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Tag: Waterton

Front page of Pincher Creek Shootin' the Breeze with rear view of motorcyclist driving toward snow-covered mountains

Shootin’ the Breeze Pincher Creek – May 22, 2024

Spring augments the lure of the road

Whether the wheels be on a bicycle, skateboard, motorcycle, scooter or motor vehicle, spring is the time the dust gets brushed off and enthusiasts of all kinds take to the road. Both in town and on area highways, please be alert to the seasonal increase of wheels on the pavement and paths as riders search for serenity and beauty along the Eastern Slopes.

Submitted photo

Line of students passing along a field at the base of a mountain with burned trees at the base.

Canyon students learn significance of Waterton Lakes National Park

On Oct. 18, schools across Canada celebrated Take Me Outside Day, dedicated to making time to head outdoors and learn beyond the confines of a classroom.

Here in Pincher Creek, Canyon School embraced the opportunity by taking Grade 6 students on a field trip to Waterton Lakes National Park. Students learned not only of the ecological importance of the land, but also of its importance to the Niitsitapi, the Blackfoot people. 

“It’s all part of LRSD’s place-based learning initiative, getting the kids outside to get a better understanding of the area that they grew up in, and learn to respect this land,” says Derek Shackleford, a Grade 6 teacher at Canyon School.

According to Derek, this out-of-school opportunity allows students to learn more about the land from numerous perspectives and encourages them to respect the lands they call home. 

To help facilitate this place-based learning, students and teachers were joined by volunteers Kim Pearson, Parks Canada’s nature legacy scientist, and Jesse Plain Eagle, a Blackfoot knowledge keeper.

The pair spoke to the importance of the land from different perspectives, educating students as they toured several notable locations within the park, including the Hay Barn, Linnet Lake and Red Rock Canyon.

Kim provided students with an understanding of Waterton in the context of being a national park and how it is unique compared to other places. She spoke of how the park is situated on land where the mountains and prairies meet very suddenly, creating a recipe for diverse plants and animals to thrive.


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“I was really happy to have the opportunity to join the kids and help them understand the importance of this place,” she says.

“It’s such a unique place in the world, and an important place from an ecological perspective with its unique geography, which helps to create a habitat for a huge diversity of plants and animals.”

In addition to her efforts to teach students about the land’s significance, Kim also made her way around to help students identify plants for their tree and forest unit assignments. 

Jesse, on the other hand, was instrumental in providing knowledge of Waterton’s significance to the Blackfoot people. Jesse gave a Blackfoot perspective on some of the plants native to Waterton, as well as describing the traditional uses of the land.

Additionally, Jesse talked about how Waterton pertains to Blackfoot people in regard to their ceremonies, such as the beaver ceremony, which was started in the area.

Growing up, Jesse felt that his culture and history were stifled, as he never got to talk about it or learn about it in school. He saw this as an opportunity to spread the knowledge he wishes he had learned in school, while making sure to not overshare out of respect for his people.

“I think it’s important to share our culture, our history, and provide that awareness, because we all live in Blackfoot territory and a lot of kids still don’t know that because for so long, all that knowledge and information wasn’t shared,” Jesse says. 


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Now working as an education assistant in Brocket, Jesse is providing knowledge to youth that he never thought he could share.

Between the teachings of Jesse, Kim, teachers and volunteers, students were thrilled to experience this unique learning opportunity. 

“It was great to come to Waterton. I really enjoyed taking pictures of nature, but also enjoyed learning about how we can impact the land,” says Rowan Hancock, a sixth-grade student from Canyon.

“It’s cool that our teachers decided to take us out and do this fun field trip in Waterton,” says Solen Pearson-Taylor, who also attends Canyon. “It’s meant a lot to me to learn about Blackfoot culture, because it’s not talked about enough and it’s important for everyone to learn more about it.” 

Derek hopes that at the end of the day, the trip provided students with a better understanding of where they live and why they need to respect the land.

“The more awareness kids have of their surroundings, the more respect they have for that place, the more they’re going to want to protect that place and be a bigger part of it in their adulthood,” he says.


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Change of seasons with snow on the mountains, green alpine trees and golden leaves at the bottom.

Temperature records fall as warm front moves in

While it may not have felt particularly hot Saturday, 73 communities across Alberta broke temperature records for Oct. 7.

