A national park on our doorstep.
Header image: Mackenzie Ave looking at Mount Revelstoke circa 1912 - Revelstoke Museum and Archives.
Mount Revelstoke may not be the most prominent peak in Revelstoke’s skyline, but it is one of the most prominent mountains in our town’s history. It’s easily accessible from downtown, was the historical home of skiing, and has been a national park since 1914. It is also a symbol to locals of the power of community, as it became a national park thanks to the hard work and advocacy of Revelstoke residents.
Mount Revelstoke is one of the four mountains that defined Revelstoke and is framed by the north end of Mackenzie Avenue.
Content for this story was kindly provided by Revelstoke Museum and Archives. You can visit the museum to see their feature exhibit on Mount Revelstoke developed in partnership with Parks Canada and opened in 2019.
The beginnings of a park.
In 1906, a group of mountaineers visited Balsam Lake in what is now Mount Revelstoke National Park, and A. E. Miller (for whom Miller Lake is named) published an article in the Mail-Herald that read:
“Having just returned from a trip among the mountains to the north of Revelstoke, I would like to draw the attention of your readers to the fact that within a few hours walk from the city there is a splendid natural park of nearly two thousand acres in extent. This park, which, if no better name is suggested, might be called Mountain Park…Mountain Park would make an ideal place to spend the hot months as, owing to the altitude, the air, even on the brightest days, is pleasantly cool, and there is never any trouble from mosquitoes.”
We’re not sure that we agree with him on that last point, but Mount Revelstoke’s meadows are a wonderful place to escape to on hot summer days.
The idea was conceived to develop a road to the summit, and in 1908 a trail was developed. The climb was said to be so gentle that even pack ponies could make it to the summit. In 1909, the Revelstoke Mountaineering Club was formed and a small cabin was built at the summit. By 1912, the government was asked to help develop a road to the summit. A surveyor noted that it would be 14.5 miles long and the grade would go from a gentle 6.5 to 8 percent.
Discussions of creating a national park continued, with ongoing debate about its name. At the time, Mount Revelstoke was called Mount Victoria, so it was decided that the name should simply be “Revelstoke National Park”. In April of 1914, Revelstoke National Park was proclaimed.
World War I interrupted efforts to build the road to the summit, but when the war ended, road construction moved ahead. In 1920, the name was changed to Mount Revelstoke National Park, which it is today. In 1927, after fifteen years of construction, the road was officially opened by the Prince of Wales (Edward) and his brother Prince George.
In 1958, conflict emerged between the federal government and local recreationalists. Locals wanted to see the road extended to access Eva and Miller Lakes, while the federal government wanted to see conservation values made paramount. Ultimately, the road was not extended, and the lakes remain accessible by foot only.
The birth of skiing in revelstoke.
In March of 1914, the first ski ascent of Mount Revelstoke was made. The Revelstoke Ski Club was officially formed later that year, making it the oldest ski club in British Columbia (with sustained membership as far back as 1891). Revelstoke’s first Winter Carnival was held in February of 1915, with ski jumping just outside of the park boundaries. In 1916, permission was granted to hold ski jumping on Mount Revelstoke within park boundaries. Ski jumping continued on Mount Revelstoke until the 1970s and world records were set on Mount Revelstoke. Today, the ski jumps are marked by the Nels' Knickers, an interactive sculpture for visitors to enjoy.
Mount Revelstoke Today.
Today, visitors from all over the world enjoy the road to Mount Revelstoke’s summit, famed for wildflower meadows and mountain views. It’s a great way for beginner explorers and seasoned adventurers alike to experience the wonder of the Selkirk Mountains. Hikers, road bikers, artists, and sightseers are drawn to Canada’s most accessible mountain national park, in particular during wildflower season.
Mount Revelstoke remains an important feature in our landscape - a place to recreate and a marker of civic pride.
Follow the revy rules.
Revelstoke is currently welcoming visitors from across British Columbia. If you are in Revelstoke, please ensure that you are taking precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19 and following provincial health guidelines. Please check current Provincial Health Orders before travelling.