Calgary Eats: MacKay’s Ice Cream In Cochrane

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MacKay’s Ice Cream
220 1st Street W, Cochrane, Alberta [map]

Every city needs a legendary ice cream shop. A place where the flavours run wild, the lineups are long and the trip always worth it.

In Vancouver, the favourite summer stop is La Casa Gelato, a gelateria featuring more than 200 dizzying flavours of handmade milky goodness. In Calgary, you need to hike a few kilometres west to get the creative flavours served at MacKay’s, an olde fashioned ice cream joint in Cochrane, Alberta.

The MacKays took over the Cochrane General Store in 1946. Two years later, to capitalize on daytrippers from Calgary, they started making ice cream. The crazy flavours arrived in the 70s, when a couple of the children got involved. Dill Pickle didn’t catch on, but the 80s inventions of Durian, Mango and Green Tea were hits.

2010-06-25 cochrane ice cream - 4When we stopped in this weekend, we selected Spanish Caramel (a rich dulce de leche-ish treat), Spotted Cow (a chocolate and vanilla swirl with chunks) and Beer For My Horse (which tastes like a brewery smells). There is twitter talk they will bring a Mini Donut flavoured special to The Calgary Stampede in a few weeks.

Living on the west side of Calgary makes it an easy 20 minute trip to get to Cochrane, even if you live in the deep south of the city, it’s still worth a pit stop on the way home from your weekend in the mountains.

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Calgary Daytrips: A Morning in K-Country

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When it comes to lacing up the shoes and heading for a bit of outdoorsy activities, people in Calgary make a bee line for K-Country.

Kananaskis Country is more than 4 200 square kilometers of foothills, mountains, lakes and rivers. More than 9 Provincial Parks are located in K Country giving outdoor enthusiast pristine access to a variety of activities. A 66-km long section of Highway 40 (this segment also called Kananaskis Trail) runs through the area enabling easy access.

Summer, winter, spring or fall, this is the place to ride, four wheel, run, hike, ski doo, ski, boat and more.

A mere 35 minute drive from our place on the west side of Calgary, we chose a couple of the easier more laid back picnic type spots to do some exploring. I mean Zacharie is 3 so a 1k hike around a water fall and a 30 minute bushwack looking for our first ever geocache are a perfect way to spend the morning.

Elbow Falls
20km west of Bragg Creek, this picnic area features dozens of picturesque picnic sites (some with firepits) along a smooth paved path along the Elbow River. An easy hike of a few hundred metres gives you many different views of the rushing Elbow Falls. We spent 40 minutes or so wandering and gandering.

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Allen Bill Pond
By the time we arrived, just before 9a, there were already half a dozen chairs spread around the pond with Fathers and daughters and sons tossing a line in looking for one of 3000 rainbow trout that are stocked in the pond each June. Without our gear, we decided to try for our first ever geocache and .. .. were successful!

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It was a great morning, we left the home before 7 and were back by just past 10.

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The Best Calgary Area Lakes And Beaches

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There are about a dozen lakes in and around Calgary – few of them, however, offer public access.

In the summer, when it gets hot and you want to break out to the beach, it means a road trip.

The lakes are locked up by community associations and members with “lake access priveleges.” It all started 40 years ago with Lake Bonavista, a man made lake with access restricted to members of the subdivision immediately surround it.

Then there was Midnapore, Lake Chapparal, Sundance Lake, Arbor Lake, McKenzie Lake, Auburn Bay … all beautiful gorgeous lakes with sandy beaches that have access for those who live in the area – or have friends that live in the area.

If you want to have a lake experience living in Calgary, you have very few choices. Sikome Lake (photo at top) is in Fish Creek Provincial Park – but it’s only up for a few months every year and even then it’s been closed some seasons. Why do 20 000 people flock there on weekends? Because it’s pretty much the only game in town when it comes to public access beaches.

View Calgary Lakes and Beaches in a larger map

Even checking Google to spot the spots of water in Calgary trying to find other places for Z to build sandcastles didnt work. After trying out Edworthy Park, Bowness Park, Glenmore Landing and others we came out with nothing but very rocky public access to the water. Even Sandy Beach is nothing more than a few metres of pebbly shore alongside the Elbow River.

No wonder on weekends so many campers make road trips to Sylvan Lake, The Kootenays or The Shuswap. It’s pretty much the only way to get your beach on in Calgary without a favour from a friend.

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Justin Bieber Doesn’t Suck

It’s true. Justin Bieber doesn’t suck.

Sure, he’s got an uber annoying pretty boy look on his face and he’s so obsessed with his hair he’s constantly walking into glass walls and revolving doors, but he doesn’t suck.

The kid has serious talent. He’s partnered up with credible musicians like Ludacris, Usher and Sean Kingston for his works and he can bang a guitar like nobody’s business.

Yet he is the poster boy for a backlash. It’s not because of him (well, maybe it’s because of his hair) – it’s because of his fans.

Anything little teen girls like is immediately dismissed as trite. Jonas Brothers. Miley Cyrus. Twilight. Hilary Duff. Britney Spears. Hanson. Backstreet Boys. ‘NSYNC. etc etc.

The instant and life involving obsession pre-teen girls are bound to attach to anything they are interested in becomes an instant lead weight against credibility. That’s why Miley Cyrus has to make out with backup dancers on stage – she wants to be a serious artist, but the millions of Hannah Montana posters won’t let her escape the past that launched her to the stage she currently dances on.

All of those teen stars have serious talent. But in order to get to the promise land they had to court the double edged sword of tween popularity. It’s like making a deal with the devil, you can have all the success of your dreams, but first you need to sell your (credible) soul.

But to say Justin Bieber sucks just because a few million girls like him isn’t fair. They can’t help themselves.

The news this weekend announcing a Justin Bieber in Calgary concert for September 20 at the Saddledome will fill the stories with images of tweens going mad for the boy. While that fan base may be the most rabid, they’re not the only ones who can tell you the kid is alright.

I’ll give you the forklift driver in Australia with the Bieber license plate is a little odd, but check out the faces in the crowd at our recent AMP Radio Bieber Fever party at Eau Claire in Calgary.

Our winner of a trip to Toronto for Bieber with her BFF was 22. Many of the faces in the crowd were well beyond the classic 9-13 year old tween crowd.

Justin Bieber is a pop star we can be proud of, Canada. (Well, except for the part where he thinks he’s from Atlanta and keeps referencing being from ‘America’ in overseas interviews)

Without fear I can stand up and admit it with a straight face: Justin Bieber doesn’t suck.

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