Where Did the name Okotoks Come From? Beckler & Seanna Find Out

If you’ve been down around Okotoks you may have passed a giant rock just off the highway west of town. Ya we’re talking big rocks here.

In fact this is the very rock that Big Rock Brewery is named after. You can find it 20 km south of here in a field – And we DO mean big – it weighs 16,500 TONNES. It’s about 9 metres tall and 40 metres wide.  

It is believed that this rock arrived in that field around 15,000 years ago. A massive rock slide is said to have occurred on Mount Edith near Jasper. The rocks that slid fell onto a massive sheet of ice, that then travelled 300 km south.  

When the ice sheet started to melt it dropped rocks along it’s way – and these rocks were then scattered along a 980 km path now known as the Foothills Erratic Trail. The famous “big rock” – landed near present day Okotoks.  

When humans started to settle here the big rock became an important marker for travel. It was a gathering place, a resting place, a direction marker – and the Blackfoot referred to this rock as O’Kotok” which simply means rock and is obviously where Okotoks got it’s name.  

This rock was known as a medicine rock and it’s featured in a famous Blackfoot story featuring a mischievous character named NAPI. The story goes that Napi told the rock he would give it his robe in exchange for resting there. When it started to get cold, Napi asked for his robe back. The rock refused and Napi took it. any way so the rock began rolling after him.  

According to the folklore: deer, bison and pronghorns tried to stop the rock but didn’t succeed. Then bats dove at the rock and finally broke it into two pieces. This is the origin of why the rock is broken. This is also the blackfoot explanation as to why bats have squashed-looking faces.  

In 1978 the rock was designated a provincial historic resource and more recently 3D scans were taken of the rock for research purposes so we may learn even more about the big rock in the future.  

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