The Golden Museum is honoured to have been selected to be the first institution outside of the lower mainland to host the new exhibit, Swiss Guides: Shaping Mountain Culture in Western Canada 2010/2011. This exhibition illustrates the remarkable history of Swiss mountain guides and Swiss skiers in the Canadian Rocky, Columbia and Coastal Mountains and documents their pioneering methods in mountain guiding, mountain safety, skiing and helicopter-skiing. The Swiss guides and Swiss skiers contributed significantly to a mountain culture for which western Canada is renowned today. The mountain guides that came from the Swiss Alps to work for Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) hotels between 1899 and 1954 led hundreds of first ascents and taught safe climbing techniques to thousands of climbers. The legacy of these early Swiss pioneers continued to live on in the 1950s and 1960s when a younger generation of Swiss mountaineers became crucial for the development of modern mountain rescue, avalanche control, skiing and helicopter skiing. Most importantly however, the Swiss guides helped cultivate a common appreciation of Canada’s majestic western mountains and of an environment to be both preserved and revered.
This extraordinary exhibit which includes three one-sided printed panels, ten two-sided printed panels and showcases of historic and new climbing equipment will be opening at the Golden Museum early in June. We look forward to having you come share with us the history of the people who contributed so significantly to our unique mountain culture.>
Please see attached ‘Swiss Guides Catalogue’ below for more information or visit www.swissviews.ca/swissGuides.html. You can also contact Colleen Palumbo, Executive Director of The Golden Museum and Archives, at 250.344.5169 or visit The Golden Museum yourself (1302 11th Ave S. Golden) Monday to Saturday 10 AM - 6 PM.
It was adventure that brought the first explorers over the Rocky Mountains. But it was the treasures of Golden that made them stay. The area still exudes the same feeling of discovery and exploration the first pioneers felt.
It was back in 1807 when David Thompson first crossed over the Rocky Mountains and traveled along the Blaeberry River to the future site of Golden. In search of the Columbia River and, ultimately, a passage to the Pacific Ocean, it was Thompson’s sense of exploration that led him here. Thompson’s travels took him to the junction of the legendary Columbia and Kicking Horse Rivers.
Golden would simply not exist without the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR). In fact, the railway’s presence helped establish Golden’s place in Canada. As the CPR constructed its cross-country network of rails, it used Golden as a base camp as it extended further into the western part of B.C. The railway was completed in 1885 and Golden soon became a prominent stop on the line. The CPR also paved the way for the Trans-Canada Highway, which helped to transform the area from forest outpost to a true community.
The CPR recognized many travellers through Golden would want to stay, explore and discover the incredible area for themselves. To this end, the CPR hired professional Swiss guides to assist in providing connections to this compelling yet rugged landscape. In 1899, Eduard Feuz Sr. and Christian Haesler came to Canada from Switzerland to serve as mountain guides. In 1911, the CPR built homes in Golden for their sons, Edward Feuz Jr. and Christian Haesler Jr., and their fellow guides, naming it the ‘Swiss Village’, or ‘Edelweiss.’ Mountaineering activity in the region attracted international visitors, including Alpine Club of Canada members, who based their mountain explorations from Golden. Swiss Village is still situated 1.5 kilometres west of Golden.
For well over a century, Golden’s fortunes have been linked with the forest industry; sawmills have come and gone, been burned down and rebuilt and are wrapped in a list of owners as long as a Douglas Fir log - where the health of the industry went, so went Golden’s well being. The forest industry was initiated with the building of the CPR Railroads, which required 3000 railroad ties per mile. There was also demand for buildings, bridges, trestles and snowsheds, some of which took huge quantities of large timber.
In 1858, the Imperial Government sent John Palliser out to find a feasible route from the Prairies through the mountains so it could extend the railway. A geologist, named Sir James Hector, was among those on the expedition team. Following a string of bad events, Hector ended up stumbling upon the Kicking Horse Pass. As the story goes, he was camped out at the Great Divide when one of the team's pack horses got loose and crossed the river. Sir James jumped into the water and swam after it, eventually rounding the horse up. While trying to tie it to a tree near his horse, the two animals became enraged and started fighting. During the ruckus, Sir James suffered a vicious kick from his own steed. The sheer force broke three of his ribs and knocked him out. In fact, he was unconscious for so long, his three Native guides were convinced he was dead and decided to bury him. As they were carrying Sir James's lifeless body to a grave some distance away, he suddenly came to. When he was well enough to move around, he explored the valley and eventually discovered the pass that became the route through the mountains. The pass and the river were dubbed "Kicking Horse" in his honour.
While in Golden, visit the Golden Museum’s permanent and new exhibits. Call 250.344.5169 or visit www.goldenbcmuseum.com.
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