Jasper, Alberta – Small Town for the Queer Visitor
Of the many ways that Jasper, Alberta, is unique, two particulars stand out and shape this small town’s appeal for the queer visitor. First, Jasper is located inside a national park, which means that every one of its approximately 5,000 inhabitants must meet eligible residency guidelines. Whether through work, school or family, the life of every Jasperite is connected to Jasper National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage site), and this plays out in a packed calendar that celebrates the natural diversity of the region, the community and the people. Second, the town mascot — though admittedly, an unintentional icon of gay culture — is a bear.
Located just four hours west of Edmonton by car, the town comprises a small cluster of streets alongside the Athabasca River in the shadow of Marmot Basin. In the winter, daily shuttles make the trip from town to the ski hill, which has recently enjoyed terrain expansions and infrastructure upgrades — developments that only enhance its existing appeal. Marmot’s base elevation of 1,697 metres is the highest of any ski area in North America.
Initiated in 2009, the inaugural Jasper Pride weekend attracted just a few dozen people, but the event has grown steadily to include more of the local population and visitors from farther-flung places.