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Charles P. Fay (Courtesy Whyte Museum, V14 ACOP-802)

Charles Fay

(1846-1930) Professor Charles Fay, a president of the Appalachian Mountain Club and the founder and first president of the American Alpine Club, was one of the most distinguished mountaineers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. A professor of Modern Languages, he first visited the Canadian Rockies in 1890. Fay was one of a party of four attempting Mount Lefroy in 1896 when P.S. Abbot became the first mountaineer to be killed in the Canadian Rockies. Fay returned the next year to participate in the first ascents of both Mount Lefroy and Mount Victoria. It is said that Dr. Fay made an, “impassioned defence of mountaineering at the inquiry into Abbot’s death that put an end to the grumbling in political circles that mountaineering ought to be banned in Canada.” [R.W. Sandford – Introduction to “Every Other Day” by O.J. Ostheimer; Alpine Club of Canada; 2002] Charles Fay made a total of twenty-five trips from his home in the eastern United States to climb in the Canadian Rockies, the last in 1930 as an honoured guest at the Alpine Club Camp at Maligne Lake when he was eighty-four. On that occasion it is said he, "addressed the members assembled around the camp fire on 'Old Days in the Canadian Rockies,' and gave a most delightful and instructive retrospect of his early climbs." Arthur O. Wheeler referred to him as, "a charming personality, an enthusiastic mountaineer, and an intense lover of nature." Mount Fay in the Valley of the Ten Peaks was named in his honour. The first hut built in the Canadian Rockies by the Alpine Club of Canada was named in his honour. Lying high above Tokkum Creek on the southern side of the peaks that form the Ten Peaks above the Moraine Lake Valley, it was a beautifully maintained log cabin in a very remote location. The hut was built in 1927. Dr. Fay , together with J.W.A. Hickson, Edward Feuz jr, and Rudolph Aemmer visited the hut in 1930 when Fay was 84 years old. Sadly it was destroyed in the extensive forest fires of the summer of 2003 that raged through much of Kootenay National Park.