There’s No Reason to be Here, Except to be Here

Words by Dalene Heck / Photography by Pete Heck

He stated it so emphatically, as he did during his entire evening of story-telling, expressing himself through the rhythm of voice, the gesture of hands, and even with the odd kick of his heel when he was really excited. As a widely celebrated Canadian story-teller, Stuart McLean lit up the packed room of eager listeners, his voice would rise over increasing speckles of laughter as each story reached its fevered pitch.“There is no reason to be here, except to be here.”

Stuart was talking about his time in Jasper. It wasn’t his first time in the small mountain town, as it wasn’t ours, but he waxed such poetic lyrics about its magic that I chose instead to steal his words for the title of this article because, well, they were so apt. (And he’s an award-winning storyteller. I, on the other hand, have written drivel such as this.)

“There is no reason to be here, except to be here”

It felt like a homecoming for both Pete and me, even though we haven’t been to this region of the Canadian Rockies for quite some time. And never before had we been there under the white mask of winter. Never had we enjoyed such bluebird skies*, skating across a lake (not a pond!) that was ringed with mountains*.

(*Descriptive phrases also “borrowed” from Stuart.)

His voice would rise over increasing speckles of laughter as each story reached its fevered pitch.



But it still immediately felt like home. The warmth of the rural Albertans (I grew up just a few hours due north of there) shone through during our first excursion in celebration of the Jasper in January festival – an intensive chill cook-off. This is one of the biggest events of the year – residents packed themselves into a small hall, squaring off to be judged on their cups of warm meat and spice, but all in good spirit and fun. It carried over to the next evening’s festivities when a street party ensued, offering a taste of hockey, s’mores, maple syrup candy, a fireworks show to surely alarm all the neighbouring wildlife, and more.


My Jasper Juggling

My Jasper Fireworks

A solitary ski hill sits just outside of town, and on a slower Monday we had the hills of Marmot Basin almost all to ourselves, winding down the wide open spaces with a view to rugged mountain peaks at every point. The ski hill felt much like the town – inviting, unpretentious – with well-balanced runs that allowed us extreme beginners to still enjoy every lift and safely find our way down. (And no one laughed – at least not outwardly – at that portion which I consciously did without my skis.)

My Jasper Pete Skiing Marmot Basin

Alberta is an industrious province, and attracts droves of people to live and earn good wages. There are few spots where people can go to just be. To revel in the beauty it has to offer, to unwind and forget about industry, to play in winter like winter is meant to be played in. For a long weekend we were privileged to discover and enjoy that Jasper is one of those rare places.

There is no reason to be in Jasper except (for the skiing, warm people, great Jasper restaurants, skating, mountain scenery) to be in Jasper.

My Jasper Dalene And Pete

Where We Stayed

Jasper-Park-LodgeStaying at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is an experience onto itself. It’s a resort spread out over 700 acres, so visitors are never far from the nature they are there to celebrate. Their services are top-notch: we pulled up to reception and were greeted with a gourmet hot chocolate station, there is pond skating in winter and water sports in summer. There are ample food choices on site and the rooms are extremely cozy and comfortable. It is *thee* place to stay in Jasper, for very good reason.

Road tripping to the festival? Click through to read how to get from Edmonton to Jasper.

Many thanks to Tourism Jasper for their assistance during our stay. As always, all opinions are our own.

17 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • February 24 2014

    One more reason I want to go back – dog sledding. I should have done it, would have been beautiful.
    Ayngelina recently posted..How would you spend $20,000 on holiday?

  • February 24 2014

    Love it.

    I was there too at that time. Glad you got some awesome photos!

  • February 25 2014

    I’m so bummed we missed the chili cookoff – it looked like a blast!

  • Kadri
    February 25 2014

    Your super stunning photos, makes me miss winter so much. Here in Estonia we barely had a snow, I even didn’t have change to go skiing. What a shame. 🙁

    • February 28 2014

      I think Canada got your share of snow this year. There is so much! 🙂

  • February 25 2014

    I loved that local vibe. Reminded me of my mom’s tiny mountain town in Colorado where people go to get away from ‘the rest’ and just ‘be.’
    Lisa | LLworldtour recently posted..Kuala Lumpur Cuisine: Global or Local?

    • February 28 2014

      Funny that you should say it is similar to Colorado…I took one of those “where would you live” quizzes and it said Colorado! If I loved Jasper, then I’m sure I would love it there too.

  • February 25 2014

    Hahaaa the Chili Wars shot is awesome. I’ve got a craving for the Fairmont’s chili recipe now, yumm. Also, I kind of wish I had caught the Stuart McLean show now–he sounds like a smart guy.
    Seattle Dredge recently posted..Thai Cooking Class in Chiang Mai

    • February 28 2014

      Stuart has such an incredibly devout fan base, and now I think I am one of his super-fans!

  • February 25 2014

    I am a very new convert to winter travel. We traveled to Madison Wisconsin in January where we snowshoed and ice skated on a pond (my very first time). Winter travel is fun! I love and agree with your comment that winter is to be played in.

    • February 28 2014

      We spent part of last winter in Wisconsin – that was a magical time too! Glad you enjoyed it!

  • Jo
    February 26 2014

    I put my coat on just to read this – I’m really not a winter person, but this post might just have me convinced…and the hot chocolate station could be the thing to seal the deal. Amazing pics, amazing trip. Jasper’s just made it onto my “must-visit” list!

  • February 27 2014

    Your captures want me to be there for a reason, because it all seems like a fairyland to me!! Your Jasper posts have enthralled me and its a very beautiful place indeed!

    PS – Hey Pete and Dalene, I am hosting a contest on my blog, would be glad if you could take part 🙂
    Arti recently posted..‘My Most Memorable Memento’ Contest!

  • February 27 2014

    Looks like fun, awesome sauce!

  • What a great trip! I had never heard of Jasper until reading your posts.
    Mike-The Fighting Couple recently posted..How to Speak Australian

  • I think you might have me sold on Jasper being my winter trip next year.

  • Jasper seems amazing. I love all of the photos, especially the one on the lift with the shadows. Everything looks fabulous. Thanks for sharing.

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