The Banff Centre: Mountain Meetings With a Muse

Banff Centre Kinnear Canadian Tourism Commission

In current business environments, a more open-source form of collaboration across different fields of expertise is becoming increasingly crucial. Left-brain management types are realizing they need to pool resources with right-brain creative types if business is to survive in today’s volatile, constantly changing landscape. Based on the idea that the heart of creativity is the weaving together of separate contexts, The Banff Centre helps facilitate the weaving.

Situated in the Canadian Rockies 90 minutes west of Calgary, and unique in the world of conference facilities, the 43-acre campus is a world-renowned cultural incubator attracting artist residencies of every discipline. The campus also features weeklong, site-specific leadership programs rooted in experiential, arts and nature-based learning. Many individual components of the programs are available for conference groups who want to take advantage of the creative energy inherent at the Banff Centre.

“We’ve had quite a few clients come through just to take our teambuilding sessions,” said Sarah Van Tine, client service representative for Leadership Development at The Banff Centre. “These sessions are done stand-alone or incorporated into our 5-day programming. One particular example, a newer session, is called ‘Trial By Fire.’”

Through the ‘Trial By Fire’ program, organizations seeking to develop and strengthen their resilience can turn to forest fire management for inspiration. Since forests and trees are dynamic, living organisms—just like business organizations and their employees—they can can burn slow and low, fast and hot, or any temperature in between. The program explores National Parks Management’s firefighting techniques that show their response varies depending on the intensity of the fire and the condition of the forest as a whole. Parallels are made to a person’s response to a disturbance, varying according to the his or her personality, the intensity of the challenge and/or the condition of the organization to which that individual belongs.

“Understanding the dynamics of fire and how trees in Banff have co-evolved with this important process will provide insights into what resilience means to forests, to you and your organization,” Van Tine explaines.

Another Banff Centre program, “Leadership Lens: Vision Through Photography” is built on the idea that team leadership and performance are considerably enhanced when aesthetic talents—paying attention, personalizing, imaging, and collaborative inquiry—are better implemented. Through group discovery and personal exploration, teams learn how to shape their vision and work together by assembling a collection of photographs that reflect that vision.

Other creative learning experiences include interactive drumming workshops, collaborative clay sculpture and “Serious Play,” a hands-on, minds-on experience. Also, any of these sessions can be combined, to provide yet more interconnected answers to business problems.

banff avenu mountain spaces


Over 60 different meeting spaces exist at The Banff Centre, including pavilions, theatre complexes, research facilities, cafes, classrooms and gardens. Approximately 72,000 sf of meeting space is available, with every structure providing glimpses of the Canadian Rockies. The campus can handle groups from five to 1,000 participants.

The Professional Development Center is housed inside a beautiful rustic pine lodge trimmed out with handcrafted furniture, lounge areas and 171 rooms or suites, all with full hotel amenities and more dramatic views of the Rockies. The Lloyd Hall building features 150 newly renovated rooms with work desks and free WiFi.