Alberta Snapshot: Kananaskis River.


A view of the wide Kananaskis River from the Flowing Water Interpretive Trail in Bow Valley.  This is a really pleasant, short, and easy walk with some fantastic scenery and lots of wildflowers.  There’s even a beaver dam (but apparently the beavers were bunking down in their little log cabins out of the gloom on the day my hubby and I were there.  I would have liked to see some babies, but alas). The trailhead begins in Willowrock Campground and is well-marked and worn.  This is another good hike for young families – there is one section of wooden stairs, but they are not too steep.  The stairs would make it tricky for anyone with mobility issues, but the rest of the trail is accessible.

I’m always fascinated by place names – and as I’ve lived here in southern Alberta for several years, I was familiar with the idea that the word “Kananaskis” meant “meeting of the waters.”  But it turns out that’s an erroneous marketing gimmick – the real truth behind the name is actually far more fascinating and…well…bloody.  Check out the historical account here.

Have you ever come across any “tourist” information that wasn’t really true?  Isn’t it interesting how stories are altered over time (or depending on agenda)?


  1. Thank-you Sheryl. This is a really interesting post and I liked your photo of the river. What a pity it was a gloomy day and you didn’t get to see the beavers. It is very strange the way the meaning of the river and area name has been covered up. I think it would attract many people if they knew what the real meaning is or that there was some mystery about it.

  2. I went to college at Penn State and their mascot is a Nittany Lion, a mountain lion named in conjunction with a mountain in the area. There’s this whole involved story about the word “Nittany” and an Indian princess and a white lover and angry brothers, etc., etc. All very romantic and all fiction!

    • That’s really interesting! I have heard of Penn State’s Nittany Lion mascot (my hubby watches college lacrosse on TV when games are broadcast here) but never knew about the “Nittany” backstory.

  3. Looks like a beautiful nature spot. Also I like any trails that are short and easy. As for misleading tourist info, what bugs me here in Illinois are all the statues and monuments to Stephen Douglas. He’s always described as a great statesman and brilliant orator. Basically, though, he wanted to let the Southern States export slavery into the western territories and was a slaveholder himself. (Though he lived in Illinois, a free state, through marriage he acquired a Mississippi plantation with 100 slaves.) If you read the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates, Douglas is always saying things that boil down to “Yeah, but would you let your sister marry one?” OK, rant over. Sorry.

  4. Bad tourist information is pretty much equivalent to revisionist history in my experience. Or it’s a nice story made up to cover up for something less savory. Lovely sounding hike in any event!

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