginal at the time of the 2006 census.
About 85% of residents identified English as their first language. Almost 5% of the population identified French as their first language, while 3.5% identified German, more than 2% identified Japanese, and just over 0.5% identified Dutch as their first language learned. The next most common languages were Korean, Polish and Czech at 0.4% each, followed by Ukrainian, Russian and Spanish at about 0.3% each.


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.

Arts and culture

Canmore has one museum, the Canmore Museum and Geoscience Centre 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".
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

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 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

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 center 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 of world-class cross-country and biathlon trail systems designed to meet international Nordic competitive standards. The trails are groomed and track set to accommodate both classic and skating techniques on the same trail. A 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.

Grassi Lakes

The Upper & Lower Grassi Lakes lie at an elevation of about 1,525 m in the southern Canadian Rockies overlooking the town of Canmore, Alberta. They receive their water from the Spray Lakes Reservoir on the Spray River. There is a trail route that takes you up to the Upper Grassi Lake, with decent parking at the bottom. The trail is 4.3 km. It’s appropriate for all skill levels. The water is a beautiful Caribbean green / blue & very clear. It’s surrounded by stunning snow covered mountains & shear soaring cliffs. There are two options for the hike, one easy & one more difficult. It takes approximately 60 minutes to hike the loop.

Banff National Park

Canmore is the closest major town to Banff National Park, the main gate of which is just northwest of the town limits. It is a 22-kilometre drive from Canmore to the park's main townsite at Banff.

Shrine Church of Our Lady of the Rockies

The Shrine Church of Our Lady of the Rockies is a Diocesan Marian Shrine in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Calgary. The Shrine features a Rosary Chapel, as well as an Adoration Chapel behind the main alter. It also features a large stained glass window of the Virgin Mary and infant Jesus seated in front of the Rocky Mountains above the main altar. The Church's exterior boasts a carrillon of bells in its steeple.
The Groundbreaking Mass for the Shrine Church was celebrated on June 25, 2017. On the First Sunday of Advent that year, Bishop William McGrattan announced that the new Church in Canmore would become a Shrine, in order to be a place of spiritual tourism for Catholic's who come to the Bow Valley to spend time in the majesty of the Rocky Mountains. The Shrine Church was formally dedicated by Bishop McGrattan on May 30, 2020. Due to COVID-19 based restrictions the ceremony was not open the public. The Shrine's pastor Fr. Nathan Siray celebrated the first public mass at the Shrine on June 5, 2020.
People of any faith or none at all are welcomed to visit the Shrine during their time in Canmore.


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 local Bantam hockey team is the Canmore Eagles. The hockey movie Mystery, Alaska 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 are held there. During the winter season, the facility sees several cross country ski races, ranging from local events to FIS World Cup.
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.


The primary newspapers for the town are the Rocky Mountain Outlook and the Banff Crag & Canyon which recently took over the Canmore Leader. The only radio station operating out of Canmore is CHMN-FM, an adult contemporary station run by Rogers Media. Former Much Music VJ, Bradford How was employed by the Rogers owned, Mountain FM before he won the MuchMusic VJ Search competition in 2000.


Many of the new developments, fractional projects, and vacation suites were built with sustainable development in mind, and in 2006 the Three Sisters Mountain Village development was the recipient of an international award for being the best sustainable development in North America. Unfortunately, new owners of the 'future land assets' of this project defaulted on their financial commitments following the world economic crisis, putting the future development lands into receivership in the spring of 2009, but this does not affect current developments that are ongoing within the project and long term development will eventually continue under new ownership. In early 2010, several projects are beginning to show signs of life, and real estate pricing has begun to recover.
As of June 2014 Canmore has the lowest vacancy rate in Canada for rental properties according to a CMHC Spring report. This in turn is having an effect on the housing market and pushing prices up. Along with the uptick in the oil industry and second home buyers coming back into the market from Calgary, the housing market is showing signs of not only recovering but becoming very strong as inventory levels are at a 6-year low.
Within the town, there are also some buildings using geothermal energy, and the town's new Municipal Services Building is the first building in Alberta to achieve LEED Silver certification status.
However, due to the local landscape being very complex, not everyone can install solar or wind energy devices on their property. Bylaws are also very strict and "aesthetic alterations" are not widely accepted.
Canmore is a very difficult place to find affordable housing, and pet owners or families may have difficulty arranging accommodation. To alleviate the housing crunch, Canmore has pursued several affordable housing projects. In 2000, the Town of Canmore established the Canmore Community Housing Corporation to provide housing solutions for a healthy and balanced community. CCHC administers a Perpetually Affordable Housing Program consisting of 41 ownership and 60 rental housing units at below-market purchase prices and rental rates. Mountain Haven Co-operative Homes Ltd. administers its own PAH development that provides 44 equity and non-equity units.


Health care is provided at the Canmore General Hospital.
Transit is provided by Roam transit.