The Story of a Pilgrimage to Conuma
Reported in the Daily Colonist Sunday September 25, 1910, p.6 & 7.
Mr. Arthur W. McCurdy, President of the Natural History Society, strongly advocates the broadening of the work of that useful organization, so as to embrace subjects not usually considered as coming within the domain of natural history. The Society has already extended its investigations into other fields, but Mr. McCurdy has opened what is a somewhat new and almost illimitable field, in which its members can do useful and interesting work. During the summer he spent several weeks in the country bordering on Nootka Sound, his primary object being to make the ascent of Conuma Peak, one of the most striking mountains on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, and around which some interesting legends are centered. He read a paper before the Society on his return, which was profusely illustrated by lantern slides from photographs taken by himself. A number of these are reproduced herewith. Mr. McCurdy began his paper thus:
“A monument ten times as high as the Great Pyramid;
A King’s Tomb;
The Ancient River of Gold;
A Wilderness of Snow, Ice, Forest, Precipice, Mountain and River.
Such were a few of the headings of my programme on leaving Victoria for Nootka on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, on July 7, 1910. I will not at this time describe the wild and interesting scenery of the West Coast more than to say that Clayoquot surpasses Barkley Sound in interest and beauty, and the Nootka Sound excels them both. I will stop, however, to show you a photograph of a convoy of very small Indian boys in their six-foot dugout canoes as they came off from the Presbyterian mission with the freight boat at Ahousaht.” Nootka Sound is about halfway between the north and south ends of Vancouver Island. The early navigators regarded it as the most accessible of all the harbors on the Northwest Coast, and there was a time when it played a very important part in international politics. It is worth mentioning that Green, in his “History of the English People,” referring to the troubles between Great Britain and Spain over Nootka, says that this harbor is located in California. Mr. McCurdy says: “You are all more or less familiar with descriptions of Nootka by [James] Cook, [George]Vancouver, [John] Jewitt and others. At the beginning of last century Nootka was the only port of consequence north of Monterey, and figured more than once prominently in diplomatic correspondence. From 1785 to 1787, not including the operations of Meares from Nootka, Dixon reports 5,800 sea-otter skins sold in China at an average price of $30 each. Mr. Swan reports a total $48,500 during the four years 1799-1802, representing approximately a million and a half of dollars. “More than once,” says Sturgis, “I have known a capital of $40,000 employed in a northwest voyage yield a return exceeding $150,000. In one instance an outfit not exceeding $50,000 gave a gross return of $284,000.” Following the traders came the naturalists, who first broke ground in Northwest America at Nootka, and named specimens of plants and animals for that locality. There are, for instance, a Haliotis Nutkaensis (ear shell), a Rubus Natkanus (raspberry), and a Chamaecyparis Nootkatesis (nootka cypress). [These names are recorded in the book The Adventures of John Jewitt: The Only Survivor of the Crew of the Ship Boston.] Such was the importance of Nootka, which was the centre of trade and commerce for the whole of the Northwest Coast of America a hundred years ago. In those days there was a large population of Indians on the Sound, whereas today there is only a small settlement at Friendly Cove. Nootka also may be reckoned among the largest and safest harbors of the world. It has a wide, clean approach from the ocean, and is protected from ocean storms by Bligh Island, behind which lies a harbor of calm water, extending to the east for 32 miles, to the west 20 miles, and to the north for 15 miles, excluding the large basin of which Bligh Island is the centre. The great harbor is deep and navigable for the largest ships, and is free from rocks and sand bars. Nootka has the most striking approach from the ocean of any harbor I have ever seen. The great peaks are signals which may be sighted by the mariner while still many miles at sea.
The central and most conspicuous peak is Conuma, in which in the cave near the top, legend places the tomb of the greatest of the West Coast Indian chiefs, King Maquinna. Legend also states that in olden times a River of Gold ran down the ravine from the cave. The view of the approach to the sound was sketched from the Admiralty chart at a distance of seven miles from the coast, showing the elevation of Nootka Cone to be 1,619 feet, and Conuma Peak, which was distant 35 miles from the observer, to be 4,889 feet.” The above brief reference to Nootka will lead many persons to join in the expression of the hope that Mr. McCurdy will make the harbor itself a subject for description at length and full illustration on some future occasion. His account of his brief trip around the Sound was as follow: “We dropped anchor for a few minutes at Friendly Cove, where I secured three Indians for our expedition, and then went on to the marble quarries, where we made our headquarters with Mr. Rawlinson and his family. For two days we explored the Sound in a small launch, and visited the Lagoon, which has a reversible waterfall similar to that of the Gorge at Victoria, and is exceedingly picturesque. Some distance from the Lagoon, on the other side of the Sound, we found a small harbor admirably adapted for an anchorage for small yachts, and a delightful resort for picnic parties. At this time of year, one is almost sure of catching some of the tyee or king salmon amid scenery which under every condition of light and shade, is always beautiful. The Kleeptee Peninsula is an almost unknown territory, with Head Bay on the west, Muchalat Arm on the south, Gold River on the east, and Conuma Peak on the north. The first expedition was planned to enter this peninsula at the mouth of the Kleeptee River, to explore towards Gold River, and if possible, to reach Conuma Peak before returning.
The Kleeptee River
The Kleeptee River runs through a granite formation, and has on each side throughout its entire length, mountains from 2,500 to 3,500 feet high. The width of the valley varies from one quarter of a mile to one mile, and is about six miles in length. There are three small falls on the river flowing over ledges of granite, and the water is clear and cold. Our first stop was at noon between the first and second falls, and while our cook was preparing lunch, our three Indian packers went in for a swim. The temperature of the stream was 45 deg. F. At our next stop for lunch the Indians again went in for a swim, and I was hurriedly called to come and see the school of trout following them about the pool. We camped on the shore of a lake not far from the source of the river, which we afterwards found to flow from a bed of snow and ice high up on a mountain side. From the lake three of our party returned to further explore the Sound and meet us at the end of six days near the mouth of Gold River.
The Neesack River
Crossing the lake on a raft we landed at a beaver dam and descended into the valley of the Neesack [Nesook]. At the shore of this river, where it abruptly turns to enter the Sound near the entrance of Head Bay, we found four excavations under the overhanging bank, made, the Indians said, by bear, who could here lie in wait for salmon as the passed up the stream, fish them out, and eat them at their leisure. A mile up the river a branch flows into the Neesack from the valley to the south. We proceeded along the main stream, however, to the divide separating the Neesack from the Gold River valley, and found that the Neesack also has its source in snow and ice. We ascended a dome-shaped mountain 2,700 feet high from which we had a glorious panorama in all directions. Conuma Peak to the north had not that spire-like form which we saw from Friendly Cove, but was shaped more like a huge wedge pushed up through the granite. In the west and northwest the snow fields and high peaks of the range running north from Head bay; to the east of Conuma, but much further north, Victoria Peak, 7,484 feet; to the east Crown Mountain, 6,082 feet; to the southeast the great snow fields and peaks flanking the National Park at Buttles Lake; and to the south and southwest the valleys of the Kleeptee and the Neesack, up which we had come – all were in plain view from the summit of this mountain. As we ascended the mountain, we found pink, white and dark red heather in full bloom at 2,000 feet. There was much snow in the hollows on the side of this mountain, and many small pools of water, with a small lake here and there. In one of these a bear was having a bath just before we came up. Instead of going round through Gold River country, we turned southeast down a stream which enters the Sound about four miles west of Gold River. The Indians made unsuccessful attempts to catch the large salmon which were trying to leap over one of the small falls of the river.” Nothing daunted by his lack of success in this direction, Mr. McCurdy decided to attack the mountain from another direction, and what follows is the first description ever given by a white man of this part of Vancouver Island, and Mr. McCurdy has doubtless the honor of being the first white man to set foot upon this notable peak. “Failing to reach Conuma from the south, I planned a second expedition to pass through Head Bay, ascend the Mowatcha [Moutcha] River, and reach Conuma from the north. At the left of the illustration and about a mile from the shore is located the Dunsmuir iron mine. The river is on the right behind Separation Saddle. The valley of the Mowatcha River is from a quarter of a mile to half a mile in width, and for three miles is comparatively level and wooded.
The mountains to the north and south rising to an elevation of 3,000 feet, were burned over many years ago by an Indian, who said, “Now the white man will no longer come to disturb our fish and game.” He intended to burn up all the timber of the Sound with his end in view, but before completing his plan of wholesale destruction, he was confirmed by authorities on a charge of insanity. This burning of the timber has no doubt kept explorers out of this region, for above canoe navigation we saw no axe marks or other indications of any having been through this district. We left out canoe at the mouth of a canyon, and proceeded over the burnt district, where fallen timber, small bushes, and bracken impeded our progress greatly. In some places the banks of the canyon were two hundred feet high, all solid rock, with not a vestige of soil anywhere. Before the fire the whole region had been covered with magnificent trees. How they could grow to such a size on such a bed of solid rock is one of the marvels of this country. Here at a distance of about four miles we had a glimpse of Conuma for several days, as fog came in from the ocean in the afternoon. The next morning bushes were wet and the traveling very disagreeable although no rain had fallen. We did not start until noon. At the head of the canyon, which I estimated to be about two miles in length, we found the river so congested that Sampson was able to jump across, but neither Dominick nor I cared to risk a leap over such a deep and boiling chasm, and a tree was felled to make the crossing. Above the gorge the river is about 100 feet width and a foot deep, running through a narrow, level valley, a corner of which was burned over in grand conflagration. There was no discoloration in the water of the river, no insipid taste – it was clear and cold, with a temperature of 45 deg. F. The bed of the stream was covered with small granite mixed with bluish stones characteristic of the dykes of the country, which are mineralized to a greater or lesser extent. We camped at the riverside not far from its junction with the “Ancient River of Gold from the Brow of Conuma.” During the next day our progress was slow owing to dense fog. Suddenly at an elevation of 1,300 feet Conuma flashed through the fog as if suspended in the sky almost above us and immediately disappeared. But this flash showed us its location, concerning which we had been somewhat in doubt. The picture revealed was of a great white horse hung up in the sky on a hard grey background. The “white horse” afterwards proved to be a great white snow field on the side of the mountain. The momentary impression made upon my mind was first, the nearness of the mountain, second, its great height, and third, the precipitous character of the cone. At an elevation of 2,050 feet, we again found white, pink and red heather. We reached the plateau on the north shoulder of the mountain at an elevation of 3,000 feet on Sunday at noon, and found between us and the cone a field of snow filling a great hollow in the mountain side about half by a quarter of a mile in area. Here the Mowatcha has its source, making a complete semi-circle of about four miles around the shoulder of the mountain to our camp No. 12. During the afternoon we caught occasional glimpses of the cone through the driving fog, but did not care to advance further until the fog had completely disappeared. Entering one of the pools of this plateau for a bath, I was surprised to see many small sticks about one and a half inches long and a quarter of an inch-thick approaching from every quarter of the pool. Upon breaking one of these in two I found that the wood had been excavated and its place was filled by a grub about an inch long.
A River of Gold
Next morning, we started for the cone and arrived at the ravine down which in ancient times, legend says, flowed “A River of Gold.” In the bottom of the ravine lay a solid bed of ice instead of a bed of solid gold, and looking up the ravine through a stone arch, I could see the opposite wall of the crater in the brow of the peak. This crater contains ice to an unknown depth. I could not see the “King’s Tomb,” although there could not be more a fitting place for it, and it may well be there. I had not the necessary equipment to provide for a descent into the ravine or into the crater, and further exploration of these two most interesting places had to be deferred to a future time. While I was taking photographs of the arch and ravine on the edge of which I was held by a small rope in the hands of Dominick, Sampson had taken off his shoes and socks and had scaled the peak. We could hear him shouting “Fine, fine!” He was gone for three quarters of an hour, and in the meantime, I took photographs of the surrounding panorama. Neither Dominick nor I would attempt it, for it was approximately 900 feet high. He brought back two samples of rock from the top and reported the crater to be seventy feet wide and one hundred and fifty feet deep: the natural bridge or arch to be twenty feet long, ten feet wide, and fifteen feet thick. He had been all over the mountain which he described as a wedge-shaped, about 25 feet wide and a quarter of a mile long, with a knife-edge at the back. “No way of getting up than by which he had come. The view from the top was fine – Gold River, the Sound, high mountains and snow all around.” As we stood on an elevation of 4,075 feet, the top of the cone rises above the ravine 889 feet. Truly Conuma Peak is a fit monument of a great king. On our return we again passed through the valley between the great snow field and the base of the cone, where plants grow with tropical luxuriance, and on emerging from this valley on the snow again, we bade au-revoir to Conuma for this year.
All McCurdy photographs and rights for use courtesy of Jane Shapley.
All McCurdy photographs and rights for use courtesy of Jane Shapley.
ACCVI History Begins
In the winter of 1911/1912, Arthur Wheeler, president of the Alpine Club of Canada, William Foster and other prominent Victoria mountaineers and businessmen founded the Vancouver Island section of the Alpine Club of Canada to help fund and organize an expedition into the newly sanctioned Strathcona Provincial Park. The expedition was well documented and reports can be read in the Canadian Alpine Journal, but future development of the local section was poorly documented for many years. Who chaired the section and the years they lead, and the trips and climbs undertaken by its members were unrecorded except in early Island newspapers such as the Daily Colonist, the Comox Argus and the Port Alberni News. Through these old newspaper clippings, I have been able to establish a rough outline of the club’s activities over the years and the rolls of people on the executive, although it is far from complete. Following are transcripts of the newspaper articles found and, in a few cases, accounts written in personal diaries. Although the Vancouver Island section started out small (<30 members), we will see through the years how it has grown to be one of the prominent sections of the Alpine Club of Canada.
Defining Eastern Boundary of B.C.
Hon. W.R. Ross Commissions Director of Alpine Club To Mark Off Line Between Provinces
Reported in the Daily Colonist Friday, April 28, 1911, p.3.
It’s the general impression among everyday business people that the alpine clubs of the world represent a too-arduous, too dangerous and too exciting form of a sport, and that their members are suffering from an advantaged stage of suicidal mania. England’s Alpine Club is the parent organization, having been in existence for the past fifty years. Soon after its initiation Ruskin wrote the following stricture: “Even the Alps themselves which your own poets used to love so reverently, you look upon as soap poles in a bear garden, which you set yourselves to climb and slide down again with shrieks of delight.” But later he retracted and made the amend honorably by joining the club and becoming one of its most enthusiastic supporters. The Alpine Club of Canada, though but five years old, believes that there are other ways to usefulness than merely providing mountain climbing for its members. It was announced at the club’s fifth anniversary celebrations held at Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary and New York that an expedition would this summer be conducted to Yellowhead Pass, Mount Robson and the Jasper Park region, for the purpose of mapping that Alpine district and presenting it to the world at large through the medium of the Alpine Club. This seems to be a highly practical form of usefulness. The expedition will be in charge of the director of the Club, Arthur O. Wheeler, who is a specialist in mapping mountain areas by means of photography, and who has already mapped the Rockies and the Selkirks along the line of the Canadian Pacific Railway for the Dominion government. The expedition is a strictly Alpine Club one. The assistant topographer will be Rev. George Kinney, the conqueror of Mount Robson; the club’s official photographer Byron Harmon of Banff and the Austrian guide, Conrad Kain will also be attached. The outfitting and transport of the party will be in the charge of Donald Phillips, of Edmonton, who shared with Kinney the triumph of the first ascent of Mount Robson. Also, proper persons to deal with the geology, botany and zoology of the area surveyed will be attached to the expedition. One object of the expedition is to ascertain the possibilities for the annual camp of the Alpine Club in the vicinity of Mount Robson in 1912. It is expected that by then all-rail communication will be established with the pass. Of recent years a number of explorers have visited it, all of whom have spoken in glowing terms of its Alpine splendours. Among there are Dr. Arthur P. Coleman, president of the club, Rev. George B. Kinney and Dr. Norman Collie, Arnold L. Mumm, and Leopold S. Amery, of the English Alpine Club. Messrs. Mumm and Collie will visit the region this year for the third consecutive time in succession. If is the photographs brought back by these gentlemen are to be believed – and photographs do not lie – there is a region of peaks, passes, snowfields, icefalls and glacial rivers that will equal, if not surpass, any region contiguous to the line of the C.P.R. Canada is indeed singularly blessed to possess two transcontinental railroads that run through such wholly unsurpassed Alpine scenic grandeur. The character of the mountain scenery is totally distinct along each line so that visiting tourists will do well to come and go by different routes. No two mountain ranges of the world are similar in characteristics, and the same is true of their component parts.
The director of the Alpine Club has been commissioned by Hon. W.R. Ross, the minister of lands for British Columbia, to establish and mark the boundary between the provinces of British Columbia and Alberta and the Dominion government is collaborating with the Alpine Club and rendering tangible support. It speaks well for the progressiveness and utility of the club that it is ahead of the times and will be the first to map the region systematically, and to bring its scenic features to note in a form that can readily be grasped by travelling public. The club’s policy from the beginning has been a progressive one. It has established connections in many parts of the world and has done much to bring to the general notice not only the Canadian mountain ranges, but Canada itself. No other alpine club is operated on the same plain, and that mountaineers and explorers of world fame become life members of the Canadian Club. The annual camp for this year will be held in the main range of the Rockies at Sherbrooke Lake, along the line of the C.P.R. It has been whispered that the club has only been awaiting railway facilities to hold a camp in the Windermere district, not far from Earl Grey’s camp at Toby Creek. The Windermere district presents another interesting and beautiful region of totally different characteristics. It is two hundred miles from Yellowhead Pass, as the crow flies, and between an ocean of peaks, many of which have not yet been even seen. The possibilities for the Alpine Club are great. It ought to be supported, not only by several governments of Canada, but by all public-spirited Canadians.
Chairman – William Foster
Secretary – Fred Helm
February 15 – Club meeting at the Alexandra Club.
February – Victoria Section of ACC receives $1000 from BC Government.
March 29 – Victoria Section’s 1st annual banquet at Glenshiel Inn.
May 14 – Club meeting at the Alexandra Club. Guest speaker Edward Mohun.
August 16 – 26 – Alpine Club of Canada expedition to Elkhorn Mountain.
Section members who attended the ACC general summer camp at Vermillion Pass: Arthur Wheeler, Frederick Longstaff, William Foster.
Reported in the Daily Colonist Friday, January 19, 1912, p.10.
