Alberta, Canada: Ironhorse on the Cowboy Trail

Text: Dave Lowery • Photography: Dave Lowery, Cheryl Lowery

Thousands of Canadians still head west hoping to capture some of the wealth from Canada’s richest province (per capita income) for themselves. But it’s also a favorite international tourist destination well known for its expansive blue skies and scenery as well as both winter and summer activities.

Founded at the convergence of the Bow and Elbow Rivers and incorporated in 1884, Calgary, with a population now more than one million, is home to more oil company headquarters than anywhere else in Canada. In the late ‘70s and very early ’80s, 2,000 people per month were coming to Calgary—and staying! After a few economic crashes hit in the early ‘80s and ’90s, Calgary diversified into tourism and high-tech manufacturing. Perhaps best known is the Calgary Stampede, which annually attracts more than a million visitors each July. In addition, Spruce Meadows hosts international caliber equestrian events almost year round. During the motorcycle season, expect to see up to eight show jumping events. If your tastes lean to a little faster activity, check out Canada Olympic Park (COP) at the western edge of Calgary just off the Trans-Canada Highway. Calgary hosted the Olympics in 1988, and the ski jumping competition (among other winter sports) was held at COP. The area now provides wannabe bobsleighers an opportunity to “experience the rush of your life” during the summer on wheeled bobsleighs that hit speeds of 60 mph and yield G-forces up to four times your body weight.

Once our speed demons are satisfied, we leave out of town via 37 Street Southwest to Highway 22X, turn west, and then roll south on Highway 22. Also known as Cowboy Trail, this route passes through Black Diamond and is close to historic Turner Valley. Though gas and oil supplies have since been depleted, the area produced the most oil and gas in the British Empire for 30 years after oil was discovered at the Dingman Discovery Well on May 14, 1914.

Into the Wilderness

The two-laner starts to gently undulate as we enter the foothills of southern Alberta’s Rocky Mountain range and arrive in motorcycle-friendly Longview (population 307), the center for southern Alberta’s beef ranching. Logically, a local butcher began producing jerky here 35 years ago and has developed a faithful following. We stop in at the Longview Jerky Shop at 148 Morrison Road for a taste. It’s lunchtime, so we try the Hay Wire Café for the beef dip, my son-in-law’s favorite.

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For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the July/August 2013 back issue.