Bert Riggall: I to the Hills Will Lift Mine Eyes

Bert’s Riggall’s photographs articulate a unique narrative that contributes to our sense of place and how we, today, see ourselves in relation to the Rocky Mountains. Bert Riggall moved from England to southern Alberta in 1904. He secured a job at Craighurst Farm near Calgary, where he met his wife Dorthea (Dora) Riggall (née Williams). In 1905, Bert worked for the Correction Land Survey, touring Southwestern Alberta. While Bert was surveying what is now Waterton Lakes National Park, he became enamoured with the mountain landscape.

In 1906, Bert and Dora married and moved to the Waterton area where they homesteaded and ranched until 1946. By 1909, Bert was running a guiding and outfitting business, leading numerous hunting and fishing excursions in the area. Working with his wife Dora, Bert led trips throughout the Rockies: Yarrow Canyon onto Big Horn Pass, the Avion Ridge trail, the Continental Divide between Alberta and B.C. in the south Castle and Akamina Ridge. These trips fueled Bert’s lifelong commitment to exploring, photographing, and writing about the area.

The images in the exhibit illustrate to Riggall’s relationship to the mountains: hunting, ranching, and guiding juxtaposed against his attention to geology, plants and animals in the area, and the effects his activities had on particular species. Bert Riggall’s photographs represent the indistinct line between the use of the land that his livelihood depended on, and his appreciation for the areas he wished to see protected. Riggall’s relationship to the landscape inspired an intergenerational commitment to mountain stewardship and conservation.

Stewarding, preserving, and exhibiting collections such as the Bert Riggall fonds held at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, is important to understanding the interconnectedness of mountain systems, including the environment, economy, and society.

Nicole Ensing and Brittany Watson from the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies will discuss the exhibit they co-curated this Sunday from 2-3 p.m. at the Galt Museum. The exhibit “Bert Riggall: I to the Hills Will Lift Mine Eyes” is showing at the Galt Museum until FEB 11.

Your old photos, documents, and artifacts might have historical value. Please contact Galt Museum & Archives for advice before destroying them.