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A Glimpse of the Past: 12 Historic Photos of the Canadian Rockies

A GLIMPSE OF THE PAST:
12 HISTORIC PHOTOS
OF THE CANADIAN ROCKIES

By Tera Swanson

Have you ever wondered what it was like to walk the streets of Banff Avenue with the original establishments and shops? Or how modern ski events compare to those from fifty years ago? This winter we teamed up with the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies to discover just that in our #RockiesThrowback series: the settings, people, and events that made up Canadian Rockies mountain culture of long-gone eras and shaped our culture into what it is today.


Through this collaboration, we were invited to delve into scans of old slides and photographs from the Whyte Museum archives to resurface and recirculate images we weren’t so used to seeing.  Some images offered glimpses of important events in Canadian Rockies history, others familiar views that invited us to take a closer look into our own backyards. In many ways, the key elements and enjoyments of mountain life have remained unchanged. Take a look for yourself!

1/

Slalom skiers gather on Victoria Glacier (near Lake Louise) in 1956, for the 6th annual event. “As the race was held on a glacier, there was serious danger of crevasses, so warden Walter Perren ‘went over the area and marked out a safe ski run’.” – Chic Scott, Powder Pioneers.

Photo by Bruno Engler
Courtesy of The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies
V190 / I.A.i.a. – 4 / NA – 4

2/

Hut life hasn’t changed much over the years! Relaxing after the Mt. Victoria Ski Race, 1956.

Photo by Bruno Engler, Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse
Courtesy of The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies
V190 / I.A.i.a. – 4 / NA – 13


3/

Hand-painted lantern slides, like this one, have come to be synonymous with Mary Schäffer. The elegant Lake Louise Hotel along the banks of the lake itself, near then-called Laggan Station. 1899 – [ca. 1910]

Courtesy of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies
V439 / PS – 104 V439 / PS – 104

 

4/

Conrad Kain, Albert H. MacCarthy and Basil S. Darling (from top) – Alpine Club of Canada camp at Mount Robson. 1913.

Photo by Byron HarmonCourtesy of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies
V263 / NA – 397

 

5/

Our namesake glacier, in a time it was more indicative of its title. 1899 – [ca. 1910]. Nowadays it has just two toes, not three.

Lantern slide by Mary Schäffer.
Courtesy of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies
V439 / PS – 215 V439 / PS – 215

6/

The famous packer Ike Mills runs a dog sled team over Deception Pass, Skoki Valley area.

Image created by Byron Harmon, 1932.
Courtesy of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies
V263 / NA – 757

7/

The popularity of Bow Summit hasn’t changed since the ’60s!

Photograph by Bruno Engler, 1963.
Courtesy of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies
V190 / I.A.i.b. – 6 / NA – 03


8/

Hand-painted lantern slide by Mary Schaffer, 1906. “Stonies [Stoney First Nations] on Kootenai [Kootenay] Plains. Leah, Frances Louise and Sampson (sic) Beaver family.” In 1908, Mary Schaffer was the first non-native to visit Maligne Lake, which the First Nations called “Chaba Imne” (Beaver Lake). She found it thanks to a map that Samson Beaver sketched for her in 1907.

Courtesy of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies
V439 / PS – 7 V439 / PS – 7

9/

A much different Banff Avenue, during the Banff Winter Carnival, 1925.

Created by Byron Harmon.
Courtesy of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies
V263 / NA – 3841

 

10/

Banff Winter Carnival, boys ski jump, Wolverine Street. We recommend you wander up there (to the base of the Ken Madsen Trail in Banff, Alberta) and see for yourself if the clear-cut is still visible today.

Created by Byron Harmon, 1920.
Courtesy of Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies
V263 / NA – 3980

11/

In an era long before bear-proof bins, a cook finds a way to get rid of his leftovers. 1899 – [ca. 1910]

Hand-painted lantern slide by Mary Schaffer.
Courtesy Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies
V439 / PS – 114 V439 / PS – 114

12/

The first house at Banff spring – Siding 29 with George A. Stewart’s tent which served as his headquarters. Stewart was hired as the first Park Superintendent in 1886, and designed the initial layout of the Banff townsite!

Created by H. G. Parson, 1885.
Courtesy Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies
V263 / NA – 3530

 


Tera Swanson is a freelance writer and graduate from Mount Royal University’s Journalism undergraduate program. Whether laced into hiking boots or clipped into skis, her favourite way to explore the mountains is onherowntwofeet. She’s always up for anything that will end in the telling of a good story; be it through photography, from pen to paper, or over a locally brewed amber ale.