Pincher Creek residents out and about enjoying the warm spring weather last week — right before Old Man Winter reared his ugly head — may have spotted a group of time-travelling tour guides.
Complete with caps, vests, pocket watches and knickerbockers, the ambulatory blast from the past was part of a team-building exercise for Open Top Touring, a company from Banff.
After operating briefly last autumn, Open Top Touring is excited to open the doors and roofs of its vintage-styled 21-passenger buses for visitors hoping to explore Banff. In preparation for its May long-weekend opening, the touring company planned a southern Alberta scavenger hunt for employees.
The trip, says tour manager Leah Corbeil, was an opportunity to get Open Top Touring’s name out to Albertans looking for staycation ideas, as well as helping tour guides see how Banff’s history fits in with southern Alberta’s pioneer origins.
“Nobody really knows about us yet,” she explains. “We thought we’d share with our neighbours what we’re doing and hopefully invite them to come and check us out, and see what they’re doing too. It was an opportunity to teach some more history to the team so they have that foundation.”
The group travelled down Highway 22 before cutting over to Waterton and then back north on Highway 2. The 1930s-themed outfit visited Bragg Creek, Turner Valley, Black Diamond, Pincher Creek, Stavely, Nanton and High River.
“We tried to stop at towns that wouldn’t expect us,” says Leah.
At each location, the tour guides were required to partner up and explore the community, finding information on local amenities, businesses and history.
Pairs were dropped off throughout Pincher Creek last Wednesday and completed their scavenger hunt while on foot. Eventually everyone met at Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village, where a photo was taken and a complimentary copy of Tales of Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village was given by the museum.
Open Top Touring has four buses with four tour routes around the Banff townsite. The tours cover events of the town’s past and its people, highlight microbreweries while relating the area’s bootlegging history, and focus on how current features of Banff developed over the past 150 years or so.
A shorter, kid-oriented family tour is also offered.
The overall goal, Leah says, is to offer an experience that will appeal to everyone, from history buffs to people looking for a nice social media picture.
“We don’t want to be the typical tour,” Leah continues. “It’s really energetic, it’s engaging, it’s interactive no matter which one you’re on and really fun.”
Readers interested in checking out Open Top Tours can book tours and find additional information online at bit.ly/OTT_Banff.
Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Shootin' the Breeze