Kananaskis’ best-kept secret? Bragg Creek, Alberta. This charming hamlet is filled with world-class dining and shopping experiences and is the perfect place to kick-off, or wind down your Rocky Mountain adventure. Our award-winning trail system backs onto downtown making it a must-visit for hikers, bikers, and skiers. Nestled in the foothills of the Rockies, Bragg Creek is a beloved Alberta treasure that is just a short drive west of Calgary.
Situated in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, this charming hamlet is steeped in tradition and history. Just a 30-minute drive from Calgary, close to the junctions of Highways 8 and 22, it’s a community of outdoor enthusiasts, artists, ranchers, and local businesses. This eclectic mix of residents coexist in harmony with nature and are proud to call Bragg Creek home.
The area has something to offer for everyone and is frequented by many visitors including hikers, bikers, skiers, and those looking for unique shopping and dining experiences. The charming downtown comprised of old-log buildings, boutique artisan shops, friendly locals, and plenty of greenspaces evokes feelings of a slower time. Seeing the occasional horse hitched up outside a local restaurant or stumbling upon a music or arts event are common occurrences. The small-town charm of Bragg Creek has visitors coming back again and again.
Bragg Creek is named after Albert Warren Bragg from Collingwood, Nova Scotia, and his 13-year-old brother John Thomas Bragg who came to the area with dreams of becoming cowboys and living the ranching lifestyle. They received a grant from Dominion Land Corporation on September 17, 1894, for land about 35 miles west of Calgary. However, the brothers didn’t begin preparations for their homestead until the fall of 1897. They built their small cabin beside a tiny creek that ran through the northeast corner of their quarter section. It’s this creek that became Bragg Creek in their honour. Fire had stripped the land of trees, leaving verdant open land particularly suited to ranching. However, very few of the settlers remained for long; it was a beautiful and unspoiled area but isolation made life difficult, particularly through the winter months. By spring, the boys decided that the land in the foothills was not suited to the type of ranching operation they wanted. Warren applied for and was granted a homestead in Gleichen, east of Calgary, and John returned home to Nova Scotia.
For the pioneers who remained, trade with the Nakoda First Nation (also known as the Stoney Tribe) was an important part of life. Beaded clothing and furs were exchanged at the Trading Post. In fact, the Bragg Creek Trading Post on White Avenue is on the exact same footprint as it was when built-in 1927. The structure is the original building other than the porch and some lower logs due to the flood of 2013.
From the 1920s onward the Bragg Creek area became increasingly popular as a weekend and retirement destination, and the first Youth Hostel in North America was established in Bragg Creek at the junction of the Elbow River and the Bragg Creek in 1933. Initially, a simple tent was pitched on Ida May White’s property by Mary and Catherine Barclay. Then a permanent structure was built in 1936 on Thomas Fullerton’s nearby property. The building was later moved and sadly burned down in 1984.