Dieter Kuhn: A Canmore Original
I first met Dieter when he walked into our RE/MAX Alpine Real Estate office on Main Street in the summer of 2015.
Dieter’s house had just blown up and Dieter was looking for a place to rent.
The explosion that registered a 1.1 on the closest Richter scale approximately 80 kilometres south of Calgary, occurred in June 2015 in Canmore during the expansion project of the Bow River Seniors Home when a sub-contractor worker hit an ATCO gas line. Dieter’s house was completely demolished and a dozen others in the neighbourhood were affected. And it was really just good luck that Dieter was safe in his car on the way back home from Calgary.
Dieter came to Canmore in 1975.
Originally from Trier, a small historical city in the mid-west of Germany, he had been a chef in Switzerland and together with his German fiancé had the idea to come to Canada for a year to travel the country and then return. He never went back.
Dieter remembers how things were different then: Canmore was still a small coal mining and railroad town with less than two thousand people. There was hardly any development north of the Highway. The “Three Sisters” and “Peaks of Grassi” development did not exist. The townhall was a small modular building south of the Bow.
The hospital was close by up the hill, thus the neighborhood name “Hospital Hill”.
The only two grocery stores were “Marras” and “Mountain View”, both on Main Street
and both family-owned businesses. There were no retail chains in Canmore. At that time the coal mines were still in operation.
Dieter had a horse, and he remembers how he used to ride from the stable to his home and back, down Main Street and past the Canmore Hotel. Cars were not an issue.
In 1978 Dieter bought the Shell Station in town (today the Pocaterra Inn Best Western Hotel on Mountain Avenue) and opened the “Chuck Wagon Restaurant” at the same site. He sold them again in 1980.
The last coal mine in Canmore ceased operations in 1979, after more than 80 years of mining in the area. The Canmore coal mines played a significant role in the town’s early history and helped to shape the local economy and community. The closure of the mines had a profound impact on the town, leading to the loss of jobs and the need to diversify the local economy. In response, the town of Canmore began to focus on tourism as a way to generate economic growth and create new opportunities for local
While the closure of the last coal mine in Canmore was a significant event in the town’s history, it also marked the beginning of a new era, one focused on sustainability, environmental stewardship, and economic diversification.
With tourists and hotels in mind, Dieter opened up the “Bow Valley Bakery” in 1981 and soon provided the whole Bow Valley with German bread and “broetchen” (German rolls). In 1985 Dieter opened “The Peppermill” which soon became the “go-to” restaurant for locals in Canmore.
In 1988 Canmore hosted several events for the Winter Olympics that were held in nearby Calgary. The Nordic events (Nordic Combined, Biathlon, Cross Country) were held at the Canmore Nordic Centre, which was built specifically for the Olympics.
By that time “The Peppermill” was a name in Canmore and many of the big brand ski equipment companies booked tables and invited the Olympic winners to dinner to celebrate and negotiate sponsoring contracts. That’s how Dieter got to know a lot of the major players in the business from all over the world, but especially from German speaking countries. Over the coming years, Dieter intensified these contacts with various national teams through volunteering at numerous world cup events that were
held in Canmore.
The Olympics brought Canmore on the map and were the economic break-through.
During the following years the town saw huge changes. Canmore grew in size. The Nordic Center remained the headquarters for Canadian Cross Country and Biathlon.
Through his two boys, Stefan and Thomas, both born in Canada, Dieter himself started to get involved in cross country skiing and finally became the coach of Canmore’s training center for the west Canada cross country B-team. And in February of 2010 when the Winter Olympics were held in Vancouver, Dieter was there to support his son Stefan who represented Canada in cross country. The games featured over 2,500
athletes from 82 countries competing in 15 winter sports.
Dieter enjoyed raising his two sons in the Bow Valley. He is particularly fond of the trips they made to Jasper and back. On such a trip they would see between 100-200 animals on a regular base. “Now…” he says “…I am seeing a lot less”. Canmore today has around 16,000 people. Canmore, Banff and the Lake Louise area attract millions of tourists every year.
Balancing development and nature is an ongoing challenge in Canmore with its diverse wildlife and natural ecosystems. Recent growth and development have put pressure on the town’s natural resources and created tensions between development and conservation interests.
Nowadays Dieter is still active and enjoys outdoor activities in his wonderful backyard.
In winter you can meet him skiing at the Nordic Center or on a backcountry tour in the nearby Rocky Mountains. Or you might see him running the trails only in his shorts. In summer he will be kayaking, biking, or hiking the amazing trails in our beautiful part of the world.
Dieter lives the real Canmore spirit. He is a steward of a sporty, active, and healthy lifestyle. He is also a happy Granddad now and he might talk you into touring with him in his “Canadian Rockies” backyard which will be the thrill of a lifetime! So don’t miss it!