Travel Back to 1882- Yeehaw!

Exploring One of Alberta’s Oldest Ranches

One of the things I enjoy most is traveling and gaining inspiration from unique cultures and ways of life, particularly those that are very different from my own. So much so, I often overlook the heritage of my own hometown and find myself taking it for granted. I mean I would definitely say that for the most part, I have embraced my Calgary roots with my unapologetic country style, but traveling to other countries has slowly made me realize just how little I really know about my own culture and how it came to be. As a result, I am making an effort to explore Calgary and Alberta more, searching for hidden gems and being a tourist in my own culture.

One of my favorite places in Alberta, which started it all is the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site. My family and I just recently took a trip down memory lane and visited the ranch for my dad’s birthday. Here is a little snippet of our adventure!

First and foremost, story time!

Located, deep within a pocket of the rolling foothills, lies one of Alberta’s best-kept secrets, the Bar U Ranch National Historic Site. It was established in 1882, and home to many notable figures in Alberta and Canada’s history, such as George Lane who was one of the big four that established the Calgary Stampede, John Ware a freed American slave who settled in Alberta as a working cowboy, Fred Stimson and the famous Canadian rancher Patrick Burns. The ranch was also visited by some iconic figures in history including Edward, Prince of Wales, the famous oil painter Charlie Russell who created a series of paintings around the Bar U and Guy Weadick who we can thank for persuading the owners of the ranch at the time to fund the first ever Calgary Stampede – Wooohoo!

The ranch was one of the first corporate ranches and predominately known for its large-scale cattle operations, which were at the time extremely modernized. As a result, they proudly fed the workers on the transcontinental railway, immigrants new to the land, `Canadian soldiers during two wars and it sustained our nation throughout the Great Depression. They were also known for their prize stock of 1,000 purebred Percherons, which helped to build our cities and transport goods across the continent. The Bar U was a keystone to the advancement of both Alberta and Canada as a whole, without it who knows where the heck we’d be today!

Learn to be a cowboy, or not!

If you are looking to take a mini road trip somewhere to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy a relaxing afternoon, the Bar U is a fantastic option.

This place is very near and dear to my heart and it holds some of my fondest childhood memories, as my Dad and I spent copious amounts of time horseback riding throughout the land and exploring the crevices of all the famous old red heritage buildings. If the whole western charade isn’t your thing, there is more fun to be had than just learning the cowboy way. First of all, the views are spectacular; as it is located in the valley with a magnificent backdrop of the rocky mountains- so you can’t forget your camera!

The property itself consists of 366 acres of picturesque landscape poised as a working ranch, with 35 historical structures that give you a hands on experience, transporting you back to a time in history.

One of my favorite places to explore, that never gets old (see what I did there!) is the old post office and RCMP headquarters. This houses the media and newspaper department, along with original Woodward’s and Eaton magazines dating back to the 1800’s – aka fashion magazines, surprise! A little further down the road is another favorite of mine, the old cookhouse. They have a beautiful garden in the back and a Parks Canada employee is usually in the kitchen, dressed the part of course, serving up old-fashioned delicacies, such as apple cake or molasses cookies!

If you do decide to venture down to the Bar U one sunny Fall afternoon, which I highly suggest you do, be sure to check out their café + coffee shop. I often do not find coffee here in North America that my picky taste buds enjoy, but their cowboy-roasted coffee is comparable to a café au lait in Paris – ohhh ya!

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XOXO Kristy

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Inge de Jonge: Fashion Reinvented

Arriving in Nimes was an adventure to say the least. To give a little perspective, Nimes is a small city located in the south of France, in the region of Provence, known for its rich Roman heritage, laid back ambiance and quaint stone streets filled with authentic French delicacies – a French lovers dream come true. However, due to our lack of knowledge of the French language, communicating with really anyone became more of a challenge than I had ever experienced. So when we met Inge, a fashion designer that was fluent in, Dutch, French AND English I not only fell in love with her beautiful designs, but I was also so relived to finally be able to communicate successfully with someone!

We met Inge at a night market that is held every Thursday in the streets of Nimes, beside the Maison Carrée. The market consisted of local artisans from around the South of France selling jewelry, clothing and other handmade gems unique to the area – so naturally I had my eyes peeled for local fashion.

Inge de Jonge

“Inge de Jong” is a French clothing brand created by Inge herself, that focuses primarily on women’s apparel, and also on kids + mens fashion, along with jewelry and home décor. She began her journey in the fashion world by studying textiles + sewing at the School of Fine Arts in Rotterdam. She then worked as a model for many years, winning numerous awards for her creative fashion designs, which later inspired her to create a collection under her own name. She now operates a successful boutique, atelier and workshop in the south of France.

“A story of the love of yesterday’s garment re-imagined for today.”

Inge has a passion for reusing + recycling as she aims to give a “second life to beautiful materials that would otherwise be wasted, discarded or forgotten” – She calls her garments “Messages d’Armour.” Her collections are all produced locally and handmade from unique European fabrics with lace and pearls from old milliners that are all primarily recycled or reclaimed. The narrative around her brand is a direct reflection of her frustration with consumerism and belief that “today’s market favors mass production that is executed in a crude manner and limits the traditional quality and conventions of pret-a-porter.” As a result, she manufactures her designs in a much simpler way, collaborating with local seamstresses, which allows her to pay extreme attention to all the details of her designs, while working closely with her clients to produce personalized pieces that celebrate the quality and history of the material.

What first drew me to Inge’s stand were all of the brightly colored, vintage patterns and the eclectic feel of the clothing, + jewelry hanging on display. Inge creates her collections to reflect her personal style, consisting of bohemian and romantic silhouettes that are made of “fluid fabrics that evoke elegance and well-being.” Her ready-to-wear line is meant to bring confidence and beauty to her client’s wardrobes, as she curates fabrics that are transferable to both summer and winter.

The most unique aspect of her line is not only that it is fashionable and chic everyday wear, but that each piece is “painted with memories of old” that tells a narrative. As I picked up some of the pieces that caught my eye, Inge had a story to tell about each one of them, usually mentioning where she got the fabric and the era it came from. I adored how each piece was a part of history that was now reworked into something beautiful and different from other ready-to-wear designers.

Choosing what to purchase was so hard, as there were so many options and pieces I loved to choose from. I ended up purchasing a beautiful pink lace bracelet and a pendulum white cotton tee with 3/4 sleeves and lace fringe, from her 2015 spring/summer collection.

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Check out Inge’s full Spring/Summer liner here and stay up-to-date on her current collections and fashion shows by signing up for her newsletter!

xoxo Kristy