Canmore has come a long way from its rustic roots as a coal mining town. Nowadays, downtown Canmore is just as well furnished with restaurants and shops as its more famous neighbor, Banff. 8th Avenue serves as Canmore’s Main Street, and there are several blocks of businesses worth visiting.
One of the few traces of the area’s coal mining heritage is this statue of a miner, along 8th Avenue. There’s also a mining museum at the corner of 7th Avenue and 5th Street (3 blocks south of downtown).
Coal mining boomed in Canmore until the 1970’s, when demand dropped, and eventually, Canmore Mines shut down its operations. The town floundered until the early 1980’s, when word arrived that the 1988 Olympics were coming to the area, and Nordic events would be centered in Canmore. The Olympics started the tourist boom that continues today.
While you’re walking around downtown Canmore, be sure to notice the surrounding mountains. The most famous peaks around town are the Three Sisters, just south of the town.
During my visit, 8th Avenue (Main Street) was terribly congested with traffic, and on-street parking was nothing but a dream. Avoid driving or trying to park along 8th Avenue if you can. I ended up parking near the Bow River, and walking a few blocks into town.
The quickest way through Canmore is Trans Canada 1, which is freeway-grade through the area (with exits instead of traffic lights). You can also hop off the highway onto Alberta 1A (the Bow Valley Parkway) which parallels Highway 1. To explore downtown, turn off 1A onto Railway Avenue or 17th Street.