Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Cedar early season update!

I arrived in Banff almost three weeks ago but I already feel like I’ve been here forever! After a late flight and a two-hour bus journey from Calgary, I rocked up to Cedar Chalet and luckily two of the boys were still awake to carry my bags up to my room – which was pretty sweet! 
Banff is one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. We are living on Otter Street which is about a five minute walk into town and really close to all the other Gap Year Canada houses. 

After arriving and spending a few days settling in and meeting each other, we started to become tourists in Banff. We went to a programme that made us Ambassadors for Banff and got us a tour of Lake Louise for $5 instead of $55. We drove up the Bow 

Valley Parkway, stopping at various points on the way to look at the view. Banff really is amazing! We have seen a few Elk and lots of deer, the deer especially like chilling in our garden. 

When we got to Lake Louise we could really notice the change in temperature and the lake looked really clear and the mountains were amazing. On Friday night we visited Mel’s, which is sort of a local for Sunshine Staff, cheap drinks and free popcorn so you can’t really go wrong. 

I started work last Friday as a liftie up at Sunshine Village. It was a pretty cold start and we have mainly just been training and getting to know how the lifts work. Although there is a bit of snow up on the hill, there still isn’t enough and they think that the opening date will be delayed for a week which is a shame as we can’t wait to get out there and ride. Saying that however, today we are getting snow in Banff town for the first time and they are expecting 15cm! 

So Thursday was Halloween in Banff. Coming from the UK, where Halloween is typically just dressing up as something scary on a night out, I couldn’t believe the effort people went to in their costumes and decorating their houses! My costume was just a Canadian hockey player, but I put the least amount of effort in and a selection of costumes in our house included Snoopy, Ghostbusters, Ke$ha, a pirate and Angry Birds. Cedar house had some drinks before making our way over to Wolfpack for pres. It was really good, lots of people and booze before we all made our way out at about 11pm. As we were unorganized, none of us had tickets and everywhere was really busy. A group of us went to a club called Auroa before decided it was too packed so took the party back to Cedar house! 

The rest of the time we have mostly been watching movies, chilling out and preparing for when we can get out on the hill. We have already met some amazing people from Gap Year, old Gap Year and others from all over the world. Banff really is an amazing place and I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to be spending the next year here! 

Written by Elle
Photos by Ed

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Winter 2013-2014 arrivals: Welcome to our 9th season in Banff

We look forward to welcome you to Banff, and Gap Year Canada's 9th season!

It is always so inspiring to watch how independent everyone becomes throughout the season.

Whether you are arriving for the season from Calgary, other parts of Canada, or further away in Europe, the UK, Australia or New Zealand...moving to a new town, starting a new job, moving to a new house is all a difficult step.  

For those from out of Canada we will assist you when you arrive with getting your SIN number set up, Alberta Healthcare, and Banking so you are ready for the first day of work with the correct paperwork.
Maps of town will be in all the houses, weekly events in town will be posted on the Facebook group site. We encourage your parents to follow the blog (great tabs down the side to webcams, local weather, or ideas if they are coming to visit), and "like" the Gap Year Canada facebook page as we will
strive to post photos throughout the season of the group at work, play and home as we know often times you can get too busy to keep them in the loop.

Canadians arriving obviously do not need a work visa, however please note you will need a police check to show your employer on your first day of work. This can be requested at your local police department.  It is worthwhile keeping a copy for your file, should you decide to stay on for the summer, a summer employer may request one.

Alberta Healthcare: if you are from out of Canada, you are eligible for Alberta Healthcare from the day you arrive in Canada, if you are from another province, you can apply after three months.  Although everyone requires travel insurance for your Working Holiday Visa, Alberta Healthcare will save you money out of pocket as it covers: Doctors and Hospital coverage if you are injured. You will need to use your own medical coverage for Ambulance, Dental, Prescriptions and Physiotherapy or other services if required.

