By Naomi Witherick
Before hotels and ski hills, the Canadian Rockies were known, loved and lived in by First Nations. Frozen lakes were their hunting ground, snowy foothills their home. Connect with the mountains like the first inhabitants with unique experiences that resonate Aboriginal heritage.
Indigenous people have traversed Canadian landscapes for centuries. From Inuit nations in the north to the Plains tribes in southern Alberta, each had their own beliefs and traditions that are still alive.
Experience Aboriginal life-ways for yourself. From museum visits and snowshoeing to ice fishing and folklore (below) there are loads of ways to connect with native heritage in the Canadian Rockies.
Winter hunting meant tribes also had to venture out onto the ice. Inuit crafted wooden crampons for much-needed grip when tracking seals, and ice fishing was widespread among Canadian First Nations.
Walk in their footsteps on some of the mountains’ most breathtaking frozen features. Discover Banff’s Grotto Canyon tour follows a frozen creek to a place where guides point out ancient pictographs drawn by early inhabitants. On Jasper’s Maligne Canyon tour you’ll see towering icefalls and fossils on limestone walls.
Or drop a line on a Spray Lakes ice fishing expedition with Banff Fishing Unlimited. “Ice fishing is easy, you don’t need experience,” says the company’s Anders Roussy. “We take a lot of families and it’s great fun for all ages.” Stay warm in a heated cabin and sip hot chocolate while waiting for a trout. Guides cook what you catch for a tasty lunch.
Also visit Lake Minnewanka, Stoney for Water Spirits. This 28-km long glacial lake, the largest in Banff National Park, has been a focal point of legends and folklore for centuries, with stories of mermen, thresholds to other worlds and supernatural encounters contributing to its lingering air of mystery. Take a scenic drive from Banff townsite to enjoy breathtaking views of the frozen mass and surrounding peaks. Watch for bighorn sheep and elk.
See more Age-Old Adventures.
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