Sir, With reference to your editorial in this morning’s issue, might I be accorded sufficient space to correct a very general misunderstanding which exists as to the location of approaches to the beautiful country now known as Strathcona Park, and which there is probably no one much better acquainted than myself. In press notices of the park mention is so invariably made of Buttle Lake and Campbell River that the fact of a great part of the surrounding mountains being more easy of access by another route seems almost unknown to the general public. Buttle Lake empties into Campbell River, and Great Central Lake emptying into Stamp River, both drain the same mountainous region, the head of Buttle Lake lying some 14 miles northwesterly from the head of Great Central Lake; but, whereas a journey to Buttle Lake via Campbell River is as yet an expedition entailing very considerable labor in addition to expenditure beyond the means of the average holiday-maker even in these times of prosperity, the trip to Great Central Lake can be made from Victoria, between breakfast and dinner, by railroad to Alberni, and thence by automobile road, 11 miles, all through beautiful scenery. There are launches and boats for hire on the lake, and from the head of it a well-worn pack trail to the Big Interior mines and another across the mountains between the two lakes. This latter trail was blazed by myself as a guide for Mr. Price Ellison and his party when he completed his exploration of Strathcona Park and returned to Victoria by way of Alberni. These trails give access to dozens of peaks, which rivalling the Swiss Alps and our mainland in grandeur and beauty, lie as one might say, almost at out doorsteps, their magnificence unseen and unknown, their wealth of glaciers, snowfields, lakes, streams and flowers undreamed of by the residents in our cities. I understand there is a prospect of the Canadian Alpine Club making a camp this summer for the purpose of exploring some of the peaks, the majority of which, near to us though they are, have as yet been neither ascended nor named.
CHAS S. ROBERTS
The Alpine Club of Canada
Reported in the Daily Colonist Wednesday February 14, 1912, p.10.
The Victoria committee has arranged for a meeting of the above club on Thursday, February 15, 8 p.m., at the Alexandra Club café to hear Mr. Arthur O. Wheeler, the club director, describe the proposed arrangements for the camp this summer in the Rocky Mountains. Visitors can be introduced to the meeting by members. The Hon. Secretary Mr. F. [Fred] Helm, P.O. Box 1129, will give full information to intending members.
Mountain Climbers Hold First Banquet
Victoria Section of Canadian Alpine Club Foregather For First Annual Reunion—Evident Proved Successful
Reported in the Daily Colonist Sunday March 31, 1912, p.11.
The Victoria section of the Canadian Alpine Club held its first annual banquet on Friday evening [March 29] at the Glenshiel Inn, Douglas Street, and proved a thorough success. The dining hall of the inn was thronged with members of the club and friends, full justice being done to the menu. Mr. W. [William] W. Foster, chairman of the Vancouver Island section of the club, presided. Various toasts were proposed, and in connection therewith several interesting addresses were delivered, while some of the speakers indulged in reminiscences, Hon. Thomas Taylor responding to the toast to “The Province of British Columbia,” and Mr. J. [John] G. Cory Wood, M.P.P. elect for Alberni, speaking at length. Hon. Mr. Taylor enthusiastically spoke of the great future of British Columbia, and pointed to its commanding position among the provinces of the Dominion. He eulogized the work done by the Alpine Club of Canada in furthering the development of the province, and expressed his hearty good wishes for the success of the club and the hope that the present occasion would be one at which he would have the pleasure at meeting the members. Mr. Wood referred to the advantages of Vancouver Island as an outing place for the club, and referred especially to the northern portion of the island to Strathcona Park, which he declared to be unrivalled in any part of the world in point of interest to the alpinist. The chairman, Mr. W.W. Foster, who proposed the toasts to the “Alpine Club of Canada,” congratulated the director of the club, Mr. A. [Arthur] O. Wheeler, to whose enthusiasm he ascribed the organization of the club and the success which has been achieved by it. Mr. Wheeler spoke at length, outlining the growth of the club and setting forth in emphatic manner the necessity of rules for the safety and mutual happiness of the members. Mr. [Stanley] Mitchell also spoke briefly, reciting the vicissitudes and rejoicings of the club members and referring to the value of government support of the various national park schemes, pointing to the advantage which would accrue if Canada would spend more money on the development of such parks. Other speakers were heard, after which Mr. Wheeler gave an illustrated lecture on Mount Robson and the surrounding country, the slides indicating the interesting nature of the country and its extreme picturesqueness. The guests of the evening were: Hon. Thomas Taylor, Mr. T. Kirkpatrick, Mr. J.G. Cory Wood, M.P.P.; Mr. Fred Helm, Mrs. Helm. Mr. W.W. Foster, Dr. Lewis Hall, Mrs. Hall, Miss L. Whelan, Miss F.G. Kenny, Mr. S. [Stanley] H. Mitchell, Mr. A.O. Wheeler, Mrs. [Clara] Wheeler, Mr. [Joshua] Umbach, Miss Dora Tyas, Mr. A. [Alan] Morkill, Mr. J. [John] Howard Chapman, Mrs. Chapman, Mr. W [William] H. Dougan, Mr. [James] White, Mrs. White, Miss Wilkinson, Captain [Frederick] Longstaff, Mr. [Horace] Westmorland, Mr. W. [William] S. Drewry, Mr. G. [George] H. Dawson, Mr. E.S. McKay, Mr. E.[Ethelbert] O.S. Scholefield, Mr. Gray Donald, Mr. and Mrs. Reid, Miss E. [Ethel] Bruce, Miss J. [Jennie] L. McCulloch, and Miss N.G. McCulloch. A miniature ice axe served the chairman as a gavel for “silentium.” Mrs. Reid entertained most acceptably the party with several charming selections. The souvenir programmes depicting scenes famous among British Columbia mountain scenery were provided by Mr. J. Howard Chapman, and formed a unique memento of the first annual dinner of the island section of the club.
Reported in the Daily Colonist Wednesday May 15, 1912, p.6.
The members of the Victoria branch of the Alpine Club who attended the last meeting of the season last night [May 14] at the Alexandra club, enjoyed the treat of listening to the personal reminiscences of Mr. E. [Edward] Mohun, one of the oldest pioneers of the provinces, and the engineer in charge of the first survey parties sent out by the Canadian Pacific Railway. Mr. Mohun, who as a boy, can remember 70 years ago, seeing H.M. Queen Victoria and the prince consort walking on Brighton Esplanade, came out to the province first in 1862. Since that date he has surveyed much of this island, the south of Queen Charlotte Island and also most of the railroads on the mainland.
Memories of a Pioneer
Mr. Mohun’s Reminiscences Given to His Fellow-Members of The Alpine Club
Reported in the Daily Colonist Friday May 17, 1912, p.4.
Mr. Edward Mohun’s reminiscences, which formed the subject of a paper read at the last meeting of the Alpine Club this week, brought out very clearly the immensity of the task penetrating the trackless wilds of that province some half century ago, when transcontinental railways were unthought of and would never have come into being but for the exertions of pioneers of perseverance and powers of endurance. Forty years ago he recalls a shooting expedition with Lord Charles Beresford, then a middy on H.M.S. Howe, in the Comox district. In 1886, the Queen Charlotte Island offered him a share in her throne and warriors coupled, of course, with her own hand, but Mr. Mohun’s diplomacy was equal to the occasion and tempering his refusal (it was leap year, by the way) with presents of plug tobacco and soap, he effected a graceful retreat. In 1871, he was divisional engineer of the survey party of the C.P.R. which planted the first post of the road at Sicamous and penetrated the Eagle’s Pass. Speaking of the difficulties that met these pioneer parties, Mr. Mohun said he often wondered how they ever managed to make their way through miles of devil’s-brush and swamp, but though their journeys were no picnics, there was never any difficulty in getting men and the right sort too. They might not have been saints but they were magnificent workers and tolerated no shirking on the part of a comrade. He traced the movements of the party up to the Three Mile Lake, Griffin Lake, and on to Big Eddy camp, where permanent log huts were erected at the end of September preparatory to passing the winter there. It was time to get some better shelter than tents. There was already three feet of snow on the ground and the temperature was down to zero. Later on, fifteen feet of snow fell and the mercury was frozen for three weeks, but, according to their estimate, there must have been in the neighborhood of 80 degrees of frost. Fortunately, blizzards were rare, and some exploration of Columbia was possible, while the long evenings were enlivened by minstrel concerts with instruments manufactured out of bacon skin and tin cans. In April the ice began to break up in the river, and there came a messenger with orders to the party to abandon that survey and to conduct one to the Yellowhead Pass. The party spent a short holiday at Kamloops, and then, early in May, took the trail again with fifty pack horses and mules to carry supplies. Passing the magnificent Mount Robson, at the fork of the Fraser River, they reached Summit in October and immediately set out on the return journey, getting back to Kamloops without the loss of a man. In fact, Mr. Mohun is able to record that in thirty years’ surveying he never lost a man at any time, and his camp at Big Eddy was the only one that escaped scurvy that year, though they never had fresh meat for six months. The lecturer, on sitting down, received a hearty round of applause and a vote of thanks, moved by Mr. A. [Arthur] O. Wheeler, who corroborated all that had been said as to the extraordinary difficulties these pioneer surveyors had had to overcome. The business of the meeting consisted in making preliminary arrangements for the expedition which, it is hoped, will be undertaken to Strathcona Park after the annual camp at the Alpine Club in Vermillion Pass this summer. This expedition, it is hoped, will attract the attention of the outside world to the alpine district of the park, and a warning was addressed to members that on this initial expedition it will be advisable for any to attempt it who are not prepared to share the considerable amount of work and hardships inseparable from the penetration of a new district. Finally, it was left to the committee of the Victoria branch, acting in conjunction with Messrs. Wheeler, and [James] White, to make the necessary arrangements, as the expedition will be under the auspices of this branch of the Alpine Club.
Reported in the Daily Colonist Sunday May 19, 1912, p.4.
Sir – My attention has been drawn to a report of some remarks by the president of the Alpine Club at a meeting of the Vancouver Island branch of that institution. He herein says persons visiting the park “must be prepared to share the considerable amount of work and hardships inseparable from the penetration of the new district.” Some three months ago you accorded me the favor of space in your columns, when I endeavored to demonstrate that so far as the southern portion of the park was concerned the difficulties and hardships to be encountered were very small or non-existent. Allowing for a divergence of opinion between the individuals as to what constitutes hardship, Mr. [Arthur] Wheeler seems inclined to exaggerate the difficulties of the country with which he is possibly, imperfectly acquainted. For myself, I have spent a very considerable portion of the years 1908-9-10 and 1911 in Strathcona Park and its immediate environs, and do not consider the Alpine Club justified in scaring visitors away by stories of imaginary difficulties. For the benefit of intending visitors may I now, therefore, call attention to the following facts? The train to Alberni leaves Victoria at 9 a.m., arriving about 4 o’clock. Several excellent hotels exist in the Alberni’s. Great Central Lake is distant eleven miles by road, and automobiles and other vehicles with reliable drivers, may be hired. At the road end of the lake an enterprising citizen, Mr. Joseph Drinkwater, has good accommodation for guests, together with boats and launches, and is both willing and able to convey parties to the head of the lake, the trip taking about four hours. At the lake head is a good camp ground, and the southern boundary of the park is but a few miles distant. Should the government accept the services offered them, there will during the present season be a good bridle trail to the head of Buttle Lake, mounting by comparatively easy gradients to the open ridges above the timber line, whence the eye may feast upon the marvelous beauties of the island mountains. Half-way between the two lakes and just south of Mount Albert Edward, which lies on the opposite side of the head waters of Ash River and reaches an elevation of 7300 feet, rather more than 1000 feet higher than the celebrated Crown Mountain, is the most beautiful situation it has ever been my lot to encamp upon, and where the Canadian Alpine Club might emulate the example of their European progenitor by erecting a shelter cabin. With the advent of the trail, an active man should be able to make the journey between the lakes in a day, thought, with shelter provided, the number of travelers who could pass without pausing a day or two in the midst of so much beauty would be few. Even as the route now is, I have traversed the distance, carrying a pack consisting of blankets, instruments and cooking gear in a day and a half, which seems fairly conclusive evidence that, with comparatively little aid, anything that could be called hardship would be eliminated. Holiday-makers in general are fairly content to view mountain peaks from a position of security and ease, as can be seen from a consideration of the number of visitors who contribute to the welfare of the citizens of the Swiss republic: but for those who wish to climb there are plenty of opportunities. Early arrivals can be explorers and have mountain peaks named after them. A really energetic week-ender from Victoria might even accomplish the feat, though, with a view to avoiding the misfortune of ascending more than a mile high to find an empty bottle, an immediate visit would be advisable. Those Alpine climbers, however, who perversely insist upon undergoing unnecessary hardship and discomfort, visiting the mountains by devious by-ways of the north, may be able to derive solace during their privations from the knowledge that in a day they can descend upon Great Central Lake and find ease and hospitable entertainment there or in the Alberni’s.
Chas L. Roberts
P.O. Box 938, Victoria.
Reported in the Daily Colonist Tuesday July 9, 1912, p.14.
Captain Frederick V. Longstaff, F.R.G.S., Corps of Guides, left Victoria last night for Banff to help organize the annual camp of the Alpine Club of Canada at Vermillion Pass.
Alpine Club in Strathcona Park
Noted Body Of Scientists and Mountain Climbers Are Going In On August 16 Accompanied By. Mr. W.W. Foster
Reported in the Daily Colonist Wednesday July 31, 1912, p.7.
In Strathcona Park this province possesses a pleasure ground which is unequalled for beauty and attractiveness from the point of view of all classes of visitors. It is as yet in the earliest stages of its development but all who have seen it are unsparing in their praise of it. A notable body of visitors is now planning a survey of it from the scientific side. The Alpine Club of Canada, which numbers among its membership many distinguished Americans, is making its annual camp in the Rockies, and on the invitation of the British Columbia members of the club will come to Vancouver Island to spend some time in the park The Alpinists will gather at Campbell River on August 16 and enter the park. One of them will be Mr. J.D. Patterson, Woodstock, vice-president of the Alpine Club. Several eminent geologists and botanists will be in the party and it is Mr. [William] Foster’s desire to secure some advice from them in their particular lines which will be of value in the developing of the great playground. Some days will be spent in a thorough tour of the place, and there is no doubt that glowing descriptions of lakes, mountain and stream will be carried back east, to the greater fame of Strathcona Park.
Alpine Club in Camp
Reported in the Daily Colonist Thursday August 1, 1912, p.6.
Mr. W. [William] Foster, deputy minister of public works, has gone to Vermillion Pass to attend the annual camp of the Alpine Club of Canada. Following the stay there a number of the members will visit Strathcona Park under the guidance of Mr. Foster.
Mountain Climbers Return
Reported in the Daily Colonist Friday August 30, 1912, p.7.
The party representing the Alpine Club of Canada who recently left on a tour of Strathcona park, have returned well pleased with their outing. In the party were Mr. [John] Howard Chapman, government photographer, Victoria; Miss M. [Margaret] Colwell, nurse, Victoria; Mr. F. Elworthy, secretary of the Board of Trade, Victoria; Mr. H. [Herbert] Otto Frind, traveler, Vancouver; Mr. D. [David] A. Gillies, lumberman, Ottawa; Mr. A.R. Hart, hardware traveler, Calgary; Miss J. [Jennie] L. McCulloch, King’s Printer’s Office, Victoria; Mr. and Mrs. A. [Albert] H. MacCarthy, New York; Mrs. Robert MacIntosh, Saskatoon, Sask.; Doctor Mary Potter, New York; Rev. J. [James] R. Robertson, Nanaimo, B.C.; Mr. F. [Francis] A. Robertson, Western Finance Company, Victoria; Mr. A. [Arthur] O. Wheeler, Sidney, B.C.; Mr. L. [Lionel] C. Wilson, merchant, Calgary; Mr. J. [John] G. Cory Wood, M.P.P., Alberni, B.C.; Prof. J. [James] M. Macoun, C.M.G., Dominion government, Ottawa; Mr. W. [William]. W. Foster, deputy minister of public works, Victoria; Col. R. [Reginald] H. Thompson, commissioner Strathcona Park.
Reported in the Daily Colonist Wednesday September 4, 1912, p.4.
The members of the Alpine Club, who have returned from their visit to Strathcona Park, unanimously bear testimony to the very great attractiveness of this resort. There is no doubt at all about its becoming veery popular, even more so, indeed, than has been anticipated. The variety of scenery is very great, the combination of mountain peaks, lakes, rivers, waterfalls and forests being something that beggars description. There is no difficulty in reaching Buttle lake from Campbell River, and by next summer many of the chief points of interests ought to be easily accessible. We judge from what visitors say, that it will be some time before the whole park can be reached without a little roughing it. The mountain peaks will always call for a good deal of vigorous climbing, and we do not suppose anyone would desire anything else. One advantage of the park is that it is all on a relatively moderate level and consequently the temperature is not likely to rule as low as it would in parks in the midst of the Rocky Mountains. At the same time the mountain climbing is quite as formidable as it is in higher altitudes. To start from an altitude of a few hundred feet and ascend a peak more than seven thousand feet high may be a much more formidable undertaking than to start from an elevation of four thousand feet and go up to ten thousand. Strathcona Park is going to prove a very valuable asset to the province, and of course especially so to Victoria and Vancouver Island.
Scenic Grandeur of Strathcona Park
Reported in the Daily Colonist Sunday September 8, 1912, p.7.
The local branch of the Alpine Club of Canada recently made an interesting trip to Strathcona par. Rev. J. [James] R. Robertson, who accompanied the party, in an interesting account of the outing, says: The journey into the head of Strathcona par, a distance of between 40 and 50 miles, was covered in two days by road, pack tail and canoe up the general course of the Campbell Rivers and lakes and the Elk River to Drum Lake, where we were less than 20 miles from the slat water of the Pacific. The trails are remarkably good. The Campbell lakes and rivers are always fascinating, the woods always stately and often grand in their majesty, and the wineberry, blueberry, salmonberry and cranberry are ever luscious and refreshing, while animal life seems scarce, and hunting is, therefore, not extensive, the fishing is good in all the lakes and rivers, and Miss [Jennie] McCulloch, of Victoria, succeeded in catching a 44-pound tyee salmon at the mouth of the Campbell River, and in the Campbell Lake the single trolling line caught half a dozen trout in about half a dozen minutes. As the party journeyed on for those two days their surprise was great that on Vancouver Island within 25 miles of Nootka—the first place discovered of the whole of the British Columbia some 125 years ago— there was still such a vast region of terra incognito.
