Experience The Mountain Parks Blog
...all about the Alberta-to-British Columbia mountain parks, including life in and around the parks. Not all our news and stories are here, though, so you might want to check our news section and Bob's "tweets" —conveniently placed in the upper right of each page.
66.9 km south of Highway #1
Landscape and history are interconnected. For 350 years, rivers were the highways for the fur trade - an exchange by Aboriginal peoples of furs (especially beaver) and bison pemmican for European goods such as fabrics, pots and guns. After crossing the continent by dogsled and canoe the furs continued, via ship, to Great Britain to be made into hats and other fashion items.
Two hundred years ago this trade crossed the Rockies through the efforts of David Thompson (1770 - 1857). Thompson was the greatest chronicler of his day of landscapes, peoples and nature. There is growing awareness that he is the most under-recognized figure in Canadian history.
Although David Thompson is usually categorized as a fur trader and explorer, he was in fact a multifaceted and complex man. He overcame numerous challenges to rise from rags to riches, only to return to poverty and obscurity.
From an impoverished childhood in Westminster, England, David became a successful fur trader in the wilds of North America. Over a 28 year career he travelled and surveyed 100,000 km by foot, canoe and horseback. In the process he established two commercially viable routes across the Rockies, Howse Pass and Athabasca Pass. In proving the Columbia River navigable, he completed the last leg of the long sought Inland Northwest Passage that connected the Montréal trade to the Pacific. His route from the northern plains to the ocean was used for more than 40 years.
During his travels he was often accompanied by Charlotte Small, his Cree/Scottish wife, with whom he fathered 13 children (five in the wilderness). Their 58 year marriage is a great Canadian love story.
Thompson was unequalled as a surveyor. After retiring from the fur trade he converted his years of surveys into maps. His famous map of the Province of Canada covered four million square kilometres (1/6) of the continent, with unprecedented accuracy and became the basis for other maps depicting much of Canada and the United States until the 20th century. For a decade after the War of 1812 he was the official surveyor for 1,600 km of the newly established international boundary.
The bicentennial of David Thompson’s trans-mountain activities (1807-1811) has inspired a far reaching commemoration of the man and related history. Beginning in 2002, a grassroots network of educators, artists, writers, historians, surveyors, environmentalists and paddlers have created hundreds of commemorative projects across Canada, the north western states to Britain.
- Protection for 69,456 hectares of heritage landscapes
- 4 voyageur canoe brigades covering a combined 5500 km of waterways and involving 850 participants
- More than 200 events and re-enactments
- Recognition of Charlotte Small as a person of national historic significance
- Recognition of the Columbia Express as a national historic event
- 6 academic conferences
- 3 archaeological projects
- 6 documentaries (including PBS and BBC)
- 24 books (2 more are on the way)
- Educational resources across western Canada and the northwestern states
- A national Thompson Award for surveying excellence
- Statues of David and Charlotte Thompson in Invermere, British Columbia
- Museum exhibits in many communities
- Thompson inspired artworks
- Expansion of Howse Pass and Athabasca Pass National Historic Sites
Top; David Thompson's explorations – Courtesy of davidthompson200.org
Third from top; Black powder salute at Rocky Mountain House, AB for 2008 David Thompson Brigade – Photo courtesy of Ross MacDonald
Bottom; Voyageur canoe on Columbia River – Photo courtesy of Ross MacDonald
Here's your unique chance to win a week-long odyssey exploring seven epic riding destinations in British Columbia. And yes, that's an other contest!!
Mountain Biking BC, along with BC Bike Ride and Endless Biking are giving away a fabulous prize: a 7-day trip to explore seven destinations across British Columbia, discovering the province's legendary trails, accompanied by some of the best guides and coaches in the industry. To top it off, the winner can bring along their best riding buddy to join the adventure.
The trip will take place from August 11, 2012 to August 19, 2012 starting out from Vancouver and ending in Whistler, in time to catch the Red Bull Joyride Finals at Cranworx on August 18.
Trip includes ground transportation, accommodation, professional guides, $1000 cash, and as much dirt loving your legs and lungs can handle.
To enter, riders just need to submit their entry at www.MountainBikingBC.ca.
