Mountain Momma…Take Me Home

The soundtrack of my life has been playing Be Good Tanya’s “[“well I feel like an old hobo; …you pass through places and places they pass through, but you carry ‘em with you on the soles of your travellin’’ shoes”]” for as long as I can remember. Years of a nomadic, traveling-hobo lifestyle had Rob and me living out of vehicles, backpacks and barrels. But, last Fall a different rhythm caught me off guard. I found my internal iPod tuned to John Denver’’s “”country roads, take me home, to the place I belong… mountain momma, take me home country roads”.” My tune had changed.

Don’t get me wrong; I’’m not done with travel. These itchy feet will find a way to wander once more. But for the first time ever, I felt a real hankering for stability, a place to unpack my bags and a community to call my own.

Luckily, Rob, with his new title of fiancé, felt the same. The only question was “where?”

Unpacking the Bags, For Good?

Top of Ha Ling. Photo courtesy Chloe Steepe.

With jobs that allowed for freedom of location and no desire to live in either of our hometowns, we were faced with an open road and a nation of opportunity. We made a giant flow chart of towns and cities, pored over maps, polled friends and researched real estate, cost of living and proximity to airports. Then, against all flow chart predictions and sensible decision-making strategies, we packed the cars and moved to Canmore.

Seven months ago we drove across the country neither for jobs nor cheap real estate, not to ski, climb, nor train for a sport. Instead we put two provinces between our families, the majority of our friends, warm lakes and Fall colours to follow a gut feeling.

Geographical Perfection: Real or Perceived?

At “home” with the herd. Photo courtesy Chloe Steepe.

In my own head I had conjured what I thought living in Canmore was all about. It seemed this town had it all: geographical perfection, an urban/wilderness balance and a real sense of place. But it was the people that stood out. It seemed to be a community of engaged citizens, of active, health-conscious, wellness-minded and outdoorsy folk with an admirable work-life balance.

It seemed the perfect fit for my backcountry-loving-espresso-drinking-adventurous-yoga-pant-wearing soul. As cliché as it sounds, but with no better way to describe it, the town felt like me.

Of course this was all completely hypothetical, totally contrived, and completely based on my deep desire for it all to be true. I knew not one person who lived there to confirm this reality. Regardless, we drove across the country and placed one tentative, delicate root in Canmore soil, settling into a new life in the Bow Valley.

The Meaning of Home

Out for a skate on a mountain lake. Photo courtesy Chloe Steepe.

Each day brings opportunities to explore my perceived connection with this place. Is living in Canmore (the outsider’s impossible dream) all it’’s cracked up to be? With each passing month, Canmore reveals a little more – a new friend or neighbor, café or trail, business or piece of backcountry. Differences and observations provide a never-ending source of entertainment for an intentionally displaced Torontonian. What are all these bunnies doing here? Is that a herd of elk downtown? And why does the town plow snow to the center of the roads?

As I adjust to the beat of my new tune, I embark on a new type of adventure: introducing myself to a new place, delving into the meaning of ‘home,’ becoming a part of a new community and exploring the biggest and best backyard I have ever seen.

It’’s all a part of the process of figuring out what the heck has drawn me to this little mountain town and deciding if it’’s enough to make me stay. It’’s only been a few months, but I think I’’m home.

Chloe Vance

Chloe Vance

Chloe’s family is confused as to how a little girl from Toronto developed such a passion for the wilderness. Wanderlust has led her to guide expeditions in the far North, circumnavigate New Zealand by bicycle, and found an organization that provides outdoor education. In 2010, Chloe and her husband Rob moved to Canmore, a natural place to grow some roots. Inspired by her new backyard and all the interesting people in it, she delved into writing, story telling and getting to know her neighbours (among an ever-evolving list of other projects).

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  1. Welcome to Canmore.  After reading Kurtis Kristianson’s article “The Gut Feeling” it was great to hear that yours has turned out so well.  

  2. Loved the description of “against our better judgment” that you moved to Canmore.  Sometimes you just have to go with your gut! Would love to hear a follow-up on this.