Bert Riggall: I to the Hills Will Lift Mine Eyes

Bert Riggall fonds, V26/III/A1/PA-7, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

Bert’s Riggall’s photographs articulate a unique narrative that contributes to our sense of place and how we today, see ourselves in relation to the Rocky Mountains. Bert Riggall moved from England to Southern Alberta in 1904. He secured a job at Craighurst Farm near Calgary, where he met his wife Dorthea (Dora) Riggall (nee Williams). In 1905 Bert worked for the Correction Land Survey, touring Southwestern Alberta. While Bert was surveying what is now Waterton Lakes National Park he became enamoured with the mountain landscape.

In 1906 Bert and Dora married and moved to the Waterton area where they homesteaded and ranched until 1946. By 1909, Bert was running a guiding and outfitting business leading numerous hunting and fishing excursions in the area. Working with his wife Dora, Bert led trips throughout the Rockies: Yarrow Canyon onto Big Horn Pass, the Avion Ridge trail, the Continental Divide between Alberta and B.C. in the South Castle, and Akamina Ridge. These trips fueled Bert’s lifelong commitment to exploring, photographing, and writing about the area.

The images in the exhibit speak to Riggall’s relationship to the mountains; hunting, ranching, and guiding juxtaposed with his attention to geology, plants, and animals in the area and the effects his activities had on particular species. Bert Riggall’s photographs are representative of the indistinct line between the use of the land that his livelihood depended on and his appreciation for the areas he wished to see protected. Riggall’s relationship to the landscape inspired an intergenerational commitment to mountain stewardship and conservation.

Stewarding, preserving, and exhibiting collections such as the Bert Riggall fonds held at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, is important to understanding the interconnectedness of mountain systems, including the environment, economy, and society.

Brittany Watson, co-curator of Bert Riggall: I to the Hills Will Lift Mine Eyes
discussing the exhibition while on display at the Whyte Museum in May 2017.

The exhibition Bert Riggall: I to the Hills Will Lift Mine Eyes curated by Brittany Watson and Nicole Ensing is now on at the Galt Museum until February 11th, 2018. This Sunday, December 3rd Nicole Ensing and Brittany Watson will be giving a talk at the Galt Museum from 2 PM to 3 PM. They will discuss the exhibition, focusing on the importance of the archival processes necessary to creating a successful exhibition.

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