Included on the list were Pincher Creek at 21.9 degrees Celsius, surpassing the old 1998 mark of 20.5 and Waterton Park where the mercury reached 22.3, breaking the old high temperature record set in 2010 of 21.8. 

The weather station also recorded a peak southwest gust of 56 kilometres per hour, tops for the province.

Temperatures around the region varied from 21 degrees in Crowsnest Pass, half a degree cooler than its Oct. 7 record, to Brocket’s 23.3. 

The provincial hotspot was Drumheller at 25.8, which surprisingly wasn’t a record for the community on this day.

More records are likely to fall Sunday and Monday with temperatures forecast for the southwest region at or near the mid-20s. Even with forecast strong winds, temperatures could top out at 24 in Pincher Creek, Waterton and Crowsnest Pass. 

A shift in the weather is expected by Tuesday with clouds and highs of only 15 forecast for all three areas.


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Change of seasons with snow on the mountains, green alpine trees and golden leaves at the bottom.
Woman with short, dark hair and glasses speaks from a podium while pointing to a photo display

KBPV unveils Part II of Bert Riggall photo exhibit

 Part II of the photo exhibit Bert Riggall: An Intimate Visual of the Southwest Alberta Mountains is now on display in the front entrance of Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village in Pincher Creek. 

The two-part exhibit features photos taken by Bert Riggall, a highly respected mountain guide, outfitter and naturalist, whose photos from the first half of the 20th century perfectly encapsulate the natural beauty of the greater Waterton region.

Part I focused on photos taken by Bert during his early years in southeastern British Columbia and southwestern Alberta, operating a packtrain business out of Waterton and taking tourists on backcountry trips and fishing expeditions. 

Part II now features photos taken by Bert during backcountry trips through the upper Oldman Watershed, including notable landmarks such as Beehive Mountain, Little Bear Lake and Mount Lyell.

“Bert’s photos are visually stunning,” says Farley Wuth, curator at KBPV. “Many of those backcountry trails have not been photographed by other photographers, so it’s a good visual record of the history of that country.”

An avid photographer, Bert captured some of the region’s most stunning landscapes in his shots, while providing a bird’s-eye view of the local history of backpacking during the pioneer days.

While the photos are phenomenal visual representations, Bert took things one step forward by providing written details on the back of nearly every photo featured in the exhibit.

“On the reverse side of virtually every photograph, he’s written down when the photo was taken, the type of camera that was used, the details of the trip, where it was, who was in the party, things like that,” Farley says.


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“It’s great that he took the photos, but it’s equally great that he wrote down the details of what the images are all about. It’s great to have that history.”

This travelling exhibit was organized by Wendy Ryan, president of the Bert Riggall Environmental Foundation, a non-profit outdoors group based in Pincher Creek. 

Wendy has spent roughly six years working on the exhibit, but has studied Bert Riggall’s life and accomplishments for far longer. 

After moving to the area in 1980, Wendy married an outfitter and the pair would often ride horses together along various trails. She did not know they were Bert Riggall trails, nor did she know of their significance, until she met Bert’s grandchildren.

Thanks to the Russell family, she learned and developed an appreciation for the hard work that goes into running an outfitting business, and for Bert’s ability to take photos under difficult circumstances.

Wendy feels it is important not only to promote Bert as an important historical figure to the region, but also to promote the stunning and unique landscapes the region has to offer.

“We’d like to encourage people that would like to learn more about the area to just go out there and discover little hidden gems like the Old Man Falls,” she says. 

“I probably drove by the falls a couple of times without realizing they were there because you need to get out of your car and walk 100 metres, and there it is, and it’s very beautiful.”

Wendy will conduct a presentation of Part II of the Bert Riggall exhibit on Aug. 30 at KBPV, so those interested in learning more about Bert are encouraged to attend.



Create wedding ambiance with flowers

Nicki Schoening, owner of C&D Floral in Pincher Creek, loves a good bouquet challenge.

On your wedding day, the flowers should be there for you, but Nicki notes that flexibility is often crucial when seeking out your dream bouquet.

“When you look at pictures on the internet, the shades of flowers that you’re gonna see, the combination of fresh flowers and silk flowers, the availability of flowers in the area where you’re getting married might all change in real life as opposed to what you see on the internet,” says Nicki.

