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The Three Sisters Bar and Hotel
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The Three Sisters Bar and Hotel

3.44  ·  Rating details ·  254 Ratings  ·  62 Reviews
A landmark novel of the Canadian West from one of Canada’s most accomplished writers, author of The Ghost Brush and Fables of Brunswick Avenue

Gateway, Alberta, 1911. The coming of the railroad to the Canadian Rockies has brought a parade of newcomers to the heavenly Bow Valley—climbers, coal miners, artists, scientists, runaway aristocrats and remittance men. Among the lat
Paperback, 480 pages
Published March 1st 2016 by HarperAvenue
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Penny (Literary Hoarders)
Hmmm, need to think on this one - 3 stars? 3.5 stars? From the start I was swept into the wonderfully imaginative storytelling going on in here. Just loved it. Govier's story and details were wonderful. But then that storytelling just never seemed to end, you know what I mean? The book is broken down into 4 parts. And now that I've finished, I'm thinking perhaps the entire Part 3 could have been removed. I don't think it would have hurt the grand interest in this book since throughout this part ...more
Jan 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
Am an indie bookseller. Grabbed me from the onset ...Will definitely recommend! Great rollicking read: a multi-generational story of the Canadian Rockies @ the turn of the century... at times treacherous, wild & often, dangerously funny! A truth-cutting tale of Gateway, AB. 1910, their inhabitants, irregulars & 'tourists' of the time. Herbie Wishart- part poacher, guide, 'wanna-be ne'er' do well,' lover & more, is utterly compelling. Govier's deft character portraits are masterful- r ...more
Mar 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
It's the last glory days of the Canadian western frontier and the slow decline into a more modern, moneymaking national park. In 1911, there were still cowboys, and guides to take people into the mountains. The railroad had not been around a very long time. The small town of Gateway by the hot springs catered to a wide variety of people, and we open up with a family, the Hodgsons, about to go on a scientific excursion with guide Herbie Wishart to eke out fossils. The excursion ends badly when th ...more
Steven Buechler
Jun 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Govier has crafted brilliant fiction here. A perfect mix of research, imagination and personal reflection are what make this book a great read. Her descriptions are vivid yet simple and her characters are endearing and believable. Govier has been referred often as being a brilliant storyteller and this book proves that fact.
Lauren Davis
Apr 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
Such an audacious book! The research is mesmerizing and the characters fascinating. I'm quite in awe of what Govier was able to accomplish with this one.
Jill Robbertze
Aug 23, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a long historical novel set in the beautiful Canadian Rockies and spanning 3 generations. I enjoyed the interesting characters and the beautiful descriptions, probably even more so, living in BC and having visited the area several times. However, I did find the story very slow and tedious in parts but the mystery surrounding the family kept drawing my attention back in and I soldiered on, expecting some sort of major twist to be revealed. Yes there was a revelation of sorts at the end bu ...more
Feb 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: symposium-2018
Early in the book, the central character Herbie, a tour guide and wrangler, telling tales around the campfire says "He [the old-timer Max Gallant] said those days the sun shone down on the grass like a mirror. Down in the valley they used to get mirages. I’ve seen them too. One day we all came out of the Three Sisters Hotel and we could see the whole of Cascade Mountain hanging upside down in the sky. Thirty miles away it was, but repeated overhead just like in a fine glass. Trees, valleys, rive ...more
Gail Barrington
Aug 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
It is hard to resist a book when you know and love the neighbourhood and The Three Sisters Bar and Hotel is no exception. I loved it because I love the Canadian Rockies, I visit Canmore often, and I enjoy a good historical mystery. Govier did a great job building atmosphere, drawing great characters, and leaving you hanging as she shifted gears. All the interesting sidebar information about the Burgess Shale, various familiar mountain peaks and trails seen through the lens of the early twentieth ...more
Apr 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I will always be grateful for having lived near the Canadian Rockies, for being drawn into their magnetic pull, and for the way they captured my imagination and curiosity. I am equally grateful for this book that has beautifully brought to life its history in the colourful characters, their gripping stories – especially women's stories, and in the majestic and awesome presence of the mountains themselves. I was smiling with nostalgia as I read it and gripped by its wonderful and compelling narra ...more
Aug 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
I was drawn in by the wonderful imagery the author crafts around the story. I love that the story is full of women who don't fit into traditional roles for women. The characters are all very interesting and I love the research that went into this book. If you love indie Canadian reads this book ought to make your list and a bit of a hint: two of the characters are real people.
Nancy Carson
Jun 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great read. Canadian author. Story is set in Banff (called Gateway) in past and present. Neat storyline, lots of history, although it is a fictional story.
Aug 29, 2016 rated it liked it
(view spoiler) ...more
Belinda Waters
Jul 09, 2018 rated it it was ok
Don’t read books about places you live near and of the story were interesting but the story needed to be set in Canmore where you can actually see The Three Sisters mountain from. I keep trying to find reference to a Gateway and cannot. There’s a Gateway Motel by the gates to Banff National Park, there’s a sub division in Airdire and Edmonton is the gateway to the north but no town in Alberta. See how frustrating this is. This review isn’t even about the book....which brings up ...more
Janet Berkman
Jul 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: canadian, kobo
Maybe it's because I'm about to embark on a road trip through the Rockies, or because I enjoy family sagas with strong women, or because I love a good bar, but this novel has everything. Based in two time periods, the present staying put and the past starting a century earlier and moving forward, it tells the story of a family coming to grips with the mystery and danger of early white settlements in western Canada.

