Alberta, Canada is a well known province for its wide open spaces, rolling fields and ranch country. What you might have missed is a hidden gem located on Alberta Provincial Highway No. 22 just 15 km south of Black Diamond and 18 km south of Turner Valley. This valley, referred to as Turner Valley, is located south of Calgary and west of High River. Framed by Canadian’s Rocky Mountains to the west and foothills showcasing breathtaking ranching country, it is one of the most stunning places in the province.
Commonly referred to as the historical “Cowboy Trail”, the area has hosted filming of many movies: Unforgiven, starring Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman and Morgan Freeman, Longmire became the fictional town of Big Whiskey and claimed four Academy Awards. Other movie productions were Open Range, with Kevin Costner and Robert Duvall, Heartland, a TV series, Interstellar (starring Matthew McConaughey and Anne Hathaway), Monte Walsh (Tom Seleck), The Virginian (Bill Pullman and Diane Lane), Brokeback Mountain, A River Runs Thru It, Legends of the Fall (Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins), Little Big Men (Dustin Hoffman, Faye Dunaway) and many more.
Nestled 2 minutes away from Longview is Willow Hill Lodge, a superb bed and breakfast on 67 acres with 180 degrees unobstructed mountain and foothill views. Winner of the 2023 (edmonton magazine award) this is the perfect place to get away and forget about it all, plan a family event, wedding or retreat. My cousin, Cathy and her husband James had a vision and built the inn, and we came for a visit, blown away by the beauty, hospitality and peacefulness. See their amazing place at website www.willowhilllodge.ca or social: Facebook: willowhilllodge, Instagram: @willow_hill_lodge. Avenue Calgary voted Willow Hill Lodge as best wedding venue 2023.
Turner Valley was named after John Turner who settle in the area in the late 1800s. The valley was the largest producer in the British Empire for oil and gas for over 30 years. Diamond Valley, adjacent to Turner Valley is equally amazing.
Longview was named after the Thomas and Oliver Long, who homesteaded a property they called Big Hill, not far from the village. Their last name combined with the view from the post office, is how the village was named. In 1936 when Turner Valley’s oilfields were revived, Longview was nicknamed Little New York. Nearby a sister town from Longview, was nicknamed Little Chicago. In 1936 only a empty prairie field existed – these two towns sprung up literally overnight. This was the time of the depression, and with the discovery of oil in the area, people flocked to the area for work and the two towns were born. Today, Little Chicago is gone and only a monument north of the village on Cowboy Trail exists. Little New York was more fortunate and became the village of Longview. Today, people travel from all miles to dine at the Longview Steakhouse or stay in the haunted hotel, Twin Cities Hotel & Saloon.
The historical Cowboy Trail (Hwy 22) is 700 km extending from Cardston to Mayerthorpe a 7 hour drive will take you will take you past farms and ranchland, western-themed attractions, stores and even a few historic sites. See their website here for a host of activities. The name was established by Chuck Lee and Rob Miller of the Southwest Alberta Business Development Association in Pincher Creek in hopes that the area would be better well-known.