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The Ultimate Canadian Rockies Library

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THE ULTIMATE CANADIAN
ROCKIES LIBRARY

Written by Tera Swanson
Brought to you by Rocky Mountain Books

Guidebook, handbook, history, photography: the canon of Canadian Rockies literature is vast – just like the mountain range that has inspired it. And while no list is ever quite complete, we’ve curated a selection of mountain literature that belongs on the bookshelves of every Rockies enthusiast. 


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Mountain dwellers enjoy hanging off frozen waterfalls and scrambling along alpine ridgelines, but we also carve out time to rest, retreat and read in the comforts of home. There we discover stories that inspire us to reach new heights, prepare us to do so safely, and educate us on our surroundings and those who blazed the trail before us.

Which books are in your own library? Missing a few? If you’re looking to fill in some gaps, we recommend you check out your local library or support independent booksellers with your purchases. If you still can’t find them, use the links below to find a copy online!

Skip ahead:

→ History – Early Explorers
→ History – Modern Historians
→ Annual Publications
→ Contemporary + Conservation
→ Indigenous
→ Guidebooks
→ Handbooks + Mountain Safety
→ Children’s Books
→ Photography + Art
→ Fiction

Would you add any to the list? Use the comments below to let us know! 

HISTORY – EARLY EXPLORERS

The Canadian Rockies have piqued our curiosities for centuries. Reading the words of the first explorers gives us insight into the way of thinking of the time, and also how they resonate with our own timeless ambitions and passions.

The Canadian Rockies – New and Old Trails, by A. P. Coleman

The Glittering Mountains of Canada, by J. Monroe Thorington

Old Indian Trails of the Canadian Rockies, by Mary T.S. Schaffer

In the Heart of the Canadian Rockies, by James Outram

The Rockies of Canada, by Walter Wilcox 

Where the Clouds Can Go, by Conrad Kain 

HISTORY – MODERN HISTORIANS

Part analysts and part narrators, the historians of our time have a gift of documenting events of eras past. Through the telling stories of Rockies heritage in compelling ways, they unscramble history and provide a more coherent picture for today’s readers. 

Banff: A History of the Park and Town, by Ted Hart 

Bold and Cold: A History of 25 Classic Climbs in the Canadian Rockies, by Brandon Pullan

Conrad Kain: Letters from a Wandering Mountain Guide, 1906-1933, edited by Zac Robinson

Diamond Hitch: The Pioneer Guides and Outfitters of Banff and Jasper, by Ted Hart

Grandeur of the Canadian Rockies, by Meghan J. Ward and Paul Zizka

Lizzie Rummel: Baroness of the Canadian Rockies, by Ruthie Oltmann

No Ordinary Woman – The Story of Mary Schaffer Warren, by Janice Sanford Beck 

Off the Beaten Track: Women Adventurers and Mountaineers in Western Canada, by Cindy Smith

Powder Pioneers: Ski Stories from the Canadian Rockies & Columbia Mountains, by Chic Scott 

Pushing the Limits: The Story of Canadian Mountaineering, by Chic Scott 

Summit Tales: Early Adventures in the Canadian Rockies, by Graeme Pole 

This Wild Spirit: Women in the Rocky Mountains of Canada, by Colleen Skidmore

Through an Unknown Country: The Jarvis–Hanington Winter Expedition through the Northern Rockies, by Mike Murtha 

Read our Review

ANNUAL PUBLICATIONS

Not quite books and not quite magazines either, some Rockies-based publications deserve a category all on their own. Publishing as annual volumes, these two provide fresh perspectives and a diversity of voices while chronicling mountain culture and climbing in unique ways.

Canadian Alpine Journal, published by the Alpine Club of Canada

Canadian Rockies Annual collection, published by Crowfoot Media

CONTEMPORARY + CONSERVATION

These works dig deeper into the interweaving issues and modern mindsets that make up the fabric of Canadian Rockies mountain culture. Discover what lies beneath the surface of our mountain experiences, and how it may alter our paths moving forward. 

Bears Without Fear, by Kevin Van Tighem

Inner Ranges – An Anthology of Mountain Thoughts and Mountain People, by Geoff Powter 

Read our Review

Men for the Mountains, by Sid Marty

Our Place – Changing the Nature of Alberta, by Kevin Van Tighem

Switchbacks: True Stories from the Canadian Rockies, by Sid Marty 

Tales & Trails: Adventures for Everyone in the Canadian Rockies, by Lynn Martel 

The Pipestone Wolves: The Rise and Fall of a Wolf Family, by Günther Bloch and Photographed by John E. Marriott 

Read our Review

The Will of the Land, by Peter Dettling 

Water, Weather, and the Mountain West, by Robert Sandford 

INDIGENOUS

The stories of First Nations and Metis people as they relate to Canadian Rockies history are rich, complex and, oftentimes, tumultuous. This selection offers a starting point for developing a deeper understanding and appreciation of Indigenous history, culture and contemporary issues.