Probably the chief feature of the expedition was the climbing of a formidable mountain peak hitherto unclimbed and unnamed. Commissioner Thomson speaks of it as the Canadian Matterhorn, and doubts were entertained as to whether it would be possible to make the ascent. On Monday a special party was sent out to examine the mountain and determine a route whereby the summit might be attacked. This party returned at night, and reported in favor of making the attempt. Consequently, on Tuesday morning nine strong men started off with provisions for three days each man packing on his back 25 or 35 pounds. The party was made up of the following nine persons: Mr. A. [Arthur] O. Wheeler, director; Mr. Edward. O. Wheeler, guide; Mr. D. [David] A. Gillies, Mr. A.R. Hart, Mr. Herbert O. Find, Mr. A. [Albert] H. MacCarthy, Rev. J. R. Robertson, Mr. F. [Francis] A. Robertson and Mr. L. [Lionel] C. Wilson. Following up the Elk River three miles from Drum Lake, the climbers turned to the left and southwards up a mountain stream, which soon became a torrent. After hours of this course a great succession of water falls was found coming from the snows and the glaciers of the mountain we were attacking. These falls were tumbling down from mighty ramparts a thousand feet above, and giving forth the perpetual sound of deep thunder for many miles around.
This first day’s journey was very difficult by reason of the great windfalls, the slipping rocks in the torrents, the devil’s club and the many chimneys that had to be scaled. At midnight above the ramparts of the falls and on the margin of timber line a delightful camping spot was found, and after building the camp fire and eagerly devouring the pork and beans, the nine strong me rolled themselves each in his blanket and laid their weary limbs down to rest and sleep under the open sky at an altitude of about 4,600 feet.
On the following morning as their eyes were opened the first sight to behold was the defiant mound before us with its walls, pinnacles, ledges and towering summit that has never felt the human touch. It was a formidable sight, daring and defiant in its aspects. Yet whatever each one thought, no one confessed a qualm of fear. A good breakfast was enjoyed, the provisions were cached and the nine strong men started for the summit. Soon the trees and alpine glades were passed, the great rock shoulders were rounded, some snow fields and glacial slopes were crossed, and lo! We were upon the rocks. Precipitous walls were scaled, chimneys were overcome, ramparts were brought under our feet and pinnacles were rounded. Oh! It was glorious. We were making love to the virgin mound, and the mound that at first defied our approach was being won by human touch. The virgin rock was not false, but true, and both peasant and mountaineer smiled in mutual joy when the ledges, corners, cracks and edges gave firm hold to the grasp of fingers and toes. Twice only a rope was used to overcome chimneys, and at 2 p.m. the whole party stood victorious on the virgin peak with aneroid registering well over 7,000 feet altitude, higher by a thousand feet than was known of any mountain on Vancouver Island. Arriving at the summit, three cheers were given for the Alpine Club of Canada, for the guide who had led so steadily and carefully to the summit, and the director of the Alpine Club. The ceremony of christening the mountain was performed by Director A.O. Wheeler, giving the name of “Mount Elkhorn,” and a cairn five feet high was built, within which was placed a tin can containing the names of the nine strong men. An hour was spent resting and viewing the surrounding hills, valleys, lakes and streams, after which the descent was begun by the same general course back to the cache, where another night was spent, sleeping under the open sky, and on the third day the party reached camp at 5 p.m. with a few bruises, aches and pains, but all well satisfied with the trip.
The Alpine Club of Canada in Strathcona Park
Reported in the Daily Colonist Sunday Supplement October 6, 1912, p.1,2 & 5.
It was a wild ride that! The director and other members were detained by the closing of the big camp at Vermillion Pass. Our main party had started from Vancouver the night before by the steamer Venture, and our endeavor now was to overtake it before it left Campbell River—160 miles—by nightfall. We had left Sidney at 7 a.m., reached Victoria in forty minutes, and we leaped down in front of the Empress portico, we became aware that two powerful motors were chug-chugging under a full head of gas, while the chauffeurs sat with their hands on the levers ready for an immediate start. The chairman of the local branch, Mr. W. [William] W. Foster, had arranged matters to enable us to make good our lost time. He was now standing on the steps to meet us, and remarked in his quiet voice, “I think you had better move on at once, as there is little time to lose.” To our intense disappointment, we found he could not accompany us. He had hurt his hand at Vermillion camp, where he had been to represent the British Columba Government, and was now in the doctor’s care, threatened with blood poisoning, and could not join us until later. In five minutes we were off. We started in steady rain, which continued all day. The clouds were low over the Malahat, and we drove along narrow ledges through ethereal forests, where ghostly trees were wrapped in shrouds of mist. Now and then, openings in the clouds disclosed the sullen waters of Saanich arm in the depths below. The horn sounded weird in the fog, as we rounded sharp corners at a speed somewhat great for so narrow a path; but there was little fear of meeting other drivers at that early hour on so stormy a morning. All day long we fled through the driving drove and drove it along at the full pressure. It had a big load, and frequently bumped the axles, when the occupants made for the roof. A moment’s stop in Duncan, lunch in Chemainus, a slow up to pass through Ladysmith and a few minutes in Nanaimo to replenish the gasoline supply. Up to this point we had traveled over an excellent trunk road, known as the Island Highway. We now followed the Canadian Highway as far as Parksville, where we again turned northward.
A word about these highways. They are excellent roads for motor travel, and are gradually being extended into the wildest recesses of the interior. It is impossible to lose one’s way, for very legible signboards are at every crossing, and mile posts are found throughout. The public works department is to be congratulated upon the splendid work it is doing in thus opening up the recesses of the Island. The large amount of motor traveling of that big touring car, as its engines rattle, bang, crash; swaying from side to side, skidding round corners, missing telegraph posts, whirling across bridges, scattering chickens, ducks and other live stock right and left, sending sheets of water flying from the pools. Through villages, past farm houses, in dense forests, along wild sea coast, now high above the water, now nearly at its level. Always there was a feeling that we fled—that someone, or something, pursued, the horn booming as we flew around corners or approached sharp curves. Imagine the pulse. The quick access made possible is very evident in the busy villages, and the flourishing road houses met in rapid succession, where, under ordinary conditions matters would have remained in status quo for many years to come. There is no doubt the highly finished product in motors of the present day is a strong competitor with the railway as a means of advancing civilization; and the policy of the British Columbia Government in building these excellent roads through the magnificent scenic regions of the province will be the means of distributing much wealth, and opening up tourist and other industries that could not otherwise have been brought into play. We reached Union Bay at 6:45, and, as Campbell River was still forty miles distant, and the road required daylight travel, we decided to stay the night. The next day the rain had let up, and it cleared before noon. The road was more primitive, and we soon got into trouble. First, one machine stuck in soft mud, and then the other, but both were got out successfully. We now entered a five or six mile stretch of forest jungle, not unlike that seen in Stanley Park in Vancouver. The road here was little wider than the motor. We raced through, twisting, turning, and worming, dodging tree stems and doubling corners. It was a fine bit of steering, and but for the narrow track, which made it possible, we might as well have been going directly through the bush. It certainly was grand; immense trees of Douglas fir and cedar, eight to twelve feet in diameter, bearded with sweeping festoons of moss, their stems decorated by ferns and clusters of the scarlet bunch berry; dense undergrowth everywhere. Amidst which the tall devil’s club shot its fine, tropical-looking leaves high in the air. In the midst of this luxuriant growth, a secluded bridge crossed Oyster River. We stopped a few minutes to watch the hundreds of salmon crowding up the stream, then on again through the forest. Less than a mile from Campbell River came our Waterloo: bang, snap, rattle, off flew a steer ring, and the tire gently subsided. Another was quickly replaced, but it was found the steering gear had gone wrong, and the machine was no longer under control. Some of us walked, while the machine was brought in by hand-steering of the front wheels.
Objects Of Expedition
And now to explain how an Alpine Club party came to make an expedition and what its objects were. During the course of the Winter meetings of the Vancouver Island branch the possibility of a party going in to explore the Alpine attractions of Strathcona Park had been discussed. The difficulties and the cost of transportation in this gloriously wild, but as yet, almost inaccessible district, had proved the chief obstacle. Much discussion ensued, the difficulties looming larger as the details developed. However, the chairman of the local branch of the club Mr. W.W. Foster, the very popular deputy minister of public works for the province, bade us not be discouraged, and intimated that assistance by the government might be obtained, an expert opinion of the Alpine features of the park being desired. As a result of negotiations, it was decided that transportation and other facilities would be furnished to a party limited to twenty, at a cost within the means of those taking part. Without such assistance it would have been impossible for us, and I now wish to tender the thanks of the Alpine Club to Sir Richard McBride and the members of his cabinet for providing an opportunity that I feel sure will have a beneficial effect in placing before the public of Canada and other centres of the world the attractions of one of the most delightful scenic parks of the entire Dominion. A park that abounds in all the attributes of Nature in its primeval condition: giant forests; sunlit lakes miles in extent, bounded by bold rock shapes and overshadowed by snowy peaks reflected in their placid waters; rushing torrents with deep pools, where trout float lazily among submerged branches; timbered valleys leading to deep gorges, above which are snow-flecked passes beneath noble peaks rising in ragged ridges and steep spires; lace falls leaping from pure white glaciers; and tiny lakelets of blue and green that sparkle like jewels set in velvet, or else lie above the timber-line in brown rock basins with the winter snows reaching to their very margin; the whole awaiting only access by well-built roads and pony trails for the many thousands to whom the fearful grind of modern civilization renders such opportunities a vital necessity.
Party Of Sixteen
The Alpine Club party numbered sixteen. It was accompanied by Mr. J. [John] G. Cory Wood, the Member of Parliament for Alberni district. On reaching Campbell River, we found ourselves in the hands of Mr. R. [Reginald] H. Thomson, park commissioner, who had been requested by the government to look after the party; and well he did it. I have heard Mr. Thomson say that there were hitches in his arrangements, but, if so, they were not apparent. To us everything went along like well-oiled machinery. There were no delays and we were on the move. The food, to old campers such as we were, was a continued feast, and to his principal chef—Jones—I take off my hat as a king among camp cooks. I have learned since that the tremendous appetite of the Alpine party was the cause of serious shortage when it had left. I can quite believe it, and appreciate the perfect and unselfish hospitality that allowed no indication of such a possibility to appear while we were present, in a tract of country where food supplies are brought in with great difficulty and at the expense of much arduous labour. We wish to express publicly our sincere thanks to Mr. Thomson, to his chief assistants and to his staff for the very able, courteous and delightful manner in which one and all contributed to the business we had in hand. Mr. Thomson, himself, was not only a guide, philosopher and friend to us, he was more—a father to us—in his wise forethought for all possible contingencies, and the great fund of instruction which he always readily placed at our disposal. We found that in conjunction with the railway company now locating a line through the Park, pony trails had been pushed forward for our use, and the ease with which we were able to travel to and fro showed contrast in a marked degree with the difficulties encountered by the Hon. Price Ellison two years before. Space will not allow me to record here all the features of the Park, and it is only my intention to deal with the Alpine aspect at the present time, but as soon as the material has been in shape the Alpine club will issue a bulletin dealing fully with the expedition.
Travel By Wagon
From Campbell River travel was by wagon and on foot seven miles to McIvor Lake; across the lake by a twenty-foot canoe; then three-quarters of a mile by trail to Lower Campbell Lake. Arrived here the Forbes and Honour Transportation Company conveyed the party by motor launch and canoe to the head of the lake and some distance up the river to a point known as the British American Timber Company’s Landing, in all nine miles. Lower Campbell Lake showed a bright sunny sheet of water surrounded by low timbered hills. It is seven miles long and from one to one and a half wide. About the centre a small island near the northern margin breaks the monotony and gives a delightfully picturesque effect. It is not difficult to picture the lake shores dotted with red-roofed cottages and to see canoes and sailing skiffs gliding over the sunlit waters, when it shall have become the summer home of wanderers from the cities of Vancouver Island and elsewhere. From the B.A.T. Landing eight miles of excellent pony trails led to Upper Campbell Lake and another mile by canoe to Warnick’s Camp, twenty-seven miles from Campbell River; pretty fine connection for a day’s travel through such difficult country. Next day by motor-canoe five miles to the head of Upper Campbell Lake, another charming little sheet surrounded also by timbered hills, now rising more massively. In the distance, beyond the head of the lake, a striking sharp peak rose in mid-air with a small glacier flowing down its northeastern slopes. This Mr. Thomson spoke of as the Matterhorn of Strathcona Park, and he dared the Alpine club to make its ascent. We replied: “Lead us within striking distance.” The answer was: “I will.” Following a slough at the southwest corner of the lake for a mile we came to a landing from which a most excellent trail led first through a low cedar flat, thickly covered by dense windfall; some of the logs cut through for the passage of the trail rose in thickness above the height of man and showed rings of annual growth that must have given them an age of much more than a thousand years; then along the hillside and, leaving the flat, into as magnificent a fir and cedar forest as can be found anywhere. At the point where the cedar flat is located the sides of the valley of Upper Campbell River are of steep bluffs and benches forming a sort of wide box canyon. Mr. Thomson explained that this canyon was likely responsible for the heavy windfall of cedar timber. The hot air from the enclosed space rises vertically and is replaced by a fierce rush of cold air down the side of the canyon, which has doubtless blown down most of the trees. This physical phenomenon is known as a “Woolly” from the effect it has on a water surface. The cedar flat is some miles northeast of the confines of the park. It was pointed out how useful it might be made when cleared as a holding ground for elk, deer, buffalo or other animals of that nature that might eventually be placed within the park. Mr. Thomson stated that, in his opinion, the boundary should be extended to embrace the extreme southerly end of Upper Campbell Lake, and the mouths of Campbell and Elk Rivers, and showed us a rock bluff on the south shore from which he thought the boundary line should be drawn. The expediency of converting the cedar flat into a grazing ground is well in the future, but there is no question but that it would be a very valuable adjunct to have direct access from Upper Campbell Lake to within the confines of the park, and such access would be a very important factor in facilitating the travel to and in it.
As stated above, the day’s tramp led through some eight miles of magnificent forest—so magnificent that I have no hesitation in saying that a motor road leading amidst its depths would alone be a sufficient attraction to make a visit to the park worthwhile. I have never before seen so unique an area of timber. Groups of fir and cedar grew to twelve or more feet in diameter, enormous, isolated trees were here and there, and so dense was the shade they cast that undergrowth was sparse and the ground open and mossy. Huge devil’s club reared their wonderful fan-shaped leaves ten feet into the air, and the sun, glinting through the openings, created fairy glades that looked most like a scene from Wonderland. To the illusion was added a weird collection of toadstools: some red, some blue, some brown, some white, all shades quaint and odd, quite in keeping with the eerie surroundings. Three miles out the trail struck the river bank and then followed it more or less closely for the rest of the way. About four miles from the landing the sides of the valley close together in rocky bluffs. From that on the north side a very fine view showed up the Elk Valley. The stream flowed at our feet almost perpendicularly below. Mr. Thomson suggested that, failing the possibility of establishing a boundary as previously indicated, this natural gateway would form an excellent portal for the park. I am of the opinion, however, that a boundary as first outlined would be a very much more important and useful delimitation, provided, of course, it were possible for the government to secure the additional area involved. A mile further on we crossed the northeastern boundary of the park—the line run by William ralph in 1892 from the mouth of Muir Creek to the crest of Crown Mountain. A large wooden post parked :134½ Miles” is close to the trail. The post was new, the original one, which lay half-rotted on the ground, having been replaced by order of the Hon. Price Ellison, at the time of his exploration. We crossed the north branch of the Elk River up which the way lies to Crown Mountain, then crossed the main stream to the south side, and finally crossing the south branch, came to Lewis’ Camp, where the divided parties reunited and all spent the night.
Early next morning a party of four Alpine men, with packs on their backs, struck up the valley a distance of five miles, bent on a reconnaissance to ascertain the best means of reaching the Strathcona Matterhorn. Mr. J. [James] M. Macoun, assistant Dominion naturalist, was here camped close to Drum Lake, a delightful little double lake of bright blue, nestling in a hollow of the valley, surrounded by bold, steep heights rising in more or less timbered rock ledges. It was the intention to move the entire party to this spot later in the day. Meanwhile the advance guard climbed to 3800 feet on the long timbered ridge between the Elk Valley and that of Drum Lake, to where a bare rock point formed a natural observatory. Almost opposite, across the Elk River, rose the Strathcona Matterhorn. It looked a nice rock peak rising above a small, well-crevassed glacier. Through the glasses the ice looked very clean and no moraines were apparent, so it was thought the rock must be good and solid, which proved to be the case. At the head of the Elk Valley stood another fine rock peak with a very jagged ridge [Mount Colonel Foster]. It looked enticing, but the gauntlet had been thrown down, and it was decided to attempt the Matterhorn peak. By the way, Mt. Assiniboine, some twenty miles southeast from Banff, is generally known as the Canadian Matterhorn, so it was necessary to find a more suitable name for the peak in question. As it stood close to the head of the Elk Valley and rose sharply, seen from our point of view, we decided to recommend to the Geographic Board that it be known in the future as “Elkhorn.” Some distance below the glacier the stream from it broke over a ledge and presented twin falls of great height that would undoubtedly prove very striking upon closer acquaintance; a steep watercourse below the falls, reaching to the Elk River, showed an obvious line of ascent. Having sized up the route, it was decided that only those who could carry their bedding and three days’ provisions could go. Mr. Thomson had said that it would take us three days, and then we could not get there, so it was up to us to make good.
With Rope And Ice Axe
The following morning at 8:30, nine, all men, pulled out with their packs on their backs, rope and ice axe. Macoun, who has wonderful foresight, had decided some days before that it would be the peak of our selection, and had blazed a good line of travel up the Elk Valley for three miles, which helped us greatly. Arrived at the watercourse, difficulties began. In the distance it had looked quite simple. It was now found to be blocked by huge boulders and criss-crossed in every direction by fallen tree trunks of no light proportion. A rock canyon with vertical sides soon forced us to take the hill slope, very steep and densely littered by fallen tree trunks, the result of a recent bush fire. The sun beat down and the packs grew leaden. On we toiled, perspiration oozing from every pore. Wilson remarked in his quaint way: “I don’t see much difference between this and work.” “You’ll find out when pay day comes,” retorted Hart. At 1:20 p.m. we had made 1400 feet and stopped for lunch and a rest, altitude above sea level 2400 feet. From now on we kept to the watercourse and were soon in the blessed shade of the green timber and directly below the falls. They are very fine, of the kind known as “lace” falls, and leap in two broken drops from 800 to 1000 feet. We tried the precipitous ledge over which they fell, but were forced to the right into a smaller watercourse leading to a high saddle. A traverse to the left above steep cliffs brought the party at 7:55 p.m. to a broad open ledge, carpeted with pink heath and whiter heather at an altitude of 4660 feet. Wood and water were plentiful and camp was made, each rolling up in his blanket under the stars where his fancy pleased, having first partaken of a glorious supper. The roar of the falls furnished a soothing lullaby, which gradually grew fainter, then ceased, and it was to-morrow, with a faint alpenglow illuminating our peak.
