I live where I can see the Rocky Mountains, a fact so important to me that it’s included in many of my bios. The other day I needed my fix of the Rocks and headed for Banff. (click on any of the pictures for a closer look)
Now if you don’t know Banff, well you don’t know Banff. The area had long attracted explorers and adventurers but that changed in 1883 when three young men were looking for gold. They found a hole in the ground and upon further exploration, discovered a sulpher-rank hot spring. (There are actually 3 in the area. This is know as the lower hot springs or the Cave and Basin.) The benefit of soaking in a a hot mineral spring was well known throughout the world. People have been going to the hot springs in Bath, UK since Roman times.
Soon these men were charging admission to enjoy the springs. They even constructed a crude hotel—emphasis on crude. Think of a tiny log structure barely big enough for a bed.
The government of Canada was not about to let a good thing go to waste and quickly turned the area into a park.
But it was William Van Horne, GM of the Canadian Pacific Railway who knew a good thing when he saw it
Tourism was one way of getting people to ride his railway. The dollar potential of the Canadian Rockies did not escape his attention. He said, “Since we can’t export the scenery, we’ll import the tourists.” And wanting to attract people with money, he set about building a system of luxurious hotels across Canada. Many of them still exist, and still speak of luxury and maybe, excess.
He advertised throughout North America and Europe. Here is a sample of his ads.
The interior is every bit as stunning as the exterior. The furnishing are replicas of furnishings in real castle. The great hall is enormous and stunning and the twisting stone staircases lend authenticity. There is even a resident ghost.
No trip to Banff is complete, IMO, without a visit to the Banff Springs.
Of course there are many other wonderful things to see and do. In fact, I went with the express purpose of viewing the current exhibits in the stupendous Whyte Museum. But that’s another story.
What has this to do with writing? Or does it? Yes. My muse is always so excited by the scenery, the history, the story possibilities and the flood of senses that after a day in Banff I have no trouble sitting at my computer and writing. Some day I am going to set a story in the Banff Springs Hotel. Can’t you just imagine a Victorian heroine and a duke exploring the rugged mountains and falling madly in love? Or… So many ideas. So little time.