Fidler, Peter
(1769-1822)

Peter Fidler was the first European explorer to visit southern Alberta, enter the Canadian Rockies, and climb one of them. During November on 1792 he set out from Buckingham House, the Hudson Bay Company's most westerly post at the time. It was located on the North Saskatchewan River near the present day town of Elk Point.

During this journey, which extended into 1793, he became the first European to see the Rockies of southern Alberta and was able to witness first hand the undisturbed life of the Indians of the southwestern plains (including observing the use of a 'buffalo jump') and the tribes of the mountains. He was the first to note the presence of coal in Alberta and to record the existance of the chinook and the mild winters which are often enjoyed in the southwestern corner of Alberta.

Of his first view of the Canadian Rockies Fidler wrote, "Awfully grand, stretching from ssw to wss by compass, very much similar to dark rain like clouds rising up above the horizon in a fine summer's evening." [The Mountains and the Sky -Glenbow]

Peter Fidler took bearings on prominent peaks to aid in his mapping. He noted the name of "Devil's Head" which was used by the Indians. This thus became the first peak to be referred to by name by a white visitor to the Rockies. Later he began referring to a peak, "very much resembing a pyramid -after which resemblance I shall call it by that name." This was the peak now known as Mount Glasgow and when Fidler named in "Pyramid" in 1792 it became the first mountain named by a non-native in the Canadian Rockies.

During December 1792, Peter Fidler travelled though Happy Valley which lies between the Livingstone Range and the Porcupine Hills (the route now followed by Highway #22). After studying the "Oldman's Bowling Green" in the vicinity of the Oldman River Gap (where the Oldman River passes through the Livingstone Range) he ventured through the Gap to the point where Racehorse Creek joins the Oldman River, becoming the first white man to actually enter the Canadain Rockies.

Later that day Fidler, "climbed up a gentle ascent, this making an angle of more than 60 degrees with the horizon, and after much fatigue I got to the top in 2 1/2 hours time, from which an extensive view may be seen. There was only a few places within the eyes extent that is higher than the place I stood on." Peter Fidler had become the first non-native to climb a mountain in the Canadian Rockies, the peak now known as Thunder Mountain. He wrote, "This height I measured and found it to be 3250 feet above the level of its base. Today's topographical maps indicate an elevation difference of approximately 3150 feet.

For additional information regarding this remarkable Canadian explorer visit: http://www.ourheritage.net/INDEX.HTML

[Additional Information: MacGregor, J.G. "Peter Fidler". Calgary: Fifth Houe Ltd., 1998]

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