Mollie Adams Diary

Many people have heard about Mary Schäffer, the woman who discovered and surveyed the now famous Maligne Lake, but fewer know Mary (Mollie) Adams.  Mollie Adams was Mary's traveling companion on many of her journeys into the backcountry and abroad from 1905 until 1911. In 1905 Mary and Mollie travelled with other women in their party, but they soon discovered that they most enjoyed one another’s company and that two was the perfect number for the trail.

Mollie was a geology teacher at Columbia College. She and Mary met through their mutual interest in flowers. Mollie and Mary would spend their winters in anticipation, carefully  planning their trips.

In the early 1900s, it took a pack train of ten or more horses to explore the Canadian Rockies for the summer. A weighty canvas tent would provide the roof over her head while on the trail and fresh food was hard to come by.

One of our summer homes (1906) [Mollie Adams,
Mary Schäffer, William Warren and Joe Barker in camp],
Moore family fonds, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies (V439/ PS - 1)

Of course, they always needed knowledgable guides. Mary Schaffer had  contacted Tom Wilson to request a guide who would toughen her up for the longer excursions required to complete the research. Wilson introduced her to Billy Warren, an English veteran of the South African War. Warren took charge of travel logistics, obtaining horses and supplies. He taught Mary  and Mollie how to ride and set up camp. He determined the routes and often went ahead to ensure they were passable. They nicknamed Billy “Chief.” In many of their written accounts of their travels, both Mary and Mollie acknowledge the importance of having a competent guide.

It’s nice to say “we,” but it was Mr. Warren’s long outlook and Sid’s determination, Mollie and I were like the tail to an active horse.
—Mary Warren, 1928

In 1908 Mary and Mollie decided to spend four months on the trail with their guides Billy Warren and Sid Unwin. Mary had been captivated by veteran guide Jimmy Simpson’s mention of a mysterious lake north of the Brazeau, so they set off to find it. Mollie documented their journey daily in her diary.  Follow their adventures in her diary posts here on Peaks & People!

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