She explains that one thing to consider in picking your flowers is your dress style, such as pairing elegant dresses with elegant flowers, country style with country style or trailing with trailing.

Popularity and trends can be other interesting aspects of choosing your bouquet.

“There are different things that have come and gone in fashion in the time that I’ve been doing this,” says Nicki. She notes that eucalyptus and trailing flowers have been very popular in recent weddings.



When it comes to floral decor, it is important to consider the place and the weather conditions if you’re outside.

“You have to take the wind into account, because it’s going to make a difference,” says Nicki.

“It’s almost impossible to do tall vase arrangements outside without it blowing over, so you need to think about maybe a lower, broader style of container if you’re putting arrangements outside. Make sure that you’ve got a place where they can be firmly attached if you’re putting them onto an archway or something like that.”

“Challenge us,” says Nicki. “We’re always looking for a fresh challenge. We’ve done a lot of wedding flowers over the years of all different sizes, colours, styles, price points. We love challenge!”

C&D floral is here for you and your wedding for anything flower-related.


Guide for local brides



Choosing your wedding music

I really don’t remember much from my wedding — mostly the things that made me laugh and how tired I was that night — but I knew I just needed to hear certain songs that day. If you’re like that, there are ways to make it happen. If your budget doesn’t allow for live musicians, you can always choose the handful of tunes for the special moments and have someone press play and stop.

Basically, there are three songs needed for the ceremony: the processional (walking in), signing the register (this song can be longer as this takes a good five minutes or so for the signing and photos to be finished) and the recessional (walking out). I like to tell the bride or groom to choose something calming for walking in and a peppier tune for walking out, just to help with those jitters everyone gets at the beginning of the ceremony.

Obviously, a generic theme of love songs is a good start when it comes to choosing the music, but if the couple have some special memories tied to certain tunes, that makes it all the more memorable for them. I really don’t recommend having a different song just for one person in the processional (i.e. the bride or groom) — you’ll only hear about a minute of it and the changeover can be awkward. It’s better to just turn up the volume a little bit in that case, or maybe pick a song with a few verses before the chorus comes in.



We’re not quite done with the ceremony yet — we can’t forget to entertain the guests! Having a playlist about 30 minutes long is great for taking care of before and after the ceremony, while the guests are milling around and visiting with each other. If you have live musicians playing, you can tell them who some of your favourite artists or styles of music are, and they can choose their songs accordingly.

Next comes the reception. Dinner music should just be in the background, as a lot of guests are enjoying catching up with one another and want to hear each other speak. These days, having music on during dinner might not even be necessary, as dinner is a great time to have the speeches instead.

You may need one or two special songs for the first dances (the couple with each other, then split off with parents) but otherwise a playlist does just fine, and even better — a DJ with a professional sound-and-light system. Then you know requests can be taken, the music choices adjusted according to how many people are dancing, and everything is taken care of by someone with a lot of experience. Nobody has to worry about renting equipment they may not know how to use, ideally the DJ has insurance to cover any revelry related mishaps, and it’s one less headache for the honeymooning couple to deal with later.



For hiring live musicians, keep in mind whether your venue is outside or inside and have a contingency plan in case of bad weather. Most musicians have played outside and know to bring what they need to deal with wind and bugs. Often they can provide a pop-up tent for an extra fee, but if not, this should be provided to keep the instruments and players safe from the elements as they will be stuck in the same place for a long time, often an hour between setup and takedown.

Placing them is also a consideration. Is there power nearby? Do you want to see them in the background of all the photos of the wedding party? I find that setting up somewhere that allows a sight line of the entire procession as well as the action up front is best, so musicians can watch for when to kick it up a notch, and when to stop the tune nicely. Off to the side or near the back with a good view down the aisle works well. Then actions such as getting the next music ready or retuning don’t distract the guests from the ceremony.

Many helpful websites exist with lists of popular choices for wedding music, and of course talking to each other and to the musicians who will play will help narrow things down as well. If you give live musicians about a month with your final choices, they will have enough time to buy or arrange and learn songs they don’t already know.


Guide for local brides



Outdoor wedding considerations

From a picture-perfect view to the relaxed atmosphere, there are plenty of reasons to have your wedding outside. However, you’ll need to take particular care when choosing your dress, shoes and hairstyle to ensure you look and feel your best. Here are some things to consider.

