Archive for September 2011

Bow Valley Roller Derby: Times and Trials of a New League

By Rachelle Honeyman

I was attending an 80s-themed bachelorette party in the summer of 2010.  Joanne was the bride to be, and only an acquaintance to me at that time.  I wasn’t exactly sure why I was invited to her party, although I appreciated the extended invite. Turns out it was meant to be. The party was a blast, and I met a new friend named Amanda. We got talking and she mentioned she was going to start a Roller Derby league in Canmore. No kidding – count me in!

Photo courtesy

The party ended, and I never saw Amanda again. I surrendered to the fact that we all have great ideas, but sometimes life is too busy to make them all happen. Then, one random evening I bumped into Joanne, who was heading down to a Roller Derby meeting. I couldn’t believe it!

That first recruitment night at the Drake  must have attracted 50 to 60 enthusiastic women.  And there was Amanda. The focus of the group was on Amanda and another woman, Ray. I learned that they were from Saskatchewan and were initiated into derby there. These ladies decided this sport was something that they couldn’t live without in their new mountain town of Canmore.

A month later it began – Bow Valley Roller Derby.  The first practice was an intimidating one. People sheepishly put on their skates for the first time in public, despite some practicing at home on  hardwood or linoleum floors where we had counters to grab onto or couches to bounce into. Here we didn’t.

One of our drills at Cross Zee called “The Train of Pain”, lead by Ray Morin, one of BVRD’s starters. Photo courtesy Rachelle Honeyman.

Thirty women gathered at Cross Zee Ranch in the donut tent for the first meeting. Some girls had no problems, but otherwise the scene reminded me of the first school trip to the hockey rink. At least half of us were hunched over, with a wobbly wide-leg stance, arms and hands straight out. The only thing we were missing were the metal walkers they give the kids learning to skate on ice. Nonetheless, we were determined to learn.

One thing that stood out in my mind was a comment Amanda had made at the recruitment night: “Don’t worry. The first thing you will learn to do is to fall.” Meanwhile I was thinking to myself, “Isn’t the point not to fall?”  We were two to three inches taller on new “shoes that move.” Falling was the dreaded fear for me, even though I was head-to-toe in protective gear. And you don’t know how much it’s going to hurt the first time you fall.

For the record it didn’t hurt at all.

To learn more about the Bow Valley Roller Derby, check them out on the web.

Baked Kale Chips

Baked Kale Chips make a nice alternative to, well, the unhealthy alternative! Photo courtesy Mystee Maisonet.

Summer is the season of potlucks, and we want you to get raving reviews the next time you whip out your contribution to picnic time. Bring a batch of Mystee’s Baked Kale Chips, and you’re sure to score some serious bonus points. – Highline

These crispy chips are coated with a cheddar like coating made from pureed cashews and nutritional yeast. I prefer to use Tuscan kale in this recipe. The texture is reptile-like (sounds gross, tastes great!) and the leaves are flat and easier to work with than the curly varieties. There will be enough of the coating for two batches so refrigerate the leftovers for a second batch.


If you have a dehydrator, try dehydrating them at 105 degrees F. for 10-12 hours rather than baking them.


1 cup raw cashews
1 red pepper, seeded and chopped
juice of one lemon
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 tsp. Himalayan salt
1/2 a canned chipotle pepper
1 head of Tuscan kale torn from the center rib


Preheat oven to 300F. Combine the cashews, red pepper, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, salt and chipotle pepper in a blender. Add just enough water to puree until thick and smooth. In a large bowl combine the prepared kale leaves and half of the puree. With your hands, massage the mixture onto each kale leaf to coat on each side.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment or foil. Carefully lay the kale leaves onto the cookie sheet so that the leaves are not touching. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and with a knife carefully turn the leaves over. Return to the oven for another 5 minutes. From this point on, check every minute, removing the chips that are crisp and ever so slightly browned until all of the chips are ready. This should only take an additional 3 or 4 minutes.