Entries for the contest close on June 30, 2012. On July 2nd, ten randomly selected finalists will be notified to explain in a short essay why they most deserve the trip. Grand prize winner will be announced on July 11, one month short to prepare for their ultimate mountain biking dream on British Columbia's most awesome single track.
That's it, but don't miss this incredible opportunity!!
Photo credit: Frisby Ridge, Revelstoke, British Columbia, photo by Bruno Long
Curious to know what last year's trip looked like? Check this video then:
Gold had been discovered on the mainland not far away and word was spreading to far-off locales like California, Australia and other parts of the world. Islanders watched in anticipation while hundreds of miners spilled off the ship.
Overnight, Fort Victoria, named in honour of Queen Victoria, was set up as the key outfitting centre accessing the gold fields and within weeks, over 20,000 miners were erecting tent cities in the modest port.
Victoria was incorporated in 1862 and in 1871 became British Columbia’s capital after the province joined the Canadian Confederation. The city was positioned to become the commercial centre of British Columbia. That was until 1886 when the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) was completed and that title was claimed by the city of Vancouver.
Present day Victoria and area has a population of over 360,000. Residents, especially retirees are attracted to the mild climate. A significant percentage is students attending any one of several universities or colleges.
Victoria has become a top tourist destination. In 1904, the Butchart Gardens opened; a botanical display later recognized as a National Historic Site of Canada. Today it receives more than a million visitors a year.
In 1908 the CPR finished the construction of the Empress Hotel It sits majestically in the scenic Inner Harbour. This palace was originally built for Canadian Pacific’s (CP) steamship line, whose terminal was close by. When CP discontinued its passenger service to Victoria, the Empress Hotel turned into a successful tourist resort.
Today’s Royal Roads University was once the Hatley Castle, a grandiose home built in 1908 for James Dunsmuir, Lieutenant Governor and Premier of British Columbia during the early 1900s. The university has kept its strong ties to the Canadian Forces through its previous employment as the Royal Roads Military College.
Victoria’s Royal BC Museum was hailed, “The best [museum] in the province,” by Lonely Planet, who says it’s, “a highlight on any visit [to Victoria].”
The city also has the oldest Chinatown in Canada, an important venue for cultural entertainment in Victoria. About one third of the miners who travelled to Fort Victoria during the gold rush in 1858 were Chinese. They surely came for the prospect of gold but many were also motivated to make the voyage because of the state of their own homeland, thick with drought, famine and war. This year, Victoria will celebrate its 150 year anniversary.
“The past 150 years has seen Victoria mature and change into the world class city it is today; a city of beautiful contrasts, where the elegance of history mingles with the panache of modern life,” states Alice Bacon, 150th Anniversary Coordinator.
“A year-long anniversary program is currently under development,” she says, “[including] a wide range of events that embrace Victoria’s rich history and its de ning heritage characteristics, while maintaining a current and contemporary view.”
Victoria was the first city to create the Living Flag, where 350 people positioned accordingly on the lawn of the legislative buildings in red and white shirts. The Living Flag set a record in 2011 with 3,222 people and this year, Kenneth Kelly, general manager of the Downtown Victoria Business Association and Living Flag instigator, hopes to set a record of 5,000 on July 1, 2012 to commemorate the city’s anniversary.
Focus on Arts and Culture is set for the B.C. Day long-weekend, (Aug. 2-6). Events include a civic ceremony and large-scale community celebrations in Centennial Square (Aug. 2), a 150th Anniversary edition of the popular Symphony Splash in Victoria’s Inner Harbour (Aug. 5) and many other special events throughout the city. More details can be found at downtownvictoria.ca.
Known as the Cycling Capital of Canada, Victoria has more bicycle paths than any other major city so you might be tempted to see this community on two wheels. For mountain bikers, “The Dump” is a reclaimed land ll on Mount Work in Hartland Park. The area has been turned into an extensive mountain bike park with a wide range of difficulty levels.
