Every summer, the town of Banff and the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies host Doors Open Banff, which gives visitors a chance to peek inside heritage buildings throughout the town. All photos by Meghan Krauss.
About Meghan KraussMeghan Krauss is a practicing photographic artist who was born and raised in Prince Albert, SK. She holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Windsor, Windsor, ON (2012) and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK (2005). www.meghankrauss.com
Postponed by the late June flood, our rescheduled annual Performance in the Park concert got onstage on September 21, with opener Danny Michel and co-headliners Adam Cohen and Serena Ryder. Set up on our temporary stage, which we moved down to the Parks Canada administration grounds for the show, PiP has become one of the most popular concerts on our calendar.
Performance in the Park is produced as a partnership between The Banff Centre, Parks Canada, and Banff Lake Louise Tourism. All photos by Meghan Krauss.
When I found myself between snowboarding and hiking seasons this month, I took in a few of the events for springstART, a three-week festival of art, culture, and local history that takes over Banff in April. I’ve always been fascinated with observing home interiors, so the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies heritage home tours was at the top of my list. I did three intimate tours, through rustic homes filled with relics of world travels and Banff paraphernalia: the home of philanthropists, world travellers, and visual artists Peter and Catharine Whyte, collectors and community leaders Philip and Pearl Moore, and the former home of Norman and Georgina Luxton.
I also visited the Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum, where a tour guide explained the lives of the Stoney/Nakoda and other Treaty 7 First Nations people indigenous to the area. And fittingly, because ART is highlighted in the name of the festival, there were lots of galleries and art exhibitions to see, including at The Banff Centre’s Walter Phillips Gallery, the Whyte Museum, Canada House Gallery, Willock & Sax Gallery, and others, along with a public art installation launch took place in the alley behind Town Hall.
Banff National Park’s Snow Days is a month-long festival exploring traditional winter activities such as roasting chestnuts and learning to skate, snowshoe, curl, cross-country ski, downhill ski, or snowboard. The Ice Magic Festival at Lake Louise offered world-class ice carving competitions, skating on the lake, sleigh rides, and tours of The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and area. Avalanche safety demonstrations were held at Sunshine Village and The Lake Louise Ski area, while The Banff Centre presented our annual Avalanche Awareness Night, which aims to help make skiers and boarders more aware of the avalanche risks associated with backcountry and out-of-bounds travel.
Beyond the classic activities associated with a Canadian winter, there are always other activities to be enjoyed. The Banff Centre’s Walter Phillips Gallery presented Drawn to Nature in the Banff Park National Historic Site, there were old time movies to be watched at the Banff Visitor Centre, and those who were interested could take part in photography workshops, or don a heritage bathing suit at Banff’s Upper Hot Springs. The Banff Mountain Film & Book Festival also screened selections of some of the best short winter films from past festivals in the comfort of the Elk & Oarsman Restaurant & Pub.Topping off the festival, the Take it to the Street Tournament allowed onlookers and participants to celebrate in the quintessentially Canadian game of street hockey.
Below take a listen to podcast producer, Chris Wood’s recording of ice carving at Lake Louise’s annual international ice carving competition.
As Canada’s first National Park, with an extremely rich history involving the transcontinental railway and the preservation of the Cave and Basin hot springs, Banff makes for a unique Culture Days experience. For me, Culture Days in Banff began with a tour from historian Dave Moberg around ‘Canada’s Castle in the Rockies’, The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. Moberg shared the following historic quote with the group from the 1880s general manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway, William Cornelius Van Horne, “since we can’t export the scenery, we’ll have to import the tourists.”
Throughout the weekend I participated in a number of different Culture Day events. The photo gallery below only begins to capture all that went on here in Banff as many partners participated in this national celebration of culture. The weekend was a great reminder of not only how lucky we are here in Banff to be surrounded by such beautiful scenery, but also the fact that we are a culturally and historically rich location; a place many of us call home.
I arrive at the base of Tunnel Mountain in the half-light of 5:30 on a recent Sunday morning to take part in Inverted Mountains, a day-long performance presented by the world-renowned artists of Coleman Lemieux & Compagnie. Supported by The Banff Centre and Banff National Park, Inverted Mountains is set in four locations against the grand backdrop of the Rocky Mountains of Banff. Choreographer Bill Coleman, who is known for taking the art of dance and the process of creation beyond the stage and into unexpected realms, explores the relationship between the human body and the natural environment, joined by film director Anee Troake and composer John Oswald.
Along with my fellow participants, we walk in silence as we’re guided up Tunnel Mountain in the approaching dawn. Along the way we’re serenaded by the haunting soundscapes and visuals of concealed singers, musicians, and performers, either among us or within the landscape. As the inverted chords, melodies, intervals, and voices continue, we watch the sun rise over the mountain ranges.
Animate becomes inanimate, humans become animals. Mirrors – from small badges worn by participants, to large mirrors in the forest — reflect the idea of being inverted, and juxtapose humans and this pristine natural setting.
Throughout the day, our moveable audience guides itself from location to location. The finale of the day-long event is at Bow Falls, where the natural acoustics of the falling water is accompanied by musicians and performers’ voices. We imagine together the transformation of the inanimate to animate, of the animal to human, as a performer comes out of the Earth, dramatically falls down a hill, and is welcomed back into the human realm by her peers. Together, audience and performers gain a new appreciation for the natural landscape surrounding our human world.