Online avalanche exhibit, Land of Thundering Snow, launches

Land of Thundering Exhibit by Revelstoke Museum & Archives will launch this week on the Virtual Museum of Canada.

Researcher John Woods presents at the launch of the Land of Thundering Snow exhibit in March.

Researcher John Woods presents at the launch of the Land of Thundering Snow exhibit in March.

Contributed by Revelstoke Museum & Archives

After countless hours of research and meticulous documentation, Canada’s first virtual avalanche exhibit, Land of Thundering Snow, will be launched on the Virtual Museum of Canada website this week. Available in English and French, the exhibit can be accessed at www.landofthunderingsnow.ca

Snow avalanches have impacted Canadians for more than a century, from the tragic deaths of 58 rail workers in Rogers Pass in 1910, to the creation of organizations like Avalanche Canada in 2004. Until now, however, the history of avalanches has not been gathered in one place.

In 2012, Revelstoke Museum & Archives received $235,000 through the Virtual Exhibits Investment Program of the Virtual Museum of Canada to create a virtual exhibit about the history of snow research and avalanche safety in Canada. The virtual museum was initially managed by the Canadian Heritage Information Network (CHIN) and is now managed by the Canadian Museum of History, with the financial support of the Government of Canada. Project partners are Parks Canada, Avalanche Canada, Revelstoke Railway Museum, and Okanagan College.

Retired Parks Canada biologist and naturalist Dr John Woods developed the content for Land of Thundering Snow, unveiling many previously unheard of stories connected to avalanches. His first-hand knowledge of the history of Glacier National Park’s avalanche control program – the first of its kind in Canada – makes him an expert in the field. John painstakingly documented the country’s 870 avalanche-related deaths from the past 150 years, which can be accessed on the site via an interactive map of Canada. The website also features more than one hour of video content and interviews with those involved in avalanche safety.

Earlier this year, Revelstoke Museum & Archives opened a physical hands-on avalanche exhibit to compliment Land of Thundering Snow. Community members celebrated the launch of both exhibits at a special event at the Revelstoke Performing Arts Centre, attracting more than 200 people to the event, which included dramatic avalanche footage, accounts of historic achievements, a moving tribute to those lost to avalanches and interactive exhibits from partners.