the franz Dopf story

Franz Dopf Gallery is named after the remarkable individual whose life embodies the essence of our artistic vision. Franz Dopf, a pioneer, serves as our inspiration, and we strive to emulate his values and accomplishments.

Photo by Mary Conroy

"Nature does not hurry but everything is accomplished”

The Early years

Franz with his childhood friend Hans, explored the Austrian alps, exhibiting a spirit of adventure from a young age. Together, they embarked on a challenging journey, cycling around Austria with bikes that had no gears, and the tires stuffed with straw. They did all this with very little equipment and relying on the kindness of strangers for sustenance and shelter.

Working as apprentices in their respective trades of furniture making and electrical work, Franz and Hans devoted their weekends to scaling the mountains. After arduous bike rides to the foot of the mountains, they would hike to the mountain hut, resting minimally before setting out for full days of climbing. Despite the physical demands, they maintained their strong and tenacious spirit.

Franz Dopf (left)  and Hans Gmoser – On the Trail

Hans, Franz and Leo at the base of Yamnuska.

Climbing in Canada

Eventually, Franz, Hans, and their friend Leo Grillmair took a tremendous risk and relocated to Canada. They settled in Calgary, closer to the mountains they loved. Exploring Mount Yamnuska, Franz accomplished the first ascent, subsequently named the Calgary Route. This became the beginning of many established climbing routes in the region.

While Hans and Leo pursued careers as mountain guides, leaving a lasting impact on the sport of heliskiing and founding Canadian Mountain Holidays, Franz charted his own path. Ever independent, he thrived as a home builder, leaving his distinctive Austrian-style homes scattered throughout Calgary. Additionally, his skills as a furniture maker were evident in the kitchens and interior woodwork he crafted.

The entrepreneur

Franz’s astute sense for property led him to acquire a condemned house in Kensington and an old bi-level on 17th Avenue, areas that were once considered undesirable. Today, both locations have transformed into sought-after addresses, featuring thriving retail complexes and restaurants. Franz Dopf Gallery is currently located in the Kensington building that Franz himself built.

After weathering the oil crash of the 1980s, Franz found himself in need of leasing the basement of the 17th Avenue bi-level. As he tried to rent the space, he inadvertently discovered his talent for furniture making. The furniture he created gained attention, leading to the establishment of a successful furniture manufacturing and retail business called The Pine Shop (Ingrained Style Furniture Co.).

Bugaboo Lodge being constructed.  Picture by Lloyd Gallagher

Franz at the Grossier Priel Hut in Austria. At 78 years old. First one to the top of the mountain

a slow and steady Approach to life

Despite his achievements as a mountaineer and entrepreneur, Franz’s greatest priority was his family. Observing him closely, we witnessed his unhurried and deliberate approach to life. He never rushed, yet always reached the top or descended the slopes first. He possessed an extraordinary ability to calmly pursue tasks until their completion, leaving a lasting impact on everyone he encountered.

Franz Dopf was not only an artist in his own right, but his approach to life serves as our guiding light. At Franz Dopf Gallery, we aspire to embody the same fluid and deliberate spirit, fostering an environment where art flourishes and creativity knows no bounds. Join us as we celebrate the legacy of Franz and strive to leave our own indelible mark on the artistic landscape of Calgary.

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