Climber’s Paradise: Making Canada’s Mountain Parks, 1906-1974
University of Alberta Press, 2014
Author: PearlAnn Reichwein
Review by: Ron Dart
There has been a definite need for a finely crafted book on the relationship between the Alpine Club of Canada (ACC) and Climber’s Paradise: Canada’s Mountain Parks tells the tale in an exquisite manner and, in doing so, reveals much about the complex paradise of Canada’s mountaineering history and ethos.
The symbiotic relationship between the Alpine Club of Canada, Canada’s mountain parks and, to the telling and not to be neglected point, political parties, has not been probed and explored in quite the demanding way that Climber’s Paradise does. The book is replete with fine photographs and short biographies of some of the main actors in the history of Canada’s mountaineering drama. Each chapter, in an insightful and evocative manner, walks the curious reader down and up all sorts of pathways and ridge walks with the who’s who of Canadian Alpine life. The various and varied tensions that the ACC faced at different historic transition seasons in Canada are unpacked and clarified in a nuanced and detailed manner. Those who are keen on hard facts are delivered plenty of the goods. Those who tend to be taken by diverse reads of controversial moments in Canadian alpine life are ushered into the thick of the fray.
My main regret after putting down this historic keeper is that the tale was brought to a close in 1974 – so much has happened of worth and note in the Alpine Club of Canada, Parks Canada and the fragile relationship between political parties and Parks Canada since 1974 that more of this controversial tale needs to be told.
Reichwein has certainly emerged, in the last decade plus, as one of the primary keepers of the distinctive Canadian mountaineering tradition, and Climber’s Paradise confirms yet again why this is the indubitable case. Do purchase, read and digest this A masterpiece of the unique Canadian mountaineering tradition told from a wise and balanced perspective.
Climber”s Paradise is available for purchase at the following local retailers:
-Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies
-Cafe Books (Canmore)
-U of Calgary Bookstore
-Glenbow Museum Shop