Off the beaten path

July 26, 2016

If you’re planning a road trip, our alumni have some destinations you should check out


(Originally appeared in M Alumni News—Summer 2016)

If you’re a serious Alberta road-tripper, you’ve stalked dinos in Drumheller, stampeded in Cowtown and enjoyed a mountain adventure or two in the Rockies.

But there’s even more to explore if you’re willing to take the road less travelled. Here, a few of our alumni share their favourite destinations just off the beaten path.

1. Two of my favorite places offer the ability to observe wildlife in their natural habitat while contributing to conservation of native species. They are also leaders in public education, which is paramount to the ideas of living with wildlife. The Boreal Centre for Bird Conservation is the only educational and research facility in the world strategically located to study boreal birds on their breeding grounds. Elk Island National Park boasts some of North America’s best wildlife viewing, and offers activities, tours, camping and more!

— Dawn Doell, B.Sc. ’14, Biological Studies

image-story-road_trip-ABmap2. While I was on a placement at the Alberta Historic Resources Management Branch, I was assigned to research the significance of Fort Assiniboine. Fort Assiniboine is significant in Canadian and Alberta history because it was an important (or at least inevitable) stopping point in the route travelled by the Hudson’s Bay Company’s men, which took them from the actual Hudson’s Bay down to the mouth of the Columbia River in present-day USA. It’s hard to believe this tiny town played a role in the exploration and settlement of the entire Canadian West, and consequently in the history of First Nations people after the arrival of Europeans.

— Andres Lalama, BA ’15, History

3. Bodo offers a lot of public outreach, and there are other programs where you go in the trench and excavate with certified personnel. With the average archaeology site, statistically for every one arrowhead you find you can expect to find a thousand little flakes that were hit off to make that arrowhead. At Bodo, we find tons of arrowheads. It’s not just a matter of looking at a slideshow here and there—you actually go in to do archaeology. (

— Benjamin Keyes, BA ’16, Anthropology

4. I’ve been dying to visit the ribstones near Viking—I believe they are very rare. This was a sacred place for Aboriginal people, where they left offerings in order to have a good buffalo hunt. They are a salient reminder of Aboriginal peoples’ history prior to the arrival of settlers, and serve as a reminder that these lands once belonged to Aboriginal peoples. I think people should visit the ribstones to consider the larger impacts of settler colonialism, recognize these territories once belonged to Aboriginal peoples, and reflect on the impacts of settlement to Canada’s indigenous peoples.

— Chantal Roy Denis, BA ’15, History

5. I love driving so I always take a lot of pleasure in the trips I’ve had as a musician. A venue that comes to mind is the Empress Theatre in Fort Macleod. The wooden beams in the basement dressing rooms have signatures of vaudeville people from the 1910s and 20s—amazing history. Another of my favourite drives is along Highway 22 (the Cowboy Trail they call it). Absolutely gorgeous drive through the foothills of the Rockies. You can take that road all the way down to the Crow’s Nest Pass, and all along the way there are great restaurants, music venues and fun people ready to have a good time!

— Solon McDade, Music ’98

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