Repeat with the remaining kale leaves. Store chips in an airtight container in the fridge if they last that long! I have been known to eat an entire batch in one sitting…

Skoki: 10 Things You Didn’t Know About (One of) Canada’s Oldest Backcountry Lodges

Skoki Lodge is more than just a log cabin… Photo Meghan J. Ward.

First opened in 1931, Skoki Lodge is a National Historic Site that has a long history of offering a prime landing pad for passionate hikers and skiers. As I learned, the lodge is chock-full of quirky, entertaining stories from both the past and present.

1. When the first real stove was brought in by Ike Mills on dogsled, he actually mounted the stove upright on his sled and lit a fire in it so that he’d arrive in style at Skoki. Unfortunately, no one was there to greet him. They were all off skiing.

2. Ever admired the trail building in the Lake O’Hara area? Well, Lawrence Grassi, the trail building master who constructed those paths, also did a lot of the work around Skoki, including the upper trail across the scree en route to Merlin Lake.

Packer Paul Peyto, the great nephew of Bill Peyto, arrives with the next load of food and laundry. Photo Meghan J. Ward.

3. Almost everything – from food to laundry – is brought into Skoki each summer by packers, often as many times as two to three days a week. In winter, they are allowed to use snowmobiles.

4. The first guests to Skoki Lodge had to take the train from Banff to Lake Louise, then ski or hike from the Lake Louise train station. Nowadays, you can park your car at Fish Creek and, if you’re lucky, ride a shuttle up the Temple Road.

5. Sometimes up to once a week in summer, a crew of ultra runners known as the Banff Trail Trash run into Skoki Lodge and out again in the same day. Crazy.

Proof they were there. See the first two entries. Photo Meghan J. Ward.

6. *Gossip Alert* On their visit to Skoki this past summer, The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, otherwise known as Will and Kate, played backgammon at one of the lodge’s picnic tables for two hours. Scandalous, we know.

7. Sir Norman Watson once envisioned that the Skoki area could be developed as a Swiss-style village, and even wanted to bring over a few Swiss families to inhabit the area and develop alpine agriculture. Thank goodness that didn’t happen.

8. In the winter of 1936, packers Ken Jones and Sam Evans set a Skoki record when they packed in supplies for 65 consecutive days.

The hike out from Skoki offers amazing views. Photo Meghan J. Ward.

9. The word “Skoki” actually comes from a native tribe in Illinois, the Potawatomi, and means “marsh” or “swamp.” James Porter named it in 1911, and he originally spelled it “Skokie.”

10. This is not a hoity-toity lodge to be reserved for the rich and famous (or royal). If you want a truly authentic mountain experience, head up there and enjoy their friendly staff, the best backcountry eats you could ever imagine and the awesome hiking or skiing terrain. Keep your eyes peeled for their wicked locals’ specials!

Underwater Roots at Lake Minnewanka

Some dig through old church records to trace their family roots. Others browse ancestry websites. But to find her roots, including her father’s childhood home, Marjory Gibney would have to dive deep – to the bottom of Lake Minnewanka.

Bob Smith on Devil’s Bridge, 1935.

The Bow Valley isn’t exactly a hotbed of scuba opportunities. Most lake diving here rewards you with little more than poor visibility, rocks, mud and a few water weeds.  But Lake Minnewanka is an exception to the general trend. Deep beneath the surface of Banff’s largest lake are the remnants of a town that existed from 1888 until 1941. The town, and the original dams, where both flooded when the construction of the present-day dam raised the lake level by 30 metres.

My father, Bob Smith, grew up in one of the houses at Minnewanka.  His father, Enoch Smith, was the electrical engineer in charge of the construction of the original Dominion Government Cascade Power Plant in 1923/24, that would provide electricity to the town of Banff.  Enoch loved the mountains so much that when the construction was complete, he stayed on as the Plant Superintendent.  He married my grandmother, Laurene, in 1924, and Dad was born in 1926.  The rest, as they say, is history.

Bob and Laurene Smith picnicking on Cascade Bay near their home at Lake Minnewanka, 1935.

