Alberta’s David Thomson Explorer’s Trail – Alberta, Canada

Artwork by Lily Goldman

Alberta’s David Thomson Explorer’s Trail and the Aurum Lodge
Alberta, Canada

When someone mentions Alberta, Canada, I automatically think of Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper. I am not going to argue with you that the above three are not gorgeous; however, if you are looking for Alberta’s best kept secret, take a drive along the David Thompson Explorer’s Trail (Highway 11 on maps). You won’t be sorry, particularly if you are searching for that perfect and peaceful romantic venue.

Who was David Thompson anyway? He just happens to be one of Canada’s most important geographers, and it was he, who between the years 1806-08 traveled up the North Saskatchewan River and discovered the Athabasca Pass through the Continental Divide.

After experiencing the spectacular drive, we understood how appropriate it was to name the highway after this great Canadian. Incidentally, the route extends from Stettler to the Saskatchewan River Crossing at the junction of highway 93, within the boundaries of the Banff National Park.

Aurum Lodge Lake Abraham

Aurum Lodge Lake Abraham

The most electrifying part of the drive for my wife and I was the one and a half hours from the town of Rocky Mountain House to our destination, the Aurum Lodge. The sheer beauty and mystery of Crescent Falls, Bighorn Canyon, Abraham Lake and the surrounding dense forests was comparable to the reading of a brilliant piece of poetry. Our spirits were lifted to heights we could never have imagined!

If you have the time be sure to check out The Rocky Mountain Historic Site Of Canada.

A unique Alberta, Canada in nature and wilderness
The signature scene, and one I can still clearly visualize, is when we approached the Aurum Lodge nestled along Highway 11 overlooking the stunning beauty of Abraham Lake. As an artist, my wife could not help herself from uttering every adjective in her English and French vocabularies in describing these majestic views! Adding to our excitement was that we were checking into a lodge whose location and surroundings possessed the perfect ingredients to enhance the aura of romance. From the moment we walked into the lodge and settled into our spacious room, my wife and I were swept away with the matchless view of the turquoise color of Abraham Lake and the mountain surroundings of Mount Stelfox, Elliot Peak, and Mt. Michener.

Swiss born innkeepers Alan and Madeleine Ernst first made their way to Canada from Singapore in 1989, after having traveled and worked in over 40 countries. In 1999 they decided to make their home in Alberta in a location that is a half hour drive away from the nearest hamlet, Nordegg and adjacent to Banff National Park. In 2000, their doors were opened to welcome the lodge’s first guests.

What is most unique and desirable about the all-season Aurum Lodge is that it is located in nature and wilderness that is readily accessible, as well as being rich in history and native culture. The principal philosophy of its owners is that their actions are driven by environmental acceptability as much as profitability. As a result, they have taken into consideration the impact of the lodge on its surroundings, aesthetics, material choice, waste reduction, efficient lay-out, sound control, heat retention, climate control, passive solar, energy use, electricity production, pollution, waste management, transportation, and water supply and management. Alan, a former Swiss banker and somewhat of an architect and engineer, did an amazing amount of research, and it was he who designed this eco-sensitive lodge.

Are the rooms romantic? You bet they are, when you consider their privacy, spaciousness, brightness, comfort, ambience – and yes, there is even a room with a jacuzzi for that special occasion. For comfort, all of the lodge’s scrupulously cozy clean six rooms come with orthopedic health mattresses, down duvets and pillows (synthetic bedding is available on request), private baths with tub/shower.

There are also two housekeeping cottages as well as a two-bedroom apartment that comes complete with fridge/freezer, stove, microwave, and bathroom with shower. These units are separate from the lodge and have no access to the facilities of the lodge (e.g. common areas or meals and no maid service).

Aurum Lodge Siffleur Trail

Aurum Lodge Siffleur Trail

We could not help but feel the spirit of the Rockies carrying through all of the rooms as well as the lodge’s surroundings. By the way, if you are wondering what the name Aurum means, Alan reminded me that it is the Latin term for gold. The owners of the lodge firmly believe that there are values in life, which cannot be measured in monetary terms but are equally precious. One of the nicest compliments the owners received was from a middle-aged couple who came here to unwind and left with the comment that their stay had been special because it was the first time in years, they had a chance to sit, relax and talk, without being disturbed by phones, kids, friends or TV. That just about sums up what the Aurum Lodge is all about!

Any doubts we may have had pertaining to breakfast or the evening “table d’h�te” were quickly dispelled when we devoured every morsel of Madeleine’s deliciously prepared meals. Both were hearty, tasty and wholesome. In addition, the hosts were generous in offering at dinner complimentary wine and beer – something not too common among inns of a similar nature. Breakfast is included with the lodge rooms only, and dinner is available by advance notice for guests in the lodge. The dining ritual included meeting with guests from all corners of the globe resulting in some very animated discussions – one more reason why our stay was so delightful.

Undeniably the Aurum Lodge is a golden nugget find!

Aurum Lodge
Box 76, Nordegg, AB, T0M 2H0, Canada
Telephone: 1-403-721 2117
Fax: 1-403-7212118

The lodge is located in close proximity to: Banff National Park Boundary and Mistaya Canyon, Kootenay Plains Ecological Reserve, native sites and pioneer cabins, Bighorn Dam and visitor information centre, Nordegg historic town-site, mine tours and an historic golf course, Crescent Falls on Bighorn River, numerous trailheads, Jasper National Park Boundary, Columbia Icefield, Bow Summit and Peyto Lake in Banff National Park, Ram River Falls and sites along forestry trunk roads.