7 HISTORICAL DO’S & DO NOTS FROM ROGERS PASS

What is considered a crime or a confession has changed over time. What was once scandalous may now be commonplace ... and vice versa.

BRITCHES BE LIKE…

Georgia Engelhardt — Georgia famously dared to wear pants while climbing instead of socially mandated Victoria climbing skirts. The Banff Crag & Canyon editorialized in 1920: “The young women who strut about the street and dine in the hotels dressed in riding togs should be soundly spanked and sent to bed… Pants are made for men and not for women. Women are made for men and not for pants…”

Ouch.
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PHOTO A full version of this story appears in the ISSUU version of Reved. This (uncensored) photo of Georgia is at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.)


Well, the pro-climber wasn’t big on skirts and she wasn’t big on clothes in general, it seems.  Her aunt was the painter and photographer Georgia O’Keefe. The two Georgia’s would take road trips to Canada where prohibition was not in affect and sometimes smuggle booze back and even—gasp!—getting arrested once for skinny dipping.

Now, Georgia’s historical pantaloons are immortalized by Parks Canada artist Rob Buchanan at the Rogers Pass National Historic Site. And Georgia herself is immortalized at Museum of Modern Art in New York in a nude portrait by her aunt. When Buchanan was visited MOMA, he stumbled upon this discovery, joking: “I made her pants—I should have made her a shirt!”

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MEN IN THE MOON

Nakimu Caves  You’ve probably not been in (or even near) the Nakimu Caves, which are located in a restricted area of Glacier National Park and a sensitive habitat for bats colonies. Generally, scientists are the only ones  spelunking in there now. However, back in the day, the caves had staircases throughout and were often used as opium dens for rail workers “spelunking” into blissful euphoria. The white bulbous limestone precipitate on the walls known as “moon milk” would have been an eerie atmosphere.


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PHOTO Billiards room at the Glacier House. (Not pictured: William Hearst’s harem.)

“WITH PLEASURE!”

WILLIAM RANDOLPH HEARST — The famous American media mogul and on whom Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane character is based, once stayed at Glacier House. He brought with him a huge party of beautiful women. One day, the group went hiking with Swiss guides up the Asulkan and set up a wall tent. But—so the story goes—the women were too afraid to sleep alone in their tent with bears in the area, so the Swiss guides happily obliged. 


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WARM WELCOME

One thing that wasn’t seen as wrong at all then but it’s considered very wrong now, is to keep a pet bear on a chain in your front yard. For a short period, a bear was the Glacier House greeter. It was commonplace to

feed bears and treat them as pets. Here is a cook from the CPR dining car feeding some bears at Stoney Creek in the 1920s. 


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EXCUSE US

REV GREEN & REV. SWANZY — Some of the earliest climbers in Glacier were two Irish Reverends: Willliam Spotswood Green and his cousin Henry Swanzy. The were out once and tried to poach some railroaders to be their porters, but first wanted them to sign a pledge saying that they would not to curse or swear. No workers could agree to such terms. But maybe most inexcusable is what the reverends were packing that they needed help with: “Our armament finally consisted of a Henri Martini rifle, a very light Snider Carbine, an Express, a twelve bore double-barrelled gun, and a light walking stick that fired either shot or ball.” They also killed a marmot with an ice axe (emphasis added) which if you’re wondering, is a major faux pas these days.


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SEXY AVALANCHE SCIENTIST

“GRANT THORLOW”— “She needs answers: With uncanny accuracy Amalie knows the exact moment her identical twin is swept away by an avalanche in the Canadian Rockies,” and so begins the plot of C.J. Carmichael’s steamy Harlequin romance novel A Sister Would Know. The author came to Rogers Pass for inspiration and was not disappointed by Parks Canada’s real-life dashing senior forecaster. The book’s main character “Grant Thorlow” is the fictional manager of the Avalanche Control Section at Rogers Pass, British Columbia. Let’s just say Grant Thorlow, will “give her more than just answers about her sister—and she wants more than that, too.” (Gee did it just get warm in here?…)


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#&*@!

MAJOR A.B. ROGERS — No surprises here, the man who surveyed the Pass that bears his name, Albert Bowman Rogers had a filthy mouth even by today’s low standards. Nicknamed “Hell’s Bells” Rogers because he swore his way through Rogers Pass, he is described by Pierre Berton as: “A gnarled little whippersnapper of a man, driven by ambition, known for the astonishing profanity of his speech, and his apparent ability to exist for days in the harshest of climates on little more than hard-tack (sea biscuit) … Every few moments a stream of tobacco juice erupted from between his sideburns.” Rogers’ iconic sideburns, by the way, either got that way intentionally by shaving them to stay clean, or unintentionally, from the acid in his chewing tobacco.

>MANY THANKS!—to Parks Canada for their collaborative effort providing photos and info.


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