Dad was the only child living at Minnewanka until he was 13, and spent his boyhood doing what so many of us do here in the valley – exploring and falling in love with the mountains and natural habitat that surrounded his home.

There are two parts to the old Minnewanka townsite.  The resort village of Minnewanka Landing was founded with the building of a hotel in 1888.  In 1923, three homes were built about a mile west of the village, on Cascade Bay, as housing for the Plant Superintendent (Grandpa!) and the hydro plant operators.

Map of Lake Minnewanka, 1924, showing position of Power plant homes and features.

Map of Lake Minnewanka dive sites.

Searching for the Childhood Home

In 1997, my husband, Greg, and son, Kevin, set off for the first time to see what they could find of this home where granddad had spent his childhood.  On this and subsequent dives, they visited the house and surrounding features, and even found the old root cellar where vegetables were stored for the winter. For any of you who dive at Minnewanka, this might add a bit of extra interest to your next dive, showing what used to be inside the bare foundation that you’ll find on the lake bottom.

Foundation of Smith House.

Floor plan of Smith House at Lake Minnewanka.

For those of you who don’t dive, you can still go exploring to find the concrete, stone-faced shell of the 1924 power plant, hidden among the trees along the former course of the Cascade River (see photo).

Still Curious?

The Smith House at Lake Minnewanka.

The National Parks website is a good place to find information on the history of Lake Minnewanka and diving at Minnewanka.  On the dive site map here, Dad’s house is #13.

If you’re interested in reading some of Dad’s memories of growing up at Minnewanka, you can find his memoir (Robert Neville Smith), in the biographical history of Banff, “We live in a postcard: Banff family histories,” published by the Banff History Book Committee in 2005. The book is out of print, but you can find copies at the Banff Public Library, the Canmore Public Library, or the Bighorn Library in Exshaw.

Bring history to life, and enjoy your next dive. Check out this article from CTV News about an archaeological dive search of the Minnewanka townsite.

All photos courtesy Marjory Gibney.

Upping Your “A” Game with the “S” Word

Can’t resist the temptation to shave a few minutes off a hike or catch the runner in front of you? This one is for you.

Supplements aren’t what you think! Read on. Photo by John Reid.

If you’’re eager to beat your buddy the next time you push your bikes up Pigeon Mountain, the extra oomph you’ll need might come from the old “S”-word: supplements.

Nutritional supplements can be a controversial subject, mainly because of the vast number of heavily marketed supplements available that have never been proven to work. Consequently, people are divided into staunch supporters or steadfast critics. The truth, as with most things, lies behind proper, well-established research.

As any good research or certified nutritionist will tell you, whole foods are always the best way to get your nutrients. But when you don’’t feel like chumming a can of tuna after a long bike ride down the Legacy Trail, supplements have their place, too. The three supplements I highlight here are tried, tested and truly awesome.

Fish Oil Supplement

Cold-water fish, such as herring, salmon and tuna, contain Omega-3 fatty acids that play a large role in both cardiovascular health and your body’’s ability to utilize carbohydrates. Unfortunately, most of the whole food fish supply is contaminated with environmental pollutants, such as heavy metals (not the music). So, although you may be able to pull a few delicious trout out of the Bow River this summer, over the long run a fish oil supplement is the safest option.

Multi-Vitamin & Multi-Mineral

A significant portion of North Americans are slightly deficient in many micro-nutrients. That’’s because it requires diligent planning and discipline in order to ingest all the nutrients we need to feel great. A multivitamin is the ideal solution to ensure all of our nutrient needs are being met.

Greens Supplement

On TLC one day I watched a show called “”I Eat 30,000 Calories a Day”.” All of the food on it was a distasteful shade of beige. It also gave me nightmares about chicken fingers for days.

Good, wholesome, healthy food is bright and vibrant. It’’s also lacking in most people’’s diets. Colourful veggies and fruits assist your body in everything from proper digestion to disease prevention. If you aren’’t getting 8 to 10 servings of vegetables and fruit a day (about 5 cups) then you would benefit from a greens supplement.

