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  • Writer's pictureKatherine Matiko

Foothills Excursion Five: An Old Year Adventure

The year is waning and these post-solstice mornings are cold. My car tells me it is minus 36 degrees Celsius as I venture out to the Millarville General Store before sunrise.

It seems counter-intuitive to leave a warm bed—and few others are foolhardy enough to be driving in the Foothills this morning—but the skies are clear, the air is pure, and I must seek out the light.

A few kilometres north of the Millarville turnoff, I suddenly know why I got up early this morning. Before even peeking over the horizon, the sun was throwing blankets of brilliance onto the eastern face of the Rocky Mountains.


I believe there is nothing more beautiful than snow on trees, so perhaps it’s fitting that I live in a cold climate. Are palm trees on the beach more spectacular? I hardly think so.


After grabbing a coffee at the store, I travel north on Highway 22 and then east on Township Road 214 toward the Leighton Art Centre. The farmsteads are just beginning to wake up as the sun imperceptibly warms the landscape.


Animals have their own ways of coping with the cold. Finding a sunny spot—even at minus 36 degrees—seems to help.


I watch carefully for the turnoff to the Leighton Art Centre—a slippery but scenic roadway revealing many panoramic views. One can only imagine AC and Barbara Leighton sitting by the fireplace in their home back the 1950s, enjoying views such as these.


In fact, the views from AC and Barbara’s property are even more spectacular, but the Leighton Art Centre, a museum and art gallery located in the couple’s historic home, is closed at this hour. Visit this Millarville-area attraction in any season and you will understand what draws artists to the Alberta foothills.


Snow adds a sculptural beauty to almost anything. I stop to capture images of several more works of winter art as I head back to the store.


One more shot of the mountains and I rush my frozen fingers and toes back to Millarville General Store, where the welcome is always warm.

Until next time,


photos copyright Katherine Matiko

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