The Glacier House hotel with the Illecillewaet Glacier in the background in this historic photo.

Toast to the Mountains kicks off Glacier’s 125th birthday

A whole host of events are being planned to celebrate the 125th anniversary of Glacier National Park this year.

“We’re celebrating 125 years of adventure and science in Glacier National Park,” said Megan Long of Parks Canada. “It was the mountain tourists who came to stay at Glacier House and got out and ventured in the park area that actually did the first science here as well. A lot of our early glaciology and botany and snow science in GNP was done way back at the beginning and it’s still a foundation that we’re drawing on today.”

Glacier National Park was officially founded on Oct. 10, 1886 and, along with Yoho National Park, was the second in Canada.

The first event is the Toast to the Mountains, a fundraiser put on by the Friends of Mt. Revelstoke and Glacier at the Powder Springs on Jan. 21. The four-course dinner is a marquee fundraiser for Friends and will include wine provided by St. Hubertus winery. The night will also feature speakers talking about the park.

“Before every course that is going to be served, someone is going to get up and speak about Glacier National Park,” said Neills Kristensen, executive director of Friends. “First course will be the past, second course will be the present and third course will be the future.”

It is the first in what will be a year of events celebrating Glacier National Park.

First, on Feb. 26, pioneering ski mountaineer and author Chic Scott will present a slide show at Glacier Park Lodge.

“He’s going to take us on a photographic journey through the classic backcountry ski destinations of western Canada, so lots of amazing images of powder skiing at Rogers Pass,” said Long.

On Mar. 30, Cathy English, the curator of the Revelstoke Museum & Archives, will give a brown bag lunch talk on the park.

“I think one of the significant things about Glacier National Park in the early days was Glacier House, the CPR run hotel,” English said. “That brought thousands of people to climb the mountains, do scientific surveys – it made the area really well known.”

Then, on July 16, Canada Parks Day, a major event is being planned, including the grand re-opening of the Rogers Pass Discovery Centre. There will be activities for the whole family, a barbecue hosted by Friends and new exhibits will open about the park, Long said.

The final major event is a camp-out at the Illecillewaet campground open to the public on Sept. 24 and 25.

“It’s at the centre near where we started, near where Glacier House was,” said Long. Former Parks staff will be invited to share their stories and enjoy the event.

Meanwhile, tickets for Toast to the Mountains are selling quickly and are available at the Friends’ office.

“We sold out last year,” said Kristensen.

“I assume we probably will again this year.”