Gateway to the Rockies

On July 15, 1916 the Gateway to the Rocky Mountain Park was opened and the entrance was located at the present Kananaskis settlement, just to the east of Exshaw. This location was chosen for its proximity to water and its accessibility to the school, post office and general store in Exshaw, because the site where the road entered the park boundary further east offered no amenities.

The first and sole employee was Annie Staple and for her lifetime know a the gate-keeper, initially guarded the Gateway 24 hours a day, seven days a week for the summer only. At that time the gate consisted of a tent and a wooden table that sat under a tree. The tent was her home with her husband and their three children. She recorded all detail of the vehicle, persons name, their address, and charged them $ 1 for the Park Pass.

The timber archway that greeted motorists to the park (photo) was built the following summer in 1917, along with a small office to one side of the arch. The park’s permits were large rectangular license plates attached with wire to the front and back of a car. Annie removed the plates as each car left the park. She washed the plates in a nearby creek and reused them.

In 1930 the park boundaries were shifted eleven miles west removing Exshaw and Canmore from the National Park. The name was also changed to Banff National Park and the gate entrance was moved to it current location west of Canmore.

In the photo you will see “G” and “R” which stood for George Rex (King George V)


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