I had the chance to speak with Canmore musician Mike Petroff on this weekend’s anniversary of the 2013 flood.


Rob: It’s the Canmore flood anniversary. It’s tough to believe that it’s it was seven years ago that, according to your song, the Cougar roared.

Mike: Yeah, time flies. And I think what we’ve been through in the last little bit, Rob, has prompted us to think about crises and adjustment and compromise in our lives.

Rob: I really fell in love with Canmore after the flood. I think the way our community came together and the way our people really shone, it showed me that this is the kind of community that can really weather a disaster like the flood and, during COVID, I think we’ve done a pretty good job of weathering that as well.

Mike: That’s a great analogy because I agree it’s a wonderful town and I think we rallied during the flood and I can see it happening right now during COVID.

Rob: We’re going to play your song “The Night the Cougar Roared”. What inspired you to write that song?

Mike: June 19th, 2013, it started raining and I guess they called it an imperfect storm. There was a lot of debris backup, snow melt. I guess my emotion was I couldn’t get my mind around that the little creek could turn itself upon us and be so nasty. June 21st was the day it stopped raining, I was down at Communitea playing a fundraiser. I was on my bicycle and I thought, well, I’ll never get this chance again. I’m going to ride up TransCanada highway in the middle of the road. I rode down to where Cougar Creek had flooded out the highway. There were many semis backed up both ways, miles on end, and the heavy equipment operators had finally shut down after three days of hard slogging. There were many heroes in town at that time and this song kind of highlighted the heavy equipment operators. A full moon had just come up over Grotto; I sat down on the guard rail and a songwriter always carries a golf pencil and a pad, and the song kind of wrote itself. It just paid homage to the heroes in our town.

Rob: Has this current situation inspired any songwriting for you?

Mike: It has. I haven’t been in touch with many of my songwriting colleagues. We’ve been socially distant, but I said to them, I don’t want it to be a negative downer song about what’s going on. I want it to highlight what you spoke of earlier to how our community rallies and the good things. I’ve got one kind of almost there, but they have to evolve. Not all of them go as quickly as the Cougar Roared.

Rob: It’s coming up on three years since your album 1000 Storms was released. Are you working on another new album?

Mike: Well, there’s probably enough stuff, but with COVID it kind of puts an anchor on a lot of careers and plans.

Rob: The sort of opposite between COVID-19 and the flood of 2013 is – one of my big memories from 2013 was that everyone rallied around the artistic and musical community. It seemed like every night there was like a fundraising benefit concert, people coming together and feeling good as a big group. This is totally the opposite. We can’t have that kind of live music type of event anymore.

Mike: No, not yet. Although they’re relaxing a little bit. Baby steps, you know, we don’t want to jump the gun here and get things going too early, but there might be some deck concerts happening. I know my buddy Brad Bischoff had that concert down in Spring Creek. I played a gig last week at the old folks’ home, the Lodge, and it was great to play live and really nice to see some familiar faces. It was a nice sunny day, and even though there was a fence between us and them it was still really nice to play.

Rob: Has it been tough for you as a musician though, to not be able to do the regular gigging?

Mike: Yeah, it has. Like many, there’s been adjustment and compromise and a lot of cancellations, much like with your DJ service. It is what it is. I think you’ve just got to try and remain positive, and I think we’re living in a pretty good community to help that.

Filed under: 2013 Flood, Canmore, covid-19