In May 1717, Hudson’s Bay Company official James Knight made a note in his journal. It recorded an aboriginal account of the existence, far to the west, of mountains that rose almost to the sky. This was arguably the first European description of the Canadian Rockies, and the start of the written documentation of Canada’s dominant range of peaks.
The majestic Rockies are not alone. From the Torngat Mountains in the east, through the Laurentians, the St. Elias, Cariboo, and Selkirk ranges, to the Coast Mountains in the west, Canada is a mountain country.
We should know; we’ve been boasting about that for years.
Since the premiere issue of the Canadian Geographical Journal in 1930, the magazine has described some of the country’s most beautiful landscapes, favoured locales and the deepest wrinkles in time we now know as history.
We've decided to share some mountain memories from our archives.
In the January 1940 number, H. P. Douglas wrote of the endless ski-ways throughout the Laurentians (download the story here). As Quebec developed its slopes with skiable pathways, tourism grew exponentially, attracting thousands to the region each weekend from across North America. As Douglas noted, “many travel by bus and motor and some by plane; a regular flying ski service from New York and Boston is now advertised ‘four hours from the pavements to the snow’.”
John F. Walker, in his September 1952 story about mining in British Columbia, spoke of its influential role in the development of the province (download the story here). “This is not a story about all the natural resources of British Columbia. It is one about mining and the part it has played in developing the province.”
The piece focuses on the Western Cordillera, the rough mountainous region of western North America and speaks of its development from raw untapped region to a mining province. Perhaps Walker said it best in his closing remark, “Canada’s backbone is big and rugged and generations will come and go, new discoveries will be made and old discoveries will become mines but there will always be something to learn about the treasures nature has hidden so well in this entrancing country.”
“When the government established the first national park at Banff in 1885, the vast expanse of wilderness must have looked as though it would last forever,” wrote Jean E. Stenton in A Critical Look at Canada’s National Parks, December 1969. Canada is a nation enriched with many vast spaces and geographical splendours, but Stenton spoke of the need to preserve natural lands as National Parks and discuss the potential dangers for future generations. Even then, Stenton noticed:
Canadians are accustomed to thinking in terms of the vastness of their country and still see themselves as a pioneering people with an overabundance of wilderness country. The typical reaction is that “wilderness is nothing special. We have so much of it here”, is the paradoxical because this is no longer the case. Wilderness areas are fast slipping away with developments in transportation, and Canadians need to be more aware of their natural resources.
Stephen Herrero wrote of the many species Canada’s diverse ecosystems support in the August/September 1976 issue. He focused on the mountain species, from mountain goats and sheep, to wolves and grizzlies. He also expressed hope that Canadians would see this precious natural heritage for what it is: “My hope is that a generation which thinks of bears as buffoons suitable as receptacles for marshmallows can be followed by a generation which understands wildlife much better.”
Take a look at his story and then think to yourself — has our generation grown and evolved to meet these expectations?
“Yoho National Park is the least known of the four contiguous mountain parks — Jasper, Banff, Kootenay and Yoho — which straddle the Rockies and the provincial boundary of Alberta and British Columbia,” Wayne Lynch opened his October-November 1980 article entitled Glimpsing the beauties of Yoho National Park. In the piece, Lynch describes the diverse ecosystems and intricate trails of the park — boasting it is one of the more subtly charming of the four mountain parks to the west (read it here).
Canada has many different faces, but the splendour of the country’s ranges is undeniable. Our November Travel issue is fresh off the press aand packed full of soaring adventures and mountains of knowledge on Canada’s most favoured season — winter!