The ground

If you’ll be walking on grass or sand during the wedding ce­­­remony, stilettos are out of the question. For comfort and balance, choose shoes with a wide heel, or better yet, an elegant pair of ballerina flats.

The wind

A long veil, flowing skirt and loosely pinned-back hair can quickly get out of hand on a gusty day. Consider a birdcage veil and opt for a secure up­do style with beautiful pins to hold your hair in place.

The temperature

For a summer wedding, sandals and a strapless or sleeveless dress are the way to go. Consider a matching jacket or shawl in case it gets cool in the evening. For a fall ceremony, opt for long sleeves and booties.



Southwestern Alberta is a beautiful place to have your outdoor wedding, and many local venues are ready to accommodate your special day.

Castle Mountain Resort, Crowsnest Mountain Weddings, Heritage Acres and Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village all offer unique wedding packages that allow couples to celebrate their union while celebrating nature and the local scenery.

At Castle Mountain Resort, wedding goers can venture into the backcountry to exchange vows in the heart of nature.

Crowsnest Mountain Weddings uses SpringBreak Flower Farm as its venue. After the garden centre shuts down for the season, an outdoor area is provided for ceremonies and the greenhouse becomes the perfect place to enjoy a beautiful event while protected from the elements.

Heritage Acres is complete with beautiful grounds and heritage barns and buildings that can be rented for ceremony and reception. 

Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village offers a gorgeous outdoor space for larger gatherings and rustic antique buildings for smaller gatherings.

The nice thing about outdoor weddings is the scenery itself is part of the decor.

As you plan your outdoor wedding, keep trusted local business in mind!


Guide for local brides



Things to do before saying ‘I do’

Use this month-by-month checklist to make sure you don’t forget a thing.

12 months before

  • Decide on the type of wedding you’d like (civil or religious, big or small)
  • Choose a date
  • Determine the number of guests
  • Establish a budget
  • Pick venues for the ceremony and reception (it’s best to reserve early)

11 months before

  • Make your guest list
  • Choose a caterer (meet with a few first)
  • Select your wedding party
  • Hire a wedding planner

10 months before

  • Start shopping for a wedding dress
  • Decide on a theme for your wedding
  • Choose an officiant if you haven’t already done so


9 months before

  • Book a photographer
  • Reserve a block of hotel rooms for your out-of-town guests
  • Purchase a wedding gown
  • Shop for the groom’s attire and purchase it

8 months before

  • Meet with your officiant to plan your ceremony
  • Book your entertainment (DJ, band, MC, etc.)
  • Shop for and purchase your bridesmaids’ dresses
  • Design and order the wedding invitations and save-the-date cards

7 months before

  • Create a gift registry
  • Hire a florist
  • Plan your honeymoon


6 months before

  • Send out the save-the-date cards
  • Book your hair and makeup appointments for the day of (and trial runs for both)
  • Book a hotel room for the wedding night if necessary

5 months before

  • Create a schedule for the big day
  • Decide on dates for bachelor and bachelorette parties
  • Shop for and purchase shoes, jewelry and accessories

4 months before

  • Reserve wedding day transportation for the wedding party
  • Select alcohol and other drinks for the reception
  • Taste and choose your wedding cake
  • Buy wedding bands
  • Shop for and order the groomsmen’s attire


3 months before

  • Purchase wedding favours for your guests
  • If you’d like a loved one to say or read something during the ceremony, let them know
  • Write down your vows
  • Decide on activities for the reception (photo booth, dancing, games, etc.)

2 months before

  • Send out your wedding invitations
  • Do trial runs for both hair and makeup
  • Give your music selections to the DJ or MC

1 month before

  • Finalize the schedule for the big day
  • Choose a seating plan for the reception
  • Break in your shoes


1 week before

  • Visit the desired beauty professionals (hair colourist, esthetician, etc.)
  • Practise reading your vows
  • Write out cheques to pay your vendors

1 day before

  • Get your nails done
  • Give the cheques to someone you trust to pay the vendors

Day of, Enjoy!

Snow accumulation is measured by four brown Oldman River Brewing beer cans. A storm watch has been issued for 30 to 50 cm of snow.