Aside from a rich, cultural heritage, Victoria is an outdoor enthusiast’s amusement park. With a bustling urban centre surrounded by ocean and mountain wilderness, Victoria and its home on Vancouver Island, has much to show visitors. Museums, art galleries, restaurants and shops satiate the urbanite while activity fans can find adrenaline from bear-watching, bungee-jumping, windsurfing and mountain climbing in some of the island’s many provincial and national parks. In fact, it’s hard to think of what you can’t do or see on Canada’s western island.
In the 2008 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards, Victoria ranked as number 16 out of 100 Top World Destinations. It is also considered the major gateway to exploring Vancouver Island, stretching 300 miles north of the city.
Bottom; Selkirk Trest Bridge – Courtesy of Tourism BC/Tom Ryan
Heather Lea loves travelling, wine and a good adventure story. She’s pretty sure she was born 50 years too late as she loves getting deep into the stories of early mountain explorers.
Heather has written for various outdoor magazines such as Climbing, Gripped and Kootenay Mountain Culture. In 2005, she started an Arts, Culture and Lifestyles magazine called "Reved Quarterly", which she publishes independently out of Revelstoke, B.C.
Heather wrote this story counting the exceptional life of Isabel Coursier called "Isabel Coursier – Ski-jumping Pioneer" for Experience The Mountain Parks.
Newlywed Evelyn Berens did not know she would be starting a fad when she went through her husband’s wardrobe looking for suitable mountain-climbing attire for her honeymoon in 1901.
mistook her for a boy rather than a young lady. Today, you can try on a metal replica of Georgia’s pants at the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre and pose for a picture with Mount Tupper towering behind you.
It is under the tutelage of Stieglitz’s wife, Georgia O’ Keeffe, that Engelhard matured as a painter. In biographies Engelhard is repeatedly mentioned as O’ Keeffe’s friend and companion. Georgia minor, as Engelhard was called, served as comic release for the older artist who often found Stieglitz and his family oppressive. The two artists frequently painted together at Stiegltiz’s summer house on Lake George and occasionally took excursions together. Engelhard’s paintings reflect O’ Keeffe’s influence—flat areas of pure color and sensuous curves are used to define the landscape. In both Abstraction and in Lake we see Engelhard’s enthusiasm for color and drama. The mountains are anything but static; undulating curves and constrasting colors provide an energy that is in keeping with the modernists’ enthusiasm for nature. Engelhard’s landscapes are more traditionally comprehensive than O’ Keeffe’s, who tended to focus in on an object or form.
Despite a paralyzing fear of heights, Engelhard became a premier mountain climber at the age of 20 and was the first female climber to ascend many of the peaks in the Canadian Rockies. Engelhard’s determination to overcome this specific fear evolved into a passion for the mountains that lasted throughout her lifetime and is made evident in paintings on the subject. Stieglitz’s biographer, Sue Davidson Lowe, believes that Lake is an impression of Lake Louise with Mt. Victoria in the background, a location where the artist often climbed. Abstraction may be scene recalled from her numerous climbs in the Swiss Alps.
Engelhard was also a writer and an accomplished photographer. In 1938 when she began living with Eaton Cromwell she stopped painting and together the couple pursued photography. While living in Switzerland they sold a number of their pictures to postcard companies. Few of Georgia Engelhard’s paintings are in existence today and when one does appear there is often a dispute about whether the canvas comes from O’ Keefe’s hands or Engelhard’s.
Top; Georgia Engelhard – Courtesy of Canadian Pacific Archives
Third from top; "Abstraction" an oil on canvas by Georgia Engelhard – Courtesy of Jeri L. Waxenberg Wolfson collection
Bottom; "Lake" an oil on canvas by Georgia Engelhard – Courtesy of Jeri L. Waxenberg Wolfson collection.
- Banff Visitor Centre pays tribute to its cultural history
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- And the second place in the Friends & Family category goes to...
- And the second place in the Videos category of our 2012 RECESS IS BACK readers' contest goes to...
- And the second place in the Landscapes and Sunsets category of our 2012 RECESS IS BACK readers' contest goes to...
- And the second place in the Wildlife & Flowers category goes to...
- And the winners of our 2012/2013 Photos and Videos Contest are...
- 2012/2013 Photos/Videos Contest
- oTENTiks are coming to a mountain park near you!
- Submissions to our 2012/2013 Photos/Videos Contest are now over...