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Photo: O'Beirne Mountain from the east on Highway #16

O'Beirne Mountain

  • 2637 m (8,652ft)
  • Naming History
52.9133N -118.621W
Located on the continental divide between the Grant River Valley and Miette River Valley at the head of Rink Brook

Province: Alberta/BC
Park: Jasper/Mount Robson
Headwater: Athabasca/Fraser
Major Valley: Miette
Visible from Highway: 16
Year Named: 1918
Named by: Arthur Wheeler
Named for: O'Beirne, Eugene Francis (In 1863 Eugene O'Beirne travelled through the Yellowhead Pass with Walter Cheadle and Viscount Milton.)

Eugene Francis O'Beirne travelled across western Canada with Reverend John McDougall and later joined the party led by Viscount Milton, an English nobleman, and Walter Cheadle in 1863. They were on a "pleasure trip across Canada" which included traversing the uncharted Yellowhead Pass. They made the mistake of inviting Mr. O'Beirne to join them while they were in Fort Edmonton. It is not clear why Viscount Milton and Cheadle agreed to take him as he had acquired such a reputation as a sponger and general pest that the residents of Fort Edmonton were so pleased to be rid of him that they provided O'Beirne with a saddle and a horse. He certainly did provide for some entertaining anecdotes in Cheadle's journal which was later published in book form as, "The North-West Passage by Land." In the book Mr. O'B, as he is referred to, is described as, "an Irishman of between forty and fifty years of age, of middle height and wiry make. His face was long an its features large, and a retreating mouth, almost destitute of teeth, gave a greater prominence to hs rather elongated nose. He was dressed in a long coat of alpaca, of ecclesiastical cut, and wore a black wide-awake, which ill accorded with the week's stubble on his chin, fustian trousers, and highlows tied with string. . .His speech was rich with the brogue of his native isle, and his discourse ornamented with numerous quotations from the ancient classics. Although a jovial and entertaining character at times, Mr. O'Beirne appears to have been a less than desirable hitch-hiker. He was described as very lazy, accident prone, and a chronic complainer during the difficult trip. For example, while building a raft to cross the Athabasca River, Milton noticed that Cheadle not only consistently chose the small end of any logs that had to be carried, but, "After the first few steps O'Beirne began to utter the most awful groans, and cried out, continually, 'Oh, Dear! Oh, Dear! this is most painful -it's cutting my shoulder in two -not so fast, my lord. Gently, gently. Steady, my lord, steady; I must stop. I'm carrying all the weight myself...And then with a loud 'Oh!' and no further warning, he let his end of the tree down with a run, jarring his unhappy partner most dreadfully." All this was despite the fact that O'Beirne was a bigger man than Cheadle. Cheadle later commented, "I never saw such an old woman in my life or such a nuisance." It is no surprise that Mount O'Beirne was not named by Viscount Milton or Warren Cheadle who, when assessing the assets of their party following the desertion of their guide, wrote that "Mr. O'Beirne represented a minus quantity." Rather it was Arthur Wheeler of the Boundary Survey who named this fine peak in his honour. It is not known why Arthur Wheeler immortalized O'Beirne in this way but perhaps it was because Felix O'Beirne was clearly one of the more interesting characters that passed through the Yellowhead Pass in the nineteenth century. [Additional information: "Across the Rockies with Mr. O'B" by Viscount Milton and W.B. Cheadle; one of the "Tales of the Canadian Rockies" edited by Brian Patton] [Additional information: "The North-West Passage by Land" by Viscount Milton and W.B. Cheadle.]