Oh, what joy to climb without those leaden packs; our feet had wings. The rocks were hard and sound. Ridge followed ridge, always rising. Alpine flowers grew in the grassy patches. In the south and west, peak on peak showed clear, with snowfields and small glaciers between. Near the head of the Elk Valley a small circular lake, some eighty acres in extent, showed like a jewel, a rich sap green in colour. Down a steep rock face, across a snow-crested col, 300 feet of a grand rock climb, a traverse below an extended bed of snow, lunch, step-cutting, up a steep ice slope, a tiny delightful little chimney, a final stretch up broken rock, and at 2:10 p.m. we stood on the summit. The barometer showed an altitude of 7250 feet. Three cheers and a tiger for the Alpine Club of Canada; three cheers and a tiger for our leader, my son; three cheers and a tiger for the new Alpine fields, as yet unconquered that lay before us. The contents of an emergency brandy flask served to christen the peak “Elkhorn”; we wrote a statement of the climb and, in order of seniority, each signed it; the statement was placed in a carefully sealed tin tube, which, in turn, was placed in a stoneman erected on the highest point, and conquest was formally recorded on behalf of the Alpine Club. Southeast lay a deep trough of which we could not see the bottom. In this it was assumed lay Buttles [Buttle] Lake. Near its head was a high peak with snowfield and glacier on the northern side. The peak was later seen from the lake to stand out prominently on the south side of Wolf Creek. Most of the snow-clad area seemed to lie in the southwest quadrant. I counted fifteen fine peaks, of which several seemed higher than that on which we stood. This section will furnish good exploration and climbing, when means of access are available. The atmosphere was heavy with bush fire smoke, and, miles away, a little west of north, two peaks of Crown Mountain showed dimly. To the east and west, long timbered ridges separated a maze of valleys filled with dense forest growth. Six sheets of water were in view, three of which were of large dimensions. One to the northeast was undoubtedly Upper Campbell Lake, another to the northwest Muchalat Lake, one close by, to the west, probably Doners [Donner] Lake, and, quite a distance beyond it, a little further south, the end of Muchalat Arm. The other two were the lakelet at the head of Elk Valley [Landslide Lake and Foster/Berg Lake] and just above the timber line, across a deep valley to the east, another sky blue lakelet. In addition, small highly coloured ponds were seen glistening amidst the trees in nearby valleys. As in the larger parks of the main range of the Rockies, these gloriously colored lakes are one of the principal features and attractions. In the case of the larger ones, such as Buttles Lake, they resemble inland lochs, where bold rock promontories indent the shore line, where tributary glacier-fed torrents form delta fans, and splendid primeval forests line the shores with a setting of deep green, and clumps and single trees rest on the precipitous cliffs and sharp, knife-edge crags, the wonder being how they ever gained a root-hold. At early morn and late eve, when the winds have died down and the silver-tipped wavelets have ceased to chase one another, the clear, glassy surface reflects a world of wonders upside down, and it is hard to say where land and water meet.
Of Tremendous Value
Judging by the position we occupied with regard to Crown Mountain, I should say that a considerable portion of the alpine area in view lay within the confines of the park, and is worthy of close attention as an attractive feature. It is a matter for serious consideration as to whether it would not be wise to extend also the park boundaries on this side, so as to include more of the alpine area. To those who have studied the wide distribution of snow-capped, glacier-lined peaks throughout the wonderful Province of British Columbia, it may not be a surprise to find a similar area as this fertile island which forms the most western portion of it; and yet it was only the exploratory expedition of the Hon. Price Ellison, and his enthusiastic report of it to the Provincial House of Parliament that has opened our eyes wide to its tremendous value as a scenic resource. A few apparent facts came forcibly to our notice: The peaks seemed to be formed of rocks of volcanic origin; the rocks are igneous and, judging by our experience on Elkhorn, will supply climbing of the very best kind, where hand and footholds are safe and sure, and excellent chimneys, loved of all good climbers for the test of prowess they afford, are many; the whole formation seems to have been subjected to severer glacial action in a long ago age; there are few, if any, alplands, or high mountain meadows, such as are found in the main range, and consequently the profuse alpine flora is missing; where in the main range these alps would be, deep water-worn gorges are found at the base of the peaks; the mountain goat is not seen on the crags and the solitudes are unbroken by the shrill resounding whistle of the hoary marmot or whistler. It is likely that both are absent for obvious reasons, and that both would thrive if imported to the mountain regions of the Island, thereby adding greatly to their interest for Nature lovers, to whom the live wild animals of the heights are a source of joy. Mountaineers detest long stretches of windfall and extended travel through forests of semi-tropical luxuriance. They like to begin at the Alplands that border the bases of the rock peaks. It would therefore, be necessary to provide good trails for ponies and for walking, in order to get near where comfortable, well-kept shelters would have to be provided for visitors to stay a while sojourning amidst the snow-clad peaks. A good trail up the Elk Valley, leading to the pass at its extreme head, would make an excellent beginning, and would open up an alpine area of considerable extent. It is a country of forests, and there is little if any natural horse feed. All such would have to be imported and would undoubtedly make the use of ponies difficult and costly as compared with the other sections of mountain areas of the Province. A return by the party was now made to the south end of Upper Campbell Lake, from which a tramp of eight miles over a splendidly built trial brought us to the north end of Buttles Lake. From this point a motor skiff and towed canoe took the party twenty miles down the lake to Robins Camp, where a splendid supper and camp fire had been provided. At the camp fire most hearty resolutions of appreciation and thanks were passed to the Provincial government, to our absent chairman, Deputy Minister Foster, whose skillful guiding hand had been most apparent throughout, and last, but by no means least, to Mr. R.H. Thomson for his paternal care and great executive ability in the conduct of the expedition, and to all his staff of fine fellows, not forgetting the camp chefs, for their cheerful and unselfish labors on our behalf. All were voted jolly good fellows and there was none there to deny it. A return was made by moonlight, five remaining, who were about to proceed over the Price Pass, and so to return home by way of Alberni.
Vistas Of Snowy Peaks
Buttles Lake is extremely beautiful, chiefly on account of its bold setting and the striking rock promontories that constitute its irregular shore line. The numerous streams that flow into it from the south and west provide splendid vistas of snowy peaks. Unfortunately, as the park boundaries now stand, the northern end, which is very beautiful from a scenic point of view, lies without. A readjustment of the boundaries as indicated above would remedy this. It would seem to be very desirable that the entire lake should lie within the park. It abounds in fish, and excellent trout of a fair size can readily be caught at the mouths of the various streams. Good fishing also is had throughout the length of Campbell River, and in several lakes to which it expands. The supply should be carefully protected, and suitable measures, such as local hatcheries, established to maintain it. If this is done successfully the fishing alone will always prove a good drawing card when suitable hotels are provided to take care of the many disciples of Isaac Walton that would flock to the region. The party of five who remained to go over the Price Pass were Mr. J.G. Cory Wood, M.P.P., Captain [Albert] and Mrs. [Bess] MacCarthy, Mr. H. [Herbert] O. Frind and the writer. They were accompanied by Mr. Ben Lewis of Mr. Thomson’s staff as guide and a packer named Paul, a man who though he carried a fearful load over fearful places was never content unless he could secure part of everyone else’s load. I cannot now describe this route in detail. We carried everything on our backs and slept under trees for five nights, through one of which it poured rain. At its best Robert’s blazed track, made for the Hon. Price Ellison, was not an easy one. Two years of growth in this moist region had obliterated all except the blazes on the trees, and it was difficult to follow. It traversed the steep slopes of the valley of Price Creek to its head, and on the third day at noon we reached the summit of the Pass. On the north side the snow came right down to our path, and high ragged peaks lined with hanging glaciers bordered on the west. A rocky col studded with tiny pools formed the divide, and the view would have been a glorious one had it not been blotted out by a belt of clouds. From the ridge to our right one sharp tooth rose clear above the encircling mists and upon it we conferred the name of “Misthorn.” A thousand feet below the pass lay a glorious lake of rich indigo blue. We descended to its shores, not without difficulty, and camped upon its further margin. The traverse of its shore necessitated the crossing of a deep gorge spanned by a thin snow bridge, requiring the use of the rope to provide safety in crossing. It is locally known as Summit [Margaret] Lake. There are thousands of summit lakes. This was a gem of the first water, so we suggested the name of “Gemaqua” lake for it. The south boundary of the park crosses Price Creek, not far from its junction with Buttles Lake. It would be a valuable adjunct to extend the boundary southward to the pass, and, if possible, to include this very beautiful lake. A pony trail can readily be made from Buttles Lake to the summit, and such a trail would give access to some splendid alpine climbing on the ridge of high, snow-clad peaks confining the pass on the west, and also to the lake and its very beautiful surroundings.
The next night we reached Deep [Oshinow] Lake and, as we broke from the forest on its shores, we saw a raft approaching, propelled by two skilled woodsmen, who cheerily answered our joyful shouts. Telegrams send by that wonderful Mr. Thomson to Alberni had produced this instantaneous connection. The raft took the entire party across the lake, and an afternoon’s tramp to Elsie Lake, where the woodsmen had a full supply of undreamed of luxuries to supplement a larder reduced to slapjacks, bacon and tea. Elsie Lake was negotiated by canoe and a tramp through the forest of two miles brought us to the Alberni and Comox Lake trail. Six miles of excellent walking and the trail debouched on a graded road, fourteen miles from Alberni. And here, Oh joy! was a stage awaiting us, drawn by a team of powerful horses. No more would we carry those everlasting packs. But that was not all; familiar faces smiled at us, welcoming hands clasped ours. Had not that ubiquitous Mr. Foster met the return party at Campbell River, with his motor, and had he not brought a number of the old party across to Alberni to greet us, and had he not motored twice a day for the past two days to this very spot to be sure to be there when we should appear from the forest? A few miles drive in the wagon and then the chug-chug of a motor, and some of us were quickly transferred and whisked into civilization in time to partake of a sumptuous lunch at a long table completely surrounded by the smiling well-known faces of our comrades of the camp fire. At the foot of the table sat our genial, smiling chairman; and, as he bowed me to the head of the table, he raised his glass and said, “Here’s to you, Mr. Director.” Strathcona Park, whatever may be said for or against its development, or its boundaries, is a splendid possession, and a wise and safe reserve for the great future that lies ahead of Vancouver Island.
Playground of the Province
Beauties Of Strathcona Park Are More Wonderful the Further Survey and Exploration Proceeds
Reported in the Daily Colonist Saturday October 19, 1912, p.1 & 18.
That Strathcona Park, the great playground of the province, which the world is invited to enjoy, surpasses all anticipations as a centre of attraction for the nature-lover is the word brought back by Mr. W. [William] W. Foster, the deputy minister of public works, who has just returned from an official tour through the park with Mr. R. [Reginald] H. Thomson, the expert engineer in charge of the works there. Mr. Foster was an enthusiast over Strathcona Park before he left Victoria ten days ago. Now, however, he is more enthusiastic than ever. Like the pathfinders of old, he found that half had not been told of the beauties of the area of 300 square miles which has, by the wisdom of the provincial government, been set aside as a national heritage for all time to come. Motoring to Campbell River, Mr. Foster proceeded up the Elk River to Summit Lake, down Buttles Lake and out to Alberni. From Elk Lake surveys have been made and trails constructed as far as the Drum Lakes, a series of three lakes which could be easily made into one great waterway, which would make an ideal location for a summer chalet, and gives admirable opportunities for camping grounds.
The lakes are surrounded by many mountains, including several peaks of from 6000 to 8000 feet in height. Still further up the valley is Summit Lake, the headwaters of Gold River flowing into Nootka Sound. Here the party climbed one of the mountains and had a magnificent view, extending from Nootka Sound, on the Pacific, clear across the Island and over the straits to Bute Inlet and the chain of mountains on the mainland, thus observing a panorama which is unequalled on the Pacific Coast, and probably has no peer in America. Proceeding up the Elk River, the breeding ground of the elk, traces of which were found on every side, Mr. Foster reports the existence of a real sportsman’s paradise, game and fish of all kinds being found in abundance. Then the party struck Buttle’s Lake, a magnificent body of water, the shores of which are steep cliffs developing into mountains, which come right down to the water’s edge. Views of the mountains with snow-clad peaks and glimpses of perpetual glaciers are on every side. At the lower end of the lake is Myra Mountain and Myra Glacier, as well as Myra Falls, formed by the river, which has its source in the glacier.
From Buttle’s Lake, and ascending the summit, 4,000 feet in height, two magnificent glaciers are passed, one of them four or five miles long and some two miles wide. On the Alberni side, and just below the Summit, is Lake Margaret, a beautiful stretch of Alpine water, with the glaciers overhanging, and in some cases actually coming into, the waters of the lake. The descent on the southern side to Alberni is through the elk lands covered with heath and all kinds of berry plants, until the timber line is reached, which timber extends to Great Central Lake. “The trip reveals at every mile some heretofore unknown form of natural beauty,” said Mr. Foster. “It is all virgin territory heretofore uncharted and unknown. Up the Elk River we found some of the largest timber on the Island. Many of the fir and cedar trees are ten to fifteen feet in diameter, and the preservation forever of these splendid specimens of timber will be a great feature in the attractions of the park. On the shores of Buttle’s Lake we came across a real curiosity in the shape of a canoe cut out of the trees in the vicinity some forty or fifty years ago. There is no record of who the builder of the canoe was; but there it is, with two pair of paddles and two oars alongside, ready for use, although covered with moss and buried in the forest growth of years. It would be interesting to know who built the canoe and also why it was never used.”
Topographical Survey Made
Speaking of the operations this year in Strathcona Park, Mr. Foster said that a complete topographical survey has been made of the park itself and of the country adjacent, as well as the making of a contour map of the park and the surrounding country. The road from Campbell River to Buttle’s Lake has been surveyed, and good progress made upon its construction, whilst there has been exploration and complete mapping of all the streams, lakes and mountains in the vicinity of Buttle’s Lake. “One of the features of the country here is the presence of a mountain of pure white correline marble, which is most striking and stands out in the landscape for miles around, especially when the sun shines upon its surface. One result of the trip,” continued Mr. Foster, “has been the shattering of the delusion that Crown Mountain is the highest peak in the interior. As a matter of fact, it is nothing of the sort. It has been described by previous map makers, probably because it could be seen from the shore, and has, therefore, been taken as a pointer; but when on a peak, in the vicinity of Elk Lake one day, we counted twenty peaks which were all from 1000 to 2000 feet higher than Crown Mountain.”
Exceeds All Expectations
“The whole park is much more magnificent than I believed. The snowclad mountains, with their glaciers rising as they do directly from sea level, are much more striking than are similar peaks in the Rockies or the Selkirks, and with their altitude of from 7000 to 8000 feet, direct from the sea level, are much grander than similar peaks in the interior. Mr. Thomson will come to the city early next week and then he will present our report to the minister upon the season’s work and our recommendations for future development. This latter will, we hope, include proposals for taking care of visitors. All we need do is take a party of picked people in there and we will then secure for Vancouver Island the greatest advertisement of the great national park which it is possible to imagine, and convince the world that we have right here on the Island the playground of the Pacific, with attractions in the way of fish and game and mountain climbing unequalled in the world. We are going to make Strathcona Park known to the world in the season of 1913, and when we do we will have a rush of tourists here which will surpass all expectations.”
Chairman – William Foster
January 27 – Arthur Wheeler gives a talk to the Natural History Society on “Canada’s Mountain Wonderland.” ACCVI members invited.
February 14 – Arthur Wheeler to give talk on the “Alpine Areas of Strathcona Park”.
March 27 – Club’s 7th annual banquet at Empress Hotel.
June 28 – Club trip to Mt. Arrowsmith.
Section members who attended the ACC annual camp at Lake O’Hara: Arthur Wheeler, William Foster, Miss L. Whelan, Ethel Bruce.
Reported in the Daily Colonist Tuesday January 21, 1913, p.17.
Mr. Arthur O. Wheeler, president of the Alpine Club of Canada, will give an illustrated lecture on the “Alpine Areas of Strathcona Park,” to the B.C. Superintendents in Victoria on the evening of Thursday February 14 and will be followed by an address on Strathcona Park development by Mr. Reginald H. Thomson, the Government engineer in-charge of the project.
Canada’s Mountain Wonderland Shown
Director of Alpine Club Gives Interesting Lecture Before Natural History Society of British Columbia
Reported in the Daily Colonist Wednesday January 29, 1913, p.3.
