Canmore
Nakiska Mountain Resort

Mount Engadine brings back memories

RYAN CANCILLA

Mount Engadine Lodge, Canmore, Alberta, Canada
Surrounded by spectacular scenery, the Mount Engadine Lodge in Canmore, Alberta is the perfect destination for those looking for a relaxing and unhurried vacation.
Photo courtesy of Ryan Cancilla

CANMORE, AB — As we are driving on the Smith Dorian–Spray Trail Road behind Canmore, my wife, Rosalia and I wince at the work our shocks are getting on the pock-marked road. My two-year-old daughter, Aria says “more bumps?” To my pleasure, and my daughter’s disappointment, “more bumps” end and we turn into the Mount Engadine Lodge driveway.

It is lined with 10 snowmen that greet us as totems of hospitality. 

Lodge in sync with its surroundings  

As you approach and enter the lodge you realize that it is the perfect echo of its surroundings. The quiet, muted glow of the valley at night has its twin inside with the fire that burns in the stone fireplace. In this unhurried atmosphere conversation flows easily around the dinner table with other guests.  

When talk manages to turn away from the delights of the Moroccan rosemary beef, it concerns the next day’s activities. Some plan to go cross-country skiing, some plan to snowshoe, all of us plan to return for afternoon tea.

The lodge can accommodate up to 19 people. Considerably less than the 35 we managed to cram into it when we got married here eight years ago. The lodge has changed from a bunkhouse hostel to a lodge for backcountry enthusiasts who enjoy intimate quarters and gourmet meals. 

No distractions except the scenery 

The renovated rooms do not shelter you from the panorama outside; they draw you into it. Situated as you are in wonderland, there are thankfully few distractions to coax you away from it. No TVs. No telephones. Sleep comes easy in such a place.

Mount Engadine Room, Canmore, Canada
Large windows and comfortable seating entice lodgers to take a seat and enjoy the amazing scenery that surrounds the Mount Engadine Lodge in Canmore, Alberta.
Photo courtesy of Ryan Cancilla

Opening the curtains at first light we realize we are situated in a valley. The lodge is perched just above a meadow that serves as a wildlife corridor for animals in the summer and a snowshoe trail in the winter. The wooden interior of the lodge harmonizes well with the timbered landscape. 

The windows frame the alpine vistas and the paintings that adorn the walls of rooms and common areas take their inspiration from the valley itself. Artists-in-residence have earned their keep with these offerings.

Eco-friendly enviornment 

There is nowhere else to be; Mount Engadine Lodge is where it is at and every attempt has been made to honour the surroundings.  Everything from the beer to the hand soap has been locally sourced.  

The lodge itself has diminished its footprint by installing an ecologically friendly generator and a microbiotic septic system. These touches furnish the lodge with a spirit of respect for the very land it is situated in.

It’s this respect and enthusiasm for the place that makes it so welcoming. And perhaps nothing is more inviting than afternoon tea at the lodge after snowshoeing five kilometres with 30 pounds of sleeping child on your back. Well, perhaps one thing is more inviting than tea and that is the hosts themselves.  

Mount Engadine Lodge, Canmore, Canada
Large decks at the Mount Engadine Lodge offer the perfect place to sit back and enjoy the afternoon sun after spending the morning snowshoeing or cross-country skiing the many trails in and around Canmore, Alberta.
Photo courtesy of Ryan Cancilla

Unexpected surprise

Chris and Shari-Lynn Williams are the innkeepers and hosts to tea for lodgers and the public alike. As we were awaiting tea, two people entered the lodge returning from a day hike. They were dumbfounded by their discovery of the lodge and the tea. 

The visitors looked as if they fell down a rabbit hole on Spray Trail Road. The lodge is in fact “a backcountry lodge with front country access,” as innkeeper Chris Williams aptly puts it.   

As we adjust to the world on the other side of the rabbit hole, there’s a counter with items  which say “EAT ME.” And eat we did. 

The tea was replete with cheese and crackers, tortilla chips with three dips (all of which are homemade), a coconut curry soup, honey raisin crisps with goat cheese, an apple crumble to die for, an orange cranberry pecan loaf, and variety of baked bars.

“The tea definitely makes my list,”  said Rosalia.

Mourning the music

My wife, who can’t remember the date of our anniversary, had an acute culinary memory that registered meals I can only pretend to bring to mind. The “list” is shorthand for ways to make her happy. Duly noted. 

The only experience I wish I could have had was to hear “The Music in the Meadow” concert series the lodge hosts in the summer. Ten members of the public and the lodgers eat dinner and listen to such artists as Eileen Laverty, Karla Anderson, John Wort Hannam, and Suzie Vinnick. 

If I was a time-traveller, maybe I could have attended last year’s concert. As it was, time did stand still for the weekend; it was restful and enjoyable. 

For more information on Canmore’s Mount Engadine Lodge, visit www.mountengadine.com.

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