Strathcona - a history of British Columbia's first Provincial Park

Background Story

Strathcona Park Centennial Expedition

In 1910, acting on the advice of the Governor General of Canada to create a National Park in British Columbia, and impressed by W.W. Bolton’s account of his 1894 and 1896 expeditions across Vancouver Island, the Premier of B.C., Sir Richard McBride, reserved an area in the centre of Vancouver Island for a park in June 1910. The park was named Strathcona after Donald Alexander Smith - Lord Strathcona and Mount Royal, Alberta. Lord Strathcona was notable for having driven the last spike on the trans-continental railway.

To formalize the land to be set aside in the park the Minister of Lands, Price Ellison, set off to explore the area, departing Campbell River on July 7, 1910 with a party of twenty three including his daughter, 20 year old Myra Ellison. Travelling up the Campbell River on the lake chain Ellison and his party spied Crown Mountain and settled on it to be their prime objective.

Climbing west over Mt. Evelyn and crossing the Tlools Creek valley the party reached the summit of Crown Mountain on July 29, 1910. Crown Mountain’s position on the north side of the Elk Valley looking south into the most impressive group of summits on Vancouver Island gave the Minister one of the most spectacular alpine views on the island, doubtlessly sealing it in Ellison's mind that this was to be the area of the new park.

After resupplying at Buttle Lake, Price Ellison and his party continued up the lake to Price Creek and followed the Bolton 1896 route over Price Pass to Port Alberni. Ellison submitted his report on the expedition to cabinet and on March 11, 1911 Strathcona Park was officially legislated. Read more about the orginal expedition>

Throughout 2011, BC will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of its world renowned parks system. Historically it is the ascent of Crown Mountain on July 29th 1910 that can be pin pointed as the moment it all began. To celebrate this landmark anniversary planning is underway by the Strathcona Park Public Advisory Committee and BC Parks to re-enact the original 1910 expedition following Price Ellison's footsteps from Victoria via Campbell River through Strathcona Park to Port Alberni and including an ascent of Crown Mountain en route in July 2010.

Ideal background reading is the late Wallace Baikie's book 'Strathcona - a history of British Columbia's first Provincial Park, available from Ptarmigan Press.
ISBN 0-919537-29-4

Island Alpine
High mountains of Strathcona Park

this page last updated
Sat, Feb 13, 2010

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