Monday, December 31, 2007

Jasper National Park Centennial

When I was in Jasper this past weekend I learned that the National Park was 100 years old this year. It is still a jewel in the Rockies. In comparison to Banff which is the West Edmonton Mall of National Parks, this is a quiet, quaint, rustic little town, which you can walk through in thirty minutes at a quick gait. There were banners up in town announcing the centennial, but little else to note the event. No special T-Shirts, mugs, or other tourist bric a brak one usually finds. Very underplayed, unfortunately.

I have always liked Jasper since camping there in my younger years. Not much has changed in Jasper , unlike the commercialized corporate 'tourist' town of Banff. And even their centennial was muted and not given much publicity. A shame really, because Jasper in many ways reminds me of what Whyte Avenue used to be, before the boom in bars and trendy yuppification.

The tourists are from all over, Korea, Japan, though not as many as in Banff, Russia, Austria, Germany, Australia, etc. etc. Staff this year in the motels seemed to be a mix of Canadians and Australians, with fewer Quebecois this season. I don't often go in the summer, I prefer the early part of December when the rates are cheap and Ski season has not yet kicked in. Even at Xmas we got a great rate for two of us and two dogs. Three days for three hundred bucks.

Worrying though was the lack of snow. The Eastern face of the Pallisades was bare. And the Western face was a brown snow, spattered across gray rock face.
The rivers were barely frozen in spots, and the snow was a dirty brown across the fields and road ways.

Elk and caribou along with big horn were lowling about grazing the still plentiful standing dead grasses.

The signs warning of fire dangers from last summer were not changed, portending perhaps another bad fire season as climate change impacts even the Rockies.

The first recorded visit to the Athabasca Valley was by surveyor David Thompson in 1810. The North West Company built a supply depot on Brule Lake in 1813, a settlement which later became known as Jasper House after North West Company clerk Jasper Hawes. With the decline of the fur trade, Jasper House was abandoned in 1884. The Dominion Government established Jasper Forest Park in 1907, setting aside an area of some 13,000 sq km. By 1911 the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway had reached Fitzhugh (now Jasper) Station. The Jasper-Edmonton road opened in 1928. In 1930, Jasper Forest Park was officially established as a Jasper National Park. Today more than 3 million visitors pass through the park gates each year, and more than 1.8 million stop to experience this unique wilderness and World Heritage Site.


Jasper is located in Jasper National Park near the British Columbia/Alberta border, 863 km from Vancouver, British Columbia and 414 km from Calgary, Alberta.


Return Of The Work Camps II

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