Half Hitch Brewing Company
Half Hitch Brewing Company is family owned and operated and has been a growing brand in Alberta well-known for its savory craft beer. Half Hitch retails a few brands packed full of rich flavors including the popular Farmers Daughter Pale Ale and the gold award winning Papa Bear Prairie Ale (2018 Alberta Beer Awards). In early 2017, Half Hitch opened their doors to the public with their first restaurant location in Cochrane, Alberta, situated in the same place the beer is produced. It has since become a destination for locals, tourists, and patrons from the Calgary area. The family has now spread its wings into the popular town of Canmore, opening up their second location in the historic Canmore Hotel.
Half Hitch Restaurant Canmore
If you have ever been to the Half Hitch restaurant location in Cochrane, you will find that the location in Canmore has a distinctly different vibe. The Canmore Hotel which has been coined, “The Ho”, had its own reputation prior to Half Hitch ever stepping foot in the place. While there is a certain aspect to the Half Hitch brand that retains a family value, there is no doubt that there were some ‘no fly zones’ when it came to considering any changes. The restaurant is viewed as an upgrade as far as aesthetics, but retains the reputation that The Ho had earned, for the better.
The location now has an upgraded interior as well as a large patio with access via glass paneled garage door directly from the restaurant. There is also a second-floor patio which is perfect for the spring and summer patio season. While both patios are positioned for great views, the upper floor has a perfect view of the mountains as well as a large seating capacity. It also provides great seating during the local market that takes place in Canmore every Thursday during the spring, summer, and fall. The large patio section on the main floor is positioned directly on main street. Between the indoor and patio sections, The Ho seats roughly 330 people at any given time and provides great opportunities for any corporate events throughout the seasons.
Patrons and guests alike will all be pleased by the upgrade to the hotel itself. Now opening as a hostel, the location will feature 80 beds with an upgraded and stylish design. Timing is none too perfect for the hostel as we get into ski season and tourists from around the world are looking for affordable and comfortable accommodations. Not only will the hostel provide, but its partnership with Half Hitch will allow guests to enjoy their stay with additional perks within the restaurant.
History of the Hotel
The Canmore Hotel was built in 1890 and has since been declared a municipal historic site. Since the original construction, the location had undergone a few transformations, more notably being a temporary hospital in 1918. The conversion was meant to assist with the flu epidemic during the outbreak at the time. Since then, it had been touted as simply the place to be after long hours of work where one can get a good drink, enjoy live entertainment, and socialize, especially for the coal miners and rail workers of the time.
Throughout the renovation process, all sorts of interesting pieces of history were found. The Half Hitch family managed to work a lot of those items into the new design of the restaurant. All of the custom tables within the location are built to tell a story. Local residents as well as people from the Calgary and area continue to come in to tell stories and experiences throughout their own history at The Ho.
Half Hitch was also honored during their soft open of the restaurant as the owners were fortunate enough to speak with the family of Mary Rodda. Mary was the first woman who was allowed to operate a bar in Alberta. She was especially known for keeping all of the rowdy patrons in line when they had too much to drink. Half Hitch was gifted a photo of Mary which currently hangs within the restaurant in perfect view for all patrons to see.
Preserving the “Ho”
Half Hitch felt it was not a matter of opinion, rather, a matter of duty to preserve historical elements. The bench that has been with the hotel since existence, remains as a centerpiece for the location. Even prior to opening the doors to the restaurant, local residents had sent numerous messages to Half Hitch requesting the bench remains. Given the respect for what makes a community, there was nothing but warm embrace to ensure this among other pieces were preserved. Even the back wall behind the bar and the bar itself was created using old pieces of the hotel.
Father of the Half Hitch family, Mike Heier, had hand crafted roughly 35 tables specifically for the restaurant (See photos in gallery above). Each one of these tables portrays something different. Using anything from family and staff photos, to little nicknack items, to old newspaper clippings, these tables are there to represent family and community. It is always encouraged to have a look through the tables when you are in for a visit.
The name Half Hitch was chosen for the family company for multiple reasons. One, it rolls off the tongue quite nice, but it is encouraged more so to look into what the half hitch knot truly is. It is a knot that needs to be tied to something in order to provide a secure hold. This is what the family uses as a metaphor for its ties to family and the community that supports it. Without either of these things, the company is nothing.
True to the metaphor, Half Hitch has developed a charity program that works with a new charity each month in order to provide support. Before the opening of the Canmore location, Half Hitch had strictly sought out someone or a group within the local community to provide its support. Now with both locations, this reach is broadened to both Cochrane and Canmore. Half Hitch continues to look for ways to reach the local community. As of the end of 2018, there has been roughly $16,000 charitable donations.