Where To Go From Here

Fish oil, multi-vitamins and greens work well for almost everybody and should be considered whether you are an athlete looking to gain a competitive edge or someone just trying to improve your health. But there are dozens of variables, from special diets to past illnesses, which will affect what your body needs. Consulting a certified nutritionist is a good idea before starting any new supplement program.

Once you’’ve found what works best for you, that runner in front won’t stand a chance!

Spotlight on the Arts: Roger Vernon

To kick off Alberta Arts Days, which run from September 30 to October 2, Highline is proud to be featuring each of this year’s Mayor’s Spotlight on the Arts award recipients. Each of the artists being recognized will be featured in a weekly blog leading up to the Spotlight on the Arts event on September 30th (see event details at the bottom of this blog). 

Roger Vernon—Beyond Borders Award Recipient

Written by Chris Bartolomie of the Town of Canmore

Roger Vernon in Guyana shooting for the TV series “Globe Trekker.”

A native of Alberta, Roger Vernon developed his love for life behind the camera at the age of 13 when his parents gave him a developing kit.  Watching black and white images develop off the paper in his “dark room” (aka bedroom closet) fuelled his imagination.  He went on to combine his love for the mountains with his desire to make images into a flourishing career as an internationally respected cinematographer.

As a student in The Banff Centre’’s Visual Communications program, Roger was influenced by Bob Alexander who taught him to focus on the essence of the message behind the image.  When he moved to Canmore in 1973 he was further influenced by Lawrence Grassi and Bruno Engler and their dedication to and knowledge of the mountains.

For over 37 years, Roger has applied his skills throughout the genres in motion picture photography. Educational films, documentaries, commercials, feature films and narrative are all part of his visual language. Among his areas of expertise he is internationally recognized for his mountain and adventure related subjects, which have taken him into the most remote corners of the globe. Released to acclaim in 2010, Roger’’s photography contributed to A Life Ascending, Stephen Grynberg’s wonderfully sensitive portrait of mountain guide Reudi Beglinger and his family. Recently, he was also in Nepal and Bhutan working with The World Wildlife Fund and Leonardo DiCaprio to examine the condition of wild tiger populations.

Known as the “go-to” guy if the conditions for shooting are difficult and/or miserable, Roger has worked on everything from major Hollywood productions to commercials for the likes of IKEA, General Motors and Petro Canada to independent producers and organizations like the National Film Board, the BBC and CBC.

Although his passion lies in the documentary world, Roger has contributed to a number of feature length dramas, most notably Unforgiven, the 1992 western that was nominated for best cinematography and won four Academy awards including Best Picture. Other productions that include his work are: Legends of The FallThe EdgeAlive, PaycheckRV, New Moon, and The Vertical Limit to name but a few. He most recently photographed the second unit of Stephenie Meyers popular series, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn.

From the production “The Vertical Limit” in Pakistan on the Baltoro Glacier with K2 in the background.

Awards and Recognition

Through the years he has garnered numerous nominations for direction and cinematography. He is the recipient of a Gemini Award for cinematography and ten awards from the Alberta Motion Picture Industry Association. Additionally, he has been awarded the Golden Sheaf for cinematography from the Yorkton Film Festival, The Kodak Spectrum Award, recognition for “Best Cameraman’’s Work” from the Moscow Festival of Mountaineering and Adventure Films and a Certificate of Merit from the British Guild of Television Cameramen.

In addition to his achievements as a cinematographer, Roger has earned admiration from his peers for his dedication to mentoring the next generation of filmmakers. He continues to be a contributing mentor to the Women in the Director’s Chair Workshop held annually at The Banff Centre.

Among the high points of his career has been the recognition afforded him by the Summit of Excellence Award, which was presented to him by The Banff Mountain Film Festival in recognition of a “significant contribution to mountain life in the Canadian Rockies.”

Roger has had the good fortune to experience the world and some of its people through his lens.  While he has traveled to China, Tibet, Mongolia, India, Pakistan, Africa, Europe and New Zealand, he says that nowhere inspires him quite like the Canadian Rockies, which is why he continues to return to his home in Canmore.