Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Traveling Cowboys: Freeing our Cowboy Spirits at Waterton National Park, Alberta, Canada

Free Your Spirit

You should know that we have a favorite little piece of heaven at the southern most tip of our Alberta Province. Waterton National Park and Village is where we hang out at the beginning of every summer. There is just so much to do, with so many great people to meet. It is the place where our spirit soars as we get ready for summer.

Episode 1

Episode 2


This year was no exception. We started with the Waterton Food Festival at the end of May. By the end of June, we were back to take in more of the sights and sounds of this great destination.

What to Do

Waterton's biggest attraction is what it offers hikers. There is a walk for any and all skill levels. It also provides the unique ability to hike the border between Canada and the USA. Remember to bring your passport for this unique experience. You will still have to be stamped in and out. It is a Peace Park, so better to keep it peaceful and keep your human footprint to a minimum by respecting the wildlife.

If you need any outdoor equipment, because the weather can change quickly and dramatically, then the Tamarack Store is the place to pick up what you need. It's been equipping hikers and trampers in the valley for more than forty years. Waterton Adventures, which operates from the Tamarack, offers day-trip and multi-day guided hikes to show you more of what the backcountry offers. If you are in a hurry, they offer a trail running experience.

Waterton's golf course is one for the bucket list. It is also one of Canada's oldest. Inspired by Stanley Thompson and constructed from 1929-1939, this 18-hole course will both challenge you and take your breath away. It is a public course that offers a range of amenities including club and cart rentals, a pro shop, a practice green and a licensed clubhouse. The 18 hole course is challenging, fun, and reminds you of why you started to play the game. Bring your windy game with you. There is bound to be a fresh breeze that will test your resolve, if not keep you cool on a hot day out.

Then there are the horses. It is Alberta, and you have to see a little bit of this great sky the way it was meant to be done, on horseback. Waterton is the start of the Alberta Cowboy Trail for us, and it begins at Alpine Stables. The Stables is a family operation established in Waterton since 1969. Dee and Lorna Barrus and their young family began with 25 to 30 good ranch horses and a desire to show visitors the splendors of the Alberta Rockies. Dee’s ranching savvy, her tracking and trapping experience, love of the wilderness, and his adventurous spirit combined to ensure a memorable ride, whether of one hour or five-day duration. This tradition is carried on by their capable and enthusiastic family, now into the third generation. Today Alpine Stables has fifty head of experienced mountain horses ready to accommodate both beginners and the most experienced riders.

Take home a special memory by enjoying a "two-nation vacation". Step aboard the historic M.V. International for a two-hour cruise. The boat is in its 90th year of operation and continues to be lovingly restored. It travels along the shoreline of beautiful Upper Waterton Lake and across the International border to Goat Haunt, Montana, several times a day. Shoreline Cruises operates the boat and provides this iconic cruise on one of the few remaining ships of its type, in the world.

There is so much that Waterton offers a visitor. It is a place that stays with you. In Waterton, people welcome you with open arms. The scenery is always breathtaking. The wildlife an experience. It is where we free our spirits and where we recommend you should do it too.

Hendrik van Wyk
Waterton Cowboy

We earn our livelihood from producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. We use Patreon to help us earn from our work. Please become a patron at if you want to be featured, or want to see more of this and other great stories.

Tamarack Outdoor Store

Waterton Outdoor Adventures

Waterton Shoreline Cruise Co - M.V. International


Window Seat



Window Seats

Red Rocks

Hiking Cowboy

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Two Cowboys: The Olds Institute is Helping to Facilitate a Flourishing Community by Being Proactive in Olds, Alberta

Owning Your Destiny

Proactive people are people that own their destiny. Instead of responding to their circumstances, they take action and influence it. They are responsible for the outcome and is able to adjust and change course and their approach to meet objectives. Succeeding is almost never a solo effort. Success is often dependent on the support one gets. It is obvious to assume that a high achieving community must, therefore, have a larger proportion of high achievers. And a group of high achievers that support each other.


Olds in Alberta is fast becoming a beacon of high achievement. Not, because of any particular windfall. It is not a mecca for natural resources, and its location is a little out of the way. You will drive past it on Highway 2 without knowing it is there. Yet, Olds is rising above the rest due to the foresight of four individuals that decided in 2001 to create "capacity" in the town. They dared to dream. Like all dreamers, they dared to ask, "What if?", and Olds Institute was born.

The Olds Institute is a non-profit community and economic development organization. So far it sounds very familiar to other government, or grant funded dark and useless money pits, that purports to be "for business" and "for people."

There is one substantial difference though. The Olds Institute is different in that it is owned by the community and driven by volunteers. It is not a grant-funded quasi-governmental front for influencing policy to benefit a few "shady" corporate-connected political power brokers. (An all too familiar scenario lately around the public services arena of Alberta). Instead, it is an organization for the people of the community, by the people of the town.

Did we hear it right? A pro-business community?

The Institute leverages the resources in the community by empowering volunteers to build a community with values for innovation and entrepreneurship. Olds residents have opted to pitch in and support the initiatives that enhance the community and improve their quality of life.

One such effort involves the launch of O-NET. As Canada’s first community-owned and operated Fibre-to-the-Premises network, O-NET brought together and delivered unique broadcasting, phone and Internet services to residential and business customers. It offers the fastest Internet speeds in the country, the latest high-definition television features, fully customizable telephone systems, mass storage and virtual private networks. Olds' people and businesses have capacity in technology that is the envy of many multi-national companies, and the community owns it and profits from it.

Another is Mountain View Power, which is a local energy retailing business belonging to the Olds Institute (the community), which provides electricity to homes and businesses located in the Central Alberta Mountain View County Region. Again, the profit from this is applied directly back into advancing the community. There are many other examples where the Institute helps to make a difference.

