Archive for the ‘Introduction to the 100 Famous Mountains of Canada’ Category

The Concept

In 1964, Kyuya Fukuda, a veteran alpinist of Japanese mountains, published a book called Nihon Hyaku Meizan – 100 Famous Mountains of Japan. He made his selection from among the hundreds of mountains he had climbed over more than 40 years and based his selection on beauty, elevation and history. Thus, the list includes some of Japan’s highest mountains, some of Japan’s most beautiful mountains, and some which are neither high nor as beautiful as some that didn’t make the cut but rich in history. The list still survives today as the definitive one for Japan’s 100 famous or best and there are many people, Japanese and foreigners alike, who attempt to climb all of them. I myself have climbed 26 of them as of this writing.

Having spent most of my years since 1999 in Japan I am well acquainted with the list and know of the 200 Famous Mountains and 300 Famous Mountains lists (Nihyaku Meizan and Sanbyaku Meizan respectively) as well. There are also lists for the 100 best waterfalls, the 100 best cherry blossom viewing places, the 100 best autumn maple viewing places and the 100 best views in Japan.

Being away from my home country of Canada for so long has recently left me pining for the mountains of home. Actually, all the years I photographed in Canada I concentrated on the Canadian landscape, where mountains were just as important to photograph as were the coastal areas, the forests, the prairies and other places. I went to the mountains and hiked and camped in the backcountry but not as a mountaineer. I was a landscape photographer. However, since 2003 I have fallen more deeply in love with the mountains and I find myself these days scouring Flickr.com for Canadian mountain scenery. I always knew we had some gorgeous locations at home but now thanks to the cornucopia of images on Flickr I can see I have missed out on so much.

Wondering if there wasn’t a list of famous mountains in Canada I searched on the Net. There was no list other than the 100 highest mountains in Canada on Wikipedia*. So I decided to compose my own list and as I haven’t visited most of the mountains I think make appropriate candidates I am searching Flickr and asking people to add their photos to the group “100 Famous Mountains of Canada”.

*I have noticed that Mt. Garibaldi, which should hold the 84th position on the list, is absent, which calls into question the veracity of the list. I have also noted a few other errors or disputable points regarding Canadian mountains on Wikipedia.

What is a Mountain?

The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary says a mountain is “a very high hill, often with rocks at the top”. Wikipedia says there is no accepted definition of a mountain. It also says that a mountain is usually steeper than a hill. For a more scientific definition, Wikipedia supplies this one: “One more objective definition is that mountains are land areas that are >2,500m in height, or 1500-2499m if their slope is >2 degrees, or 1000-1499m if their slope is >5 degrees and local (radius 7km) elevation is >300m, or 300-999m if their local (radius 7km) elevation is >300m.

Looking at the mountains of Canada, there is no doubt that the high, rocky, often jagged and serrated summits of the west (Alberta and British Columbia) and northwest (Yukon and Northwest Territories) are mountains. But in order to make this truly a national list we must also look to the east (Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic Provinces) and the northeast (Nunavut). Particularly in Ontario and the Maritimes we find mountains that could be debated as not being suitable for our list. For example, by the more scientific definition above, Nova Scotia’s North Mountain and South Mountain are not mountains because their highest point is only 235 metres (Mount Rose, North Mountain) and 275 metres (un-named point). I would also put forth that the Cypress Hills of Alberta and Saskatchewan be not considered mountains even though they reach a maximum height above sea level at 1,468 metres and they stand 600 metres higher than Medicine Hat. The Hills themselves do not look like a “mountain” and instead rise gradually from the surrounding Prairie. On the other hand, the Ishpatina Ridge in Ontario stands at only 693 metres but rises approximately 300 metres above the surrounding area and is considered “a low mountain”. It is also the highest point in Ontario.

There are certainly a few gray areas that could be disputed and one could ask why it is worthwhile to argue about mountains of under 1,000 metres elevation when there are so many higher and more stunning peaks in the west. But that leads us on to the criteria for the list of Canada’s 100 Famous Mountains.

The Criteria

Kyuya Fukuda based his Japanese list on height, beauty and historical relevance. In a country that is 27 times bigger than Japan we have many more mountains to consider. A list of the 100 most beautiful would be difficult enough to edit down. For this list, I propose the following criteria:

1) The highest mountains. Not the 100 highest but from among the highest in the country as well as the highest in each province and territory where the mountain is well enough known.

2) The most beautiful. We are looking for mountains of beautiful shape and again the west has no shortage here. But beautiful mountains are not limited to towering spires and massive walls alone. There is a more gentle beauty to be found in the eastern mountains as well.

3) Fame. Which mountains are the most visited, climbed, painted, photographed, etc.? Here I would like to exclude popular ski mountains, as well as mountains with cable cars. They might be popular and draw thousands upon thousands of people each year but if the purpose is for skiing or snowboarding, or enjoying a view of other mountains or a city then I think it is not for the mountain itself that people come.

4) Historical significance. The list should include mountains that are of historical significance to both the First Nations people, European settlers, and Canadians. One example is Mt. Garibaldi, which is an important mountain in the oral history of the Swx̱wú7mesh (Squamish) Nation.

5) Geology. I would like to include a variety of geological history and I’m looking for peaks and summits in as many ranges as possible. Particularly mountains of unusual geology, such as the volcano complex of Mt. Edziza, should not be overlooked.

More than 100 Mountains

This site will introduce mountains that are candidates for a list of 100. As I do my research I may find more than 100 mountains or people may suggest additional candidates. For the time being, 100 is the goal but in the end we may well end up with over 100.

Next time: Mt. Logan


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