• An illustration of Paul Brandt and his child holding up a fish

    Illustration: Felicia Cristea/Can Geo

Living in Nashville for 10 years, my wife and I always had a vision to eventually move back to Alberta to be closer to our families. We have been all over the world, but there is something about a particular spot in Alberta, the Bow River that flows through Calgary, that just kept drawing us back there. It’s really one of my favourite places on the planet.

I think back to stories my dad used to tell me about how the river was wilder when he was young, flowing faster and deeper before all the dams were built. That image has always been inspiring to me. The river is where Calgary was born, where Indigenous populations decided to put their first camps. The river embodies the spirit of Alberta.

The Bow River is unlike any waters I have ever seen. You can float on a boat past the Calgary Tower and drift underneath the Peace Bridge, absorbing the sights and sounds of the city. An hour or two later, you could be floating alongside bluffs with huge peaks that overlook giant valleys wheat fields and wild grasslands. If you look west, you can spot the snow-capped Rocky Mountains in the distance.

I often think about how my dad grew up there, how I now fish there and how my children are now going to have the opportunity to grow up and do the same. I think back to my son’s first fishing trip at the Bow River when we caught a large brown trout and then released it back into the water. It was so special to be able to share that moment with him, and it felt like I was passing this tradition along.

-As told to Samantha Pope