ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Visiting Blairmore, Alberta: Idyllically Situated, Peaceful Community by the Rockies, With a Turbulent History

Updated on April 6, 2020
Provincial flag of Alberta
Provincial flag of Alberta | Source
Blairmore, Alberta
Blairmore, Alberta | Source

Picturesque setting; memories of Stalinists and Prohibition-era tragedy

[This visit occurred some years ago.]

Blairmore, Alberta, is located in an idyllic-seeming setting close to the Rockies. Several high peaks are clearly visible from the locality; and its relative proximity to Crowsnest Pass at the Continental Divide leading to British Columbia has meant that historically this community has been close to travel and trading routes.

I was particularly struck by the scenic location of the local Tim Hortons franchise! It is probable that the spectacular setting of this local franchise of a quintessentially Canadian business must be among the most impressive in existence, with high peaks of the Rockies as a backdrop (1).

Blairmore is now part of the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass, but the small community close to the Canadian Pacific Railway, previously known as Tenth Siding, was given the name Blairmore in 1898. As well as the proximity of the railway, until the 1950s the mining industry heavily influenced the character of the community (see also re. Coleman, below).

The town has at times experienced highly varied periods in its history. Its town council in the 1930s was Communist, as was its local school board. Its principal street was called Tim Buck Avenue (named for the Beccles, England-born, Stalinist leader of Canada's Communists) and a local recreational facility was called Karl Marx Park.

A rather different sort of event occurred during the Prohibition era. The proximity of Crowsnest Pass made the strong supply and demand factor for illegal trade in liquor a compellingly tempting factor in the involvement of some of the townsfolk. A Blairmore businessman and Alderman Emilio Picariello (1875/79-1923) and an accomplice Florence Lassando (1900-1923) were convicted and hanged for the murder of a police officer, although it was never conclusively established who bore ultimately responsibility for the use of the weapon involved in the crime. The convicted defendants were in one way or another undoubtedly involved heavily in the illicit liquor trade, the banning of which in Alberta a few years beforehand was strongly influenced, among others, by women's groups. However, the deaths of a number of Alberta police officers in Prohibition-related incidents, and the hanging of Florence Lassando, aged 23 — the only woman ever hanged in Alberta — led to a series of public outcries in the Province. The cumulative result was that, within months of the hangings, Prohibition was rescinded in Alberta, it being evidently judged not worth the continuing paying of the price of sanguinary disruption involved in its enforcement. Peter B. Smith writes the following, grim assessment of this outcome: 'Who knows what the women of the temperance movement must have thought of the irony—a bullet from the gun of a woman had wiped out all their hard work.' (2)(3)

But despite the turbulent — and, indeed, amazing — history of Blairmore, no one can detract from the sheer, spectacular backdrop to its Tim Hortons franchise, situated close to Alberta (Crowsnest) Highway 3!

April 6, 2020

Notes

(1) I suppose that whatever the scenery is like in Kandahar, Afghanistan — where the Canadian Forces formerly served and which Tim Hortons followed there — may be comparable!

(2) Peter B. Smith, Prairie Murders: Mysteries, Crimes and Scandals, Heritage Publishers, ISBN 9781926936260, Ch. 3.

(3) Similar, highly disturbing, incidents in Ontario, related to the human cost of enforcing Prohibition, contributed to leading the Ontario legislature to repeal comparable legislation in that Province.

Some sourcing: Wikipedia

Also worth seeing

Coleman (within the municipality of Crowsnest Pass, Alberta) has an interesting local history museum and gift shop, which specializes in the mining heritage of the region.

Frank (also within the municipality of Crowsnest Pass, Alberta) has a poignant interpretive centre commemorating a devastating rock fall which considerably obliterated much of the town of Frank in 1903.

Sparwood, British Columbia (distance: approx. 20 kilometres from Crowsnest Pass); home to what is known as 'the largest truck in the world', a Titan on permanent display; Sparwood, on the Elk River, is known for its large murals depicting life at the former mining communities of Michel and Natal; there are various campsites locally.

How to get there

One of the nearest international airports to the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass is Cranbrook / Canadian Rockies International Airport (road distance to Crowsnest Pass: approx. 145 kilometres), to which Air Canada flies, via Vancouver, with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available. The much larger Calgary International Airport (distance: approx. 230.2 kilometres), with wide North American and other connections, from where car rental is available. Air Canada also flies to Lethbridge Airport (distance: approx. 144.5 kilometres), via Calgary, from where car rental is also available. Some facilities may be withdrawn without notice.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada

Map location of Blairmore, Alberta
Map location of Blairmore, Alberta | Source

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)