Winter storm watch issued for Pincher Creek and Crowsnest Pass

Significant snowfall – 30 to 50 centimetres (12 to 20 inches) — is expected in southwestern Alberta, prompting Environment Canada to issue a winter storm watch for Pincher Creek, Crowsnest Pass, Piikani Nation, Waterton and surrounding area.

The storm will hit with heavy snow falling early Monday morning. It is anticipated to slow down in the afternoon, but will intensify again later in the day and snow will continue to fall through. Tuesday.

The highest amounts are currently expected in the Waterton area.

Be prepared!

Share your weather photos with us by email or text.


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The winter storm watch was issued at 3:50 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023 for the MD of Pincher Creek near Beauvais Lake Provincial Park, Cowley, Burmis, Maycroft and Twin Butte; the Municipality of Crowsnest Pass including Coleman and Frank; Piikani Nation; Waterton Lakes National Park and Blood Reserve; and MD of Ranchland.



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Pink, purple and blue sunrise over snowy mountain peaks and highway curve

Imagine the possibilities

“Like me, I hope you found at least one day over the holidays that was truly good for your soul. Sunrise and sunset will always come back to back — the sweet part is making the most of what comes in between.”

I wrote those words five years ago to go with this photo, taken as the sun rose to bring in the new year. I stood in waist-deep snow at the Pine Ridge viewpoint with this gorgeous view all to myself.

The black devastation left by the Kenow wildfire was buried by a clean, white slate — a blank canvas to encourage residents to look ahead to a new year.

January tends to bring out reflectiveness and a desire to be better to oneself and to others — it’s a time when possibilities and optimism blossom.

Pulling up to the viewpoint that morning, light blues, purples and pinks glowed behind me to the north. Before long the morning sky produced these glorious hues.



As the sky brightened, the first rays of the sunrise began to peek out from the mountains to the south. Here I revelled in how quickly things can change, the value of community and the resilience that shone through that difficult time.

We came through the challenges created by Kenow together, and the theme of the 2018 editorial was one of possibilities.

I was looking through pictures on my husband’s phone last week and discovered he had saved that page. My reflection turned to what our community has been through in the past three years — Covid-19 has changed us all in some way — and I decided it was a lovely image and sentiment to share again.

As we hope to be coming out on the other side of the pandemic, we can refocus again and think about possibilities.

Wishing you the best on the road ahead this year.


Table setting of wedding venue — the Cowley Lions Campground Stockade near Pincher Creek in southwestern Alberta.
Bison roam at Waterton Park

Bison relocated to Waterton and Kainai Nation

After a 3½-year absence, plains bison have returned to roam Waterton Lakes National Park. Six bison — two males and four females — were relocated from Elk Island National Park to Waterton’s popular bison paddock on Feb. 19.

The original herd was evacuated from the paddock during the 2017 Kenow wildfire and relocated to Grasslands National Park, with the exception of one bull that survived the fire and was subsequently moved to a local First Nations herd.

The six bison currently in the park are just under one year old and will be able to naturally reproduce.

“Typically it takes a few years for them to start reproducing, so in a couple of springs from now we should expect to see baby bison calves on the ground and in the bison paddock, and that’s something to look forward to for sure,” says Kimberly Pearson, an ecosystem scientist with Parks Canada.


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Many people have asked why it took so long to bring bison back to the park. Quite simply, it comes down to the impact the wildfire had on the vegetation and soil. It wasn’t until quite recently that it was determined the land could once again support a herd.

Kimberly and her team have been monitoring the range and assessing what amounts of forage are available for bison.

“When you look at the bison paddock, there’s a lot of vegetation present, but when you look closely there’s actually still a lot of bare soil if you part the plants,” she says. “It’s not fully back to what it was prior to the fire, but it’s a great time to add bison into the mix.”

Kimberly says the massive creatures are “ecosystem engineers” that have an incredibly positive ecological impact, extending to virtually all of the plants and animals in the areas where they live.


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Two weeks ago, Kimberly was present for the release of the bison into the winter paddock.

“It was fantastic! It was a great day, a really happy day,” she says. “It was really great to see them back on the ground in Waterton. We’ve missed them being on the ground there for the last 3½ years.”

