March 7th, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 10
Looking Back - John Kinnear
Aboukir, Cressy, Hawke, Pegasus and Hogue
Looking Back
Courtesy: Mountain Legacy Project- University of Victoria
A.J. Campbell 1914 photo of Upper Kananaskis Lake with 5 islands
Back in the late 1960’s I worked as a summer student for my father as a survey helper in the strip mines and underground coal mines here in the Pass. Part of his job was maintaining maps for the coal company that required extensive control surveys of their pits. Sometimes these surveys needed to be trigonometrically tied to federally known survey points. I recall that on a sunny August day in 1967, while helping to survey the Tent Mountain strip pits, my father pointed to a spot in Tent Mountain Pass that he wanted a control shot on. It was a boundary monument that defined the Alberta/BC boundary at that point and had a known elevation.

The boundary marker was way up on a grassy knoll with a spectacular view of Mount Ptolemy to the east. I trekked up to the monument but turned around at the last minute after I had crested the hill it was on and ran back to my father’s tripod which was set up quite some distance away. He was waving frantically as I approached him and hollered this to me when I got close enough: “I didn’t get the shot you knucklehead”. I replied: “And you are not going to either because there was a black bear scratching his rear on the other side of that monument”.

That concrete monolith with its truncated pyramid top was one of hundreds installed between 1913 and 1917 when the Alberta, British Columbia and Dominion Governments worked in concert to define what is referred to as the Great Divide or these days the Continental Divide. The story of their installation was documented in a fascinating book released in 2017 by author Jay Sherwood and entitled: “Surveying the Great Divide.”

The story of this monumental (no pun intended) task and the surveyors and their crews that worked on this definition from the treacherous tops of the Rocky Mountains through the dozens of timber snarled mountain passes is a fascinating one. The Crowsnest Pass to the U.S. border section is one that I will deal with separately in another column. It involves way more passes than the crews realized and was challenging to say the least. One can see the first boundary monument (#1F) in the Crowsnest to North Kootenay segment immediately east of the Summit Inn on the border.
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The Alberta-British Columbia boundary is the longest interprovincial boundary in Canada at a whopping 1,842 kilometers. The southern half runs along the Great Divide which by definition is the “line dividing the waters flowing into the Pacific Ocean from those flowing elsewhere”. If the water goes west it is in British Columbia, if it goes east it is in Alberta. The northern half of the boundary runs along the 120th meridian in a straight line till it hits the 60th parallel (latitude) and becomes the northwest corner of the province.

The commission that was set up to accomplish this delimitation (survey) had three main characters. Arthur O. Wheeler represented British Columbia’s interests and was an Irish immigrant who had a keen interest in the outdoors and was certified as a Dominion land surveyor. He was also a founding member of the Alpine Club of Canada. Richard Cautley who had emigrated from England and obtained both his provincial and Dominion land surveying licenses represented Alberta. The third member of this tripartite effort was James Wallace, another Irishman immigrant, who secured his Dominion surveying certificate in 1900 and eventually became head of the Topographical Survey of Canada. All three conducted and oversaw all aspects of this huge task.

Jay Sherwood’s important recounting of this historic survey is done in fascinating chapters, chronicling each year (1913-1917). It is the chapter on 1916 work in the Kananaskis area that I would like to dwell on, specifically the naming of features there.

Richard Cautley was designated the surveyor of passes through the survey years and was working in concert with Wheeler in the Kananaskis, Palliser and White Man passes in 1916. Wheeler did the surveying and mapping (phototopographic) on the tops of the mountains and ridges which was part of delineating the watershed. Since he was always working with high mountain topography he had the opportunity to name many unnamed features along the Great Divide.
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In and around the Kananaskis Lakes area Wheeler chose to acknowledge World War 1 generals and important commanders from many countries that had distinguished themselves in the Great War. Battles and warships lost were also chosen for commemoration.

