Peace Valley Guest Ranch

The Peace Country is beautiful all together, but some places have reserved a particular, timeless beauty that seeps into your pores.  Such a place is the Peace Valley Guest Ranch, a haven of peace, quiet and nature maintained by the Allen family of Grimshaw, Alberta.  I’m going to use big pictures and few words to show you we were excited to visit the Ranch for  a watercolour retreat:


The Ranch House (where guests enjoy superb meals made without electricity, dining by candlelight) is a 100 year old log structure that originally served as a post office.  Mail was delivered by steamboats via the Peace River.  In the evening, a fire is built in the yard and guests tuck in to hot biscuits and jam while taking in the moonlight, owls, bats, fireflies and northern lights.


The ranch decor is authentic: the washtubs, saws and buckets are original to Peace Country settlements.


Washstands and candlelight in the cabins recall simpler times, but the quilts, mattresses and pillows are luxurious for modern hips and heads.


Lovely objects and flowers offer plenty of photography and painting opportunity.


Friendly dogs greet guests and patrol the area for deer, cougars, bears… but mostly squirrels.


The Peace River is vast and offers more material for artists.  The changing fog, clouds, and colours are a lifelong study.


The river vista offers wonderful opportunity for wildlife viewing.  These young males had a splashing good time in the morning mist.


The hills are never ending.  Keep an eye out for birds, saskatoons, wildflowers and elk.


Two hours riding in the glorious hills, drinking in sweet warm air in vast, peaceful landscapes is simply incredible.  Imagine in this picture the soft thud of horses’ hooves, the squeak of leather, the gentle walk of a creature who knows its job well… on this ride we saw billowing clouds, distant lightning, and a rainbow.


Entry to Spirit River

Coming home on a late summer evening, sun bathed the fields and hills, turning the scene into a collage of light and long shadows.  The setting sun is aimed directly down the highway, so that the outskirts of Spirit River are almost silhouetted in the golden light.  Here’s Carolyn’s rendition of the scene:

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Spirit River was settled not long before the World Wars and remains a farming community with strong Ukrainian heritage.

Oil Painting Course

Judy started out in oils.  So did Carolyn.  Only she ate them.  So Judy and Carolyn retired from oils for a while.  Just recently, however, both took an oil painting course.

Our styles our similar… our colour choices differ quite a bit.  Can you tell whose is whose?

The finished result.  We were both quite pleased with our oil paintings.  There may be more seen here in future.

(Judy left, Carolyn right)

Mount Robson

Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, is also fabulously scenic.  It’s just exactly what a mountain should look like: snow capped pointy bits and formidable cliffs, framed by the gentler slopes of lower mountains and finished with a variety of lush trees and a mountain meadow.

It is also easy to take a classic tourist picture, since a viewing platform and information centre with a vast parking lot, lunch counter and souvenir shop (and gas station) are only metres from the highway.  Here is the iconic Mount Robson:


It isn’t every day one can see the top of Mount Robson.  Usually there is cloud cover.  Last year, smoke from forest fires concealed the view almost entirely:


Still, the people took pictures.  For many, just being on the spot was a once in a lifetime experience.

Carolyn likes to look for a picture besides the standard perfect shot.  Here’s her memory of Mount Robson, July 2019.