Sanson, Norman
(1862-1949)

Born and educated in Toronto, Norman Sanson first travelled west with the Queen's Own Rifles who were sent to quell the Riel Rebellion. While working as a book-keeper at Dr. Brett's (see Mount Brett) sanitorium be spent his spare time assisting Mr. McLeod, Banff's meteorologist who was also curator of the park's museum. When Macleod died in 1896, Sanson took over his duties.

In her book, "Banff -Canada's First National Park," Eleanor Luxton describes Sanson as, tall, lean, and always wore English tweeds. He read much and could quote poetry freely… he could be taciturn, but he could also be very droll, and though he had a reputation for being a man of few words,… he was an interesting raconteur."

Sanson's knowledge of natural history was self-taught, but he travelled widely in the mountains collecting plants, geological specimens and butterflies and moths and became very knowledgeable and highly respected.

When the federal government decided that an observatory should be built in the Rockies, Sanson was instrumental in seeing that it was located on Sulphur Mountain. The horse trail to the summit was built in 1902 and 1903, the building constructed using local stone and equipped with meteorological instruments.

Sanson's duties required him to ascent the six kilometre trail to the summit every two weeks but he often went more frequently. He continued travelling throughout the Rockies and collecting well after his retirement in 1931.

On July 1, 1931 he made his one thousandth trip to the summit of the mountain. Dozens of friends joined him for a celebratory sunrise breakfast on the top.

Also in 1931, which was his last year as Banff's weatherman, he led the King and Queen of Siam to the top of Sulphur Mountain. Eight years later he accompanied King George VI on a hike to the top of Tunnel Mountain.

In 1945, at the age of 83, he climbed the mountain to observe a solar eclipse from his favourite location.

Norman Sanson was an avid hiker and is said to have travelled 20,000 miles of trails. He was a member of the Alpine Club of Canada and the first president of the Skyline Hikers of the Canadian Rockies.

[Additional Information: Halworth, Beryl & Jackson, Monica; "Pioneer Naturalists of the Rocky Mountains and Selkirks"]

[See Sanson Peak]

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