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Climber's Paradise

Making Canada's Mountain Parks, 1906–1974

PearlAnn Reichwein

Canadian Studies

Published: August 2014
ISBN: 9780888646743
Pages: 472 Size: 7.75x10
Illustrations: 40

The mountain parks are for all Canadians for all time and their value cannot be measured in terms of how many access roads, motels, souvenir shops and golf courses we've provided. —Bob Jordan, 1971

The Alpine Club of Canada imagined the Rockies and neighbouring ranges to the west and the north as a "climber's paradise." Through a century of adventure and advocacy, the ACC led the way to mountain pursuits in spectacular regions. Historian and mountain studies specialist PearlAnn Reichwein’s research is informed by her experiences mountaineering and by her interest in mountain culture. She presents a compelling case for understanding wild spaces and human activity within them as parts of a whole. A work of invaluable scholarship in the areas of environmental history, public policy, sport studies, recreation, and tourism, Climber’s Paradise will appeal to many non-specialists, mountaineers, environmentalists, and travellers across Canada and beyond.

PearlAnn Reichwein is Associate Professor at the University of Alberta, in Edmonton, where she teaches Canadian history, environmental history, and philosophy. Her early work with Parks Canada as a research historian, cultural resource planner, and heritage interpreter living in Banff and Yoho National Parks enriched her understanding of mountain landscapes.

As PearlAnn Reichwein shows, Wheeler’s ACC was instrumental in creating and promoting the Rockies as a ‘‘climber’s paradise.’’ In doing so, it worked both with and against the federal government’s Parks branch over the course of the twentieth century, pushing for conservation and preferred access as well as negotiating the changing landscape of outdoor recreation. Inspired by the British Alpine Club, the ACC can be thought of as an ethnic institution, one that sought to encourage an appreciation for the mountains and the promotion of mountain recreation as well as scientific exploration. It also acted as a political lobby group...

– Tina Loo and Meg Stanley, The Canadian Historical Review

Canada’s national parks have a complex history in which sport-oriented nature tourism is a key element. PearlAnn Reichwein. Climber’s Paradise provides a detailed account of the Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) and its entwined relationship with Canada’s mountain parks. This history focuses on western Canada and a western Canadian sport heritage. It is a valuable addition to social, environmental, and sport historiographies...

– Elizabeth L. Jewett, University of Toronto Quarterly