A Local's View of Banff: Meet Julie Canning of Holiday on Horseback
Discover a local's perspective on Banff and what it means to spend time in a Rocky Mountain community.
I’ve lived in Banff National Park for 14 years – and it’s been an amazing journey.
It all began when I moved to the town of Banff to be with Dave, who’s now my husband.
He had been living in Banff since the early 1990’s; he first arrived to ski for six weeks and couldn’t leave the mountains. When life presented an opportunity to leave the urban reality of Ontario, I jumped on a plane and it’s been fun ever since.
Getting into tourism actually wasn’t intentional for me; but instead more the outcome of my passion for travel and exploration. It was something that evolved over time, but really it was a natural fit having had travel experiences shape my dreams. I’ve always been a strong believer in the travel industry and believe it’s important for people to experience different cultures, communities and perspectives. To me, it’s a way to foster understanding of our fellow humans.
So today, I wake up every morning in beautiful Banff National Park, help people experience the majesty of Canada and learn a bit about our natural and western Canadian culture.
No two days are ever the same
I first served as the executive director of the Association for Mountain Parks Protection and Enjoyment until becoming the president and CEO of Banff Lake Louise Tourism in 2003.
Now, I’ve embarked on a new adventure as the co-owner and operating partner of Holiday on Horseback. It’s been quite a shift from where my career began.
I worked in finance and banking during the first part of my career; before moving to Banff and then working in tourism. Holiday on Horseback is really the next chapter – and it’s a privilege to have the honour of carrying on the western culture here in Canada’s First National Park.
We’re a company that embodies the spirit of pioneering and opening up the Wild West, which is some of Canada’s most exciting history. For me, that means no two days are ever the same with our partner Mother Nature. It’s pretty fun to face the morning and think: Giddy up! Let’s go….today I’m going to ride out into the backcountry as part of my work. That’s pretty epic. My day’s work is ensuring our visitors have the trip of a lifetime!
Being able to have such a fulfilling career is part of what makes the tourism industry so amazing. This sector offers so many excellent opportunities, especially for young people who are looking for more diverse career choices that match professional challenge and personal interests. Along with the professional world that offers great challenges, I’ve also been showing and competing dressage horses for the last 10 years. Holiday on Horseback is the ultimate opportunity to really tap into what I love – the equestrian world – a field I’m personally very passionate about.
I hope more young people begin to re-discover the opportunities in tourism. We actually have some fantastic individuals who work here and they are loving life beyond their wildest dreams.
Banff is a town I’m proud to be part of
Despite all the natural beauty in Banff, it is the community that really makes this town a wonderful place to live. It is certainly a town that I am proud to be a part of.
Our national park values are very important to us, and that’s part of reason why life in Banff is a little bit different than anywhere else in the world. It’s a warm and welcoming community full of amazing people who love life.
Once you become engaged in the community, the thought of leaving becomes very foreign. It’s home. When I travel and the plane lands back in Calgary, I look up and see those Rocky Mountains and think to myself I’m happy to be home.
There really is no place I’d rather be.