A Handemade Travel Guide: Sweet little towns in Southern Alberta
“For an occurrence to become an adventure, it is necessary and sufficient for one to recount it.”
And that’s why I’m going to recount the little adventure Jillian of Logee Photography and I embarked on a couple of days ago. We set out to the foothills to discover shops full of history, art and handmade treasures in those sweet little towns South of Calgary. We headed out there twice and yet there was so much to come across that we didn’t get to see everything we wanted to.
Our very first stop was Mint and Maple in the olde towne of Okotoks. This sweet little shop is located inside a house in a neighbourhood where you wouldn’t expect a clothing boutique to be. But that’s what Natalie, the owner, sells: beautiful dresses, funky shirts, jewellery and a few home decor items all mindfully sourced.
Just around the corner, there is the lovely Prairie’s Past where you can find the most gorgeous rustic barn wood furniture and creative home decor made by artisan from Southern Alberta. But that’s not all Okotoks has to offer – unfortunately we didn’t have time to explore it all but on my “to-visit”-list for my next trip out there is On Tap: oil and vinegar where you can find the most delicious oils and vinegars and Tribal Connection Market a fair trade store about which I’ve heard only good things.
Our next stop was in Black Diamond. Usually I like to start my day there with either a tea on The Stop Coffee House‘s patio or one of the amazing milk shakes at the 1950’s inspired Marv’s Classic Soda. This time we went straight to visit Rebecca at Branch. This shop is so sweet and full of the cutest accessories, soaps that smell just perfect and up-cycled furniture in funky colours made by Rebecca and other Albertan artisans. And now imagine all of this in a shabby chic little house.
Another good stop in Black Diamond is the Bluerock Gallery. It’s a pretty big space with one half dedicated to fine arts and the other half to art-related books, post cards, pottery and more. I was seriously impressed!
Our last stop for the day was in High River but as we didn’t plan well, we went there on a Monday. Big mistake! Pixie Hollow’s sounds like such a brilliant mix of books, clothing and stationary and we really wanted to check it out. Oh well, an adventure is an adventure and it wouldn’t be if everything went according to plan. So we decided to have a hot beverage at Colossi’s Coffee House and relax for a while. If we would have been hungry, I would have totally suggested Evelyn’s Memory Lane that serves absurdly yummy pies in a retro setting.
We decided that day two of our little adventure would be solely focused on one little town: Nanton. I drove through so many times on my way to skiing in Fernie or to once to watch Bob Dylan play in Lethbridge but I never managed to stop even though the vintage and antique stores have a fantastic reputation. Oh and it was so much fun, let me tell you all about it!
You can’t start an adventure on an empty stomach, so our first stop was at Stuthornes on Main where we had a very tasty chilly for lunch and the signature lemon pie for desert. Oh, yum.
The Prickly Pear has some serious style and a modern but funky feel in between all those antique stores. Latin American colour schemes, bright accessories and home decor as well as handmade cosmetics. Layne, who owns the Prickly Pear, was super helpful and didn’t mind us taking photos of probably every items she has for sale. Look, look!
If there is one kind of store that I just can’t pass without entering (and buying something), it’s a tea store. At first I was almost overwhelmed by all those super cute tea pots and mugs that are for sale at Teazehri and all those beautiful teas, mmmhhh! Then we started chatting with the lovely Holly who opened the tea shop when she returned home to Canada after having lived in Florida for a while. She told us about her own tea blends in a special packaging with a vintage photo. I just loved the stories behind those blends but I won’t tell you more – you have to go and visit her store and chat with her for a little while to find out all about it.
Out of all the vintage and antique stores we like the Sentimental Journey Antiques the best. They carry dazzling and rare vintage finds but the building they’re in is just awesome. There’s a big room downstairs but when you go upstairs, you find little apartments. Each one is stocked by a different vendor and has a unique atmosphere. In some rooms you can clearly see what was once a kitchen. Immediately Jillian and I came up with stories about what kind of people must have lived there – she voted for miners while I decided that the big room downstairs must have been a saloon and the upstairs was where the dancing ladies would have lived…we probably should have asked someone about the real story but where is the fun in that?
So this was our adventure to the foothills. I really hope you can make it out there this summer as well as it’s a whole lot of fun! If you go, let me know what you like best. Or did you discover something that I missed?
With love from the Maple And Oak Diaries,