Last weekend we went to the Okotoks car show and not only were we impressed with the show itself, but also by the downtown area of the town. So, we decided we needed to visit again, this time to take in the neighbourhood, rather than the cars.
We decided to go on Tuesday as this was the day that our apartment parking lot was being cleaned and so we had to remove our truck for the day. Normally, we use this opportunity to venture into the mountains, but sadly the wildfires are causing so much smoke that we didn’t think it would be worth the visit this time. So, instead, decided to visit Okotoks and nearby Black Diamond.
Okotoks (population just under 30,000) is about half an hour from Calgary and is what they call a bedroom community, meaning many people who live there commute into Calgary. The name comes from the Blackfoot First Nation word for rock which in turn comes from the Okotoks Erratic, a huge glacial rock which I will detail in another post.
The downtown area of the town is called Olde Towne and is along Elizabeth Street and the small streets running off it. There are a lot of eateries and a lot of small shops, so it makes for an interesting walk. You can park at the roadside for 2 hours for free, which makes a nice change.
We wandered up one side of the road then turned and walked back down the other, so we didn’t miss anything. This is exactly the type of place we love to explore as it had a lot of small independent shops that sold just about everything you could think of. This is one store which caught my eye, not because of what it sold, but the name! Rumpled Quilt Skins.
There are some nice stores which sold all sorts of old vintage and collectible items. Most didn’t allow photography in the store, so you have to take my word for it. We also went into the Okotoks Art Gallery which is free to enter but has a donation box at the entrance/exit. It is a very small gallery with two larger rooms with exhibits as well as a small gift shop.
Further down the street is a piano in the plaza which has a sign asking people to use and play. (but not after 10 pm). There are also some nice horse murals on a long wall.
When we were at the car show we bought some wonderful pies from a stall and the owner told us that they sell them in a shop called Shared Space, so of course, we had to take a look and buy another delicious pie. Sadly, the cafe didn’t have any left, although there were frozen ones available. The trouble was, we were not going straight home, so they would have been defrosted by the time we got home, so we had to leave without.
After spending a couple of hours in Okotoks we got back in the truck and drove to Black Diamond, stopping off at the Okotoks Erratic on the way.
Black Diamond is pretty small with a population of under 3,000. The main part of town, well the only part of town are two roads that intersect in the middle. There are a few shops that run a few hundred feet along each road.
But these shops are very interesting. Many sell antiques and collectibles and have some very unusual stuff to look at. We also found a really wonderful gallery called Blue Rock Gallery. It has some amazing pieces of art on display that you could buy. Some were cheaper pieces like small art pieces or jewellery, but others were large paintings, furniture or sculptures that cost thousands of dollars. It was one of the nicest galleries we have been in, well worth a visit. The photos below are not from the gallery!
After spending time looking around the town, we treated ourselves to an ice cream and then it was back in the truck to Turner Valley, just down the road where we planned to have dinner at the Chuck Wagon restaurant. We had heard very good things about this and it had also been recommended to us whilst we were in Okotoks, but when we found it, it was closed. So we headed back to Okotoks and ate at the Royal Duke, see separate post.
We had a wonderful day visiting these local towns and no doubt we will be back in the fture.