This area is named for the pass that lies below a mountain peak that resembles a giant crow's nest. The pass crosses the Continental Divide and is the southern-most rail and road route from the prairies to the Pacific. The Crowsnest Pass area encompasses a number of communities along Highway 3 on both sides of the Alberta - BC boundary. The towns in this area began their existence about a century ago as coal mining towns moving from Bellevue to Coleman, Frank, Hillcrest and in BC, Fernie.
This region has been settled by the First Nations and their ancestors for over 10,000 years. A 1973 survey of the area identified 250 prehistoric sites. One 8500 year old summer camp was identified on the shores of Crowsnest Lake.
The area was firs settled by Europeans in 1880s when a sawmill was built at Mill Creak, about 19 km south of the pass by Senator Peter MacLaren who moved her from Perth, Ontario. The construction and completion of the Crownest Pass railway in 1898 ensured its economic success. A new mill was built in Blairmore in 1900 which thrived until 1932. By that time coal deposits were found in the valley, and quickly became the main industry of the Crowsnest Pass. The five main communities in the Pass were all founded at the start of the 1900s to support the coal mines. Bellevue & Hillcrest (to the east of Frank Slide) and Blairmore & Coleman (between Frank and the BC border) have dozens of buildings dating back to this era.
During the Prohibition from 1916 to 1924, the area was popular with rum runners. The leader in the area was Blairmore merchant and one-time town councillor Emilio Picareiello, also known as Emperor Pic.
The major employment in this area is in tourism & recreation, coal mining, lumber, mining, gas processing, and services.
Festivals include Regional Powder 8 Championships at Castle Mountain (Feb), CNP Music Festival (March), Coleman Rodeo (April), Cowboy Poetry in Pincher Creek (June), Hillcrest Mine Disaster Anniversary (June), Children of the World Kite Festival - Pincher Creek (July), Trans-Rockies Mountain Bike Race (August), Coleman Country Market (AUgust)
Official area web site: www.crowsnestpass.com
The Crowsnest Pass district is served by the Livingstone Range School Division which runs Horace Allen School (K-3) in Coleman, Isabelle Sellon School (4-6) in Blairmore, and Crowsnest Consolidated High School (7-12) in Colaman. The town is also home to the famed Banff Centre, which probides a strong arts programs, a new media centre, and exectuive education. Blairmore is also home to the The Crowsnest Learning Centre, an educational and conferencing facility for innovative programming in education, culture, business and tourism.
The towns in the Crowsnest Pass have come shops & services, but for significant shopping locals head either east to Pincher Creek or Fort Macleod, or into Sparwood, BC.
The area has lots of recreation, with the 18-hole Crowsnest Pass Golf Club, a community outdoor pool in Blairmore, boating and windsurfing at Crowsnest Lake, and tons of recreational trails in the valley for winter and summer sports, and fishing in the area's rivers. Downhill skiing enthusiasts can head either 5 km south to Pass Powder Keg or about 50 km west to Fernie, in British Columbia.
The homes here are clustered in small towns, or on rural acreages, mny with great views of the area's mountains.