Posted by: James Shannon | January 25, 2012

Jasper: A Proper Introduction

Pyramid Mountain dominates the background as the Athabasca River wends its way through the Jasper area.

After ditching my previous reality, a life of jumping from one crappy job to another, I had finally had enough of the status quo that was no longer working in my life.  I decided to embrace my passions (in my case, travel and the outdoors) and reject selecting career paths based on money and the subsequent aqcuisition of stuff.  I felt that the money would come in amounts necessary to make my dreams and life goals a reality.  So far it has, and though I have bigger plans that will require a larger cash flow going forward in the future, I have faith that I will do whatever is necessary to bring my plans to complete fruition.

These dreams and ambitions brought me to the Rocky Mountain town of Jasper, 365 kilometres west of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, where I worked for three years as a tour guide for a boat operation on Maligne Lake, and as a food and beverage worker at the local ski area, Marmot Basin (not related directly to my newly chosen career path, but it allowed me to ski bum it up for “free”).  This photo essay is a brief introduction to the town itself … more will be forthcoming as I comb through the hundreds of photos that I have taken over the years of one of the coziest, authentic mountain towns I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing!

 View of the town of Jasper from the Pyramid Bench, with Mount Tekkara in the background.  The town of Jasper is town to approximately 4,500 permanent year-round residents … temp workers and tourists push that figure to 20,000 in the peak of the summer season!

 A line of railcars sits below an imposing wall of limestone that comprises the Colin Range, one of many front ranges made from the remains of ancient coral reefs and sea creatures, as a shallow tropical ocean occupied this area hundreds of millions of years ago.  In today’s Jasper, the trains, administered by Canadian National Railways, puts the bread and milk on the table for just over half of the town’s inhabitants, helping to keep the town’s economy humming even through the slow tourist season in the Fall and early Winter.

 One of the simple joys of living and working in Jasper is coming home from your job to a view like this … the Colin Range as viewed from Patricia Street South in Jasper.

Jasper the Bear, the town’s official mascot, stands in a pocket park behind the CIBC bank … Jasper the Bear was originally a cartoon character invented by a cartoonist for MacLean’s magazine, after which he was adopted by the town itself as a mascot.

Champ Sports Bar, in the basement of the Sawridge Hotel, bustles with the party-hearty and the wing-hungry on a Wednesday night in May.  The bar is swollen with the ranks of the newly arrived, seeking the Rocky Mountain Dream, yours truly included.  This place, with 35c wings, and always entertaining karaoke, is a fixture in Jasper’s nightlife scene, and is not to be missed!

My humble abode in Cavell Apartments, a massive building at the north end of town packed with tiny bachelor and 1 bedroom units, in a less-than-perfect state of repair.  It thus earns the nickname Cave Hell — the rooms resemble tiny caves, and some think of it as their personal Hell … the hallways can be likened to the tunnels in the movie 12 Monkeys … seriously creepy!

That’s not all about Jasper, as there’s still plenty more to come!  Trail reports, attraction summaries, and more looks around town over the coming weeks.  Also, as my memory card fills with pics from current travels in SE Asia, expect periodic posts on my current adventures as well!



  1. thanks for sharing that corner of the earth.
    it dose look like a calming cozy town 🙂

    • No problem, it truly is a slice of heaven, in spite of the challenges of living there (very high cost of living and fishbowl like social scene rank among them)

      • hahah well, everything comes with a price to pay 😉

  2. Hi, I have been able to get a job in Jasper this spring/summer season and will be staying at the Cavell Apartments (Staff Accomodations). From what I can find online it doesn’t seem like a nice place to stay (especially for a few months at least). Was it decent at least? I have read that the entire place has been sprayed for bed bugs. Any idea where else I can check for a place to stay? Thanks, Antonio.

    • Hey Antonio,

      Haven’t been around Cavell in over a year, but yes, it has been sprayed for bugs before. People from all over the world stay there, and they sometimes bring creepy crawlies in on their rucksacks! I managed to avoid the bugs, and my apt was clean enough (most are, but that can depend on the leaseholder). There’s a excellent chance things will work out just fine for you, but in case they don’t, there are other apt buildings or rooms for rent in town. Vacancy rates are very tight, but if you network with people and act fast when you stumble upon an opportunity, you should be able to find a place that’s more your speed.

      Good luck with your accommodation situation Antonio; besides, you’ll likely be spending most of your time outside anyway, Jasper is effin’ amazing! 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: