June 1, 2021 Mountain Living

In the Neighbourhood: The Municipal District of Bighorn

By Kate Barker

Surrounding Canmore is the Municipal District of Bighorn. This area consists of several smaller communities that were each created for a specific purpose. These relaxed communities offer less tourism than the towns and they often have larger lots. From the cottage towns of Harvie Heights and Lac Des Arcs to the industrial Exshaw and the highway stop at Dead Man’s Flats, these neighbourhoods have developed into communities with full-time residents for those looking for a different side of mountain living.

Dead Man’s Flats

This hamlet was originally a highway service station offering gas, food and convenience items. In the early 1990’s, development began on condominiums and homes in the area. Now, the community of River’s Bend in Dead Man’s Flats is a mixture of residential and light commercial development. The area features single family homes, townhomes, condos and hotel condos. It attracts everyone from full-time residents to travellers and timeshares. New developments are currently under construction in this community, adding to the growing excitement of the hamlet. The community features a campground, a paved trail by the river, a playground and winter skating.


Lac Des Arcs

This hamlet is 15 minutes east of Canmore on the Trans-Canada Highway. It was developed in the 1960’s as a summer cottage community, but it’s now tied to the Bow Valley with its permanent, year-round residents. Lac Des Arcs has secluded, cottage-style homes on larger properties, some with lakeside access. It has a playground, trails and an active community organization. It rests beside the lake and campground of the same name, which means it still sees an influx of seasonal travellers during the warmer months.



Across the river from Lac Des Arcs is the village of Exshaw. Developed in the 1900’s as a mineral-extraction and processing settlement, many of the residents of Exshaw still work in mineral extraction for the plants surrounding the community. The village has a library, community hall, playgrounds, biking trails and rec grounds. There is a growing commercial area that attracts buyers from Exshaw and Canmore alike. It’s just a short drive to Canmore to access the larger town’s amenities.


Harvie Heights

Nestled between Canmore and the border of Banff National Park is the hamlet of Harvie Heights. This community was developed in the late 1950’s as a seasonal cottage community with services for highway travellers. Since then, it’s shifted to full- and part-time residents. There are hotel-condo buildings that suit the weekender or seasonal traveller, as well as new homes being built on larger lots. The community features a hall, a recreation area with an outdoor skating rink and tennis court, a playground, and access to trails leading into Canmore including the Legacy Trail that connects Canmore and Banff.


The neighbourhoods in the Bow Valley encompass a variety of lifestyles that all fit within the ideals of mountain living. From the towns of Canmore and Banff, to the communities throughout Bighorn, there is something for every type of mountain enthusiast. To revisit all of the communities featured in our In the Neighbourhood series, check out our articles online!

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