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Ancient Greek and Roman Mountain Names in Alberta

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By the late 1800s the railways had laid track through the Crowsnest and Yellowhead Mountain passes. According to historian Merrily Aubrey, it wasn't long before these trains brought mountaineers anxious to conquer the Rocky Mountain peaks.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, there was a great flurry of mountain climbing in the Rockies. Mountaineers would come from all over the world on their climbing expeditions. They were eager to be the ones who would be recorded as having made the all-important first ascent.

These were the people who had a background in the classical languages. When they weren't busy putting their own names on mountains, um, they would turn to languages they knew.

And so, peaks and ridges throughout the Rocky Mountains bear names common to Greek and Roman mythology.

Mount Aeolus north of Jasper has the name of the Greek God of Wind. The climbing party who ascended the peak did so on a windy day.

Mount Andromeda

Mount Andromeda was officially named in 1959; however, this name was well established through local usage long before that. The name comes from Greek mythology. Andromea was the wife of Perseus and the daughter of Cassiope and King Sephus. And it's the name of a northern constellation.

This name was suggested by Major Rex Gibson, an early president of the Alpine club of Canada, thus making that very definite connection between the climbers and the naming.

About 75 kilometers northwest of Jasper lies the Starlight Range. The peaks in this range are along an astronomical theme, many of which are Greek and Roman in origin.

Sirius Peak was officially named in 1934, Sirius is known as the Dog Star. It's the brightest star in the sky, 20 times brighter than our sun. It is located in the constellation Canus Major, and exceeded in brightness only by our sun, moon, Venus, Mars and Jupiter at their maximum brightness in our own sky.

It's also one of the nearest stars. Sirius is said to come from the Greek God meaning sparkling or scorching, which is a good name for a star.

Also in the Starlight Range is Arcturus Peak. Mr. R. Cottley of the Interprovincial Boundary Commission suggested it in 1917.

In Greek, Arcturus means guardian of the bear. The star Arcturus can be found in the night sky just beyond the curved handle of the big dipper.

On the Heritage Trail, I'm Cheryl Croucher.


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            For more on place names of Alberta, visit Peel’s Prairie Provinces.

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