A Community with Heart, Two Hills AB
By Renee “Belt Drive Betty” Charbonneau
Canada is the sparsely populated country just to the north of the United States and at 9.985 million km² is size; it’s also larger than the USA, which is 9.834 million km2.
It’s the sparseness of population that makes Canada both an appealing place to consider coming for a ride, BUT, it’s also what makes a lot of people stay away, at least when it comes to riding it by motorcycle.
In Northeastern Alberta, there is this little 2,500 person community called Two Hills Alberta that won over the hearts of Western Canadian riders and earned themselves the title of Canada’s FIRST Most Rider Friendly Community in early 2016 when the voting took place.
Located 18 and a half hours north of Denver Colorado, Two Hills Alberta is this sweet, sleepy little community filled with Mennonite and Ukrainian people that makes for a unique food experience. Many Mexican Mennonites that have immigrated to Canada now call Two Hills home and so Mexican, German and Ukrainian foods are considered every day fare here.
But outside of the food, what is it about this little town of 2,500 people that makes it special enough to win the hearts and minds of the riding community in the west that they would be so proud of it, to vote for them?
The people. Simply put, the people are what make Two Hills the welcoming little place it is.
It wasn’t always that way. In the beginning, the residents of Two Hills were pretty skeptical when they were presented with an idea of having a motorcycle rally to support building a monument to fallen riders, thereby becoming a place that would attract riders as tourists.
Town folk were nervous. They watch the news and read newspapers; they see the horrible things that some bikers are accused of. In spite of their fear, the town’s people, well they knew the event founders Bob Ross and Mark Kussman, and they both ride.
When Mark and Bob announced that they were going to hold a rally, the town folk did their best to not be too negative or fearful. Slowly, year after year, the town’s people have grown to love the motorcycle community that attends the Run to the Hills Memorial Rally. Going into year 11 the town is pretty proud of its rally, the memorial gardens and the chapel, and the soon to be erected, fallen riders monument.
When you ride into town you’ll see people waving at you, the motel, gas stations and food stores and restaurants all love having the riders in town.
Besides the monument and the chapel and gardens at Wayside Memorial Park, the rally has given back into the community of Two Hills in countless ways. They have paid for things like the new bathrooms at the rodeo grounds and a defibrillator for the Ag society. They also paid to have the driveway at the monument and gardens site paved – no small feat there! Wayside Memorial Park was once a rest area, an abandoned and falling down rest area. The rally has paid to refurbish the restrooms; the old BBQ shack is now a chapel with a wrap around veranda and an outdoor BBQ area. Plus they purchased a storage shed, tables and chairs…yeas this team has done a lot with the funds from the rally!
The riding community won the town over by being respectful, clean (the rally campsites are never ever left in a mess) and kind.
If Canada is a bucket list destination for you, I urge you to fly your bike over, or rent one from one of our Rider Friendly Business Association members like EagleRider Calgary and come visit the beautiful, quaint little town with a big heart, Two Hills Alberta, Canada’s very first MOST Rider Friendly Community!