Forgotten Explorer: Samuel Prescott Fay’s 1914 Expedition to the Northern Rockies
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by Samuel Fay, edited by Charles Helm and Mike Murtha
Rocky Mountain Books, Surrey, B.C., 2009
342 pp., illus., $29.95 paperback
It may be going a bit far to describe Forgotten Explorer as “destined to become a classic of North American exploration history,” as the cover blurb predicts. But it is safe to say it will appeal to those who love mountain wilderness.
At the heart of this book is Samuel Prescott Fay’s detailed journal of a four-month expedition through untracked, unexplored territory in the northern Rockies in 1914.
Fay and his party set off with twenty-one horses, travelling hard along the spine of the mountains north of Jasper, Alberta. He named previously unnamed geographical features and collected plant and animal specimens along the way on behalf of the U.S. Biological Survey.
Fay’s daily journal entries are lively and descriptive — imaginative readers will feel they too are on the trail, battling mosquitoes, delighting in the chorus of birdsong, marvelling at the majesty of mountain sunsets, and feasting on berries, bannock, and fresh game.
Illustrated with plenty of photographs and maps, this book is perfect for outdoor adventurers who hope some day to hike this part of the Rockies, as well as for those who are content to enjoy the adventure vicariously. It’s reassuring to know that much of the territory Fay explored remains as wild as it was in 1914.
— Nelle Oosterom (Read bio)
Nelle Oosterom is the Senior Editor of Canada's History.