The Olds Institute was formed in 2001 by community leaders who realized they could achieve more together than they could apart. It is governed by a board of directors representing the four founding members and the community as a whole. The four founding members were the Olds and District Chamber of Commerce, Olds College,  Olds Regional Exhibition and the Town of Olds.

The Olds Institute has now expanded to include associate members: Mountain View County, Chinook’s Edge School Division and Red Deer Regional Catholic Schools.


We've asked a simple question when we first encountered the story of the Olds Institute. The question was, "Where have our institutions failed, that we need an organization like an Olds Institute? Why do we need yet another initiative to step in for the 'betterment' of the community?"

Joe Gustafson, one of the founding board members, cleared it up for us. For Olds, there was a need for stakeholders to find a way to work together so that a larger agenda can be broached. The larger plan is supporting the building of the community's capacity. No single entity was up to the task, and still, no one is. Not the Town Council. Not the Chamber of Commerce. Not the large organizations in town, like the Olds College and Regional Exhibition. There was a need to agree what was best for Olds overall and work together towards simple outcomes that are capacity (infrastructural) focussed.

Capacity is represented by skills, knowledge and the ability to find the tools to accomplish goals. The Institute, therefore, supports the sustainability and growth of the business community as a whole, making community development decisions in its favor, and recommendations based on the greater good of the community overall, while respecting the individual outcomes of the Essential Members of the Institute.

It is a simple matter of working together on shared goals so that everyone on Olds can benefit.

Hendrik van Wyk
Proactive Cowboy

We earn our livelihood from producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. We use Patreon to help us earn from our work. Please become a patron at if you want to see more of this and other stories.


New Beginnings

Olds People

Mountain View

For the Environment

Steakholder ;-)

Two Cowboys: Its About Our People. Who Are Yours?

Who Touched Your Life Today?

It is sad that we know more about people we are unlikely to ever meet than we do about the people that served us our morning coffee.

The tone for our days are set by television, newspapers and social media, by immoral and corrupt politicians, celebrities with paid-for-opinions, leaked emails, the next big tech gadget, the online meme, a cat video, the price of the US Dollar and Aunty Bessie's next inspirational Bible verse.

Apparently, if we follow conventional wisdom, we should be concerned about people who know zip about us and is unlikely to ever care who we are. The monkey is amused.

We suffer from a media-induced "connectedness fallacy" that is perpetuated by our constant fascination with "important" yet worthless content. Why should we be bothered with the politician's email server? How can it matter what Kardashian had for lunch or who is buying DiCaprio's dinner? Cousin Johnny just bought a new motorcycle. Big deal. The Government just introduced a new tax. Boohoo. Putin just took off his shirt. Really?!

We live in an artificially connected algorithmically personalized informational content box driven by classifications, polls, likes and comments from someone somewhere, everywhere. Our real lives are passing us by. Every day, many real people touch our lives. We go through our rituals, work and habits and interactions with human beings not knowing anything about them. Do we know who they are? What are their names? How did it happen that they crossed our path? How do they feel and what do they think about us?

Should we care?

Yes, we should. The real people we touch and those that touch us define who we are, where we are, how we act, feel and who we eventually become. It is easy to ignore a message, email or ping. No connection, right? It is not easy to ignore a person that steps through your door, shakes your hand and asks: "How are you doing today, my friend?"

These are the people that really matter. Let's go out and meet them. Let's introduce ourselves.

Life Stories

Every life is made up of many, many stories. A person begins as part of a parent’s story. It is soon eclipsed by stories of discovery, finding an identity, forming relations, dealing with disappointment, and ultimately discovering or losing their purpose. We are the sum of our stories.

Stories unfold from perspectives, intentionally or otherwise. Stories become the distorted shadows in Plato's reality cave, outlining the elusive and enigmatic, while perpetually weaving itself into our identity. This discovery alone distinguishes the few from the many. Knowing that a story is just that. A perspective. The reality is something much more elusive and a lot less interesting. This is the first step to higher understanding.

Others become part of our stories as we become part of theirs. Some are positive and others less so. A positive story may be the result of a smile from the person that passes. A negative story the upset because of a smiling passing stranger. While we are part of other’s stories, discovering that we can only influence our own, is considered by many as the second step to higher understanding.

No amount of positive intent can account for someone else’s perceived tragedy. We are held accountable only by what we choose to include in our own experience and thought. Because it is what we include that we will perceive and ultimately receive. It is what makes us, us. Intentionally writing one’s own life’s story is the third step to higher understanding.

The question that remains is: If we can only write our own story, why then do we default to doing so for others? What more have we to give one another than our limited version of the truth? It is our story about our human adventure as honestly and as openly as we know how, that we share. In sharing, we hope to be recognised to become part of the stories of others. In sharing our stories and that of others, we become intertwined. They become part of us, and we become part of them. This is the fourth and final step to higher understanding. We are connected.

Let it then be good stories we tell.

On the Road

The Two Cowboys' mission is to learn, inspire and showcase small Producers all over the world - the people that make things. We do it with videos, blog posts, photos and through social media.

While undertaking our journey we travel a lot and interact with many people in local communities. When we interact with someone or reach out to a person, they become part of our story. We influence each others' lives. The people we feature serve us our coffee, brew us our beer, sew our shirts, mould our hats, service our trucks, grill our steaks and much more. They are cashiers, servers, assistants, workers, donors, sponsors and entrepreneurs. These are people in who we are vested. We are connecting with them.

We believe that we have a duty to introduce them to you, our audience. We want the world to know who they are. We want you to know them, meet them, and support them.

We will post photos of them on our Facebook Page and Instagram Feed.
Follow our travels on Patreon:
Join us for an experience:

See you on the road.

Hendrik van Wyk
Connected Cowboy

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