Mount Robson is a place of many rich stories.
And the stories associated with the area's earliest human history are just the ones Zac Robinson gathered to create a brand new exhibit for the Mount Robson Provincial Park (MRPP) visitors centre's museum.
Robinson, a University of Alberta assistant professor in the phys ed and recreation department, collaborated with his colleague, history professor Liza Piper, MRPP senior park ranger Hugo Mulyk and Val Kerr, a park facility officer for MRPP, to plan two large-scale museum panels, which were unveiled last month. The panels were designed and created by Salt Spring Island graphic designer Suzan Chamney. The exhibit's addition to the museum helps celebrate the centennial of legendary Austrian guide Conrad Kain's historical ascent of the Rockies' highest peak, 3,954-metre Mount Robson, and also the designation of 224,866-hectare Mount Robson Provincial Park, both of which happened in 1913.
Kain climbed Robson's east face (now the Kain Face) with W.W. "Billy" Foster, who served as ACC President from 1920 to 1924, and Albert "Mack" MacCarthy, a prominent ACC and American Alpine Club member. Their ascent took place during a special Mount Robson camp organized by the ACC, whose attendees arrived at Yellowhead Pass via the newly completed Grand Trunk Northern Railway.
Covering one long wall and half of a second, the exhibit will complement existing displays focussing on the ecology, biology and natural history of the Mount Robson area, and the story of the park's UNESCO designation in 1990 as part of the Canadian Rocky Mountains World Heritage Site. The new text and historical images describe those who have been a part of the area's history for centuries, including early explorers, fur traders, map-makers, railway surveyors, outfitters, and the activities and contributions of the First Nations peoples.
"We really wanted to highlight the long human history of the area," said Robinson, himself of Métis descent. "First Nations peoples, for example, have been moving through the Robson and Yellowhead Pass area for centuries. They knew it well. The low elevation of the pass made it an important travel route for various peoples from across the country."
Creation of the new exhibit was made possible thanks to funding from BC Parks, the ACC, the University of Alberta and the Network in Canadian History and Environment (http://niche-canada.org/research). Alpinist magazine generously allowed the use of their route lines drawn on Robson's image.
"It has been a pleasure to be involved with this project, as we had been developing ideas for the anniversary celebrations for a few years," Mulyk said. "At my first discussion with Zac I knew we were on the same wavelength and the end result would be something we would be very proud of. I hope this display will provide a snapshot of the history of the park for visitors to the area, celebrate our pioneers and their sometimes amazing feats, and provide special meaning and recognition for residents of the Robson Valley, many who have historical ties to this park and area."