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eenusa May 11th, 2007 08:09 AM

Books Set in the Canadian Rockies
I always enjoy reading books that are set in a place that I will be visiting. Any recommendations on some light reading set in the Canadian Rockies? More specifically in the Banff/Lake Louise/Jasper area?


Judy_in_Calgary May 11th, 2007 02:19 PM

A search at Amazon brought up two novels:

<i>Cougar's Crossing: A Canadian Historical Novel of Pioneer Adventure</i> by Lillian Ross.

<i>Two Knapsacks A Novel of Canadian Summer Life</i> by John Campbell.

I have no idea what they're like.

I like biographies and memoirs. A search in that category brought up:

<i>Old Indian Trails of the Canadian Rockies</i> by Mary T. S. Schaffer.

Again, I have not read the book, but I bet it would be fascinating. Mary Schaffer was an explorer who travelled on mule and horseback in the company of Aboriginal guides in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. She is reputed to have been a remarkable woman.

A book that also looks as if it would be interesting is <i>This Wild Spirit: Women in the Rocky Mountains of Canada</i> by Colleen Skidmore.

The ultimate book about the Canadian Rockies is Ben Gadd's <i>Handbook of the Canadian Rockies</i>. It has everything -- history, geology, climate, flora, fauna, hiking trails, you name it.

There were some intrepid fur traders and later explorers who, with the assistance of Aboriginal guides, mapped the Rocky Mountains and identified the river valleys and passes through which railway lines could be built. In Canada, as in the USA, the building of the railway was a major factor in uniting the west coast with the rest of the country.

The history of this part of the world is not without tragedy, however. Indentured labourers were imported from China to build the railway under extremely challenging circumstances. Then, and for decades afterwards, they and their descendants suffered serious discrimination (although it also must be admitted that they now are very much part of &quot;mainstream&quot; Canadian society).

Just off the Bow Valley Parkway (Hwy #1A), between Banff and Jasper, there is a statue honouring the prisoners who were interned in a camp at the foot of Castle Mountain during World War One. Most of them were Ukranian people who were citizens of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, or else they were Canadian-born children of immigrants from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Obviously those who were born in Canada were Canadian citizens. Many of the immigrants also had earned Canadian citizenship, so they were dual citizens. They were stripped of their property, and forced to work in the internment camps.

It was a shameful episode that was to be repeated with Japanese-Canadians in WW II.

If you wander around in the vicinity of Lake Minnewanka outside of Banff townsite, you can still see the footprints of buildings where a coal mine used to be located. You can see where the houses of the (white) managers used to be and where the dormitories of the (Chinese) workers used to be.

I presently am reading a book called <i>These Mountains Are Our Sacred Places</i> by John Snow, who is a chief of the Stoney People. The land that the Stoney People traditionally occupied comprised the eastern foothills of the Alberta Rockies up to the western boundary of Calgary, the Rocky Mountains as far north as Jasper, the Rocky Mountains as far west as British Columbia's Kootenay Region, and the Rocky Mountains as far south as the northern bit of Montana (around Glacier National Park and Chief Mountain).

If you enjoy light reading that is set in a place that you will visit, I <b><i>do not</i></b> recommend this book. It has brought tears to my eyes. The way in which various levels of government have violated treaties with the Stoney People and the suffering that has resulted from that is too depressing for words. In fact, I have found the book such heavy going that I have put it down and taken a temporary rest from it. When I feel up to it, I will pick it up and resume my reading.

sludick May 11th, 2007 05:57 PM

Oh, Judy. Not only do you give supreme travel advice, but a great book review. As luck would have it, I will be making 2 trips to British Columbia and 1 trip over to the Canadian Rockies this year (from Florida). I join eenusa, I am sure, in my gratitude for your recommendations.

eenusa May 19th, 2007 04:06 AM

Judy, thanks so much. I'll check these books out. Our local library does not carry the Ben Gadd book; I ordered via Amazon a few weeks ago and am anxiously waiting for it to be delivered.

sludick May 19th, 2007 04:59 AM

I bought a copy of Ben Gadd's Handbook of the Canadian Rockies during our last trip to Banff (bought it in the park). You will find a wealth of information in there. It's a worthwhile investment, and definitely worth the extra weight it will add to your suitcase.

sludick Jun 8th, 2007 03:41 PM

eenusa, I just found a site that may interest you. It's actually British Columbia vs. the Banff area, but that may be only because that was what I was searching. We're traveling across British Columbia to Banff with some friends in September, and I was doing some research to put together an interesting package for them (they don't get out much, and live in Florida).

So check this out:

Devonmcj Jun 8th, 2007 07:32 PM

I just finished reading a book by Brian Brennan called Romancing the Rockies, Mountaineers, Missionaries, Marilyn &amp; More. Each chapter is a short biography of an individual connected to the Candadian Rockies. So many of the mountains and lakes in the parks were named after the explorers, climbers, artists, and other people he writes about. Very interesting book.

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