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Our Story

Strong Women in the Bow Valley

The Dorothy is Banff’s boutique motel, inspired by the spirit of women’s strength in the Bow Valley; from pioneering adventurers such as Mary Schaffer and Mary Vaux, to 21st century women like Dorothy Carleton and Sharon Wood. These strong women made homes in the backcountry and lived a life of wilderness adventure, while balancing motherhood with grace, practicality and positivity.


Who is Dorothy Carleton?

Dorothy Carleton was born in the town of Reading in the United Kingdom. She met a ‘fine, young Canadian man’, and member of the Canadian armed forces in England during World War II. Ed Carleton swept her off her feet and they married before the end of the war. This kickstarted Dorothy’s adventure as one of many famous war brides, traveling by steam ship with her infant son Michael, to Halifax, Nova Scotia. As Dorothy recalls, “I traveled ten days by ship and ten days by train, to meet my husband.” After the war, Ed Carleton had become a Banff National Park warden, and in 1948, met his family at the train to drive them to their new home, the Bow Summit warden cabin. It was quite a transition to move from urban England to a one room cabin in the wilds of what is now the Icefields Parkway. Dorothy adjusted quickly to living in nature and embraced the warden life in the backcountry, while raising three boys. In her later years, Dorothy lived in Banff and continued to be active volunteering in the community and putting in her paces throughout town well into her 90s. She passed away at 98 in 2018 in Banff, and is fondly remembered by many friends and loved ones.

Her son Mike Carleton wrote in a 2019 book dedicated to Ed and Dorothy’s life, “We are grateful to Mum and Dad for the unique opportunity to live in the heart of Banff National Park and to experience and enjoy the mountains and the wilderness.” He adds, “You were a perfect example of how to live a wonderful life.”

“Think positively and it will all work out just fine.” – Dorothy Carleton