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Bragg Creek

Bragg Creek was the site of the first Youth Hostel in Canada and in North America.

A popular destination as a "Gateway to Kananaskis", the village is located 30 minutes from Calgary and is nestled in forested foothills on the front range of the Rocky Mountains.

Bragg Creek youth hostel named as a historically significant site on January 17, 2012, for the founding of the first youth hostel in North America.


Peter Kent, Canada's Minister of the Environment and the minister responsible for Parks Canada, announced the designation of Bragg Creek, Alberta among four new communities as historically significant places in Canada. 

"I am pleased that we are recognizing the special role these communities have played in Canada's history," said Kent. "These designations remind us how the story of Canada has a wide variety of characters and places, each interesting and critical to our development as a nation. I encourage all Canadians to learn more about these places and our country's history."

For additional information on the designation, visit: www.parkscanada.gc.ca  

The Bragg Creek Story

Opened on July 1st, 1933, the Canadian Youth Hostel at Bragg Creek, Alberta stands as the earliest such facility in North America. Offering an affordable place to stay for travelling young people, the hostel's success initiated the creation of a network of such facilities during the Great Depression and served as an example for the establishment of similar institutions in other regions of Canada. This institution reflected the energy and drive of Mary and Catherine Barclay, who were the pioneers in the youth hostelling movement in Canada. Finally, this founding camp represents the beginning of the Canadian Youth Hostel Association and Canadians' involvement in the international youth hostelling movement.

Inspired by western European camps dating to the years following the First World War, the Bragg Creek youth hostel encouraged young people to travel in rural areas, imbibing the glories of nature and engaging in the kinds of vigorous physical activities which, many contemporaries believed, would improve the nation's youth both morally and physically. Such facilities offered safe and inexpensive overnight accommodations to people in their teens and early 20s who were keen to explore Canada's natural wilderness.

The Barclay sisters were well positioned to introduce hostelling to Canada. Residents of Calgary, they had connections with the British hostelling movement and, working virtually alone, they initiated the hostelling movement in Canada with the Bragg Creek camp. This primitive pioneering facility - a canvass tent measuring 12 feet by 14 feet, and a horse and a Model T Ford for transportation - was expanded by the construction of a frame cabin the following season. The campsite itself survived only until 1936. Nonetheless, the idea of inexpensive rural camps for Canada's youth took hold during the Great Depression. The Canadian Youth Hostel Association was formed in 1934 and, inspired by the Bragg Creek example, hostels were established in various rural locales across the country, especially in the National Parks.

The nature of the hostelling experience has changed dramatically over time. Largely in response to Canada's centennial celebrations in 1967, hostels were increasingly established in urban locales and were opened to people of all ages. Yet the spirit of the hostelling movement remains largely as the Barclays defined it in 1934, "to enable youth to find wholesome companionship ... travelling inexpensively, and acquiring knowledge of their neighbour's land and customs..." Though the scope and nature of hostelling have changed somewhat from the Barclays' founding vision, our system of hostels rests on the visionary foundations embodied in the Bragg Creek Youth Hostel.

HI-Canada fonds at Glenbow Museum:

www.glenbow.org/collections/search/findingAids/archhtm/hostelling.cfm

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