Bad Judgment: The Myths of First Nations Equality and Judicial Independence in Canada, by John Reilly 

Blackfoot Ways of Knowing: The Worldview of the Siksikaitsitapi, by Betty Bastien

Nakoda Summer: A Story of the Ya Ha Tinda, by Cliff Faulknor 

Spirit of the Rockies: Reasserting an Indigenous Presence in Banff National Park, by Courtney Wade Mason 

These Mountains are Our Sacred Places, by Chief John Snow 

The True Spirit and Original Intent of Treaty 7, by Treaty 7 Elders

GUIDEBOOKS

Thanks to the hard work of these guidebook authors we have an incredible amount of information at our fingertips. These guidebooks are our backcountry blueprints, making them essential and trusted additions to any adventurer’s backpack.

A Peakbagger’s Guide to the Canadian Rockies: North, by Ben Nearingburg and Eric Coulthard

Bikepacking in the Canadian Rockies, by Ryan Correy 

Canadian Rockies Trail Guide, by Brian Patton and Bart Robinson 

Classic Hikes in the Canadian Rockies, by Graeme Pole

Kananaskis Country Trail Guide Volumes 1-5, by Gillean Daffern

Rockies Central, by David P. Jones

Scrambles in the Canadian Rockies, by Alan Kane 

Ski Trails in the Canadian Rockies, by Chic Scott and Darren Farley

Sport Climbs in the Canadian Rockies, by John Martin and Jon Jones 

Summits & Icefields 1 + 2, by Chic Scott and Mark Klassen 

The 11,000ers of the Canadian Rockies, by Bill Corbett 

HANDBOOKS AND MOUNTAIN SAFETY

Reference books act like the recipes that compile a cookbook. They tell us the what and how so that we can enrich out mountain experience. These handbooks serve up the skills to make you a trusted partner in the mountains, provide information to help you interpret your surroundings, and build the foundation to keep yourself (and others) safe.

Backcountry Avalanche Safety, by Tony Daffern 

Backcountry Skiing: Skills for Ski Touring and Ski Mountaineering, by Martin Volken, Scott Schell and Margaret Wheeler 

Edible and Medicinal Plants of the Rockies, by Linda Kershaw 

Handbook of the Canadian Rockies, by Ben Gadd 

Medicine for Mountaineering: And Other Wilderness Activities, by James A Wilkerson

Mountaineering: Freedom of the Hills, by Harley McAllister & Abby McAllister

Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain, by Bruce Temprer 

Training for the New Alpinism: A Manual for the Climber as Athlete, by Steve House and Scott Johnston

CHILDREN’S BOOKS

When it comes to both reading and the outdoors, it’s never too early to start. These children’s books will sow the first seeds of intrigue for the mountains, and help develop an early understanding of why they are so special.

A Berry Berry Good Day, by Laurie Schwartz 

Canadian Rockies ABC, by Max Elliott 

Canadian Wildlife Poem, by Max Elliott 

Discovering Animals – English, French and Cree, by Neepin Auger

Nupste and Lhotse Go to the Rockies, by Jocey Asnong

Rocky Mountain 123s, by Jocey Asnong 

Rocky Mountain ABCs, by Jocey Asnong 

PHOTOGRAPHY & ART

As we discover the world around us, there are often few words for the magnitude of our appreciation. But the beauty that graces these pages comes close to capturing it. See the world of the Rockies through the lenses and perspectives of artists.

An Adventurous Woman Abroad, by Michele Lang

Legacy in Time: Three Generations of Mountain Photography in the Canadian West, by Henry Vaux 

Mount Robson: Spiral Road of Art, by Jane Lytton Gooch 

My Mountain Album: Art & Photography of the Canadian Rockies & Columbia Mountains, by Glen Boles

Summits & Starlight: The Canadian Rockies, by Paul Zizka 

Tall Tales & Long Lenses, by John Marriott 

The Canadian Rockies, by Douglas Leighton 

The Canadian Rockies: Rediscovered, by Paul Zizka

Read our Feature

FICTION

Inspired by real-life influences, history and geographical places, fiction books also abound in the Rocky Mountains. Though fictional they allow us to examine truths and see the mountain environment in new ways.

Raven’s End, by Ben Gadd

Drowning in Darkness, by Peter Oliva

The End of the Line, by Stephen Legault

Icefields, by Thomas Wharton

Hooker & Brown: A Novel, by Jerry Auld

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 on her own two feet. 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.

This article contains affiliate links. By clicking on them and making a purchase, Crowfoot Media will receive a small commission. Thank you for helping us keep our creative juices flowing!


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2 Comments on The Ultimate Canadian Rockies Library

  1. Love this list!! Wonder if you might ever add a Rockies fiction category? There are a few gems…

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