Books: Impressions of a Tenderfoot

Preamble: I’m taking a a break on regular posts from January through March, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t interesting things to read!

In lieu of regular content, I’m highlighting some of my favorite primary source materials from the last three years. Read a little, read a lot, skip through and look at the photos, it’s up to you! These are all online, so you don’t even have to venture outside into the cold.

Regular posts will resume in April.

This week it’s another book in the category of travel literature. Authored by Susan Margaret Richards St Maur (née Mackinnon), Impressions of a Tenderfoot during a Journey in Search of Sport in the Far West records St Maur’s 1888 travels with her husband, Algernon St Maur (later 15th Duke of Somerset), “in search of health, sport, and pleasure,” in western Canada.1 After its publication in 1890, Impressions of a Tenderfoot became reasonably popular and well read.

Susan Margaret (McKinnon) Saint Maur, Impressions of a Tenderfoot during a Journey in Search of Sport in the Far West (London: John Murray, 1890), https://archive.org/embed/impressionsoften00some

Six chapters of Impressions of a Tenderfoot discuss the St Maur’s travels in the Windermere Valley. The two had invested in James Brady and Thomas Belhaven Henry Cochrane’s Findlay Creek Hydraulic Mining Company, and so they spent some time in the summer of 1888 living along Findlay Creek, partly to check on their investment, and partly for said sport and pleasure. Susan St Maur spends much of her time in the area travelling with Adela – T.B.H. Cochrane’s wife.

Among other observations, Susan St Maur shares her experiences travelling on the steamboats Duchess and Marion with Captain Francis P. Armstrong, a trip to Canal Flat as the canal there was being dug, meeting with Helen and Sam Brewer, and staying overnight at the Windermere Hotel.

This book is an easy read, and although St Maur very much discusses the people she meets from her elevated social position, her observations are also helpfully detailed and frank. I particularly appreciate her complete confusion at the reaction of miners to a collection of books she gave them – “tales with a good moral tendency.”2 Rather than grasp the esoteric lessons from these books, the miners latch onto inaccurate or confusing (to them) details, causing them to dismiss the works as entirely unhelpful.

Check out the entire book, or just the relevant chapters. Impressions of a Tenderfoot is free to read on the Internet Archive: https://archive.org/embed/impressionsoften00some

Impressions of a Tenderfoot appears in the following posts:
Findlay Creek
James Brady
The Duchess
The Marion
The Gwendoline
Captain Francis P Armstrong
Canal Flats
Sam and Helen Brewer
Windermere Hotel

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Pamphlets: Banff-Windermere Highway

Preamble: I’m taking a a break on regular posts from January through March, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t interesting things to read!
In lieu of regular content, I’m highlighting some of my favorite primary source materials from the last three years. Read a little, read a lot, skip through and look at the photos, it’s up to you! These are all online, so you don’t even have to venture outside into the cold.
Regular posts will resume in April.

It’s a short read this week (and lots of photos) in the National Parks promotional pamphlet, The Banff-Windermere Highway.

The Banff-Windermere Highway (Department of the Interior, National Parks Branch) [tourist brochure], https://archive.org/embed/P010898

When the Banff-Windermere Highway was officially opened on 30 June 1923, it was kind of a big deal. First surveyed all the way back in 1911, and predating the auto road through Yoho to Golden, it connected the Windermere Valley with the very popular Rocky Mountains Park across the mountains in Banff.

The road was part of the first wave of enthusiasm for automobile tourism, which was recognized even in these early years as something altogether new on the Canadian landscape. Where travellers were previously limited by the schedules and very limited geographical reach of railways, the automobile served to democratize travel. One could travel where one wanted, when one wanted, and in the process the automobile made it possible for the middle class to travel for the sake of travel.

A boom of automobile road construction spread across the continent. Motor roads were different than wagon roads – they were wider, and their corners were more gradual. When it was started, the Banff-Windermere Highway was the first such planned motor road in the area, and one of the first in western Canada. As it was completed, it was a feat of engineering – by early 1920s standards, this road was luxury!

Ghost written by Mabel Williams, the booklet The Banff-Windermere Highway is one of a series of similar works produced by the National Parks branch in the 1920s. It traces a journey along the Banff-Windermere Highway from its western end, in the Columbia Valley, across the mountains and into Banff and Lake Louise. There are loads of photographs, and some rather romantic descriptions – see if you can reconcile what things looked like then with what you’re familiar with now. Plus, get a jump on the upcoming centennial of the opening of the highway, which is coming up fast this June!

The Banff-Windermere Highway is available to view for free on the Internet Archive: https://archive.org/embed/P010898

Other blog posts related to this pamphlet include:
Hector
Sinclair
Radium Hot Springs
Fort Point

Books: B.C. 1887

Preamble: I’m taking a a break on regular posts from January through March, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t interesting things to read!
In lieu of regular content, I’m highlighting some of my favorite primary source materials from the last three years. Read a little, read a lot, skip through and look at the photos, it’s up to you! These are all online, so you don’t even have to venture outside.
Regular posts will resume in April.

First up is B.C. 1887, a long-time classic in early B.C. travel literature, particularly for those interested in reading about the East Kootenays.

The title page for B.C. 1887: follow the link to read the full book: https://archive.org/embed/bc1887rambleinbr00leesuoft

– Read More>

Pynelogs

Pynelogs Cultural Center (Invermere)

Pynelogs, “is picturesque in the extreme. It is built of rough-hewn logs and faces south, with a glorious prospect of lake and mountain from its windows.”28

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Peters Hill

Peters Hill (Informal name, northwest of Toby Creek Bridge in Athalmer)

“Morning wasn’t morning until the Peters’ had made their daily milk delivery.”31

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Holland

Holland Creek (north of Windermere), Holland Creek Ridge Road

“Tall, sporting a moustache, accustomed to wielding power and ordering people around, he had a difficult personality and we children were moderately but suitably terrified of him.”43

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White

Whites Dam (Informal name, Westside Road, Windermere Lake)

At some point Whites Dam collapsed under pressure, causing a flood all the way down to Windermere Lake.

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Salter

Salter Creek (west side Windermere Lake)

The presence of William Salter on the west side of Windermere Lake makes him one of the first and few to settle in that area.

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Fort Point (2)

Fort Point (unofficial name), Fort Point Close (Invermere)

The years following the Second World War were not so kind to the Memorial Fort. … Maintenance was lacking, and the building was gradually falling into a state of disrepair.

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