Discover Crowsnest Pass Day 2: Uncovering the history of the early settlers in the Pass

Join Uplift Adventures on a virtual hike to Phillips Lake while we learn about the early settlers in the Crowsnest Pass. 

Indigenous people have been here for at least 8,000 to 10,000 years. When European settlers were surveying the Rockies, they were searching for a pass that was suitable for the first transcontinental railway. They wanted the most southern and shortest pass to build through. When Thomas Blakiston, a surveyor who was part of the Palliser Expedition came near, an indigenous guide told him the Crowsnest Pass was not a good place to survey because it was many days of travel. So Thomas Blakiston skipped the Crowsnest Pass and they ended up putting the railway through Banff and Rogers Pass. This is unfortunate because in reality the Crowsnest would have been a much better spot for the railway.

The first evidence of a white person surveying the Crowsnest is Michael Phillips.

People came here to prospect and look for gold, before they even looked for coal here. But the first industry in the Crowsnest was ranching. Before coal they needed a way to get coal out so they needed a railway. For a railway you needed lumber and horses to build and transport, so lumber and ranching were the first industries here before the coal industry struck.

Next we make our way to Phillips Lake. Phillips Lake is right on the continental divide, and they had a hard time figuring out if it was in British Columbia or Alberta. This lake’s water most likely drains underground and goes into Crowsnest Lake and flows to the east, so it was decided that the lake is in Alberta.

Thank you for joining Uplift Adventures and learning about the early settlers of the Crowsnest Pass. We invite you to come join us on a hike, backpack, outdoor course, climb or more around Crowsnest Pass, Waterton Lakes National Park, or Castle Parks. We are your local and certified professional guides in the South Canadian Rockies.

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