June 7th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 23
Friends and Neighbours
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
Susan Douglas Murray and Alan Brice.
Susan Douglas Murray and Alan Brice
Born in Kingston, Ontario, Susan's family moved to Glasgow, Scotland for five years while her dad finished his MD. They returned when Susan was 5, moving to Victoria and then Kingston, where she grew up. She attended Queen's University, studying political science as well as art, philosophy and history. She had considered going into law, but life next took Susan to Banff, where she lived from 1980 to 94, where she met Alan. She also travelled the world, exploring New Zealand, Australia, India, Nepal, Italy, France, the Philippines, and Indonesia,

Born troubleshooter

The Brices emigrated to Canada when Alan was one, and he grew up in Hamilton, where his father worked as an engineer. Alan discovered that he could detect and fix any problem, be it in a diamond mine, or in a gas plant, Alan used this talent in many locations including Lake Louise, Sunshine, and Banff. He had also apprenticed at Hamilton's DoFasco steel mill.

Susan is a self-taught painter in acrylics, and has shown in Banff, Ottawa and Waterton. Susan has worked in various capacities in the food industry since high school, worked in a flower shop for four years, and at Grumpies Greenhouse and Landscaping in Pincher.


Alan worked for years at Banff Fishing Unlimited and has fished his whole life. It was in the 1970s when he took up flyfishing. Susan had played competitive tennis until age 18. She had also been “lucky enough to grow up flyfishing. My dad fished with the best flyfishers around at the time.” Both were fishing separately, when Alan yelled out: “Follow me!”. And she did. When, later, Alan stepped on a log in the water, it tipped over, covering Susan from head to toe in mud.


It was 19 years ago when they moved to Coleman. Susan and Alan started the Crowsnest Fly Shop and Cafe, next to the 711, some 17 years ago this June. Their first location was in the Mine Rescue building, where the fly shop was small. When they moved to their present location beside 711, that flyfishing setting became more evolved.
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Alan is the real power behind the stove, making the pestos and salsas – or as Susan calls them, “the background flavours” – which she then combines. The food is organic, and although Susan describes the food as “tried and true”, the menu is forever changing. Thus, the menu is truly organic in more than one way. Susan's desserts are customer favourites as well. Most interesting is the fact that Susan agrees that her husband is a “tastebud detective”, able to guess the complete recipe of any dish he might sample.

Susan previously worked in the food industry, and the two will celebrate 17 years in business this June. Their business philosophy of always incorporating fresh ideas, while also having fun, has helped them reach their potential. “I love our space here; this is a wonderful place in which to live, ” enthuses Susan, (while Winston, their golden retriever, nods in agreement.)

Everything Fish-related

Susan guides as well as Alan, who is billed as a “trout psychologist”. There is nobody in the area region, who knows more about water conditions, land use and regulations, and fish behaviour. Both recommend practising fishing etiquette with respect to others as well as to the fish. Says Susan: “Spend the extra bit and start fly fishing with guided lessons. Then, don't buy equipment until you know that you are going to be active in the sport.” They also advocate sharing the landscape considerately, handling fish as little as possible, using only barbless hooks, and boot-cleaning before changing streams.
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Famous Fishing

Actor-author-director Sam Elliott and his wife Katharine Ross have gone fishing with Susan and Alan. Fishing luminaries like Phil Rowley (who has written for every fly fishing publication in North America and presents seminars all over the continent), Jason Borger (Executive Director, Fly Fishing Institute), and Joan Wulff (American casting champion in the mid 20th century), also come to mind. When asked: Who is the most favourite historic person with whom Susan would love to fish? The answer is Mary Queen of Scots. “Because she would have provided a great lunch!”

Jocelyn Thomas is an artist and writer who lives in Blairmore
June 7th, 2017 ~ Vol. 87 No. 23
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