Canmore has changed a great deal since it was founded in 1883. It has gone from a gritty railway depot to a coal mining town and then finally to an international resort destination. Experience our rich and colourful past by exploring Canmore's built heritage and tracing the continued evolution of our community with our Downtown Historical Walking Tour. It will take you to 17 places located within a 2 km radius of the Canmore Museum, each with its own story to tell as part of the cultural and heritage mosaic of Canmore.
The Canadian Pacific Railway founded Canmore in 1883 as a depot to refuel, store, and maintain its locomotives. From the time the No. 1 Mine opened in 1887 and finally secured a contract with CPR in late 1891 or early 1892, Canmore’s survival as a coal-mining town was tenuous, even with its high-quality semi-anthracite coal. From 1892 onward to the late 1920s, the mines and the community enjoyed a period of prosperity and growth. In 1929, the mine reached its peak capacity - 271,000 tons mined - with most of it going to CPR.
The good times, of course, ended with the Great Depression. Sales to CPR dropped from that 1929 record to a low of 100,000 tons a year. Miners saw their working days cut from their six-day workweeks to about ten days a month. The coal markets, and Canmore, rebounded for a period in the 1940s during the Second World War. The beginning of the end of mining in Canmore began when the Canadian Pacific Railway began to switch their engines over to diesel. Despite several innovations through the 1960s and 1970s, the mines in Canmore closed for good on July 13, 1979.
Canmore faced an uncertain future until the unlikeliest of saviors came to its rescue, the 1988 Winter Olympics. Putting the community and its natural assets on the map, Canmore turned a corner and has enjoyed a second life as a mountain resort destination. The rest, they say, is history.
Once you have finished exploring the Museum's Discovery Hall, we will be heading to the Canmore Hotel. Built in 1890, it is the only survivor of the five early hotels in Canmore.From the entrance of the Canmore Museum on 7th Avenue, turn left and walk 1/2 block to the Canmore Hotel, which located on the corner of 7th Avenue and 8th Street (Main Street).
Before embarking on our Downtown Heritage Walking Tour, we encourage you to explore the Museum's Discovery Hall. Put on a miner's helmet and 1950s era electric headlamp and go deep underground at the Canmore Mine using virtual reality technology. Our Museum Shop also offers a wide range of books, artworks and gifts.