Discover Crowsnest Heritage

Author: Ian McKenzie, Crowsnest Heritage Initiative

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Discover Crowsnest Heritage

Visitors to the Crowsnest Pass in southwest Alberta are familiar with its stunning scenery and outstanding recreational opportunities, but it also has a remarkable heritage based on an unmatched array of historic events, colorful characters, ethnic culture, boom-town architecture and epic disasters both natural and man-made. Find out why ‘The Pass’ was the centre for rum-running during Alberta’s prohibition period, and ponder whether ‘Emperor Pic’ really killed Constable Steve Lawson.  Discover how the massive Frank Slide was triggered, and who was killed and who survived.  Learn about the train robbery at Sentinel, and how it led to the deadly shootout at the Bellevue Café.  You want more?  We’ve got lots more.  From archaeological evidence of humans 11,000 years ago to the raucous coal mining of the early 20th century, this is the richest historic region in Alberta.  Today, visitors to the Crowsnest Pass can experience this heritage in many different ways.


Seven Interpretive Sites

Explore Leitch Collieries Provincial Historic Site (  Interpretive panels bring the story of this glorious business failure to life as you wander through the ruins of the historic coal mine’s surface plant.  Open during snow-free months, interpretive staff are on site to answer your questions.  Admission by donation. 

Enjoy the unique experience of a guided tour into the Bellevue Underground Mine (, open year-round.  Suitable for all ages, slip on a hardhat and headlamp (included) and follow your knowledgeable guide three hundred metres into this century-old coal mine.  Admission charged. 

Contemplate the quiet scenery and tragic legacy of Canada’s worst mine disaster on a walk past interpretive signs at the Hillcrest Cemetery ( The site includes the Millennium Mine Disaster Monument. Free. 

Learn about the destructive power of nature through interactive exhibits and interpretive staff at the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre ( and find out what really happened to the town of Frank.  Open year round.  Admission charged.

Stroll through the historic downtown and residential districts of the Coleman National Historic Site ( past interpretive signs and plaques.  Pick up an informative booklet from the Museum. Free.

Experience the depth of the cultural, industrial and natural heritage of the region at the Crowsnest Museum & Archives (  Open year round.  Admission charged.

Visit the historic Alberta Provincial Police Barracks, scene of the 1922 murder of constable Stephen Lawson, and find out why Crowsnest Pass was the hub of illegal alcohol importation during Prohibition. New interpretive exhibits on site.  Free with Museum admission.


Heritage Drives, Walks and Hikes

Take a self-guided drive along a signed route through our historic communities. 

Stroll along one of our five heritage walking tours past vintage commercial shops and residential homes.

Contemplate the hard lot of the coal miner in one of many historic cemeteries.

 Enjoy the fresh air and mountain scenery along a heritage trail on an historic route, or past abandoned mine artifacts.

Information on these opportunities is at, and free descriptive brochures and maps are available from our interpretive facilities and many town businesses. 


Heritage Signs

Look for the many distinctive interpretive signs and building plaques with the Discover Crowsnest Heritage logo throughout the Crowsnest Pass.  They identify important sites and provide information on our varied history and culture.


Heritage Celebrations

Come visit the Crowsnest Pass during one of our heritage events.

Our Canada Day celebration is a great time for a small-town family-friendly getaway. 

Our annual Doors Open and Heritage Festival runs through the August long weekend and includes many family-friendly indoor and outdoor activities and events.  There’s an outdoor country market, vintage car show, guided hikes and talks, self-guided walks and tours, Archelogical tours, Bus tours, Teddy Bear Picnic, photography exhibit and so much more; see for details.

Alberta Culture Days September 28 – 30 are celebrated in the Crowsnest Pass with events at the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre, Crowsnest Museum, Allied Arts Gallery and other venues.  

Whether you prefer staying in campgrounds, B&Bs, hotels, motels or holiday homes, Crowsnest Pass is your year-round family-friendly heritage destination.  Check for more information on our amazing history and how to enjoy it.  We hope to see you in 2018!



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