Found by Norman Luxton in 1903, The Trading Post has been ongoing for 118 years. The Luxton family were the original founders from 1903 to 1961, who then passed it on in 1961 to the Garbert family who have been operating it ever since.
Norman was a colourful character and also known as Mr. Banff. He was a key catalyst for establishing Banff as an internatioanl tourist destination.
Prior to coming to Banff, Norman sailed a Coast Salish dugout canoe across the Pacific Ocean from Victoria, BC to Fiji. He was shipwrecked in Fiji, suffered acute coral poisoning and upon his return to Victoria, it was suggested he travel to Banff and its healing waters. He arrived in 1902 and fell in love with Banff and like so many others, never left.
He bought the local newspaper, the Crag and Canyon, he opened the Trading Post, built the King Edward Hotel, started the Winter Carnival (now known as Banff Snowdays), and built the Luxton Buffalo Nations Museum.
Karen Garbert's grandfather and father were asked by Norman asked to take over the store the year before he passed away. Norman had asked Karen's father to never change the store. This is a promise her family has kept.
The Story of the Merman
The merman has been living in the Banff Trading Post for over 100 years. The image above was taken at Vermillion Lakes in Banff, with the glorious Mount Rundle in the background. The photographer is Rowan Harper.
It was May 3, 1782, and Venant St. Germain had stopped at Isle Paté to set up camp for the night. Three men and an unnamed elderly First Nation woman were also with the voyageur. The sun had just set, when the four of them noticed an animal the size of a seven or eight-year-old child emerge from Lake Superior. They could only see the merman’s upper body and noticed it looked exactly like a human being. All the features of his face in proper proportion, he had dark skin and hair that was tight and curly. The creature’s intense eyes were an equal mixture of wonder and fear.
After three or four minutes of staring at the merman, Venant grabbed his loaded rifle. Enraged, the First Nation woman attacked the voyageur and the creature was able to disappear into the calm lake without being shot. She angrily told Venant that his selfish actions had offended the water god, and now they were all going to die.
The elderly woman ran up the embankment but the voyageur and his companions remained by the shoreline. A few hours later, the men had to seek higher ground because the tempestuous winds were causing the waves to crash into their encampment. The storm raged on for three days, and at its conclusion the voyageur didn’t think it had anything to do with his wanting to harm the merman.
This story was published in The Canadian Magazine and Literary Repository, in 1824. The article began by declaring that there was no consensus on whether mermen actually existed. Some people held the view that they must be real, because they’ve been seen in Lake Superior and other parts of the world. While others were of the opinion that anyone claiming to have had an encounter with such a peculiar being, had to be mentally ill.
Fearing he’d be lumped in with the latter, Venant recounted the entire episode to two judges in Montreal. His deposition was sworn before P. L. Panet J. K. B., and J.Ogden J. K. B., on November 13, 1812 in the Court of King’s Bench.
*This legend is an extract from the book True Encounters of the Supernatural Kind in Northern Ontario written by KC.