Gardening In Canmore

The North-West Mounted Police Barracks and grounds would have been home to a horse barn, paddock and possibly a practical vegetable garden during the early years. Currently, the gardens and grounds have evolved into a large garden with a vegetable bed and a perennial bed with over 500 plants and well-maintained shrubs, trees and rose/peony garden. The varieties that are grown here reflect what we know was grown historically in Canmore and are all considered "heritage varieties".


For many early Canmore residents, they used their entire yard for a vegetable garden, growing what was needed for the year. Potatoes, carrots, peas, beans, beets, cabbage, lettuce and tomatoes were the most commonly grown as vegetables, while strawberries and raspberries were grown for fruit. Canning was a necessity. Cabbage was canned as saurkraut by Eastern Europeans. Italians made and canned tomatoe sauce. Root crops were stored in a cellar under the house, a trap door with a ring common in many miner cottage kitchens. In what served as the Barrack's kitchen, you can see our cellar access under the table!


Historically, the first mention of flower beds and beautification of homes and yards is in 1934.

The spring of 1934 was greeted with horticultural enthusiasm. This was to be the first year of the flower show as organized by the B.E.S.L. in 1933. The frost was hardly out of the ground before the seeds were planted. Flowers and vegetables appeared previously believed foreign to our native climate. The culmination, the flower show of August 18, showed vegetation of fine quality and great variety.” Edna Appleby: The Story of an Era (page 127)

Dahlia competitions continued into the late '30's. During the 2021 season, we decided to continue that tradition and grew our first dahlia. They bloomed exceedingly well and all the hard work to preserve the tubers for 2022 has taken place.

Our perennial beds boast over 500 individual plants and bulbs. There is an ongoing effort to arrange the plants so there is more colour into July. Typical gardens have a huge burst of colour in early June into July and then a lack of blooms. It is a trial and error type of affair. Plants have been split, moved and organized to get a more balanced effect of colour, height, variety etc.

Currently we have a multitude of bulbs; crocus, iris, tulip and others that are the first to poke their heads and give the first hints of spring. Camus and forget-me-nots form borders at the fence. Chives, mint, Yellow Lady's slipper, snow-in-summer, alpine poppies, brown-eyed-Susan, jumping jacks, peonies, roses, yarrow, Alberta wild roses are some of the many plants that are now thriving.

The lilacs in June are spectacular and the back beds of peonies and roses are a riot of colour for most of the growing season. The back hedge is a wall of cheerful yellow cinq-foil. Alberta wild rose does very well and will root in the roughest of soils. Phlox has seeded itself and and the hollyhocks do exceedingly well in the shelter and sun by the back door.

The 2021 addition of dahlias in the garden itself and displayed in the art piece old fashioned bath tub have been a delightful addition to the Barracks Gardens.

Thanks to a crew of dedicated volunteers, the Barracks heritage gardens and grounds are a beautiful place for locals and visitors to enjoy.

  • <p>A typical Canmore house and garden.</p>