Invermere Adventures – Invermere, Canada

On our first morning at Diane & Ken’s we managed to break the shower rail.  That afternoon we took a trip to the hardware store – foreign hardware stores are to Steve what foreign supermarkets are to me.  He then discovered they had a big popcorn machine where customers could help themselves – we just about had to surgically remove him from the store. 

Popcorn in hand, we took a drive up to Panorama Mountain Resort which is a ski and golf resort in the Purcell Mountains. Greywolf, the golf course up there was designed by Canadian architect Doug Carrick. We went up to have a look at their signature hole called Cliffhanger. Cliffhanger has already secured a place among the best golf holes in the world. Golfers face an island green perched across the aptly named “Hopeful Canyon” with a cliff on the front left and back of the green.
We snuck onto the course to have a look at the hole.  Some people then came up to tee off so we watched them – one of the guys ended up in the canyon but both of the ladies got over.  Steve was salivating looking at this hole and other parts of the course that we could see.  We will definitely be back to play on our next trip.

We then drove to Eagle Ranch golf course to have a drink at the Clubhouse which is beautiful.  This course is built on the First Nation Shuswap reserve land.  The Shuswap Indian Band (SIB) is a First Nation community in the East Kootenays. The band has 260 members, and two reserves on 1,240 hectares of land, with its main reserve located one mile north of Invermere. Whereas many First Nations have focused their economic development on natural resource industries such as fishing, forestry and mining, the Shuswap Indian Band has focused on commercial, residential and land development.  The construction of the golf course was started in 1997 and finished in 2000.  Another one to go on the list for our return visit.

That evening we enjoyed another delicious meal – marinated flank steak with corn cooked on the BBQ.  We’re learning lots of new recipes so look forward to trying them out when we get home.  We had some corn left over so we decided to strip the cobs so we could use the corn the next day in a salad.  Most of you know about Steve’s grasp of the English language so according to Steve he was ‘pruning’ the corn.  And another Stevism was born!

After golf on Thursday the boys watched some of the Canadian Open which had just started in Toronoto.  This picture really works in the favour of the naysayers who say they would rather watch paint dry than watch golf!

After the boys nap time we took a walk around Timber Ridge where the cabin is.  It was about 28 degrees at 5pm.  There are some very nice properties and a lot of them are built with native timbers and stone – they really blend in with the environment which I love.  They are not allowed to fence their properties to allow the wildlife and people to roam free – in true cabin style they want them to blend in with nature and not to have any barriers.  We saw a deer on our walk.  Diane and Ken have seen black bears passing through their property.  The Bears are normally looking for food.

This area is mainly holiday homes with the majority of people having their primary homes in Calgary which is about a 3 hour drive away.  They have their own marina and beach area down on the edge of Lake Windermere.  What an idyllic spot.  They call them cabins in this part of the world which is the equivalent of our batches or cribs if you come from the South Island.

That evening we went to an Austrian restaurant in Radium for dinner called Helnas Stube. A Stube is a warm and cozy room – a place to enjoy the company of your friends and family. The Chef and his wife who are originally from Austria opened the restaurant in 1999. You can’t beat a good schnitzel and it was good! In the street outside the restaurant there was a large rubbish bin concreted into the ground with only a small flapped opening. On the side of the bin is a sign “Be Bear Aware” – these bins are designed so the Bears can’t get into them or knock them over.

Steve was obviously dreaming about another trip to the hardware store so proceeded to break the bed and fall out at 2am that morning. I woke up to see him cast on all fours on the floor – I said what the heck happened there. The side arm had fallen off causing all the slats to go south. We turned the light on but didn’t think it was an easy fix at that hour of the night so decided Steve would sleep on my side and I would sleep on the top bunk. He had the cheek to say to me “make sure you only take one blanket”. I was the one venturing to the top bunk after he had broken the bed! I went back to sleep but dreamt that the top bunk fell on top of Steve – I was agonising over telling him to turn around and sleep with his head the other way. Funnily enough Steve had the same thoughts as he heard the top bunk creaking.

We woke up on Friday morning with no further nocturnal incidents.  The plan this morning was to take a drive up Mount Swansea – we would drive up to the carpark and then walk the 15 minutes up to the summit.  The drive up is on a fairly rugged road, twisting up through the forest.  It is a popular spot for mountain biking so we saw a few of the trails.  A warning light came on in the car not far from the top which Ken wondered what it meant.  When we arrived in the carpark we noticed there was steam coming from under the bonnet – uh oh!  Ken lifted the bonnet and it was fairly warm under there.  We then noticed a lot of liquid coming out from under the engine.  Oh boy this was not looking good.  

Ken called the Canadian equivalent of the AA and explained the problem.  The next problem for the AA was finding a garage who had a flat bed trailer and a four wheel drive to tackle the forestry road.   A flat bed trailer was required because you can’t tow a BMW.  Two families pulled up with quite big vehicles so we had a chat with them and they offered us a lift down if we didn’t get the problem resolved.  We carried on with our hike to the top.  There were a few phone calls back and forth with the AA and the consensus was that it may take a while to find someone with the appropriate vehicles and also someone who was willing to come up the Mount.

We decided to take up the kind offer the two families had made.  They managed to squeeze three adults and six kids into one of the vehicles while the other guy drove the four of us down in his.  Luckily they didn’t have to go too far.

Prior to going down we met another group of people who had come up to do the walk. They had a three legged dog with them who was good on the flat but no good on the hills so they had a child’s backpack carrier to carry him up the hill. He was a very cool dog.

