Hamlet of Bragg Creek
Long before the white settlers arrived in Bragg Creek, the region was a natural hunting ground of the nomadic native people, with the historic Stoney Indian Trail actually running through the heart of Bragg Creek. While many people ventured to this area, attracted by its beautiful wilderness, they often were overwhelmed by the isolation and hardship - squatting for awhile and moving on.
In 1894, government surveyors came upon Albert W. Bragg and his younger brother John Thomas, who were camping beside a creek. The surveyors decided to name the creek after the brothers. When both the post office and the settlement adopted the same name, the stage was set for Bragg Creek to become a commercial and cultural hub of the region.
During Word War I years and into the early1920s, Bragg Creek was transformed into a weekend retreat for Calgarians who came in search of raw beauty, natural solitude, the wilderness experience, and the plentiful fishing. Summer cabins sprung up along the Elbow River and the community remained operating that way for almost 40 years. Every summer cabin was given a unique name and would be referred to by that name, rather than using the owners' names.
The few permanent residents at the time were served by two general stores, a post office and a one-room school, with nearby timber operations and ranching providing the lion's share of employment opportunities in the area. As one local resident recalls, “People were drawn here by the fishing, the river, the wilderness and getting back to nature. Most of the old pictures depict settlers holding slings of fish caught in the Bragg Creek and Elbow River.” With rodeos, staged mock hold-ups, and community barbecues and dances - the area was turning into a classic Wild West outpost.
In 1957 Calgary Power brought electricity to the community, while the five miles of rough road through the Sarcee Nation Reserve were straightened and paved. With the following introduction of telephone and natural gas service into the area, the region became well-positioned to profit from the anticipated boom in population, services and urban amenities. With the commute from Calgary becoming easier and safer, more people were attracted to this idyllic rural community offering a more relaxed and convenient lifestyle.
The rare opportunity to immerse oneself in nature, the majestic allure of the Bragg Creek and Elbow River and the extraordinary lifestyle opportunities continue to intrigue and entice free-spirited individuals to Bragg Creek, whose extended range of amenities now includes trendy cafes, gourmet restaurants, fine giftware, jewelry and antique shops, designer and western clothing, art galleries, a trading post, seasonal fruit and vegetable stands, professional and health services, a veterinary hospital and clinic, community and seniors centres, bed-and-breakfast accommodation, gas stations, a local chamber of commerce, a Kindergarten to Grade 8 school, and interdenominational church service.
Today, this eclectic, colourful and vibrant hamlet attracts visitors from around the globe to mingle with local residents enjoying regular musical entertainment in the local saloon and lounge, conducting open-mike sessions at the cafes, taking in the annual artisans’ Christmas sale, checking out local theatre productions and concerts, and enjoying numerous sports activities.
Every July, the locals enthusiastically celebrate a weekend of Bragg Creek Days opening with an old-fashioned, country parade and street dancing, live music, food, games of chance, beer gardens and children’s activities - followed on Sunday mornings with residents and visitors honoring Bragg Creek’s pioneers and history through story-telling of the early beginnings on a guided walking tour along the famous Heritage Mile.
Today, as in days gone by, people continue to be drawn to this beautiful place we’ve been entrusted with - a place where one can truly live in balance with the natural beauty that envelops and becomes an intrinsic part of all of us. It is both a gift and a responsibility of the highest order.