Mr. Arthur O. Wheeler, director of the Alpine Club of Canada, gave an address to the Natural History Society on Monday [January 27] evening on “Canada’s Mountain Wonderland” the mountain ranges of British Columbia. He described the original formation of ranges and the process of sculpture by which these have been cut into the towering peaks we now see, the dazzling snowfields, the wild gorges with their impetuous foaming torrents, the lovely lakes and among them the grassy tracts with their profusion of brilliant alpine flowers, which will delight the beholder and repay them for the long journey hither from Europe. As to how the mountains were formed, he said that the inner mass of the earth shrank, leaving the crust outside too large for it. The pressure of the Pacific Ocean was too great to be sustained by the unsupported crust, which crumpled under the pressure, the first folds to be formed being the Coast Range and the Selkirks, and later another great settling threw up the Rocky Mountains. These folds or crumples are made up of sedimentary rocks pushed inward from the sea shore, for the mountain ranges have not been thrown up hot, from the centre of the earth by volcanoes as is often mistakenly supposed. The ridge, folds or crumples lie in lines from northwest to southeast and have a precipitous face inland to the northeast. At this precipitous face the strata have been broken across by the formation of what called faults; one is well seen in Banff. Then when these ridges or ranges are formed Nature at once begins to cut them down “weathering” them on a huge scale by rain, wind and snow till they are cut through by ravines and valleys and the remaining portions are left as magnificent pyramids, castles or pinnacles, the mountains we so admire. Evidently the greatest agency in erosion is water, particularly frozen water, in snow. Snow piling itself up (50 feet has fallen in a year in the Selkirks) keeps on crushing and crushing the lower layers till they fuse into ice, which under this great pressure becomes plastic and flows now becoming a glacier, always downward, and with this great pressure behind it, and the extra help it gets from stones, rocks and boulders it has broken off and is carrying with it scores out and always widens its channel, from which a ravine becomes a valley, isolating its parent peak ever more and more. Mr. Wheeler showed some wonderful pictures, taken at high altitudes where there are violent winds and quantities of snow. As it is driven against the rocks it sticks to them and forms wreaths outside them in very insecure positions; these are called cornices, look safe and tempting, have no support below and may lure the mountaineer to trust them, and they fall him to his destruction. A very steep glacier from Mount Robson was shown 5000 feet high, with a turquoise-blue lake at the bottom of it. Cloudy days suit climbing best at these high altitudes (Mount Robson is 13,000 feet), for then the surface is hard and there are fewer avalanches. When Mr. Wheeler was climbing Mount Robson with three other men, they were resting at a point but decided to move a little further on, and in five minutes after they saw an avalanche sweep over their previous halt, which shocked them, for, as the guide, who alone spoke, said: “We should have been killed.” As a glacier in its descent falls over a ridge, which in a water-river would have meant a waterfall, the upper ice cracks and gapes, forming a crevasse, and the ice on a glacier, cracked and strained, arranges itself in pinnacles, columns and fantastic shapes. They are on a huge scale. Yet when a visiting lady saw them at Glacier and was asked about it, she said she did not think very much of that. She thought the C.P.R. should have spent its advertising money to better advantage then it cutting the ice into shapes like those. Running water has done something in the sculpture of the district as in the gorges of the Selkirks, where the river runs underground threw crystalline, limestone or marble for a mile through caves that are quite dark but brilliant with their white interior when lighted up. Here travelling in the dark is quite impossible. Mr. Wheeler did his exploring with a bicycle lamp, but once he and his guide crossed a log bridge together they were dropped into the water, their lights were extinguished. They could not get out in the dark and their matches were wet. By drawing the edge of a knife over the match head, however, they managed to light one and won back to the world. Pictures were shown of Lake Moline [Maligne], Ottara [?], Louise and the others, of the gorges of the Yoho, of pinnacles among the conglomerates, and the Eagle’s Eyrie, and the society was so delighted with the lecture that they stood up to emphasize the strength of the vote of thanks they passed to Mr. Wheeler for coming to address them on so fascinating a subject. In his reply he emphasized the publicity the Alpine Club of Canada gave to the Province, bringing here every year great climbers from foreign lands, besides giving cheap holidays in its camps to some of the best workers in the Province.
Reported in the Daily Colonist Friday March 28, 1913, p.7.
The menu card—to which the above drawing fails to do even approximate justice—was in itself a work of art and very distinctive originality. The idea originated in the fertile brain of Mr. W. [William] W. Foster, his artistic collaborator being Mrs. G.P. Napier, by whom each card was painted in watercolors. The route of the diners through the various courses, it will be noted, is identically that followed by the first conquerors of Mount Sir Donald, in the Selkirks, by Messrs. Huber and Suizer, in 1890. More than this it will be noted that the start is made (as is requisite in all Alpine Club ascents) at 4 a.m., a first rest-halt for light refreshment being made at the first prescribed halt in the Sir Donald climb. The fish brings the climbers to the origin of the Illecillewaet River, and the entrees to the verglas—the binder between the ice and the native rock. Then on, over the scree to the massif, and on and on and up and up, until the crown of the monarch is gained, and duly honored in the champagne cup, a short halt being appropriately called ere the descent and dispersal for coffee at Terminal Peak. The menu is adorned with the Alpine Club colors, and with strict official correctness, inscribed with punctilious exactitude “Route Map No. 2” (this being the second annual pre-gathering of the club.)—Empress Edition.
Alpine Club Holds Its Annual Banquet
Interesting Speeches Upon Provincial Development Are Made by Hon. Dr. Young and Mr. W.W. Foster
The scenic beauties of Vancouver Island and the Province of British Columbia generally featured in a series of interesting speeches delivered last night [March 27] at the annual banquet of the Victoria section of the Alpine Club of Canada, held in the Empress Hotel. The chair was occupied by Mr. W. [William] W. Foster Deputy Minister of Public Works, and he was supported by the Hon. Dr. [Henry] Young, Minister of Education, Mr. [John] Cory Wood, M.P.P. for Alberni, and Mr. R. [Reginald] Thomson, the engineer employed by the Province in connection with the laying of Strathcona Park. The function was attended by about fifty people and proved to be most enjoyable. The Province of British Columbia was the leading toast of the evening, and the proposal fell to Mr. C. Wood, M.P.P. for Alberni, who declared that the alpine features of the country were unsurpassed anywhere in the world. At the present time their beauty was known to only a limited few but as time wore on there was no reason in the world why the people who annually went to Switzerland in search of fresh air and the healthy exercise of mountaineering should not come to this part of Canada, where he was sure they could obtain more for their time and money than was to be offered in any other country. Hon. Dr. Young, responding to the toast, thought that the Province was even now coming into its own. During the past twelve years he had been greatly interested in the Province and had taken some part in its development and yet he felt sure that in 1913 they were only beginning their official life. In former years they could transact the business of the Government in a very few hours but today the office of cabinet minister was no sinecure. The country was growing rapidly and with the growth came interesting responsibilities, and he was happy to know, he said, that the development was not unequal. It was taking place all over the country, from Atlin to the Delta and from Victoria to the Kootenay country.
Live In Rich Country
“We live in a rich country. It is an empire in itself, and we do not realize yet the enormous potentialities it possesses in its natural resources. In time to come British Columbia will support millions of people. So far, its development has been along the line of least resistance. I mean by that that the population has followed the lines of transportation. That course will continue to be followed and in years to come with the many branch lines that must inevitably be constructed this Province will be opened by an immense multitude of people. But just how rapidly we are growing is scarcely appreciated, I think. Just consider that in ten years we have all our debts, and that in addition to that we have today a cash balance of eight million dollars is in the bank. Our credit stands higher today than that of any other province in the Dominion, and one of the chief reasons is that we had the foresight to establish a sinking fund to meet our bonded in debtedness. The Alpine Club of Canada” was proposed by Mr. W.W. Foster, who stated that since the inauguration of the club astonishing progress had been made. At the start a good many people had expressed their diffidence on the subject of the ultimate success of the club, but today they were assured. He reminded his hearers that the club was not a local institution, and that it did not exist for the attainment of one single object. “It has a large mission. It has a scientific side, which I am sure, is appreciated by at least its membership, as well as a pleasure-seeking side, which is, of course, obvious,” he said. “In its essence and meaning the club is a provincial and national asset, inasmuch as it is devoted to the capitalization of the scenery of the country. The fact that a great asset does exist to the possession of our wonderful scenery has come very prominently to the front in recent years. We realize that it can be made revenue producing and it is one of our objects to bring that idea to fruition. There are two important considerations in that work. They are the publicity and transportation. The club is doing an excellent work in regard to publicity, and I think that the work the various transportation companies in conjunction with the Provincial Government, will finally result in the creation of the necessary conditions.
Demands Are Enormous
“It has been said by some that we are not making use of our scenic asset; that we are not encouraging the people of the older countries to come here and see what we have in this part of the world, but in that connection I think it I wise to remember that the demands of a growing Province like this are so enormous that we must move carefully. Considerable money is being spent by the Provincial Government upon roads in the Province this year, and when it is considered that these appropriations have been made in spite of the heavy concessions that have to be made in other directions, it will, I think, be admitted that the progress being made is admirable. As a club, we are greatly interested in the road question, because it is impossible for the people who come here to get to the real beauty spots.” He referred briefly to what is being done in the two provincial parks, the Strathcona Park and Mount Robson Park. Mr. A. [Arthur] O. Wheeler submitted a report of the work of the past year, which he showed the club to be in a more prosperous condition than ever. The membership is now 800. Mr. R.H. Thomson spoke briefly about the wonders of the Strathcona Park. He advised caution in regard to the development of the resorts, and said that until they had accomplished what they had in hand it was idle to discuss other possible reserve grounds of beauty. Mr. S. [Stanley] H. Mitchell proposed the toast of the guests, which was responded to by Mrs. J. [Julia] Henshaw. The menu, a charming work of Mr. Foster’s, represented the climb of Mount Sir Donald, the various stages being landmarked with the several courses.
Victoria Climbers to Scale Arrowsmith
Party Of Alpine Club Members Organize Trip For July 1—Twenty Individuals Comprise Mountaineering Outfit
Reported in the Daily Colonist Wednesday June 18, 1913, p.2.
The Victoria branch of the Alpine Club of Canada has arranged to take a party of twenty upon a climbing expedition, the objective being the scaling of Mount Arrowsmith, the beautiful and inviting earth and rock mound, that decorates the Alberni district. The party will leave the city on July 1, and it is calculated that three days’ effort will be represented in the climb. The trip has been organized by the club in order that the peculiarities of Mount Arrowsmith may be thoroughly explored. It is a very fine peak, rising to a height of nearly 6,000 feet, and comprising of many beautiful features. From the summit it is possible to obtain splendid and unique views of the Pacific to the westward and of the Mainland on the east side. It is remarkably akin in general features to some of the leading mountains on the mainland in that it is scored by glaciers and flanked by very fine snow fields. It is expected that as a result of this trip a large number of people will be introduced to visit this region, a feat which is now all the more alluring since the C.P.R. has constructed and opened a trail connecting the mountain top with Cameron Lake. Mr. W. [William] W. Foster, together with Messrs. Markell and [Horace] Westmoreland, the three officers of the club, will be in charge of the expedition and will each take a rope.
Climb Mount Arrowsmith
Reported in the Daily Colonist Friday June 27, 1913, p.6.
Tomorrow [June 28] some twenty members of the Victoria Branch of the Alpine Club of Canada will start out on a week-end climb of Mount Arrowsmith.
Reported in the Daily Colonist Friday July 18, 1913, p.8.
Miss L. Whelan is leaving town this morning for the Mainland en route to Edmonton. While away she will join the Alpine Club and will climb Mount Robson. She expects to return to Victoria in about five weeks’ time. Miss Ethel Bruce who will also join the mountaineering expedition to Lake O’Hara, is leaving town tomorrow morning, and returning in about ten days.
Ascend The White Horn
Party Of Canadian Alpine Climbers Succeed In Reaching Summit Of Mountain
Reported in the Daily Colonist Sunday August 6, 1913, p.1.
Mount Robson, B.C., Aug. 5—On the same day as Mr. C. [Conrad] Kain, with his party of Canadian Alpine Club climbers, were returning victorious from the ascent of Robson Peak, Mr. Walter Schauffelberger was leading a party of three up White Horn, 11,101 feet, the highest peak in the White Horn range. The party included Mr. C.B. Sissons, Toronto; Mr. H. [Horace] Westmorland, Victoria, and Mr. B.S. Darling, Vancouver, and the climbers made the round trip, bivouac to bivouac, in 16½ hours. The only previous ascent was made by Mr. Kain, the guide who piloted the party to the conquering of Mount Robson, and who reached the summit of White Horn alone in 1911. Today’s party found the cairn built by Mr. Kain, on the topmost height, and within it a record enclosed in a match box, which read: “Konrad Kain, guide, Vienna, Austria, climbed in storm, August, 1911.” The party brought this record back to camp.
Mountaineering On Vancouver Island—Climbing Arrowsmith
Reported in the Daily Colonist (Sunday Magazine) Sunday August 10, 1913, p.1.
That the call of the everlasting hills is being heard and answered each year in Western Canada by an increasing number of clean-living lovers of Nature’s majesty and the mountaineering each year is becoming more popular in British Columbia are evidenced very significantly by the fact that the Alpine Club of Canada is this Summer holding two important camps in the eternal Rockies. The first, at Lake O’Hara, near Field, opened on the 15th of last month, continuing until the 25th. The second at Mount Robson, is still in progress, having opened last Monday and being programmed to continue until the 9th of this present month. This camp at Mount Robson marks the official opening of the park, which was formerly created by legislation of last session and the Provincial Government is being ably and popularly represented thereat by Deputy Minister of Public Works, Mr. W [William] W. Foster, with whom are a score or more enthusiastic Alpinists of Victoria and Vancouver. Representative mountaineers and travelers from the United States, Great Britain, the Continent, New Zealand and even the distant Himalayas are collaborating with their Canadian brethren to assure the complete success of this first camp in the Mount Robson section of the Rockies. The site selected for this season’s camps unfold panoramas of the most spectacular grandeurs of the Continental range and the programmes have been arranged with very special care. On Vancouver Island the opening up and development of Strathcona park is certain to give an immense impetus to mountaineering and the promotion of tourist interest in this portion of the province. The heart of the Island Alps abounds in every allurement to the lover of wilderness and its high places—gigantic, snow-crested peaks; magnificent glaciers; superb lakes; tumultuous torrents; incomparable beautiful waterfalls; primeval forest; rare treasures of mountain flora. When roads are completed giving access from the north and south, hotel and camping conveniences are arranged, this great playground of the people promises to be the strongest magnet on the Pacific Coast for the attraction of the lover of mountains. Outside the park boundaries there are also numerous magnificent peaks, usually isolate and difficult to scale—of which Victoria, some fifteen miles northwest of Crown Mountain, in the north, and Arrowsmith, in the south, are fine examples. Of Arrowsmith, the most lofty peak in the southern half of Vancouver Island, a magnificent view is obtained from the Island Highway between Nanaimo and Parksville, and of course from Alberni—the position of mountain as a background to the twin cities of Alberni being most picturesque. To reach Arrowsmith either by train or motor, Cameron Lake, upon the eastern shore of which a charming tourist chalet has been erected, is used as a base; whilst from the chalet a good trail seven miles in length takes the mountaineer almost to the base of the mountain itself, and at this point, too, a hut has been erected, to enable those who do not care for a seven mile walk before and after climbing, to have shelter overnight in case of inclement weather. Mount Arrowsmith has truly Alpine characteristics which, taken in conjunction with its accessibility, will ensure its popularity as it becomes better known. Whilst officials of the Dominion Government Surveys established a cairn upon No. 3 Peak, and the north peak has also been climbed upon several occasions by private parties, little information has up to date been available which could be used as a guide to lovers of the mountains making enquiry about Arrowsmith, and it was to obtain such data for the Club’s records—which are always available to the general public—as well as to provide an outing for the Vancouver Island section of the Alpine Club of Canada, that the recent expedition was undertaken. A party of twenty, including Miss L.A. De Beck, official representative from Vancouver, assembled at Cameron Lake chalet on the 29th ult., and found that, chiefly through the instrumentality of Mr. J. [John] G. Cory Wood, M.P.P., a member of the Club, everything had been arranged for an immediate start. The trip up the trail, following most of the way a stream which has its source in the snowfield area of Arrowsmith, giving as it usually does magnificent views across the valley to the seashore thence over the Island-studded sea to the Mainland, was unfortunately marred by a steady downpour of rain and clouds obscuring the views that would otherwise have been possible. However, around a fire at the hut, which had been supplemented for the occasion with a couple of tents, such troubles were soon forgotten, and interest centered in arrangements for the following day. Thirteen signified their intention of climbing; whilst the others under the guidance of the botanists of the party explored the woods of the vicinity. Contrary to what is sometimes expected good fortune smiled upon the thirteen and a fine day rewarded their determination to climb, “rain or shine.” Leaving the hut at an elevation of 4,220 feet in the early morning, short stretches of snow-slope and rock brought the party to the summit of a ridge from which could be seen across a valley containing a small ice-covered lake, the objective mountain, a snow ridge connecting the mountain proper with the point of which the party stood. Four distinct peaks give Arrowsmith a very commanding appearance, and it was decided to ascend the two highest—the centre ones. Roping into three parties, under the leadership respectively of Messrs. W.W. Foster, H. [Horace] Westmoreland and A. [Alan] B. Morkill, an ascent was made across the snowfield and then up the “Col” between peaks one and two. At 10:30, the party reaching the summit of No. 2 Peak, the aneroid reading showed an elevation of 5,750 feet. From this point one of the party crossed down to Peak 1, and then, all following the Arete south, made the main peak about thirty minutes later, the aneroid giving 5,800 feet. Through breaks in the clouds, magnificent views were obtained westward across Alberni and the Canal, winding like a ribbon from the western Coast line to the centre of the Island, north to Great Central Lake and thence across the Straits to the Mainland. A light lunch and then descent, two parties taking the steep snow “Col,” whilst the third essayed a rather interesting chimney to the snowfields below, then glissading down slopes whenever possible, a rapid return was made to the hut and on to the chalet where the whole party reunited.
British Capital in Island Mine
Earl Of Denbigh and Party Take Up Ptarmigan On Bear Mountain—Quarter Of Million Dollars Figure In Deal
Reported in the Daily Colonist Tuesday September 16, 1913, p.14.
One of the best testimonials that the mineral worth of Vancouver Island has received gratuitously came with the announcement from the Earl of Denbigh [Rudolph Feilding], who arrived in the city yesterday with Sir James Sivewright, Major Frank Johnson and Lady Marjorie Feilding, daughter of the Earl, that they have purchased the Ptarmigan Mine located on Bear Mountain on the West Coast, north of the Alberni canal, have already developed the property to the point of making it accessible and are now on the eve of placing the producing plant in operation. The Ptarmigan Mine is a copper-gold proposition, and the sale of it to the above-mentioned party involved the passing of about a quarter of a million dollars. The money has been subscribed by the few members of the party, and there will be no public issue of stock or anything of that nature. On the face of it, the transaction has the genuine ring that mining operations in this Province demand, and the fact that the enterprise is of a purely private character, and has been advanced so far without publicity or boastfulness of any description, may be taken as additional indications of the intrinsic worth of the proposition. Bear Mountain rises up to a height of something like 6,000 feet and the mining property is located near the summit. Bear Creek [Bedwell River] is the natural waterway that leads to the property, and already the small but influential syndicate has erected a pier or landing there so that when the mine is in operation, a consummation which is expected to develop about July of next year, there will be no difficulty about shipping the ore, which, by the way, will go to Ladysmith to be treated by the smelter of the Tyee Company.