Wheeler’s work took him immediately west of the Upper Kananaskis Lake onto a mountain he observed and named Mount Layutey after a World War One French Army general and colonial administrator in Morocco. South of Layutey the border (great divide) swings east then south again along the Elk Mountains. On this route he named Mounts Sarrail and Mount Foch who were also famous French generals in the Great War. Where the border turns south along the Elk range is Mount Tyrwhitt, named after British Rear Admiral Reginald Tyrwhitt. Tyrwhitt was commodore of a massive fleet called the Harwich Force that patrolled the North Sea during the war.

Directly south of Layutey is Mount Marborough which was the name of a battleship involved in the infamous navel Battle of Jutland in the North Sea in June of 1916. That horrendous clash of no less than 250 titans (British and German cruisers and destroyers) resulted in the loss of 14 ships and over 6,000 men by the British and 11 ships and over 2,500 men by the Germans.

According to Ron Kelland, a historical places research officer with Alberta Culture and Tourism and creator of RETROactive, a blog of Alberta Historical Places: “At least twenty-six mountains bear names commemorating the Battle of Jutland – sixteen of them are named for Royal Navy vessels that took part in the battle and ten are named for the Admirals, ship captains and seamen that lead and fought at Jutland. Additionally, many features associated with the mountains (glaciers, lakes and creeks) have subsequently been given Jutland names.”

Kelland brings up the probing question of why was Jutland such a focus of names for ships and commanders in a battle that Canada did not participate in and only lost one man to. Why indeed!
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Towering over the north side of Upper Kananaskis Lake is Mount Indefatigable, named after the battlecruiser HMS Indefatigable, sunk at Jutland with a heartbreaking loss of 1015 men including the only Canadian lost in this sea battle.

But it is the naming that happened at the Upper Kananaskis Lakes itself that is a story. In 1914 surveyor A.J. Campbell, Wheeler’s assistant, was doing a preliminary survey (prior to the official survey) in the Kananaskis area. He took a picture of the lake looking north towards what would eventually be named Mount Indefatigable. In this remarkable shot, which is one of 120,000 glass plates generated by the survey, the lake shows five distinct islands. They were named by Wheeler after five British cruisers that were sunk in that terrible war.

I say terrible because the loss of life was unimaginable. On September 22, 1914 the German submarine SM U-9 intercepted the British cruisers Aboukir, Cressy and Hogue in the North Sea and sank all three in less than an hour. The loss totaled 1,459 men and shocked the British and the world. It was truly the dawn of serious submarine warfare. During that war Germany fielded 329 submarines and took a horrific toll. U-9 sank 18 vessels in total.

Two days prior to this loss, in a harbour in Zanzibar (formerly Tanganyika, now Tanzania), the British cruiser HMS Pegasus was surprised by the German light cruiser SMS Königsberg and sunk with the loss of 38 of its crew of 55. Three weeks after the triple loss in the North Sea, on October 15, U-9 struck again and yet another cruiser, HMS Hawke, was lost along with 524 men. What madness this was.
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So it was that Wheeler felt it appropriate to: “commemorate the loss of these five vessels and to honour the sacrifice of the crews that went down with them”. According to Ron Kelland: “In the early 1930s, Calgary Power (now TransAlta Utilities) built a log dam between the Upper and Lower Kananaskis Lakes to raise the level of the upper lake. The size of the dam, and the lake, was increased again in 1942. The construction of these dams raised the surface of the lake enough to completely submerge most of the islands, leave only small remnants of two of them above the surface”.

All that remains visible today is Hogue and Hawke Islands and the Canadian Permanent Committee on Geographical Names had rescinded the names Aboukir Island, Cressy Island and Pegasus Island.
Author’s Note: A more in-depth accounting can be found at the site Ron Kelland has also done a RETROactive blog on the Battle of Jutland. Both were invaluable in researching this story.
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March 7th, 2018 ~ Vol. 89 No. 10
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