The reason for the turbulence you encountered was most likely due to the "jetstream." This is a channel of air that sits at around 25,000 to 35,000 feet, so right in the path of commercial aircraft (there are lower level jetstreams, but they are usually not as strong.) This jetstream is moved around North America by low and high pressure weather systems, but it usually sits right over the BC
/Alberta Continential Divide. Here is a weather map, the jetstream is the white squiggle:
This is the current map, and as you can see, the jetstream is in its usual spot.
Generally speaking, the jetstream does not provide very powerful turbulence (this would be the result of storm systems) but it is very common to get light to moderate chop as a result of this stream.
Go to the weather network's website and check to see where the jetstream is before your flight; if its over the mountains, you may be in for a fun ride! Just keep in mind that it's very normal, lots of other planes go through it all the time, and that its well within the normal operating limits of the aircraft. Just think of how many times Air Canada or Westjet pilots go through it safely!
Someday, we'll look back at this, laugh nervously, and then change the subject.