Back when it was rare that women travelled without a chaperone or were seen in public wearing pants, a handful of women were exploring the mountains, sleeping on pine boughs, riding on horseback and scaling peaks. Some of these women were integral in areas of scientific research, including the first glacier studies and botany. Many mountain women were mountain artists, and have left behind paintings and books for us to enjoy today.
Bring the story to life:
- In January, the Banff Mountain Adventure Festival brings exciting mountain characters, such as Mary Schaffer, to life.
- Visit the Whyte Museum’s online exhibit, Women Adventurers in the Rockies or their permanent exhibit, Gateway to the Rockies.
- Visit Assiniboine Lodge or Skoki Lodge, where mountain legend Lizzie Rummel established herself as the Baroness of the Backcountry.
- Check out some modern-day mountain women at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival.
Much of the discovery and exploration of Banff National Park can be attributed to the rugged men who ventured into the wild and up to the summits of the Rockies’ most iconic peaks. From outfitters and cowboys to mountain guides and surveyors, the mountain men’s most famous stories include their races for first ascents; discoveries of new waterways, glaciers and alpine lakes; quirky tales of mischief; and gripping accounts of survival and near death experiences.
Bring this story to life:
- In January, the Banff Mountain Adventure Festival brings exciting mountain characters and activities to life.
- Visit the Whyte Museum’s Gateway to the Rockies, where many of these stories and mountain men are featured.
- Learn more about modern-day mountain men at the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival.
- Hike to one of the Alpine Club of Canada’s historic huts that were the base for mountaineering expeditions, such as Abbot Pass Hut.
Archaeology in Banff National Park
The first Europeans to ‘discover’ the Canadian Rockies were far from being the first to truly discover the wonders of this place. Excavations by archaeologists have discovered flint stone tools, spearheads, hearths and pit houses from approximately 10,000 years ago, revealing that the human history of the Rockies is anything but recent. Pictographs found in the nearby Canmore region and Kootenay National Park reveal the artistic hands of an early native presence.
Bring this story to life:
- Speak to an interpretive guide from the Interpretive Guides Association about the human history of the Rockies.
- Visit the shores of Vermilion Lakes, where numerous archaeological items have been discovered.
- Take a cold water dive out at Lake Minnewanka, the site of significant archaeological discoveries, including the ruins of the town of Minnewanka Landing, which was flooded in 1941.