Rocky Mountain Guides and Outfitters

Rocky Mountain Guides and Outfitters is just one of the sections in the new Gateway to the Rockies exhibition being developed by the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies. We want your input and feedback on this permanent (ten year life) exhibition that we are planning to open at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies in the spring of 2012. Tell us what you think of this and the other concepts and stories featured here. Let us know how you think we could make this exhibition more interesting. Please keep in mind that this is a draft of the storyline, not the finished product. As the stories develop, information will be updated.

Listen to Michale Lang (Executive Director, Whyte Museum), discussing
the Guides and Outfitters exhibition:


As the thrill of mountain climbing spread throughout the Canadian Rockies, the need for knowledgeable guides to show 'tenderfoots' through the potentially dangerous areas grew. They knew their horses. They could throw a diamond hitch that would secure a pack to wildest of them and keep it there through the wildest country. Guides were a special breed of men and a fountain of knowledge on local animals, plant life and unknown trails.

Design concept for Guides and Outfitters
When you look at the tent, you will see and hear Tom Wilson and Bill Peyto
inside having a conversation

The diamond hitch, or rather a series of hitches the shape of a diamond, is the combination of rope twists by which a load is kept in position on the back of a pack animal. I am not aware of who invented it – he should have been knighted.”
– A.O. Wheeler

Many of the early guides and outfitters began as surveyors for the Canadian Pacific Railway, seeking a route for the line through the rugged Canadian Rockies. Early tourists who came in the mid to late 1880s to climb or explore the mountains did not have the skills required to survive in the backcountry of the Canadian Rockies. To achieve their goals of first ascents and forays into unmapped land, they needed guides and outfitters with knowledge of horses, pack outfits and mountain trails. These guides and outfitters were unique individuals who came from diverse backgrounds. Though they may have appeared unkempt and unrefined, most were intelligent and many were well educated. These mountain men led an entire generation of explorers to their destinations and often on their own made discoveries of places never before seen by white men.

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