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Joe Weiss, Mountaineer

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Joe Weiss was born in Switzerland in 1896. As a young man, he apprenticed in an architect's office, but he soon found architecture was not to his liking. So, in 1921, according to historian Merrily Aubrey, Joe Weiss left Switzerland to visit relatives in Canada.

His relatives included Friedrich Weiss, who homesteaded near Sylvan Lake. This life, too, was not to Joe's satisfaction. He worked for a number of years on the West Coast where the geography was more to his liking, but it wasn't until he met a fellow Swiss that he was drawn to Jasper in 1925.

The move to Jasper marked a turning point for the young man, and he made Jasper National Park his home and the focus of his life's work.

Joe was first employed by the Brewster family, who had already been serving tourists for a number of years in the Banff-Jasper area. His particular duties involved escorting tour groups to various camps along the Skyline Trail. Over the years Maligne Lake particularly entranced him.
After a time, he began his own guiding and outfitting business and increasingly realized the potential of the area for skiing. His winter photographs of the Jasper Mountains and valleys were a visual attestation to this fact. And it was his photographs that were his lasting legacy to the park. This self-taught photographer left behind exquisite black and white photographs of the mountains in every season.

In 1975, a mountain was named in honour of Joe Weiss - trapper, mountaineer and photographer. Mount Weiss is located 67 km southeast of his beloved Jasper.

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            For more on the history of settlement in Alberta, visit Peel’s Prairie Provinces.