Small Town Appeal
Marina Endicott mentions Nanton in her beautiful novel and Common Wealth Prize winner, Good to A Fault. Air Lingus and Etihad Airlines serve 4oz cuplets of Nanton Springwater on their flights. Yet, unless, you’ve been to Nanton, the connection to this small dot on the map is lost.
Nanton, Alberta is a small prairie town, anchored to the rolling foothills falling away from the stunning peaks of the snowcapped Rocky Mountains in the west. To the east, the patchwork of prairie fields quilting the landscape spreads outward like a picnic blanket.
Sitting squat amidst Hwy 2, running north and south, and dissected by Hwy 533 heading east and west, this rural town is a popular tourist destination. One of Nanton’s big draws is the Lancaster Society Museum. Most recently renamed the Bomber Command Museum of Canada and draws an interesting crowd from all over the world. It appeals to war veterans, children, scout groups, and aviation enthusiasts. The society formed in 1985 to restore the Avro Lancaster which had been on an outside display since 1960, and was one of only 17 surviving samples of the legendary bomber. The museum has welcomed many additions of military vehicles and houses an extensive collection of artifacts. https://www.bombercommandmuseum.ca/hours-admission/,
The second draw for Nanton is the antique market. Over the years several grand and eclectic selection of local and imported treasures have made Nanton a favorite destination for antique hunters. Aptly named the Antique and Art Walk, it’s possible to get lost among the brick-a-brack of a bygone era for hours at a time. Nanton also supports a thriving art scene, and all the flavors of childhood are for sale in the Candy Store with a vintage look. The candy is new. And the Nanton Grain Elevators are always on standby for a photo-op. https://www.nantongrainelevators.com/
Grain elevators were once a landmark on the vast prairie landscape but are slowly vanishing unless they are preserved by community efforts. At one time, elevators were the hub in a community and a meeting point to discuss politics, community, grain prices, sports, and undoubtedly the weather, which, on the never-ending prairie sky, is visible from miles away.
Nanton has done an impressive job of restoring and maintaining these fine specimens.
Nanton’s community is woven from a tightknit tapestry and many can trace their family ancestry back to its beginning in 1903 when it was formed into a village. Once, and still famous for its spring water, it was called Tap Town, and even today, it’s a prosperous farming and ranching community.
Heading west on Hwy 533, into the tunnel where gusts of wind are fabricated, the scenic highway gently curves around the bald foothills toward the Rockies that play peekaboo among the hills. Moose, deer, elk, prong horned antelopes can be seen among the ambling herds of cattle. Coyotes, bears, cougars stake out a living feeding on prey and completing the circle of life. The road leads to Chain Lakes and Hwy 22, which runs north and south, and is another snapshot mecca of idyllic scenery.
That corner of Southern Alberta is famous for its serene landscape, muted shades of pale blonds, subtle hues of mauve, and a hundred shades of green, that bleed like expertly drawn brushstrokes from a watercolorist’s palette. The blue canopy above is a living tribute to endlessness and cumulus clouds drift and cast shadows on the terrain below. It’s a connoisseur who can appreciate the often stark beauty, I should know, I once lived there among the wind.
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