In northwest RVC, Pioneer Acres of Alberta museum – located just outside Irricana – lives up to its motto, “Where history comes alive.” According to Curator and General Manager Shelly McElroy, walking into the museum is like walking into a postcard.
“One of the things we are kind of famous for is having tractors, ploughs and machines that were used more than 100 years ago,” McElroy said. “We document the social history as well.”
With 13 exhibits spread across 50 acres of Alberta prairie, Pioneer Acres aims to preserve the province’s heritage by providing educational exhibits focused on the from early 1900s to the 1950s.
McElroy said the newest addition to the museum is the Grain Academy museum that formerly was displayed at Stampede Park in Calgary since 1981.
“That has represented hundreds of volunteer hours to get that display ready to open, and now it is,” she said. “It was a major thing for us.”
With displays ranging from first generation tractors and steam building engines to a blacksmith shop and a pioneer truck museum, Pioneer Acres offers a venue that is both fun and educational.
For avid golfers, RVC offers numerous courses including Collicut Siding Golf Club in Crossfield. The 18-hole course is located 20 minutes north of Calgary and is home to Canada’s largest junior academy for children ages 4 to 14.
“We started out in 2009 with 56 kids the first year. We’ve grown now to over 1,000 a year,” said General Manager Lyndon King. “Our niche is the introduction to the game.”
Collicut’s front nine holes have been open since 1995, with the back nine following in 2003. King said the value people get when coming to Collicut is what separates it from most courses.
“We’re not an expensive club,” he said. “You have to provide a good product. It’s a good golf experience for little money.”
Not far from Collicut Siding Golf Club is the Crossfield Farmer’s Market, where visitors can shop for fruit, vegetables, baking and spirits.
“We don’t have the big city crowds, but we have a tremendously great variety,” said market manager Cheryl Shae.
The market has been operating for the past 45 years, and currently runs every every Thursday from 3:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. until Sept. 24 in the Crossfield and District Community hall parking lot. Shea said the market continues to grow – despite the pandemic, 45 vendors set up weekly.
“These folks are small businesses,” Shae said. “They are true businesses, not just hobbyists.”
Anyone hoping to take in Alberta’s scenic foothills need look no further than Glenbow Ranch Provincial Park (GRPP). The park is a 10-minute drive east of Cochrane and offers trails that showcase 3,200 acres of grasslands along the Bow River.
“It’s a feast for the eyes,” said Sarah Parker, executive director of the Glenbow Ranch Park Foundation (GRPF). “You see rolling hills, the Bow River and right now we have the yellow canola fields from the farm across the river. You can also see the mountains to the west, it’s just one of the most amazing views,” said Parker.
Parker said the GRPF sees about 5,000 children a year through three programs it runs – Discover Archaeology, Explore Grasslands and the Explore Pond Program.
“Those three programs for children are really the staple of what we do,” Parker said.
Before COVID-19, GRPF also provided golf cart tours. Although those tours are currently on hold, Parker said traffic to the park has increased by 50 per cent during the pandemic compared to 2019.
She added GRPF understands the park is now more important than ever.
“Recognizing that, we are trying really hard to share information on trails to the public,” Parker said. “We are also offering a series of free kids programs during the summer.”
In the County’s southwest, Bragg Creek offers plenty of fun options.
“We call it Canmore’s little sister,” said Jennifer Jurkowski, marketing and public relations specialist with Bragg Creek and Area Chamber of Commerce.
Jurkowski said prior to the pandemic, Bragg Creek saw a lot of international travellers drawn by Bragg Creek’s pristine trails and natural beauty. Now, the hamlet is hoping locals come and see what it has to offer.
“We also have a lot of quaint little shops that showcase the local artisans in the area,” Jurkowski said. “Even the general store here has really unique kinds of treasures.”
Bragg Creek boasts 16 restaurants, with the majority offering patios where diners can enjoy the weather and comply with social distancing guidelines.
One of the main reasons people flock to Bragg Creek is the West Bragg Creek trail system, which is a renowned stop for mountain biking featuring 152 kilometres of pathway.
Additionally, the hamlet is a great stop for those interested in fishing, camping, golfing or hiking.
Jordan Stricker, AirdrieToday.com
Follow me on Twitter @Jay_Strickz