South African Experience
All the members of the party, which include Mr. H.G. Latilla, Mr. H.H. Sutherland, Mr. H.F. Hunter, and Mr. J. [John] D. McLeod, are going up to have a look at the property today. They leave on the morning train for Port Alberni, and expect to return on Thursday. Realizing the difficulties of visiting the Ptarmigan on a time schedule, the Earl and his companions have charted the Queen City to go round the Island and bring them back from Bear Creek when they have completed their investigation. With the exception of the Earl and his daughter, the party of visitors consists of men who have had varied experiences in South Africa, the wonderful land of mining, and their advent in British Columbia on such a substantial mission cannot fail to carry significance. Sir James Sivewright, a Scotsman, is one of the best-known men at Cape Town. In his earlier days-he is now retired-he was a colleague of the great Cecil Rhodes, and gossip credits him with being the executive brain that carried to a successful issue many of the wonderful accomplishments of South Africa. He was a member of the second Government of Rhodes, in the capacity of commissioner of crown lands, and prior to that he occupied the onerous position at that time of being general manager of South African telegraphs. He was in that troublous country during the first Boer war, and his name is a household word throughout the great land that is now marching forward with the other Imperial units of the crown. In conjunction with Sir Henry William Preece, he compiled a standard book on telegraphy, which is regarded as an excellent authority today. Major Frank Johnson and Mr. Herbert Latilla are also well known at the Cape. Mr. Sutherland and Mr. J.D. McLeod represent the vendors of the property, and are accompanying the others. Mr. J. [John] G. Cory Wood, M.P.P. for Alberni, came down to the capital to meet the party, and is traveling with them today on the visit of inspection. An interesting talk on the scheme was given The Colonist last night by Major Johnson. “We have been working on this proposition for about a year,” he said, “and now we are very nearly ready to start producing ore. We have not made any noise about our intentions, because in the first place, that is not our way, and in the second place, there is no occasion for us to say anything. There are only a few of us in the mine, and as we do not want any more, and do not want any public subscription of stock, publicity was of no use to us. We expected to be actually producing ore this month, or next month at the latest, but we miscalculated on our difficulties in cutting a road through the bush. The landing is some miles from the base of the mountain, and while we have made splendid progress with the construction of our wagon road, we have some three miles to do. That will take a month or two, and the winter is coming on rapidly. I think it advisable to state that we will be producing by next July. That is certain, and there is no use giving out anything that is not so.”
“Our aerial gear is at the base of the mountain now, and when we get there tomorrow, we will look into the matter of its erection. Of course, that has already been arranged for, and the work is going ahead, but we will be on the spot this time to see the first move in this direction. The placing of the gear in position will take some time, because five thousand feet is a considerable height. I may say that we purchased the aerial gear for this purpose from the Tyee Company, and I understand that it is in perfect shape. We intend to have it all fixed up as soon as possible after the winter weather ceases, and thereafter we will be in a position to produce ore. In that connection I may state that it is our present intention to ship the ore to Ladysmith, where we have an arrangement with the Tyee Company’s smelter. Just what this mining development will mean to Vancouver Island I cannot say, but I suppose it will be for good. The plant we have installed in the mine has a capacity of 1,000 tons of ore a day, whereas the smelter at Ladysmith is only capable of handling 700 tons a day. However, that may be remedied in time. Of the ore itself it may not be necessary to speak, but I affirm that it is of high grade. My brother, who is a prominent engineer of South Africa and who has visited a number of mines in Canada, came out here at our instigation and looked the thing over. We did not know exactly what to do about it, but his report was so enthusiastic that we decided to raise the money ourselves. He is out here now, and will stay with the property until it reaches the producing stage.” The Earl of Denbigh, who is chairman of the small company of investors, is the ninth of his line, a soldier, and land owner. He joined the army in 1878 and served in the Egyptian campaign, receiving a medal and clasp for Tel-el-Keber. He also served in India. He was also a D.C. to the Marquis of Londonderry when he was the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. At the present he is a director of the London Joint Stock Bank, the Equitable Life Assurance, and the Rio Tinto Company. He owns about 8,000 acres of land in England. A very notable thing about the statements of all the members of the party in regard to the Ptarmigan mine scheme was the reference to its effect on British and South African Capital. The Earl and Sir James stated that their single-handed action here could not fail to produce a better feeling in Great Britain and South Africa toward mining propositions in British Columbia, and their views were heartily endorsed by Major Johnson and Mr. Latilla.
Daring Exploits on Island Mountain Means Big Boom in District Mining
Sir James Sivewright Suspended Over Precipice—Lady Marjorie Fielding First Women to Conquer Peak
Reported in the Daily Colonist Thursday September 25, 1913, p.11.
Yet another small chapter in the history of Vancouver Island was closed yesterday with the return of the Earl of Denbigh and party from the Ptarmigan Mine property on Bear Mountain [Big Interior Mountain], which is located up Bear Creek [Bedwell River] from Clayoquot Sound. Every member of the party returned fit and well, but the memory of the trip will live long with most of them, for, to say the least, it proved the toughest proposition, probably of their lives. Sir James Sivewright, a colleague of Cecil Rhodes, in the upbuilding of South Africa, nearly meet his death, and is now enjoying the rare privilege of life after being suspended in mid-air over a precipice of over two hundred feet. Lady Marjorie Feilding, the twenty-one-year-old daughter of the Earl, placed a new peak on the physical feature map of the Island by christening one of the minor spires of the Great Interior dome by the name of “Marjorie’s Load,” and would have given still more trouble to the King’s Printer along this line but for the fact that the champagne, with which the ceremonies were to be performed, could not be pledged from the vessel on account of the blizzard they encountered. However, Lady Marjorie enjoys the glory of being the first woman to climb the Great Interior Mountain, and it is not likely that her feat will be duplicated in a hurry, as all the members of the party declare that while the view from the top was incomparable the travail of getting there is terrible. Major Frank Johnson, another South African who is interested in the Ptarmigan proposition, states that he never enjoyed himself so much, never worked so hard, and never felt better. Speaking to The Colonist last night on the subject of the trip to the mountain, he said that the feature of it was the great performance in climbing of Sir James Sivewright. “Just think of it,” he said, “he is seventy-seven if he is a day, and yet was first at the top, some six thousand odd feet in the air. And he was very nearly lost to us, too. Climbing the mountain at this season of the year is a tremendous task, and how he and Lady Marjorie managed it I do not know, but there they both were at the finish, fresh and smiling, and ready to do anything to help the others. In making one nasty turn on the rope Sir James was swung from his footing over a sheer precipice, and was dangling there for what seemed an interminable time. I was below him, and I saw him swing against the rock with a bang, and I thought it was all over with him. When he gained the landing below some thirty minutes later, I was amazed to see the old gentleman away ahead again as blithely as ever.” Sir James, while making little of the accident, admitted that his ribs and legs suffered from the impact against the rocks. He was all praise, however, for Lady Marjorie, and speedily forgot his own ills in admiration of her exploits. The Earl of Denbigh, in common with the others, expressed his entire satisfaction with the mining property and they all expect to demonstrate the validity of their faith during next year. The aerial gear is now on the ground, and the work of erecting it will be undertaken this winter. In the event of the weather being not too hard it is expected to have it completed by the spring, when the other plant for the mine operations will be installed. In connection with the aerial gear it is interesting to note that an arrangement is being made whereby the brake power of the aerial apparatus will be used to generate motive power for the air compressors to be used in the mine. The Earl, Lady Marjorie and Major Johnson leave today for the easy and home. They expect, however, to return to British Columbia in the spring of next year to visit the mine when production commences. J. [John] G. Cory Wood, M.P.P. for Alberni, who accompanied the Earl of Denbigh and his party to Bear Mountain to inspect the Ptarmigan Mine Property is of the opinion that the interest of the earl and his friends in the West Coast of Vancouver Island, as exemplified in the mining proposition, is a good thing for the Island, and for the whole Province. Mr. Wood stated that he was personally satisfied that the mine property would work out excellently. “And if it does,” he proceeded, “it will be a great thing for the West Coast. At this present time, when things are somewhat dull, the operation of a mineral mine on Vancouver Island will enliven interest in this part of the country, and at the same time contribute largely to the prosperity of the people. The Ptarmigan Mine has been purchased by the Earl of Denbigh and his friends without public subscription of any kind, and its success-which I am taking for granted-is bound to result in similar propositions in the future. “Once the mine is operating, which will be some time next year, the smelter at Ladysmith will resume operations, and it is quite possible that another smelter will have to be constructed to cope with the product of the mine. The earl and his friends are interested in the Tyee smelter at Ladysmith, and are of course depending upon it in connection with their proposition. The material taken from the mine will be shipped direct to Ladysmith, and the product handled there for shipment outside.” Speaking more generally of the visitors to the West Coast, Mr. Wood expressed the opinion that nothing better could have been conceived to advertise the resources of the Island. “Not unnaturally, it has resulted in one or two pleasant side issues. For instance, the name Bear River is going to be changed to that of Denbigh, in honor of the earl and his mining scheme, and one or two of the minor mountain peaks have been christened in commemoration of the trip.”
An Expedition Up Mount Benson
Reported in the Daily Times, (Sunday Magazine) September 28, 1913. p.5. By Frank W. Teague.
The traveller when approaching a town or city, the surroundings of which are familiar to him, is almost invariably able to tell his whereabouts long before he reaches the place by some distinguishing landmark that comes to view as he proceeds on his way, for every community more or less the world over, has its well-known crag or peak or glacier, its shaggy forest or rocky headland, its shining lake or ever rolling river. There are the Golden Gate of Frisco, the Sentinels of the Columbia and Tacoma’s Mt. Rainer; the rocky shores of Juan de Fuca tell us Victoria is near and the famous Slide on the Dome indicates from far up the Yukon that Dawson lies below. Our own little city of Nanaimo on the East Coast of Vancouver Island, overlooking a harbor that is famed for its natural beauty and safe shipping anchorage, has its distinguishing landmark in Mt. Benson, a peak over 3,000 feet in height which lies to the west of the city and some five miles away when approaching Nanaimo from the Gulf direction. It was this same mountain that my friend George and I set out to climb one morning early in May. It is not the writer’s intention to impress the reader by a thrilling story of heart breaking and back breaking packing and climbing, of the scaling of dazzling and dangerous peaks, of leaping over crevasses. This is not a tale of alpenstocks, Burgundy wine and Swiss guides, though it may be admitted that a guide is necessary to one unfamiliar with the great expanse of dark firs that cover the mountain sides, the acres of cedar bottom and the rocky gorges whose sharp, jutting flanks cut off the surrounding country. The object of our trip was to spend the day breaking through the woods where life is free and open and well worth living, where the call of the wild sounds in every tree, and crag and stream. We planned to ascend to the tempest beaten summit over wave after wave of densely wooded mountains that stretch for countless leagues in one vast, far reaching sea to the limit of vision, there to drink in the magnificent spectacle that this eminent spot affords, to secure photographs of the adjacent peaks, forests and waterfalls. This then was the prospect that led us to take the trip and while an expedition of this nature, where one is entirely dependent on one’s soundness of mind and limb to gain steep ascent, or overcome the windfalls and matted undergrowth, though trails of endurance are encountered, not one out of a hundred persons will fail to benefit from such an undertaking. Mt. Benson, which lies parallel to the coastline, is a double peaked eminence standing alone, a vanguard, so to speak, of the fine array of peaks that rise away to the south and northwest, the foremost of which show as a continuous chain. The estimated distance from the city to the summit is eight miles and to the foot of the ascent is about four miles. After passing the outskirts of town there are two trails by which the mountain top may be gained, the regular mountain road that leads up from the south, and McGarrigle’s trail at the north which commences at the sawmill of the Ladysmith Lumber Company. The former is the more favorable of the two since the greater part of it is a regular road cut out for vehicle travel. The last leg of the climb is by foot-path. On McGarrigle’s trail much loose rock is encountered and there are many logs strewn across the path indicating lack of repair. We took the regular mountain road, as it turned out, although our plan had been to go up by the northern route. Our plan was to ride out on the locomotive that runs from the town to the sawmill, a distance of some three and a half miles, and there begin the ascent by the McGarrigle trail. The locomotive was due to leave at 4 a.m. (before daybreak). I was up at 3:15, and finding that the rain of the previous night was still steadily descending I returned to bed feeling satisfied that the trip would be off. A continuous ringing at the front door-bell, the kind that has no intention of stopping until satisfaction has been secured, aroused me from a troubled sleep some time before 5 o’clock, and when I eventually arrived upon the scene, George, quite alert and armed with camera and lunch, stood before me. The rain had ceased, the dawn of a fine day was breaking and at 5:30 o’clock we struck out. The town, as was to be expected at so early an hour, was still asleep. Thirty minutes’ walk through the Western Fuel Company’s holdings brought us to the city’s water dams and the beginning of the mountain road. A steady grade from this point onward was encountered and the timber became more dense so that for some rods we could see nothing but the road winding before and behind. A distinct smell of ozone pervaded the atmosphere as we mounted and very soon George, who is an ardent and promising student of the local High School, began to point out various orchids here and there, many of which to the casual observer would have passed unnoticed. They were, however, of great interest to one who followed botany and who is born a nature lover. There was one orchid, the lady slipper, as it is commonly called in this country that stands out from all other because of its color and formation. To see such dainty flowers standing alone among the wild undergrowth brings astonishment to the onlooker and when they are seen they are sure to be carried away. Their home, however, is not the garden and they do not stand transplanting well. Before 6:30 we had reached what is known as the foot of the mountain and farther on, the Dominion geological mark at 1,100 feet altitude. The former is marked by a small stream which flows under a rough cedar bridge. It is somewhat difficult to know why this should be known as the foot of the mountain for the actual climb begins well down the road not far from the city water dams. As we steadily mounted the timber thinned out some and from the winding road a glimpse was obtained of the south and east. Though neither of us wished to break a record we maintained a steady gait, stopping only occasionally to drink from a prattling brook, but not resting. We soon saw that the day was not to be a favorable one as we had anticipated. A pall of fog hung in the tree tops farther up and when a chance offered, we could see that the mountains to the south were capped with a dense cloud. The end of the wagon road was reached at 7:30 without incident. We came upon a tent at this spot, which we afterwards found out belonged to the Geodetic survey party. The rest of the trail was a mere footpath, indistinct in places and sometimes difficult to keep. It was here that the stiffest bit of climbing was encountered. Although the trail was rugged and strewn with logs, twenty-five minutes sufficed to put us at the topmost point of the mountain, on which is placed a flagstaff, erected many years ago. We had thus affected the entire distance in two hours and twenty-five minutes and without stops. The usual time is about three hours, and larger parties generally take longer than that. The greatest height of the mountain, at the flag pole is 3,366 feet. Near the peak another tent was pitched which also belonged to the Geodetic party, who were taking measurements and areas of the bodies of rock, etc., that compose the mountain. A search light, erected on a stand at the foot of the flag pole, was no doubt used by the party who were making a general survey of the mountains of Vancouver Island, in taking night observation. When we gained the highest spot, nothing could be seen in any direction farther than about thirty yards distant, except a grey bank of mist. We seemed to stand on a tiny island of rock cut off from all else by the impenetrable wall of vapor, into which the rugged trees, blasted by the ice-edged gales of many winters, thrust their stunted and ragged branches as a bristling Chevaux-de-frise [a defense consisting typically of timber used to obstruct passage], on the ramparts of a fort. The beautiful view we had expected to obtain was not in evidence. We were not discouraged, however, for we knew that the fog would eventually lift, so gathering dry wood, a fire was started and we were soon busy transferring the lunch to our hungry stomachs. There was nothing left but to wait for the mist to clear, and there was evidence of it doing this in a short time, as the sun at intervals made brave attempts to break through and disperse the mist. The mist was only among the mountains, as several times, when the light breeze blew it clear, the lakes and rivers and salt water, not to mention the wooded country still nearer, showed up clear and beautiful. These were truly only flashes, for the veil swept over the whole scene as rapidly as it had opened out, and left us with the same grey pall surrounding us. George was anxious to take a photograph of Crystal Lake, a small body of water in the valley behind Mt. Benson, and at the foot of Wolf Mountain. Before noon we climbed down the rocks and set the camera up. The scattered mist continued to sweep along the valley but finally, after nearly an hour’s waiting, the scene was snapped, and returning to the top of the mountain we found the fog had lifted entirely, allowing a perfectly uninterrupted view of the whole panorama. From a lofty vantage point over 3,000 feet, on an early Summer day, when the various hues of the forest appear most attractive, such a spectacle has to be seen to be realized and adequately enjoyed. No description can instill into the mind of the reader the scene as it really is. Nevertheless, a description is in order. Almost immediately below, the lakes near Wellington shone among the dark firs and lighter foliage like crystals. Nanaimo lay peacefully in the sunshine picturesque on the verdant slopes that face the harbor wonderfully beautiful, while the blue floor of the Gulf of Georgia, dotted by many islands, stretched away north to the Mainland, and southward toward the Island at Saanich. The Balinacks and Grey Rocks, the Five Fingers, Entrance and Gabriola, the nearer Newcastle and Protection Islands all stood out clear and bright, some densely wooded, others barren, yet beauty spots on the azure sea. Further away, yet plainly discernible, were Texada and Lasqueti, the home of the quartz mine and haunt of the deer. Still more distant were the numerous inlets in the Mainland, with grey Point obscuring Vancouver from view. Away to the south lay Oyster Harbor and Ladysmith and the score of Islands towards Victoria. The mists behind us disappeared almost completely before long, showing a long wave of hill and valley covered with fir and cedar, spruce and hemlock, with here and there a line of snowy ranges; all the well-known peaks, Green, Wolf, Admiralty, De Cosmos, Spencer, Black Jack, Moriarty, Brenton and others, were visible. Altogether we could see fully 5,000 square miles of the earth’s surface. A good photo of the town and outlying islands was obtained, and then George proceed to secure one of the species of Liliaceae – the yellow Dogtooth Violet, with white antlers, similar to the regular white ‘curly lily’ that abounds hereabouts. George has artistic tastes and felt bound to get a good picture of the flowers, for he had a special lens along with his camera for this purpose. While the lilies were still patiently posing the sound of the shrill whistle of the little locomotive came up the mountainside, and we knew that a ride home was out of the question. About 2:30 p.m. we came down the rocky draw that was partially filled with snow, and began the descent. Mountain trips are for the most part alike in that when you are struggling slowly, but steadily upwards, your breath is coming (or going) fast, your legs weaken, your feet drag – and you long for a downhill stretch; but when you are on the down grade you think the descent is more distressing than the climb. The going was good for some time, the trees stately and open with little or no undergrowth, and plenty of moss that acted as a carpet; the grade could have been much worse. Such easy traveling was too good to last, however; the grade became sharper and the speed more rapid. Stopping was more difficult than starting and the lithe step with which we left the summit merged into a leaping, sliding and cuttling race. Ahead lay a wild ravine filled with dark firs, into the gloomy depths of which we plunged until brought up by a stream. We were near, as it happened, to a thick patch of lady slippers, so George set his camera up, and commenced operations. He told me he was particularly fond of photographing flowers and I believed him, for he lay on the wet moss with his black cloth over his head for upwards of half an hour, adjusting the special lens, and getting a focus some twelve inches distant, on four innocent and pretty little lady slippers, which stood the strain very well, but naturally began to droop their tired heads at the expiration of that time, some yellow violets, all the time with saucy faces, taking in the whole scene. The grade was easing off perceptibly, yet the undergrowth was more dense, and “salals” were more numerous as we neared the bottom. The beauty of it all, however, could not be overlooked. Dainty green leaves of the salmon berry bushes and jack pines and dark firs, the climbing honeysuckle and pretty spirea, the wild currant and graceful fern and yielding moss and the rays of the afternoon sun glancing through it all, combined to form a scene of real beauty, sublime and peaceful enough to satisfy the most ardent critic. Two leg-weary and perspiring forms, emerging from the trail above were not too weary to appreciate this, yet the second falls, on the McGarrigle Creek, reached after leaving the trail and breaking through the woods, was by far the prettiest bit of scenery on the whole trip, and I venture to say that these falls, as we saw them, cannot be surpassed in point of beauty by anything of the kind in this wide Province which contains many waterfalls and much beauty. The volume of water that flows over these rocks is small in comparison to many, but in judging beauty, the amount of water is not considered. The very secluded location – a little corner hollowed out of the rocks and not seen until a few paces away forms a novel and remarkable feature. Nature had draped its three rocky walls with trailing vines and creepers dripping and crystal-like from the waters of the fountain alone. As though placed by touch of a master hand the delicate salmon-berry and spirea bushes interlace overhead. The filmy stream that flows over the rocks with delightful music and falls fresh and pure into the deep clear pool, then over the gravelly little bar into its bed, edged with ever-present fir and cedar, and lighter tinted foliage, constitutes a forest setting, I say again, unsurpassed. Farther down the stream we came to the first falls, not possessing the beautiful surrounding of the upper yet a sight worth seeing, and one that would rank among the best of water scenes. A glance at the falls assured us that we had left the mountain side and were again among coal measures. The entire bed of the stream consists of a hard kind of shale which makes the scene as interesting as it is beautiful. To get to the main trail again a good deal of underbrush, scrubby firs, fallen logs, deadwood, and salmon-berry bushes, had to be gone through. The sun’s rays were making it warm work, for we were not lagging any. A fast pace was maintained all the way. Some two and a half hours after our departure from the summit, we emerged at the Ladysmith Lumber Company’s sawmill and for the balance of the way hit the ties of the lumber railway until we reached the town again. Thus, the trip down, irrespective of stops, took approximately the same length of time as the climb in the morning, and we reached home about 6 o’clock.