Also present for the release were a group of local First Nations members, who performed a ceremony prior to the arrival of the bison and blessed the animals and the land. Waterton worked closely with Dan Fox, a Kainai Nation member who was chosen to transport the six bison from Elk Island National Park to Waterton.

“We know that by bringing bison back, we’re not just rebuilding ecological connections, but we’re also helping to rebuild cultural connections [and] spiritual connections for local indigenous people, so it was really important to us to have some Blackfoot elders present,” says Kimberly.

The public will be able to see the bison come springtime, when the herd will be moved to the summer paddock.


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Also noteworthy is the relocation of 40 plains bison from Elk Island National Park to Kainai Nation. According to Leroy Little Bear, special advisor to the president at the University of Lethbridge, the process went very smoothly.

“It was a wonderful scene to see those buffalo get off the trailer and run into the pens that we had set up for them, and to see them on the ground,” he says. “We’ve been talking about hoof to ground for the last few years, so to realize that was fantastic!”

Right now, these bison are part of what is referred to as a “slow release,” which means the pasture will slowly be enlarged over time. Eventually, the herd will have about 2½ sections of land to roam.

Mr. Little Bear likens the keystone species to Edmonton Oilers superstar Connor McDavid.

“He’s the superstar, and the team is built around the superstar,” he says. “The bison is kind of like the superstar when it comes to the environment. It brings about an ecological and biodiversity balance.”

He adds that while culturally his people used bison as sustenance, it wasn’t the only thing.

“We embodied each other. It was about our songs, for instance, our stories. Our ceremonies are so connected to that buffalo,” he says, and seeing bison reinforces the cultural aspect.


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Speaking with Kainai elders, Mr. Little Bear was told that the youth hear the songs and stories, and participate in the ceremonies, but they don’t see the bison. By not seeing the animals, it was like there was something missing. Now, however, it looks like that will be changing.

Mr. Little Bear says Kainai Nation is open to taking in more bison from other places in an effort to expand the genetic pool. The current herd will be used for cultural and research purposes. Many educational programs revolving around the bison will also be introduced.

“It’s been such a wonderful experience, such a wonderful gift, to have our brother, the buffalo, come back,” says Mr. Little Bear. “It was a team effort with many, many people involved. I want to thank all those people that are involved.”

His list of those to thank includes Parks Canada, Waterton Lakes National Park, Elk Island National Park, Banff National Park and the various non-governmental organizations that worked together with Kainai to make the dreams of bison returning to the community come true.



Fireweed in Waterton painting held by Janifer and Janna Calvez

Fireweed Collective Society features local artist

It’s a long way from southern Alberta to Fort St. James, B.C., but, thanks to the power of the Internet, the Fireweed Collective Society was able to connect with local artist Janifer Calvez to use her artwork in its journals.

The society, which is a safe haven for women and children escaping violence, creates journals each year to give to ladies who come to the shelter. This year the artwork on the cover was created by Janifer.

The painting depicts fireweed in Waterton, so was the perfect fit for the Fireweed Collective Society, which was named after this type of flower.


Aerial view of the Cowley Lions Campground on the Castle River in southwestern Alberta

Fireweed grows after forest fires, so the society uses it as an analogy for survivors of violence. A quote included on the cover reads, “Though there is devastation, something beautiful grows.”

Though it may seem like the work was created specifically for the project, it was actually done long before the society reached out.

“They contacted me and asked for my permission to use it on the front of the journal,” says Janifer, who happily obliged.

“They were searching for a fireweed picture and came across my art online. I was really honoured to be able to contribute.”


The inspiration behind the painting came while she was hiking with her daughter, Janna, to Lineham Falls in Waterton one year. During the adventure, Janifer noticed all the fireweed that had grown, so she captured some photographs and later used them as reference material for a painting.

The resulting piece of art was finished in June of this year and took her two weeks to complete, which she says is relatively fast.

“It was for my daughter’s birthday so I wanted to get it done,” Janifer adds.

Since the announcement of the journal cover, many people have reached out to Janifer, asking to purchase prints of the painting. After talking to the Fireweed Collective Society, she decided to donate a portion of the sales to the group.

The artist splits her time between Cowley and Okotoks. If you are interested in purchasing a print, you can contact Janifer through her website,, or her Facebook page, Janifer Calvez Art.