We got back to the cabin and Ken decided to call some of the local garages directly – the main problem he was having was finding someone who was willing to go up there.  In the end one of the garages said they would send one of their staff in a beat up truck to go up with Ken to have a look at the problem.  Steve the accountant had made the suggestion when we were up the Mount re just getting bottles of coolant, filling it, driving down and topping it up along the way.  In the end that is what they did although Ken didn’t stop to refill – he got off that Mount as fast as he could!  When he got to the bottom they got a flat bed trailer and towed him to the garage.  This was Friday afternoon so we still haven’t heard what the problem was.

We decided this was the third incident in three so hopefully Steve and I wouldn’t jinx anything else!  The shower rail, the bed and now the car!

Mount Swansea is located in the Columbia Valley, overlooking the Upper Columbia River, Lake Windermere, the Columbia Wetlands and the town of Windermere.  At an altitude of 1,727 metres or 5,665 feet, it is a mere bump compared to the towering Candian Rocky Mountains in the distance but it is high enough to allow some grea views and provide some challenges to outdoor enthusiasts.

Mount Swansea wasn’t always known by it’s present name.  In 1801, it was known to all as Windermere Mountain.  The initial trail was constructed to reach a copper mine at the summit.  In the first year, pack-horses carried 50 tons of copper ore down the mountainside in ordinary pack loads.  From the Salmon Beds in Athalmer (lower Invermere), the ore was shipped by barge to Golden, then on to Vancouver by train and across the ocean to Wales, where it was concentrated and sold, bringing a tidy profit to the owners of the mine.

In 1891, one of the mine’s owners named the location Mount Swansea since supposedly, the original name given by Vikings to Wakes was Sweyne’s Eue.  True or not, it makes for a good story and it kind of also makes some sense.

In 1924, the BC Forest Service established the mountain as a fire lookout.  In 1952, they constructed a lookout hut filled with the latest fire detecting equipment and a metallic telephone line that was strung on trees along the old pack trail.  The lookout person kept records of sky conditions, wind direction, velocity and humidity.  He then sent the information each day to the local forest service by telephone (later by radio).

On the way down we stopped to take some photos of a mountain bike jump that looked suicidal to us.

That afternoon we took a drive in our car down to the village of Invermere. It is a nice little village with some really good art stores which we had a good look in. We then went to the butcher to get something for dinner and decided on Bison – neither Steve or I had eaten it before.  

We then went to pick up the bread.  Now this bread is not just any bread – it is made by the bread God I tell you – it is so good!

The bread God is Andi Schöni (pronounced Sheu ∙ nee) who left Switzerland in 1982 to work in Canada as a trained French chef at Strands Restaurant in Invermere.  He instantly fell in love with this small town seated amongst the magnificent Rockies, but left it to pursue chef opportunities, first in 1984 at Assiniboine Lodge in Alberta, then in Whistler, B.C. in 1985, and ended up owning a wholesale bakery (Little Mountain Bakery) there for 12 years where he eventually met his spouse, Suzanna. They moved to Invermere in 2000, but Andi was unable to find his idea of a decent loaf of bread, so he worked with a wood oven at a local bakery for a few years, but found he was limited with what he could do there. After leaving there, customers begged him to begin baking bread on his own.  

Finally, Andi began baking bread for customers again in a small wood oven in his home, but this time, he was able to be as creative as he wanted, use better and higher quality ingredients, and take the extra time and attention that authentic wood oven breads need to meet his Swiss quality standards as well as his passion for the art of proper bread making. After lots of research, he built a custom commercial bakery with a custom wood oven, built locally by Lusti in 2006. Today, Andi continues to passionately create and experiment away. Although it’s been over 30 years since leaving Switzerland, Andi still maintains his high Swiss standards in year round production, while Suzanna helps out with the rest of the details and orders.

You might wonder why he is such an excellent baker when he was never professionally trained as one. His passion and love of bread (who else would take so many days to make a loaf and then buy back his sold bread if he runs out of bread for himself?) and his gift as a chef who knows instinctively what flavours and ingredients work best, combined with his Swiss precision certainly helps, but he’s also able to create freely, not being bound by all those bakers’ rules, and take the extra time needed to properly prepare every step and ingredient by working where he lives. At least, this is what Suzanna sees! 

He bakes for restaurants with deliveries on Wednesday, individual customers pick up between 4pm and 6pm on Fridays and he bakes sweet treats for restaurants and cafes on a Saturday.  It was like a train station when we were there doing our pick up on Friday.  He also had some sample loaves you could help yourself to.  Luckily I don’t live in Invermere – it would be fatal!

Another culinary masterpiece was served up for dinner – Ken is a whiz on the BBQ and cooks the meat to perfection.  Diane is very creative in the kitchen so we had bison, Caesar salad and a reduction of mushrooms, onions and red wine.  The bison is cooked medium rare and was lovely and tender.  That was a YES from us : )

The lovely cabin at Timber Ridge where we stayed.

Smokey the cat having a drink – this is normal behaviour : ). Smokey spends his time between Calgary and Invermere.  The other interesting thing about Smokey is that he is a fulltime indoor cat.  He cannot go outside due to the threat of predators – bears, Cougars etc…  This is also normal practice in Canada.


This blog was originally set up to share our 9 month adventure around Europe and the USA with friends and family in 2014. On returning to NZ in January 2015 I decided to carry it on so I could continue to share any future travel adventures - it has become my electronic travel diary. I hope you enjoy and get inspired to visit some of the wonderful places we have visited.
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3 Responses to Invermere Adventures – Invermere, Canada

  1. Vicky Wilks-Jasmat says:

    I’m glad the car broke down. I was wondering if the third thing was going to be you running into a bear. Sounds fantastic Xx V

    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Margaret Pepper says:

    Soooo sungirl has a partner “smash ‘m Steve”. A dynamic duo ready for any domestic disaster. Did the bed and the car get fixed.
    PS we saw a few juicy cars and campers on our Grand Canyon soujourn

    Sent from my iPhone

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