This is a charming resort featuring a collection of cute, folksy cabins, just off highway 1A about half an hour west of Banff.
The cabins are set rather snuggly together, interspersed with mature pines, and I can imagine that it might be less than peaceful in peak season. We were there, however on the last weekend of their season, in early October, and it was very quiet except for a little noise from the road and the occasionally train whistle.
Our cabin was, I believe, the most basic, but it was extremely pleasant, and I thought that it was far nicer than the photo on their website would suggest. The furniture was all mission or arts and crafts style, the bed was very comfortable, and there was a small fridge and coffee maker. The bathroom was adequate but a little chilly. There were two wooden chairs and a small table on the porch at the front – a perfect place to sit with a book.
In terms of dining, there is a restaurant (see below) or an area with picnic tables and two barbeques. Note that one of them was pretty much unusable, taking about half an hour to creep up just a few degrees. Luckily the people using the other one finished their cooking quickly, and left it on for us.
If you’re seeking a slightly rustic getaway in the woods, I highly recommend Johnston Canyon Resort.
The restaurant: Bad, Cold Food and Slow Service (Breakfast)
This small restaurant looks charming, with its mission-style décor and Rocky Mountains atmosphere, but sadly the poor food and service mean that I give it a serious thumbs-down.
We went for a late breakfast, and despite there being only four tables occupied, after waiting over 10 minutes we went and asked for menus. The lone server appeared to be busy, but also sat down when she could. Then we waited 5 minutes for coffee. And another ten minutes or so for the server to return and say they were out of sausage – we both ordered the standard two egg breakfast which comes with toast, hash browns, and a choice of ham, bacon or sausage. Then we waited about another fifteen minutes for our food.
By then I was hungry enough to start gnawing the table, so even though the meal was bad, we ate. The whole thing was perhaps a degree or two warmer than stone cold. The eggs (ordered sunny side up) had so much unset white as to be almost inedible. The bacon was flabby, lukewarm, had way more fat than meat, and was not browned in the slightest. The hash browns were snow white, and the only evidence that they had been cooked at all lay in the speckles of black carbon, presumably from an unclean pan or flat top. It’s hard to wreck toast, but it is nice if the butter is spread vaguely towards the edges, and if it’s crispy, neither of which were attributes of our toast.
The server was pleasant, but perhaps could have had a bit more training. When I said that the meals were cold, she said, “Oh,” and carried on with what she was doing, then we had to ask twice for the bill.
All in all, a ghastly experience. If you go to Johnston Canyon, take a picnic.