Exhibition to mark Swiss guides’ contribution

Swiss guides helped promote mountain tourism in Western Canada. Photo courtesy of the Revelstoke Railway Museum

In cooperation with the Consulate General of Switzerland in Vancouver, the Revelstoke Railway Museum is pleased to host the travelling exhibit, Swiss Guides: Shaping Mountain Culture in Western Canada.

Launched in 2010, this exhibit is set to travel all across Canada.  An opening reception will be held at the Railway Museum on Friday February 4 at 7 p.m.  Everyone is welcome to attend.

According to a statement from the museum, this exhibition illustrates the remarkable history of Swiss mountain guides in the Canadian Rocky and Columbia Mountains. Through their groundbreaking performances in mountain guiding, mountain rescuing, heli-skiing and skiing they significantly contributed to a mountain culture that Canada is widely associated with today.

The history of the Swiss guides in Western Canada began at the turn of the 20th Century when the Canadian Pacific Railway fostered tourism in the Rocky Mountains and responded to a growing international interest in mountaineering. In advertising the National Parks in Canada’s West as “50 Switzerland’s in one”, Canadian Pacific Railway hotels such as the legendary Chateau Lake Louise hired Swiss guides for several decades. During the Golden Age of Canadian mountaineering between 1899 and 1954, the Swiss guides have led hundreds of first ascents and taught safe climbing techniques to thousands of climbers.

The legacy of the early Swiss pioneers continued to live on in the 1950s and 1960s when a younger generation of Swiss mountaineers looked for new adventures abroad. This younger generation was crucial in the development of modern mountain rescue, avalanche research, heli-skiing and skiing. By passionately promoting skiing as a new sport in the 1950s, Swiss ski instructors played a key role in the expansion of the ski industry in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

Most importantly however, the Swiss guides in Western Canada helped to cultivate a common appreciation for the mountain place and a strong sense for mountain environments.  Aimed at a broad audience this exhibit will particularly appeal to those interested in skiing, mountaineering, the outdoor environment, Swiss-Canadian Relations and tourism.

The Revelstoke Railway Museum is western Canada’s premiere railway museum presenting railway heritage in the heart of the Columbia Mountains, at its main location in downtown Revelstoke, as well as at the site of the driving of the Last Spike at Craigellachie.  The museum is grateful for the assistance of Rene Hueppi of the Mulvehill Creek Wilderness Inn and Wedding Chapel, Revelstoke, in bringing this exhibit to Revelstoke.  The exhibit will continue until February 26.

For more information please contact Jennifer Dunkerson at 250-837-6060. Or send her an e-mail at railway@telus.net.

The Revelstoke Railway Museum website is at www.railwaymuseum.com.

Click here to see the exhibition brochure.

This ornate pipes is one of the artifacts in the Swiss Guides Exhibition that is opening at the Railway Museum. Photo courtesy of the Revelstoke Railway Museum