New Publication: Unearthing a Story at Head-Smashed-In

Every writer savours the moment when a new development emerges on a story they are already working on. Last year I was working on a feature for the Canadian Rockies Annual about Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump when an archaeological site discovered 26 years prior was finally excavated.

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What was so significant about it? The site was an oven, deep in the earth, with a 1600-year-old meal still contained inside it. What could it tell us about the Blackfoot people who used to reside there? What does it add to the story about Head-Smashed-In?

Of course, you’ll need to read the piece to find out why (!), but here is an excerpt:

Standing amidst the tall grasses that carpet the base of the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, I close my eyes and try to imagine the buffalo stampede approaching. An inescapable dust cloud forms as their hooves pound the earth, sending a shockwave of thunder through the landscape. The herd’s panic is palpable as it is rushed to the cliff edge, driven by their hunters. Then it happens: hundreds of beasts hurtle over the cliff, cascading to their deaths in a massive heap. Soon the pungent smell of smoke, blood and flesh permeates the air as the Blackfoot work swiftly to preserve the meat for the long winter ahead.

I open my eyes. Centuries of erosion have worn away the base of the cliff, shortening the drop and burying layer upon layer of bones – 11 metres worth – beneath a jumble of soil, grass and rubble. To the untrained eye, the cliff looks… unimpressive. But time has changed the landscape. And what now appears to be a non-threatening tumble used to be an 18-metre-high fatal drop.

There is more than meets the eye at Head-Smashed-In, not only with the buffalo jump, but also with the award-winning interpretive centre constructed into the adjacent cliffside. From the exterior, the structure disguises itself well, blending inconspicuously with the exposed sandstone that extends from the grass-covered escarpment. Enter the seven-tiered building, however, and a world of discovery is revealed.

The cliffs and plains that make up this buffalo jump have an intriguing story to tell – one that continues to unfold today.

→ Read the rest in Volume 2 of the
Canadian Rockies Annual

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My Journey Back into Magazine Publishing: Crowfoot Media

It was November, 2007. I had quit my job in the Rockies two months before but hung around Banff to attend that year’s Banff Mountain Film Festival. It was my first time at the festival, and the experience left me nearly shaking with excitement. These mountains are just dripping with juicy stories, tales of adventure, and incredible people who manage to stay under the radar.

On that day in November, I sat at Second Cup in Banff and wrote out the outline for a local magazine that would bring these stories to life. Soon thereafter, I moved back to Ontario for the winter. Upon my return to the Rockies the following spring, I got sidetracked by the challenges of making a living here, and didn’t pursue the magazine. I wish I still had that napkin covered in coffee stains and chicken scratch because that moment is imprinted vividly in my brain.

In the interim years since that rough magazine outline, I have had the privilege of working with a number of mountain culture publications and organizations. A few, in particular, stand out. Interning with Alpinist Magazine in 2010 was the turning point in my writing career. Contributing to Highline Magazine as a writer and editor for six years sharpened my tools, fostered meaningful relationships and exposed me to parts of this community I had never encountered before. Sitting on the Alpine Club of Canada’s Mountain Culture Committee has given me a window into the rich history of the club – one that deserves preservation through publications and other outlets.

Then I became a mother and my life as a freelance writer and editor took its turn on the back-burner. That was the way I wanted it. But, as my daughter grew up and gained more independence, I found myself growing a sense of independence, too. I felt myself wanting to return back to work. I also had this growing desire to go back behind the scenes of publishing. To be the publisher, not only the published.

As my time freed up to start working on a new project, I saw an opportunity to build a new mountain culture publication for the Canadian Rockies. This is where I wanted to dedicate my life’s work for the foreseeable future. And when the right partner came along (in this case, talented designer and brand strategist Dee Medcalf of Phaneric), the idea became reality.

That was seven months ago. And on March 16, 2015, we launched Crowfoot Media, a publishing house dedicated to the preservation, celebration and growth of mountain culture in the Canadian Rockies. We have a long road ahead, but the response so far has been uplifting and affirming. It feels right. I feel like I’m making my mark in the right place, at the right time, in the right way.

 

Crowfoot Media

 

I hope you’ll connect with us:

Thanks to everyone who has supported my journey to date. There are exciting things to come with Crowfoot Media – even if it’s scary at times to take on something as big as this.

Meghan

Find Your Zen in the Canadian Rockies this September

Back into the grind after a summer of road trips, cottage time and holiday-ing? Here’s my latest piece for Avenue Magazine about finding Zen in the mountains. (You’ll have to head to the Canadian Rockies to take advantage of these ideas!)

Excerpt:

Autumn brings with it a change of colours and, more often than not, a mountain of stress. As summer vacations give way to the familiar juggling act, consider leaving the busyness behind to tap into what matters most.

If Zen is what you’re after, look no further than the Canadian Rockies, where these six activities will let you reflect, refocus and recharge.

Continue reading → “Fall Into Focus: September’s Best Ways to Find Zen in the Mountains.” 

Check out the September issue of Avenue Calgary.

Check out the September issue of Avenue Calgary.

Melting Glaciers and Changing Landscapes

sotm coverThe Athabasca Glacier has receded more than 1.5 kilometres and lost half its volume in the past 125 years. But what’s the story for the rest of the alpine environment in Western Canada? Check out my report published by the Alpine Club of Canada, which combines the voices of both scientists and mountaineers. It was published back in 2011, but the content is no less relevant.

The results in the report are downright unnerving. Comparative photographs reveal a quickly changing landscape. Anecdotes speak to increased rock fall and objective hazards for mountaineers. Scientists speak to a lack of funding, and other factors inhibiting their research on climate change. And while not all is lost, the report calls those who love the mountains into action and encourages us to think seriously about how our behaviour today influences the landscape of the future.

→ Read The State of the Mountains Report