When I was a student in search of a summer job, I was driven by a fellow student one spring from Ontario to Alberta, where I found employment in Calgary. That same student told me that if I found myself in Canmore, I should dine at a restaurant called Zig’s Junction. “It’s a dive on the outside, but you won’t regret going in,” he said.
The day did come when my camping buddy and I, on our way back from Banff, landed in Canmore around suppertime. Although it was pitch-black, Zig’s Junction wasn’t hard to find; in 1976, Calgary was not the large metropolis it now is, nor was Canmore a bedroom community to Calgary. There was pretty much one main street, and on that one street was Zig’s Junction.
“No chance I’m going in there,” my friend muttered, and I confess having a similar reaction to what frankly looked like a hole in the wall where no one in their right mind would even dare to drink a cup of coffee, let alone eat a full meal. Nonetheless, brave soul that I was, I responded, “We’ve got to at least go inside. I was warned to ignore how it looked from the street.”
Perhaps my camping partner was starved, perhaps she trusted me more than she should have-whatever it was, she agreed to walk through the door, and when she did she was as stunned as I was.
Inside were a number of tables laid with red-chequered cloths, each with a small vase of flowers. The room had the appearance of someone’s kitchen; it was cozy and homey. We were greeted warmly and asked if we were there for supper. I looked at my friend and it was clear that both of us had done a complete 180. Yes, we were definitely there for supper, and when we had finished eating, we were anything but disappointed. The food was delicious, classic comfort, right the way through to the apple pie and ice cream for dessert. The service was wonderful, and the ambience was warm and friendly. The person who chauffeured me to Alberta had been right.
Zig’s Junction was a superb place to have a meal, and it’s no surprise I have never forgotten the experience of being there. I make a point of remembering this each time I find myself judging yet another book by its cover.
The Very Rev. Nissa Basbaum is dean of the Cathedral Church of St. Michael and All Angels, diocese of Kootenay.