Letters To The Editor
The Late Mr. DeVoe
Reported in the Daily Colonist Sunday October 26, 1913, p.18.
Sir,—as certain articles have appeared in the local press referring to the late W. [William] F. DeVoe, who last week [October 12] was accidently drowned in Campbell River, and either insinuating or stating that he was a citizen of the United States, I feel it is my duty to inform the public that Mr. DeVoe was a licensed British Columbia subject, born in St. John, New Brunswick, and that he has been in my employ in British Columbia for over five years and to the best of my knowledge every man employed by me upon the survey of the boundaries of Strathcona Park is a British subject.
Colonel W.J. H. Holmes, B.C. Land Surveyor
Chairman – William Foster
Secretary-Treasurer – Jennie McCulloch
January 27 – Club lecture by William Foster titled “Mount Robson Park” at the Alexandra Club.
March 28 – Club’s 8th annual banquet at “Resthaven” Sidney.
Section members who attended the ACC general summer camp at Yoho Valley: Arthur Wheeler, Margaret Cowell.
Alpine Club Lecture
Reported in the Daily Colonist Wednesday January 28, 1914, p.6.
Mr. W. [William] W. Foster, M.P.P., president of the Alpine Club of Canada, gave an exceptionally interesting illustrated lecture last evening [January 27] to a large number of the members of the club and their guests at the Alexandra committee room. Mr. Foster took for his subject “Mount Robson Park,” the scene of last year’s annual camp of the club, and the successful ascent in which he participated. Photographs had been taken all along the journey, and consequently a most interesting collection of slides were thrown on the sheet, showing Mount Robson from every point, site of the camp, the Emperor Falls, which are the origin of the Fraser River, Berg Lake, Mount Whitehorn, Moose Pass, Smokey River, Captain Mackay climbing Mount Resplendent, which was climbed by about twenty members of the club, and many other beautiful views. A hearty vote of thanks was accorded to Mr. Foster at the conclusion of the lecture, proposed by Mr. [Arthur] Wheeler, who spoke of the modest manner in which Mr. Foster told of the difficult feat.
Describes Ascent of Mount Robson
Mr. W.W. Foster Delivers Entertaining Illustrated Lecture On Park Areas Of British Columbia
Reported in the Daily Colonist Tuesday March 10, 1914, p.3.
Mount Robson park was the subject of an exceedingly entertaining address by Mr. W [William] W. Foster, M.P.P., before the Victoria Natural History Society last evening [March 9]. Mr. Foster, whose discourse was beautifully illustrated, gave it greater scope than the title would indicate by outlining the provincial Government’s policy with respect to the preserving of park areas and by dwelling on its importance from the standpoint of the tourist. He also contributed an account of the conquering of the formidable mountain peak named by a party of Alpine Club members, consisting of himself, Conrad Kane, and Captain [Albert] MacCarthy, of New York. The description of the ascent was thrilling, and when the speaker finally told of the explorers’ success, his hearers felt some of the satisfaction he and his companions experienced as they stood on the ice-coated pinnacle and surveyed the prospect of the mountain, hill and dale unrolled beneath them. In his opening remarks Mr. Foster spoke of the action of administration in setting aside different extensive areas for park purposes. He thought it would be acknowledged that it was a move in the right direction. Speaking of Strathcona park, he said that in it were to be found mountains, rivers, streams, lakes—in fact everything to delight the visitor. Moreover, it was comparatively easy of access and would be made more so when two railways now underway reached its boundaries. References were made to the park in the vicinity of Banff, particular attention being given the magnificent Vermillion Valley, and to other such areas.
An Important Asset
Attention was drawn to the importance of this part of the Government’s policies from the viewpoint of the public interest. British Columbia had many natural resources. She was rich in minerals, agriculture, timber, etc., but in contemplating these things, the value of the scenic attractions of her mountains, valleys and rivers, was often overlooked. All that was necessary to ensure the country an immense income from the source, was transportation facilities, which were being secured, and advertising. The possibilities would bet better understood when it was pointed out that Switzerland, which was not larger than Vancouver Island, realized in income received from tourists, $150,00,000 per annum. British Columbia was many Switzerland’s rolled into one. In France, from the same source, there was received $500,000,000 each year. New Zealand being, like the Canadian West, comparatively new, made even a better comparison. Here it was found that the importance of the tourist was so well understood that the Government operated what was known as a “Tourist Bureau” and spent a great deal in informing the world of the colony’s attractions and the most convenient ways of seeing them. British Columbia, having a population of 90,000,000 people immediately to the south, and with the advantage of an imperial connection that could not be overrated, stood in a much better position than New Zealand.
Derivation Of Name
Mount Robson and the surrounding district, Mr. Foster stated, were of peculiar interest, the former being especially so to those having the propensities of the mountain climber. The mountain covered an area of forty square miles. Not many years ago little of a definite character was known concerning it. The available descriptions had been inaccurate. All this was accounted for by the fact that it was almost inaccessible. The conditions were now changing. Three railways ran close to it, namely, the Grand Trunk Pacific, the Canadian Northern and the Pacific Great Eastern. Two great highways traversed the district in its vicinity, one up the North Thompson River and the other through the historic Cariboo country. The mountain, he said, was named after an employee of the Hudson’s Bay Company. This was true also of the Yellow Head Pass and the Tete Jaune Cache. Mr. Foster gave an outline of the experiences of the Alpine Club members on their exploration of the Mount Robson Park area in 1913. Mention was made of the assistance tendered the party by the Grand Trunk Pacific and the C.P.R. companies. With the aid of the finest collection of mountain pictures ever shown here in public, the lecturer proceeded to give some insight into the beauties of the district in question and incidentally of the difficulties surmounted in the successful ascent of the before unconquerable mountain.
Climbing The Mountain
Before showing some splendid views of Mount Robson, Mr. Foster gave a brief sketch of his trip, in company with Conrad Kane, an Austrian guide, and Capt. MacCarthy, of New York, to the summit of the lordly mountain. The start had been made on a day far from promising with the idea of getting as far as possible toward their destination, in order that the final effort might be made and the goal accomplished on next day. The first camp had been located on a moraine far from the club’s headquarters and the blankets became of little use as the ice melted beneath them and the water seeped through. They had risen at 3 a.m. and reached the top of “Dome Mountain” at 8 o’clock. From this point their way had been a hard one. A climb at an angle of 65 degrees, with a wild, wind blowing about them, had to be made and the only foot-hold had been steps clipped in the ice. A similar performance was necessary to achieve the last few hundred yards of the journey, but, ultimately, they attained the pinnacle. Mr. Foster caused some amusement by his description of the next night spent on a sloping rock a short distance from the peak. On the conclusion of the address Mr. Foster was accorded a hearty vote of thanks by the society.
Alpine Club’s Third Annual Gathering
Director’s Report Shows Great Increase In Membership—Camp In Yoho Valley This Year
Reported in the Daily Colonist Saturday April 4, 1914, p.12.
The Vancouver Island section of the Alpine Club of Canada held its third annual dinner on Saturday, March 28 at “Resthaven.” Through the kindness of Dr. Gordon Cummings, the club was enabled to entertain its members and guests at this delightful spot, and no more ideal surroundings could be obtained for a “mountaineers’ banquet.” A special train of the Victoria and Sidney Railway Co. conveyed the members from the city at 5 o’clock, returning at midnight. The spacious dining-room looked like a Spring garden with the horseshoe shaped table beautifully decorated with hundreds of daffodils, vines and asparagus fern. This was the work of one of the Sidney members, Mrs. J. [James] J. White. The members were received by Mrs. [Clara] Wheeler, wife of the director of the Alpine Club, and Mrs. J.J. White. An excellent dinner was served, and at the close two toasts were responded to: “The King,” proposed by Mr. A. [Arthur] O. Wheeler and “The Alpine Club of Canada.” The latter was responded to, in an interesting speech, by Mr. W. [William] W. Foster, M.P.P., for the Islands District chairman of the V.I. section of the club. The director then read his annual message, which contained a resume of the year’s work and the plans for the coming year. The following is an extract from the message: “We have become a recognized national organization, with widespread international connections. Our annual camps have so far proved a success and have drawn from many places—not alone in Canada, but from the great Republic to the South, and from beyond the seas. The success is due, not to our own efforts alone, but to magnificent ranges of snow-clad, cloud-capped mountains that form the crowning glory of the North American continent, and of which we possess a goodly share. They have brought to our alpine gatherings, year by year, many enthusiasts who, through the fellowship of the camp fire, the partnership in the delights and dangers of long and hard climbs, and a mutual love of the wild beauties of Nature at her outposts, have become bound to us by ties that are more than personal friendship, that have brought home to us in a most concrete form the kinship of the Anglo-Saxon race.” The address drew attention to the fact that eight years ago the club was completed. The roll then showed sixty-seven members. At the present date it had a membership of close on 800, grouped in eight sections at various centers throughout Canada, at New York and in London, England. The Robson camp of 1913, in almost new territory, was a magnificent success. The annual camp will this year be held in the Upper Yoho Valley, near timber line, and will open on July 21, continuing for three weeks. The director said that the attractions of the Yoho Valley and its beauties were well known. After a hearty vote of thanks had been passed to the Sidney hostesses and to Dr. Gordon Cummings, the members and the guests adjourned to the rotunda for dancing.
Reported in the Daily Colonist Friday July 24, 1914, p.4.
Miss Margaret Cowell has left town to join the Alpine Club camp in the Yoho Valley. She expects to be away about three weeks.
Alpine Club Meet
Plan Formulated for Patriotic Work—Many Members Already On Military Duty
Reported in the Daily Colonist Friday November 27, 1914, p.5.
The first meeting this season of the Vancouver Island section of the Alpine Club of Canada was held on Tuesday [November 24] evening in the Alexandra club. In the absence of the chairman, Mr. W. [William] W. Foster, M.P.P., on military duty, the chair was taken by the director, Mr. A. [Arthur] O. Wheeler, F.R.G.S. After the usual routine business had been disposed of, including a report on the successful camp held in the Upper Yoho Valley during July and August last, the chairman brought up for discussion the formulating of a plan whereby the club, as a unit, could lend its assistance during the present war. A plan was suggested and it was decided to submit it to Toronto, Montreal, Winnipeg and other sections of the club for approval and co-operation. It was considered that, with its membership of over 800 throughout Canada, the club would be able to do its share. It was found that twenty-four members were already on military duty, among them being the director’s son, Capt. E. [Edward] O. Wheeler, R.E., who went with the Indian troops. At the close of the business meeting, refreshments were served and a social half hour spent. The meeting adjourned until December 18.
Chairman – William Foster
Secretary-Treasurer – Jennie McCulloch
Executive Committee – Margaret Cowell, Sara Spencer
January 19 – Club talk by Arthur Wheeler on “The Caves of Cheops, Selkirk Mountains.”
February 23 – Club meeting at Alexandra Club with talk by Robert McCaw on “Some Trips Taken During a Summer Spree Along the Banff-Windermere Motor Road.”
April 10 – Club’s 9th annual banquet at the Brentwood Hotel.
Alpine Club Meeting
Reported in the Daily Colonist Wednesday January 13, 1915, p.8.
The regular monthly meeting of the Vancouver Island section of the Alpine Club of Canada will be held on Tuesday, the 19th instant, at 8:30 p.m., in the King’s Daughter’s Hall (opposite the Alexandra Club), when the director, Mr. A. [Arthur] O. Wheeler, F.R.G.S., will give an illustrated lecture entitled “The Caves of Cheops, Selkirk Mountains, British Columbia.” The lecture will be open to the general public, as well as to members.
“Caves of Cheops”
Reported in the Daily Colonist Thursday January 21, 1915, p.6.
An excellent audience met in the rest room of the King’s Daughter’s to listen to an address by Mr. A. [Arthur] O. Wheeler, F.R.G.S., director of the Alpine Club of Canada. Mr. Wheeler illustrated his story by lantern slides. His lecture took his audience to the neighborhood of Glacier House, or, more particularly, to the “Caves of Cheops,” in the Selkirk Mountains. He described the accident of their discovery in 1904 and his exploration of them the following year with two companions. Mr. Wheeler’s description of the flora and fauna of the district was also exceedingly interesting.
Alpine Club Meeting
Reported in the Daily Colonist Tuesday February 23, 1915, p.9.
At the regular monthly meeting of the Alpine Club of Canada, to be held tonight in the Alexandra Club, an address will be given by Mr. R. [Robert] D. McCaw, D.L.S., entitled “Some Trips Taken During a Summer Spree Along the Banff-Windermere Motor Road.”
Annual Meeting of Alpine Club Branch
Enjoyable Banquet Held at Brentwood – Camp Arranged For This Summer
Reported in the Daily Colonist Tuesday April 13, 1915, p.4.
The annual banquet of the Vancouver Island branch of the Alpine Club of Canada was held on Saturday night [April 10] at the Brentwood Hotel. Capt. W. [William] W. Foster, M.P.P., chairman of the branch presided, and was accompanied at the head table by Mrs. Foster, Director A. [Arthur] O. Wheeler, Mrs. [Clara] Wheeler, W. [William] S. Drewry and Mrs. McCaw. The vice-chairman took the other end of the table, others of the executive who were present being Miss J. [Jennie] L. McCulloch, the secretary-treasurer and the Misses M. [Margaret] Colwell and S. [Sara] A. Spencer. In addition, some thirty-five members and invited guests were present. After the loyal toast had been honored, Capt. Foster gave a patriotic address, which was followed by a review of the club’s activities by Mr. A.O. Wheeler, the club’s director. Mr. Wheeler mentioned that fifty-two members of the Alpine Club of Canada were serving with the troops, several having already suffered wounds in the Empire’s cause. A motor ambulance fund had been opened and $2,149 sent on March 15 to be forwarded to the Canadian red Cross commissioner in London for the purchase of the ambulance. A paper written by Mr. McHutcheon entitled “Soffles des Alpes,” read by Mr. Gordon Cameron, was much appreciated, after which the remainder of the evening was spent in the enjoyment of music and dancing. The following ladies and gentlemen contributed to the musical programme: Mr. and Mrs. McCaw, Miss McLaren and Messrs. D.C. Hughes and Heaton, the proceedings coming to a close with the singing of the club song, “Hail to Our Mountains.” The camp is to be held this year in Ptarmigan Valley, near Laggan about the middle of July.
Chairman – Robert McCaw
Secretary-Treasurer – Jennie McCulloch
Alpine Club Will Camp in Bow Valley
Eleventh Annual Camp Will Keep Alive Camp-Fire Circle On Behalf of Members At The Front.
Reported in the Daily Colonist Sunday July 23, 1916, p.9.
The Alpine Club of Canada has arranged to hold its eleventh annual camp – the second war camp – in the Bow Valley. The camp will be known as “The Bow Valley Camp,” and will be operated in conjunction with the Club house at Banff. It will open on Thursday, July 12, and close Monday July 31. The object of the camp is announced to be to keep alive the camp-fire circle on behalf of the members now on active military service for the Empire. Accommodation will be prepared for 100 persons. In accordance with clause 14 of the constitution, the annual meeting of the club will be held during the camp for the election of officers, presentation of reports, and transactions of business. The main camp will be placed in the Bow Valley, on the south side of the river, below the Massive Range, at an altitude of between 5,000 and 6,000 feet above sea level. This range contains a number of fine peaks, of which Pilot Mountain, Mount Brett, one unnamed, and Mount Bourgeau are the most conspicuous. It is the home of the wild goat, and flocks congregate in the alpine meadows of its hanging valleys. Facilities will be provided to cross the Bow River and so to visit Hole-In-The-Wall Mount, Mount Edith, and Mount Louie, the last a difficult peak yet unclimbed. There are many other fine peaks in the area.
Chairman – Robert McCaw
Secretary-Treasurer – Jennie McCulloch
March 28 – Club’s 11th annual banquet at Brentwood Hotel.
Alpine Club Dinner
Reported in the Daily Colonist Saturday March 24, 1917, p.4.
The members of the Vancouver Island section of the Alpine Club of Canada are holding their annual dinner at Brentwood on Wednesday evening, the 28th instant. As many of their numbers are now at the front serving their country, and others have fallen during the war, the usual programme of music and dancing following the dinner, will be dispensed with, and in its place a number of lantern views of the Canadian Rockies and the New Zealand Alps will be shown. To this latter entertainment the guests of the hotel and any others interested will be made welcome, and a silver collection in aid of the Red Cross funds will be taken.
