Lieutenant Governor Lois Mitchell hosted dignitaries and the public at a grand opening in Banff to celebrate Canada’s first Commonwealth Walkway.
Announced last year as a way for Alberta to mark Her Majesty the Queen 90th birthday, the new walkway is a gift that can now be enjoyed by all Canadians and by visitors to the Rockies from around the world. It offers four different routes in and around the Town of Banff that allow users to take in the spectacular scenery while learning about Canada’s worldwide Commonwealth connections.
“Her Majesty has created a legacy of service that is woven into the very fabric of Canadian society. This project is a way for Alberta to honour our beloved Queen of Canada and celebrate our country’s Commonwealth connections, all while encouraging people to get up and be active in Banff’s inspiring surroundings.”
The Lieutenant Governor’s guest of honour at the ceremony was the Right Honourable Patricia Scotland, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth. This marked the Secretary-General’s first visit to Alberta.
“This new Commonwealth Walkway is a wonderful way for local people of all ages and visitors to Banff to deepen understanding of what the Commonwealth is, and all that we achieve through consensus and collective action. By walking together along these routes in Banff, we are walking alongside the richly diverse Commonwealth family in every continent and ocean, and celebrating with them the shared values of our Commonwealth Charter.”
Commonwealth Walkways are an initiative of the Outdoor Trust, a UK-based charity that works to create walkways around the world, in partnership with national governments, city officials, schools, Commonwealth Games Associations and local communities.
“We are particularly delighted that this Commonwealth Walkway is in Banff. There has always been a spiritual significance to Indigenous People in this part of the Canadian Rocky Mountains and the Walkway now provides a special link that can be enjoyed by the family of friends from all of the Commonwealth’s Nations and Territories.”
The Walkway includes bilingual bronze plaques bearing Her Majesty’s personal Royal Cypher along the routes as well as a central panel at the southwest corner of Buffalo Street and Banff Avenue. The Walkway routes are made up of existing trails. A free app detailing routes and other information is available at www.banff.ca or www.banffcanmorecf.org.
“We have chosen to tell some stories along the walkways that are linked to past Royal visits and our local history. We also have stories that are little known and a few that were written or inspired by local high school students.”
The Banff Commonwealth Walkway has been a collaborative project with Lieutenant Governor Mitchell serving as leader and patron. The team includes representatives from the Banff-Canmore Community Foundation, the Town of Banff, Parks Canada, the Fairmont Banff Springs, Banff & Lake Louise Tourism and the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.