Located at the headwaters of Collie Creek on the western edge of Wapta Icefield. Yoho Park, Major headwater Columbia River.
Photo: Looking west across the Wapta Icefield to Mount Collie (courtesy Vern De Wit)
Norman Collie (1859-1942)
The view from the Chateau Lake Louise is dominated by Mount Victoria and Mount Lefroy, both of which were first climbed by parties that included this distinguished scientist, explorer, mountaineer, writer, photographer, and art collector. Norman Collie was clearly the epitome of the "Victorian Gentleman" of the late nineteenth century.
Born in 1859, Collie began his climbing career on the Isle of Skye, later making first ascents in the Alps and Caucasus and climbing with a British expedition in the Himalayas. In 1897, when he accepted Professor Charles Fay's invitation to join the Appalachian Club for a summer of climbing in the Canadian Rockies, he was a professor of chemistry as well as one of the most highly regarded British mountaineers.
The previous year Charles Fay had been one of four Appalachian Club members attempting Mount Lefroy when the first climbing fatality in the Canadian Rockies occurred resulting in the death of Philip Abbot. Abbot's father had asked Professor Fay to make arrangements for a "Memorial Climb" the following year. The Alpine Club of London was asked to participate and Norman Collie and H.B. Dixon, together with guide Peter Sarbach, joined Fay's party. Exactly one year after the accident the party reached the summit. After a day's rest, Collie and Sarbach led the party that made the first ascent of Mount Victoria. Their route included traversing the mountain's long arete (the summit ridge), which is seen from the Chateau, to the southern and highest summit.
Collie returned to the Canadian Rockies in five other summers, completing numerous ascents during exploratory trips into areas northwest of Lake Louise. In 1898 he and Herman Wooley completed the first ascent of Mount Athabasca and from the summit were the first to see the Columbia Icefields. In 1903, Collie, together with his companion Hugh Stutfield, co-authored "Climbs and Exploration in the Canadian Rockies", a book which is now considered to be a classic in literature related to the Rocky Mountains. His last visit was in 1911 when he completed his twenty-first first ascent in the Canadian Rockies. Being the first to explore much of the Rockies, he took the opportunity to name in excess of thirty peaks.
Academically Norman Collie was extremely successful, both a respected teacher and researcher. He completed important work in organic chemistry and did extensive research in other fields of chemistry which resulted in the first fluorescent light and the taking of the first x-ray for medical diagnostic purposes. The recipient of numerous awards and honourary degrees, Dr. Collie was described as "one of the leading lights of science in England."
His biographer, Dr. William Taylor, summarized Collie as, “a fascinating character who excelled at science, mountaineering, exploration, geography, photography, art, and whatever else he turned his hand to.”