Highly recommended.
Jennifer Strukoff
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Couldn't put this book down. A great Canadian book with haunting stories from the Rocky Mountains.
Loved it!
❀ Susan G
May 29, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016-reads
The Three Sisters Bar and Hotel is an epic novel spanning three generations. It is set in the shadows of The Three Sisters part of the Rocky Mountain range of Western Canada. Alberta resident and author Katherine Govier read as part of the Grimsby Author Series and the tale of intrigue, wilderness, love and loss provides an interesting historical perspective on the beginnings of national parks and the challenging living conditions of the early 1900s.

The novel twists around a Quaker family, heade
Sep 16, 2017 rated it it was ok
Although the basic story about Herbie Wishart is interesting, the story just is too long that it becomes tedious to read and you wish for the end. Some of the characters are great while the most are humdrum individuals. The plot is plodding and lacks any emotion or action. The creation of the national parks is quite informative and could probably have made a book of its own. Unfortunately this is a lack lustre Canadian story.
Jun 05, 2018 rated it it was ok
Tried but couldn’t get into it. Very slow moving
Linda Johnson
Nov 29, 2017 rated it it was ok
Attempted to read a couple times, never became engaged with the story.
Feb 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book. The story along with the history kept me reading. It isn't often that one finds a book that keeps the story and the readers interest going right to the end.
May 15, 2017 rated it it was ok
2.5 Stars.

Overall, this book made very little impression on me. Left me feeling totally underwhelmed. I was definitely interested in the underlying story of a fossil hunting expedition gone wrong. It's mystery took too long to evolve and when it did, felt totally anticlimactic. The present day story seemed irrelevant,other than to maybe say, let's treasure our past and keep it alive, which is definitely something I agree with. Since the history takes place in the Rockies of Alberta and I have li
Juanita Violini
Sep 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Captures the mood of the time and place quite well - not an easy task. Having grown up in Banff I found the mix and mashup of Banff and Canmore into the fictional town of Gateway a little disorienting but loved recognizing much of it. The characters were fictional with mixed and mashuped ( a new word I just made up) backstories from the notorious stories of actual people too but I thought it added authenticity to the tale. In a way it was weird but most people who read the book won't know the in ...more
Sep 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
This was a very entertaining and good read. It gave us an insight into how Canadian National Parks came to be and the effect first the Railroads and later cars have had on the life of people living in Gateway. We follow Herbie Wishart through his life and how his life ends up being forever more connected to the Hodgsons. I did like the way it was written year by year - interspersed with chapters from 2011 told by his descendants . A proper family saga which I enjoyed a lot
Samantha Mostek
Apr 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Great story overall. Loved the amount of research and thought that went into it. Very intricate plot that keeps you guessing right up to the end. Loved the setting in the Canadian Rockies! Learned about the Canadian park system as well.
Aug 16, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: other-books
I would recommend reading this book, especially if you've visited Canmore and seen the Three Sisters. It certainly brings that amazing landscape to life and gives the reader an impression of the difficulties the early settlers encountered. A great story with a wonderful cast of characters.
Lynn Pinto
May 10, 2017 rated it liked it
Entertaining and enjoyed mostly for the window into life in the Wild West and the National Parks commission trying to rope it in. Good story.
Oct 27, 2017 rated it liked it
I liked the history and the setting especially after just visiting Canmore but I wasn’t a big fan of the plot.
Joan Dumoulin
Apr 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
It was at times very entertaining. I did learn a lot of Canadian history. It was long, It was a book club selection in a book club I belong to in Canada
Jan 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
It was a 3 for a while but toward the last third changed my opinion to a 4. It's about Alberta and the people who settled it in when the area was first claimed for parks by the federal governnent
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Katherine Govier is the author of ten novels, three short story collections, and a collection of nursery rhymes. Her most recent novel is The Three Sisters Bar and Hotel (HarperAvenue). Here previous novel, The Ghost Brush (published in the US as The Printmaker's Daughter), is about the daughter of the famous Japanese printmaker, Hokusai, creator of The Great Wave. Her novel Creation, about John J ...more

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