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     Canmore Italian Pioneers

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Crow's Nest Pass
Italian Pioneers

Italian Pioneers

Coal Branch
Italian Pioneers

Italian Pioneers

Year of the Coal Miner September 2003 - 2004

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  • Lawrence Grassi, one of Canmore's noteworthy citizens.  Image from Camore - The Story of an Era by Edna (Hill) Appleby.Lawrence Grassi-Mr. Grassi is well-known for his love of the Twin Lakes area and his sensitivity to the natural environment.  He was born in Felmenta, Italy (near Torino) on December 20th, 1890.  With his Father, a lumberman, he worked near Grenoble, France, before emigrating to Canada in 1912.  He worked as a CPR sectionman in the Lake Superior area (near Fort William) before seeking a transfer to Hector in the Rockies.  In 1916, he was employed as a miner in Canmore, living with the Vasso family.  In 1918, he purchased a house and leased the land from the Canmore Coal Co. 
    Lawrence Grassi house in Canmore, 1925.  Image from Camore - The Story of an Era by Edna (Hill) Appleby.He was responsible for cutting a path from Sulphur Springs to the foot of the mountain where the falls tumble down and to the creek, which is the source of the falls.  He is also renowned as a mountaineer (in 1936 was one of the four Canadians in the seven-men team that climbed unconquered Mt. Waddington in BC).  Grassi Lakes.  Image from Camore - The Story of an Era by Edna (Hill) Appleby.He received honorary life membership in the Alpine Club of Canada and the Canadian Youth Hostel Association.  Parks Canada also recognized him by making him the assistant warden annually from June to November at Sargent's Point at Lake O'Hara.  He had landscaped the grounds and trails. In 1938, legislation was passed changing the name of the Twin Lakes in Whiteman's Pass to Grassi Lakes.  
    Falls at Grassi Lakes.  Image from Camore - The Story of an Era by Edna (Hill) Appleby.Dr. J. S. Woodsworth, MP for Winnipeg, stated:

"For me, the most interesting individual in the community was Lawrence Grassi, an Italian miner . . . In the course of a prolonged strike, instead of loafing about the village, he set off into the hills, axe on should to make trails to points of interest.  It was a labour of love.  He loved the mountains, but enjoyed having others share their beauty.  So day by day he pushed through the bush discovering the best ways of approach-blazing a trail, cutting out the underbrush, grubbing out stones and rocks, bridging little mountain streams, hollowing out a basin for a sulphur spring, erecting ladders over a precipice, placing seats on jutting lookouts that commanded an out-of-door fireplace at a delightful camping ground; even placing a surface raft on a little lake in the Pass so that the clearness and wonderful coloring of its water could be better appreciated; then cutting a zigzag up and through grassy slopes and among huge boulders and so on, into the green timbers until it emerged on a pony trail at Whiteman Pass!"1

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