Pierre Bostonais’ ("Tete Jaune") arrival in the Rocky Mountains may
have been one of the first trips through the area by Iroquois trappers,
but it was far from the last. The Iroquois came west in the employ of
the North West Company (NWC) and some decided to settle, choosing a life
trapping and free trading over that of trip-man or voyageur. The
Iroquois settled in the eastern shadow of the Rockies, and many took
Beaver, or Sekani, and Snake, or Shuswap, wives while pushing their
communities out of the area.
As the European demands for fur increased, the need for a settlement
was established by the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC) and NWC. Jasper House
was one of the best paying posts in the Saskatchewan district, as
nothing but the most valuable furs were brought there.1
There are numerous records of groups travelling the trail to Jasper
encountering the Iroquois family groups along the way. At times, a group
would engage a man or two as guides, and find their whole family would
come along. Both the Earl of Southesk (1859) and members of the Palliser
expedition (1857-1860) were guided by members of the Iroquois community.
The Earl of Southesk commented upon how strange it was to hear a baby’s
cry in the wilderness.
Impetus to establish the park came from growing public awareness of
the need to conserve Alberta’s wilderness, balanced against the growth
of industry in the area. It should not be surprising that the Alpine
Club was one of the groups strongly backing the conservation movement.
The park bordered the route of the two projected transcontinental
railways along the Athabasca River and Yellowhead Pass.
In 1910, the Grand Trunk Pacific chose the present townsite of Jasper
as its station and divisional point. In the same year, the park
superintendent authorized three stores, three blacksmith shops, and one
veterinary office at the same location—the employees of both the railway
and the park began moving in. By 1914, there were 125 people in town.
Development continued in the area. One of the most famous hotels
began when two young members of Banff’s Brewster family, Jack and Fred,
helped start a tent camp at Lake Beauvert in 1915. After the First World
War, the camp reopened and expanded, adding a large cabin in 1919, to
act as kitchen and dining room. The camp was taken over by the Canadian
Nation Railway, which opened an expanded Jasper Park Lodge in 1922. They
added a large central building and bungalows, eventually having the
capacity to house 650 people, a boathouse and a golf course.
The Jasper-Edmonton road opened in 1928. In 1930, Jasper Forest Park
was officially established as a Jasper National Park. Today more than 3
million visitors pass through the park gates each year, and more than
1.8 million stop to experience this unique wilderness and World Heritage
Jasper Park Information Centre