A group of enthusiasts from the B.C. Historical Federation is planning to build a monument to pioneer surveyor Walter Moberly, who is credited with finding and naming the Eagle Pass in preparation for an anticipated railway line.
Gray Creek resident Tom Lymbery is a spokesperson for the group behind the planned four-metre sculpture they want to erect in Woodenhead Park. In an interview with the Times Review he explained retired B.C. surveyor John Whittaker “spearheaded” the initiative. Although Moberly is known in Revelstoke, the group feels history has passed him over and has not given the engineer and surveyor his due.
“Moberly is a man who we feel hasn’t been properly acknowledged and Revelstoke is the natural place,” Lymbery said.
They suggest Moberly rivals Alexander Mackenzie and Simon Fraser for “the importance of his explorations [to the] future of the nation.”
An English-born engineer and surveyor, Moberly worked on railway construction in Ontario before locating to Rocky Mountain House, Alberta. He then moved to Victoria in 1858 to get in on the gold rush. He surveyed in the Cariboo during the rush, and then worked on civil engineering projects in the Lower Mainland and the Interior. In 1865, while he was serving as Assistant Surveyor General for B.C., Moberly surveyed the Eagle Pass and is credited for discovering the viable rail and road route through the Monashee Mountains. It was another 20 years before the CPR line was forged through the pass.
Lymbery explained the historical group wants to erect a three-metre stainless steel transit to memorialize Moberly. A transit (or theodolite) is a surveyor’s tool used to measure angles.
They want to mount the instrument on large granite boulders, bringing the total height to four metres.
Lymbery explained the group is in the fundraising stage now. They’ve spoken with the City of Revelstoke planning department and Mayor David Raven, but not the city’s public art committee.
For now, Lymbery and the group are hoping to get the word out and build public support.
“We are hoping the City of Revelstoke will help set it up,” he said.