Alberta Healthcare applications are in your chalet and the office in Banff will have a list of all Gap Year Canada applicants for other required documents we provide them to prove your residency in Alberta. Take your passport/visa and your application in person to register.

Social Insurance Numbers: SIN numbers are processed the same day at the Service Canada office in Canmore.  Bus schedule and details are posted in your chalet. You need to get to Canmore to have this set up prior to your first day of work

Banking:  Appointments have been set up at the Bank of Montreal (see the facebook w13-14 with the airport transfer schedule with your appointment time) If the appointment does not work (you need your account prior to your first day of work) please email to reschedule

For further predeparture information please consult the checklist for further information on packing, your postal address  etc.  As per the accommodation section, please remember to bring your own pillow, towel, and fitted sheet (single for single occupancy, and double fitted sheet for couples or single upgrade bookings)

Airport transfers:  Brewster Airport transfers (Expore the Rockies) or the Banff Airporter have been booked based on your arrival times. After collecting baggage proceed to the check in desk for transfer to your chalet in Banff. You will be emailed your shuttle details and should have your chalet address on that booking, although the driver should have your drop off location on file as well, ensure you are dropped off at the door of your chalet, as no doubt you will have some heavy luggage. Either your housemates, Noel, Nancy or our house manager will meet you at your house to give you keys, and show you around...depending on the arrival times and numbers arriving on the same shuttle.

More info to come in a group email regarding arrivals to Calgary airport, clearing immigration if you are on a working holiday visa, and what you should have in your file to make that process easy.

We promise our next posts to be much more interesting, but as parents we do know that your parents may be a bit concerned about some of the fine details. It doesn't matter if you are 18 or 38, they will worry that you arrive one piece, worry if you are sick, worry if you aren't sick but out on the town 7 nights a week, which could lead to worrying that you get don't up for work in the morning to get to work. So, make sure you keep them in the loop, or pass this information on so they can check out life in Banff via the blog or Gap Year Canada facebook page.

They are welcome to\ Skype "GapYearCanada", email (info@GapYearCanada) or call us directly on +403 763 7015 should they have any questions, concerns or emergencies come up.


Nancy & Noel

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Banff in a nutshell

Banff lifestyle is awesome. 

Living within a fifteen-minute walk of anything in town (big plus for the heavier evenings), and being surrounded by the typical Canadian scenery is not fully appreciated until you’re amongst it.

I was a late arrival and moved into Banff towards the end of November, living in the Wolfpack house with some thirteen other people. My first memories of the coming gap year began with drinking cider on a completely empty stomach and meeting a house full of British folk. Coming from Melbourne where a five minute hailstorm was considered snow, snow in Banff was nothing less than amazing.

My first impression after exploring outside is that it was…cold! Canadian winter is nothing like an Australian winter where the occasional 20*C would imply shorts and t-shirt weather. Since arriving I am still yet to experience a positive temperature. However the -20*C days are quickly adapted to, and the holiday heavily focuses on the skiing and snowboarding. 

Currently working at Sunshine Village as a lifty, I moved out here with the intention to learn snowboarding for the first time. After the notoriously boring SSV training videos, I was handed my staff pass (season pass for the mountain and also Lake Louise) and sent to work on the Goats Eye lift. Lifty life is arguably one of the best jobs on the mountain; two hour ride breaks each day, being outside, easy going job requirements and working with similarly minded people…Its hard to complain when your guaranteed fresh tracks on the big powder days. 

My first white Christmas is another experience that I will remember for a while. Spending my Christmas day snowboarding in bluebird weather after waking up to -31*C in Banff was a polar opposite to what we would see in Melbourne. The traditional turkey dinner was also enjoyed (thanks to Dan). After the Christmas rush came New Years celebrations. Whiskey, twister, house parties, good music and a street party in town with literally thousands of people resulted in me ushering in 2013 waking up on a couch in a giraffe onesie… It’s safe to say New Years Eve is one of bigger nights in Banff! 

In a nutshell, Banff is an amazing place to spend the winter and I couldn’t be happier spending my gap year here.