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“I don’t think many people understand just how devastated High River still is from the flood.” ~ Rob L.

deerThe above comment was left on my Facebook page when I posted this picture and somewhat facetiously wrote:

“I saw this deer in High River today. It made up for the fact that almost every store and restaurant was closed.”

Downtown High River felt like a Ghost Town when we pulled in on Sunday afternoon.

Granted it’s not unusual for stores and restaurants to be closed in the smaller surrounding towns outside of Calgary on Sundays.

But it was more than that.

There are quite a few empty storefronts along the main street with ‘For Lease’ signs on their windows.

And many establishments like Carlson’s Live Music venue are still doing renovations.

Don Carlson was outside on his bar’s patio working on something, when my friend Helga and I walked by and asked if there were any places open where we might grab a bite to eat.

He mentioned a few places and in response to my “Ghost Town” comment, began to explain how difficult it’s been for local business to get-up-and-running again since the flood.

“Some empty storefronts are even offering a year’s free rent on the condition a multi-year lease is signed,” he told us.

The flood that ravished southern Alberta hit in June 2013.

Here in Calgary, although there is still some evidence of damage caused by the flood, most repairs have been made.

High River has built berms and implemented other preventative measures, and business owners who can afford renovations are doing so, but many are still struggling.

Don invited us into his place. Renovations are coming along nicely and he showed off his new white Oak floor.

Don was adamant that his is one of the best music venues in Alberta and although he can have 120 people inside, he usually opts to have 90 – “makes it feel roomy and comfortable.”

And allows space for dancing, I enthused!

When I asked which genre of music he typically books, he told me there’s quite a bit of Jazz at his place – and I do love Jazz!

As we were leaving, Don invited us to ‘friend’ him on Facebook, thanked us for visiting and hoped that we’d return when Carlson’s is up and running again and other downtown businesses have recovered.

If you live in the area, why not connect with Don on Facebook here as well, to stay updated on their status – and you too can pay them a visit when they’re up and running again.

As for me? I’m pretty sure I’ll visit High River again to support Carlson’s and other local businesses.


I would like to say a special thank you to Don Carlson for his hospitality and taking the time to invite a couple of Calgarians into his place to share the goings-on of High River.


Do you believe in supporting local business? What is your favourite local business where you live?