Champagne or drowning in a canoe?

Afternoon tea at Chateau Lake Louise. Photo by David Lansing.

This afternoon I was supposed to go canoeing on Lake Louise but I just couldn’t do it. Not because I was too tired or sore or anything like that. I just couldn’t get past the idea that one of my canoe mates may tip our little boat and I’d slip into the still blue waters of Lake Louise and slowly sink to the bottom like a fallen leaf.

This all goes back to my adventures on Vanuatu last year when I went canoeing with a writer from New York City who flipped our canoe and drowned my camera bag. That was traumatic enough. At least in Vanuatu the water was warm. Here 5,680 feet up in the Canadian Rockies, it’s just a hair above freezing. I asked the young kid who was bringing the canoes out of the boat house how long someone would last in Lake Louise. He snorted. “Maybe two or three minutes.”

Then when I found out that one of the other paddlers in my canoe was to be Erika, who is from New York City—well, that was that. I just couldn’t do it. So I stood on the dock of the boathouse and watched the canoes as they paddled oh-so-slowly and carefully away from shore. Good luck to them.

The alternative to drowning in the lake was afternoon tea at The Lakeview Lounge inside the Chateau. Which seemed like a good option. This is the sort of high tea Brits love although I don’t know why they even call it “tea” since nobody drinks the stuff—at least not in our group. Instead, we went for the champagne. Much more civilized than a pot of Darjeeling, don’t you think?

After we’d gone through a bottle of Moet Chandon (and ordered another), they brought out trays of little finger sandwiches and sweets—smoked salmon pinwheels and English cucumber and egg salad on toast; citrus meringue tarts and chocolate mousse pompoms. I sat there, enjoying the champagne immensely, letting the bubbles go straight to my head, looking out the big picture window across from me facing the lake. Out on the water, I could see a couple of canoes knifing through the milky blue water, hurrying to get back to the boathouse.

Rico, who was also enjoying his champagne, saw the same thing I did. “Weren’t there three canoes that went out?” he said.

“There were,” I said.

“Hmmm,” he said, nodding. “I wonder where the other one is?”

“I wonder,” I said. And then I poured him another glass of the Moet.

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  1. Susan’s avatar

    That looks beautiful! Could you tell me how much the afternoon tea costs (Moet excluded)? I can’t seem to find any pricing guidelines.

    Thanks for posting it looks like so much fun!

  2. david’s avatar

    Hi Susan. I can’t remember exactly…maybe $20 per person?

  3. Susan’s avatar

    That seems fairly reasonable. Thanks for your response!

  4. charlie’s avatar

    I actually work at the boathouse here in lake louise. You definitely missed out on the canoeing, it is so much fun. Flips are very rare, but you would have at least half an hour in the water before hypothermia would set in. If you ever come back make sure you build up the courage to try it out.

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