Alpine Club Has Brilliant Record
Reported in the Daily Colonist Saturday November 17, 1917, p.9.
The Alpine Club of Canada is justly proud of the part taken by its members in the war. Eighty-nine of them – a large proportion of the total – have gone on active service. Seventeen of these has [sic] been killed, sixteen wounded, and two are prisoners of war. Eight have been mentioned in dispatches, one of them twice and another four times. Six have won the military cross, four the D.S.O., one the C.M.G., two the Cross of the Legion of Honor and one the Croix de Guerre. It is indeed a fine Roll of Honor.
Chairman – Robert McCaw
Secretary-Treasurer – Jennie McCulloch
March 28 – Club 12th annual Banquet at Alexandra House.
Section members who attended the ACC general camp at Paradise Valley: Arthur and Clara Wheeler, Alan Campbell.
Reported in the Daily Colonist Friday March 29, 1918, p.6.
Alpine Club of Canada anniversary dinner on Thursday March 28 at Alexandra House in Victoria. Mr. Arthur O. Wheeler talked about the war effort of club members and read a letter from Lieut.-Col. William W. Foster. Talk of annual camp in Paradise Valley the site of the 1907 camp. Mr. Robert D. McCaw toastmaster.
Honored By Italy
Lieut.-Col. Charles Mitchell, Known to All B.C. Alpine Club Members, Wins Further Distinction
Reported in the Daily Colonist Tuesday May 7, 1918, p.5.
Members of the Alpine Club of Canada who live in Victoria and other parts of British Columbia, and who have been ta any of the annual camps with Lieut.-Colonel Charles Mitchell, who is on the executive of the Club, will be interested to learn that this indomitable climber and distinguished soldier has won still another decoration. This time it is the Italian “Order of the Crown,” with which he was recently decorated by King Victor Emmanuel. Colonel Mitchell was at the Alpine Club meet at Mount Robson in 1913, the year that Colonel W. [William] W. Foster (the B.C. representative on the Alpine Club executive) made the ascent of the highest peak of the Canadian Rockies. In 1914 Colonel Mitchell came out to join the camp again, but war broke out before he fulfilled his intentions, and he was in Victoria for a few days before returning to offer his services to the Government for duty overseas. For a long time, he gave signal service in the Intelligence Department, and there are a few Canadians who have been more decorated. He holds the D.S.O., the C.M.G. (Britain), the Legion of Honor (France), the Order of Leopold and the Croix de Guerre (Belgium), and now the “Order of the Crown” (Italy.) Before the war this distinguished officer was a practicing civil engineer in Toronto. For many years a member of the militia force in Ontario, he was always greatly interested in tactics, a fact which will be well remembered by those who associated with him in camp and elsewhere.
Old Hobby Attracts Midst War’s Stress
Lieut.-Col. Foster, In Spite of Activities Overseas Looks Forward to Enjoying Season Of Mountain Climbing.
Reported in the Daily Colonist Saturday December 28, 1918, p.12.
To hold through four years of intense military activities a keen desire to return to an old hobby is a very fine proof either of the fidelity of the individual to an old love or of supreme attractions of the said hobby. Yet Lieut.-Col. W. [William] W. Foster, for several years one of the most ardent members of the Alpine Club of Canada, during the whole period of the Great War in letters to Director A. [Arthur] O. Wheeler and other alpinists, has never shown any waning of the old zest which took him year after year into the heart of the Rockies to master some new difficulty of crag and peak. As a soldier he made a great name, and has won many decorations, and as his home is still in Victoria, where his wife and children are still living and awaiting his home-coming, a long letter, which he wrote to the Director of the Alpine Club of Canada, under date November 23 from Belgium, will be interesting to a great many people here as elsewhere throughout the Province. Colonel Foster is the Western vice-president of the Alpine Club of Canada. He was one of the party of the Alpine Club who made the first complete ascent of Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, in 1913, the annual club camp that year being at the base of the mountain. His letter indicates the deep-rooted call of the great hills that becomes part of the very being of the true mountaineer., and it is safe to say that the same spirit is characteristic of all the Alpine Club’s members who went into the war. All who have been heard from during the four years show the same intense desire to get back to the region of the snow-crowned peaks for which British Columbia is so justly celebrated all over the world. Among the many members of the club who have distinguished themselves particularly in the war Colonel Foster has chief place. Leaving as a captain in the 2nd C.M.R. he is now lieutenant-colonel commanding the 52nd Battalion, and has to his credit the D.S.O. and two bars, the Croix de Guerre of Belgium, the Croix de Guerre of France (gold star), and has five times been mentioned in dispatches.
Chairman – Robert McCaw
Secretary – Gordon Cameron
Executive Committee – William Alldritt, William Drewry, Francis Robertson, Margaret Cowell, Jennie McCulloch, William Everall.
March 28 – Club’s 13th annual banquet at Brentwood Hotel.
December 2 – Club meeting to elect executive at Jennie McCulloch’s, Linden Ave.
Section members at the ACC general summer camp at Summit Lake: Arthur and Clara Wheeler, William Foster, Jennie McCulloch.
Reported in the Daily Colonist Sunday March 9, 1919, p.6.
Mr. Arthur O. Wheeler is to give a talk on “Surveying the Great Divide of the Rockies” to the Victoria Branch of the Engineering Institute of Canada at Girls Central School on Thursday March 13, 8 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.
Anniversary Noted in Usual Manner
Alpine Club of Canada Held Annual Dinner At Brentwood—Returned Soldier Members Speak.
Reported in the Daily Colonist Sunday March 30, 1919, p.4.
The Alpine Club of Canada sustained a well-established custom on Friday evening [March 28] by holding a banquet, on this occasion marking its thirteenth anniversary. The gathering took place at Brentwood Hotel, 21 members meeting round the festive board and sharing the programme of speeches, illustrated lecture, music and dancing that was arranged by way of entertainment after dinner. But one regret was expressed during the course of the evening, that being Lieut.-Col. William W. Foster, D.S.O., M.C., chairman of the Victoria section of the club who went overseas shortly after the annual banquet in the Winter of 1915, had not reached the Coast in time to take part in the proceedings. Director Arthur O. Wheeler and Mr. Robert D. McCaw shared the duties of toastmaster, the first toast proposed being the loyal one of “King and Empire.” Interesting short speeches by returned soldier members of the club were given in response to three of the subsequent toasts, “The Victorious Allies,” “Our Members Overseas” and “The Returned Overseas Members,” the speakers being Mr. C.B. Reynolds, Major Francis A. Robertson, D.S.O., and Flight-Lieut. Gordon Cameron, respectively. Mr. Stanley H. Mitchell, secretary of the Alpine Club of Canada, responded to the toast to the Alpine Club of Canada.
Director A.O. Wheeler’s was an exhaustive review of the activities of the club during the past year, while detail reference was made to those of its members who had distinguished themselves overseas in the war. “Not least among the records of Canadians and Americans are those of the individual members of the Alpine Club of Canada – Canadians, British, Americans. In all the 113 known members, men and women, have been on active service since the war began. The highest known rank, previous to the war, of any member volunteering was that of major. There are now 12 majors, nine lieutenant-colonels and two brigadier-generals. Below the rank of major are 26 captains and one honorary captain (Mrs. J. [Julia] W. Henshaw), one lieutenant-commander (USA), 24 lieutenants and one honorary lieutenant, French Army (Mrs. Stanley Jones), and five sergeants. Thus, out of 113 volunteers from the Alpine Club who have been on active service overseas 79 hold commanding rank. That speaks for efficiency.” Continuing, the director detailed the distinctions won by Alpine Club members during the war. Eleven members had been killed, two taken prisoners of war and a dozen or more wounded, some several times. Since the last anniversary Lieut. J. Tyler, USA, Air Service, and Lieut. T.J. Taylor, Victoria, had given their lives.
“It is a glorious record, and one that might have been expected of mountain men and women in a period of such magnificent heroism,” noted the speaker. A number of officers (members of the Alpine Club) had won further distinctions since the last Journal was published: Colonel R.P. Clark, now promoted to Brigadier-General; Col. John A. Clark, Vancouver, promoted to Brigadier-General; Col. Charles H. Mitchell, C.B., Rose of Italy; Col. W.W. Foster, 2nd Bar to D.S.O.; Major F.A. Robertson, Victoria, D.S.O.; Major W.M. Pearce, Calgary, M.C.; Capt. Alan Morkill, M.C.; Lieut. T.J. Tyler, Croix de Guerre.
Passing from the soldier members’ record of the past, the speaker went on to refer to “the Victory Camp” which is to be held during the coming summer at the summit of Yoho Pass, and to the “Welcome Home Camp” at Mount Assiniboine in 1920, at which it is hoped to have all soldier members as guests. Reference was also made to the Congress of Alpinism to be held at Monaco in the spring of next year. The Alpine Club of Canada has been given full recognition by the inclusion of President Patterson, the two vice-presidents, Colonels Mitchell and Foster and Mr. A.O. Wheeler. “Thirteen years we have been in existence, and are still going strong,” concluded the Director. “Thirteen is supposed to be a hoodoo number. I have always considered it a lucky one, and the fact that our future turns upon it at a general period of reconstruction of the world will, I hope, prove my contention to be correct.”
After the Director’s address the diners adjourned to the big hall, where Mr. Wheeler gave a very interesting lecture, illustrated by wonderfully fine lantern slides, about the mountain terrain lying between the G.T.P. and C.P.R. and big areas of which he traversed in connection with the B.C. boundary survey which is being carried out. The remainder of the evening was pleasantly informal, Miss Long and Mr. McCaw providing music for dancing, and Mrs. McCaw and Miss Long contributing vocal and pianoforte solos respectively which were greatly enjoyed. Alpine Club songs were used to choruses, in which everyone joined, and the time was pleasantly filled until nearly midnight. All the arrangements were admirably carried out by the special committee composed of Mr. and Mrs. Wheeler, Miss [Margaret] Cowell and Mr. McCaw (who designed very clever souvenir cards), and the hotel furnished an excellent dinner, which was by no means the least of the numerous pleasures of the occasion.
Victory Camp Will Be in The Yoho Valley
Alpinists Meet July 22 To August 5 In Heart of Rockies—Splendid Climbs In Mountainous Region.
Reported in the Daily Colonist Saturday June 21, 1919, p.5.
The prospectus for the fourteenth annual camp of the Alpine Club of Canada has just been issued, and shows that the members who are joining the gathering this year will meet on July 22 to August 5 near the summit of Yoho Pass beside Yoho Lake at “Victory Camp,” with an outlying camp near the mouth of the Upper Yoho Valley. The Alpine Club of Canada was founded in 1906, with Mr. Arthur O. Wheeler, the present director, as its head, and the spirit of the organization has continued to grow in a wonderful way, even surviving the period of the war, which took such large numbers of the members overseas. This year many of the men who have not been able to attend camp since 1914 owing to the fact that they were carrying arms will be back in camp again, and it is expected that the camp gathering will be exceptionally interesting. The main camp as already mentioned, is near the summit of Yoho Pass, near a picturesque little mountain tarn surrounded by groves of spruce and little meadows, where avalanche lilies and white heather grow in abundance. Mountains that may be reached from camp are Mounts Wapta, Field, Michael’s Peak, the Vice-President and President, Mount Carnarvon, Mount Burgess, and others. From the Upper Yoho (the outlying) camp there are in addition Mounts Kerr, Marpole, Kiwyetinok Peak, Whaleback, Isolated Peak, Mount Gordon, Mount McArthur, Mount Des Poilus and Mount Collie. Those who are ambitious can extend their expeditions. A graduating climb, as all members know, is 10,000 feet. Any mountains filling the necessary requirements will be accepted as graduating climbs by aspirants to active membership. The prospectus points out one little thing that the average peripatetic in British Columbia does not know: That Yoho is the Indian word for Grand! Glorious! Wonderful! The Yoho Valley comprises the maximum of mountain scenery in the minimum of area. The usual accommodation provided by the Alpine Club will be furnished. Field Station on the C.P.R., will be the point of arrival by train, while Emerald Lake Chalet, which is to be open for the season, can be made a starting point for the main camp by those who wish. Mr. A.O. Wheeler, who left Sidney, Vancouver Island, about two weeks ago, is in Banff at the present time organizing his survey, and of course will be present when the camp meets in July. The annual, meeting of the club, which always takes place during the holding of the camp, will be very interesting this year, although probably next year the gathering may be even more interesting, the name of the camp already being given as “Welcome Home,” as it is proposed to invite all returned soldier members to attend this gathering as the guests of the club. At the annual meeting this year it is proposed to bring up for discussion the erection of a suitable memorial at the club house, Banff, as a record of the members of the club who have been on active service during the war and to formulate plans for establishing a fund in this connection.
Alpinists Having Successful Camp
Vancouver Island Section Well Represented At Gathering Which Is Meeting This Year In Yoho Valley.
Reported in the Daily Colonist Thursday July 31, 1919, p.9.
Lieut.-Col. William W. Foster, president of the Vancouver Island Section of the Alpine Club of Canada; Mrs. Foster, Miss Jeannie McCulloch, secretary and other members of the organization from here who followed Director Arthur O. Wheeler and Dominion Secretary Stanley Mitchell into the mountains to join the Victory camp of the Alpine Club at Summit Lake, are evidently, together with those from other parts of Canada who are attending the first of the post-war gatherings, enjoying the very best of conditions for the annual outing. Summit Lake is above the Yoho Valley and the camp opened on July 22 for a fortnight. More than one hundred of the members are attending this year, and although this number is not so large as some prior to 1914, this is more than anticipated earlier in the season. Field is the starting point, and camp can be reached by either the Burgess Pass trail, about seven miles, or by way of Emerald Lake. On arriving at camp, one is served with afternoon tea Vancouver Island, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Macleod, Saskatoon and Winnipeg are responsible for the larger proportion of the campers, but there are about twenty-five members from the United States from as far east as New York, New Jersey and as far south as Indiana. Tuesday, July 22, the first night in camp, a sing-song from the club’s song book was held round the cheerful camp fire, where acquaintanceships were renewed and expeditions for the coming days discussed. On Wednesday parties were made up for the ascent of Mount Michael, hikes to Takakkaw Falls and other points of interest. On Thursday some of the more ardent members climbed Mount Wapta, others walking to the Twin Falls. In the evening the New York section took hold of the entertainment and furnished an excellent programme. On Friday a graduation climb of Mount Vice-President was to take place, but rain prevented any climbing.
Reported in the Daily Colonist Tuesday August 19, 1919, p.8.
The “Victory Camp” of the Alpine Club of Canada, held on Yoho Lake the last week of July and the first week of August, was remarkable in that it constituted a reunion of many members who have been overseas during the period of the war and have been unable to attend any of the war-time camps. After ascending Mount Vice President on July 26 with a party, Lieut.-Col. William W. Foster, president of the Vancouver Island section of the Alpine Club and Western vice-president, gave a most interesting address on the work of the Canadian troops in the late war, closing with a continuance for the period of reconstruction upon which the country is entering, of the splendid and patient effort and unfaltering patriotism that had been the factors in winning the war.
Recorded in the personal diary of Stanley Baynes, Port Alberni, September 16 to 14.
Sept. 16. Tuesday Ellen [Stanley’s wife] drove Mr [Frederick] Godsal to the Port where we took train to Cameron Lake, arriving the about 1 PM. From here we walked to the Nanaimo & Alberni Rd, & about 200 yards towards Alberni met the trail to Mt Arrowsmith. Took zig-zags up a divide first on the left bank of a small stream, then crosses over to the right ultimately leaving the stream far below. The stream gathering its water from the N side of Mt Arrowsmith.
Got to the Cabin about 6 PM. Saw the sun set in the W & full moon rise in the E, the moon rising about the same time as the Sun left. Stayed at the Cabin. All night rather cold. Spring up here. Pink & White Heather, Lupine, Thistles, Bluebells, Strawberries, White Rhododendron? Saycle plant? & a lot of other kinds not found in the valley. It seemed a sin to step on them. Trees. Yellow cedar, Hemlock, Jack Pine and others. Some fair sized timber. Park like. There seems to be three sets of Peaks with bridge connecting with the Peaks but deep descent to the bridges.
Quite a bit of snow in the sheltered spots or where the sun gets at them very late in the day. The E slopes of the Mt are very steep & run into Lakes. While the W side are not so steep, but run into Cameron R. A large lake between the S and Middle Peaks at the foot of the mountain. A smaller lake, ½ covered in ice & snow between Middle and N Peaks but not so low in the valley. Got back to the cabin at about 6 PM leaving it at about 7 AM. Saw the Sun rise and the moon set at nearly the same time.
Sept. 18. Thursday left for Alberni. Left the Cabin at 7 AM & got to Cameron Lake by10 AM. Walked to within 5 mile of Alberni. Got a lift, roadmen going home. Summit 1300 odd ft high. The Cowichan trail is close to the summit. Mr. Godsal stayed with the Lees. I went on to [?]. Mr. Godsal spent his 66 birthday on the top of Mt Arrowsmith.
Alpinists Elect Officers for Year
Col. W.W. Foster Is Honorary Chairman Of Local Section, Mr. R.D. McCaw, Chairman – Plan Meetings.
Reported in the Daily Colonist Wednesday December 4, 1919, p.13.
The election of officers for the ensuing year was held in connection with the meeting of the Victoria Section of the Alpine Club of Canada on Tuesday [December 2] evening at the home of retiring secretary, Miss Jennie McCulloch, Linden Avenue. The following was the result: Hon. Chairman William W. Foster; Chairman, Mr. Robert D. McCaw; Secretary, Mr. Gordon Cameron. The executive is to be composed of Mr. W. [William] A. Alldritt, Mr. W. [William] S. Drewry, Major Francis A. Robertson, Miss [Margaret] Cowell, Miss McCulloch and Capt. [William] Everall. Mr. Reynolds will represent that Vancouver Island section of the club on the Photographic Committee, whose duties lie in the direction of collecting photographs of interest to the society. Mr. Arthur O. Wheeler, director of the Alpine Club of Canada, was present at the meeting, and stated that the organization hereafter would publish a quarterly review, to which the secretary of the local section would be asked to send reports four times yearly, the said reports to be a resume of the activities of the Vancouver Island society. The local section has already made tentative plans for the January, February and March meeting, at each of which two members will read papers. It is the intention also to invite several people to address public meetings to be arranged under the auspices of the society information having already been received of a number of famous Alpinists, a noted natural history student, and a lady botanist who are expected on the Coast within the next few months. If they can be prevailed upon to lecture here the meetings will be arranged. The membership of the society here numbers about thirty.
The Next Decade: 1920-1929