Explore the history of rum runners and more during the Crowsnest Pass’s 12th annual Doors Open and Heritage Festival, taking place over the August long weekend (Aug.3 to 7). It’s a great time, packed with activities celebrating the rich history of the Crowsnest Pass area in southern Alberta as well as Canada’s 150th birthday.
This year’s theme, “Lawmen of Prohibition,” will highlight the stories of the rum runners and the policemen who pursued them.
You may be wondering what interest the police would have had in rum runners here in Alberta. Did you know that from 1916-1924, Prohibition laws made it illegal to buy, sell, and consume alcoholic beverages in Alberta? This led to a cat and mouse game between rum runners and law enforcement that turned deadly at times in the Crowsnest Pass, where dark and dramatic history lives on.
History of Crowsnest Pass and Frank Slide
During the festival, doors are opened to one-of-a-kind heritage buildings and experiences including several special events at the provincially-operated Frank Slide Interpretive Centre (FSIC). For those who have never visited FSIC before, the Centre is nestled amongst 90 million tonnes of rock that fell from Turtle Mountain in southern Alberta more than 100 years ago. The tragic rockslide happened in 1903 and killed nearly 100 people. Many were buried beneath the mountain under which they’d worked to dig coal.
Events to check out
There is much to do in the Pass during this busy festival. The launch event at Crowsnest Museum focuses on the Alberta Provincial Police (APP) with a special talk on the force’s history, dramatic vignettes, and tours of the APP barracks where Constable Lawson was killed in 1922. Throughout the weekend, enjoy outdoor markets; Teddy Bear and Miners’ picnics; the popular Booze and Bars tour; birding activities; self-guided walking and driving tours; garden, historic home, artists’ studios, and cemetery tours; food fests; behind-the-scenes views of historic buildings; Show and Shine; a geotour challenge; guided hikes and mountain biking; and more.
As for programming, FSIC will be celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary in conjunction with the Doors Open Festival! Pop in Monday, Aug. 7 to enjoy the following activities with your entire family:
- 11 a.m. – 12 p.m. & 2 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.: FSIC presents Mad Science Workshops to interest little scientists! See how much fun kids can have with potions, slime and fog.
- 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.: Meet Alberta Park rangers and discover the remarkable wildlife in our area, and how to keep it safe for the animals and ourselves.
- 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.: Enjoy some fun on the boardwalk at the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre as we celebrate Canada’s 150th.
- 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.: Get your face painted and a great caricature done.
- 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.: Grab a snack from the food trucks set up in the parking lot and enjoy a stunning view of the rock debris.
- 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.: Join in on an amazing bus tour of police history in the Crowsnest Pass area, where you’ll hear about the shooting of Constable Lawson at the Alberta Police Barracks in Coleman, the shootout at the Bellevue Café that took the lives of members of the Alberta Provincial Police and Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and the outpost at Leitch Collieries that was established to control cattle rustling.
Where: Frank Slide Interpretive Centre, located 1.5 kilometres off Highway 3 in the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass and throughout the community of Crowsnest Pass
Need more info? Visit the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre website www.frankslide.org or call 403-562-7388 (dial 310-000 for toll-free access within Alberta). For a complete listing of all of the long weekend events, go to www.cnpheritagefest.ca.