Alberta’s Whyte Museum to auction dinner and walks with Bow Valley ‘Mountain Legends’


Ever wanted to be with one of the first women to climb Mount Everest, learn about the Stoney Nakoda First Nation from an elder, or pick the brains of a mountaineer / historian?

Those who are passionate about Alberta’s Bow Valley and its history may soon have the chance to go one-on-one with a few “mountain legends”.

The Whyte Museum in Banff is celebrating the 115th birthday of one of its founders, the artist Catharine Robb Whyte, with an online auction from June 1st to 13th.

Donated items related to the Bow Valley will be under the hammer, including prints, ceramics, and books.

This watercolor by FM Bell-Smith is titled Glacier Cascade, Selkirks. According to the Whyte Museum, Bell-Smith was one of the first artists invited to Banff by CPR President Cornelius Van Horne to paint the Rocky Mountains to encourage travel on the new railroad. (Submitted by the Whyte Museum)

Experiences like helicopter tours and meeting celebrities from the Rocky Mountains will also be up for grabs, says Donna Livingstone, CEO of the Whyte Museum.

The aim of the Mountain Legends Auction is to fund the museum’s indigenous program and the expansion of virtual access to its collections.

“We know that sometimes it is difficult for people to drive or get to Banff, so we wanted to make our collections as accessible as possible,” said Livingstone.

“Peter and Catharine were [also] very close friends with that [Stoney Nakoda Nation], under whose traditional territory we operate.

“So we wanted to make sure … the indigenous presence [is] a bit more obvious in the museum. “

“People are looking for experience”

The artists Catharine Whyte and her husband Peter Whyte founded the Banff Museum in 1968. The galleries and archives are dedicated to the region.

While none of the items up for auction in June came from the museum’s own collection, all of them are related to the mountains Catharine loved, Livingston says.

“We were so touched because … in a very short space of time people were donating art, works of art, mountain experiences and books – quirky little objects that had some kind of story,” said Livingston.

These articles include a signed first edition of the 1941 Emily Carr novel Klee Wyckand paintings by artists such as HG Glyde, Walter J. Phillips and David Thauberger.

Mountain experiences include a walk with Sharon Wood, the first North American woman to climb Mount Everest, and an evening with mountaineer Chic Scott, who wrote a book about Mount Assiniboine.

Bidders can meet with Lloyd (Buddy) Wesley, an elder of the Stoney Nakoda Nation, to learn more about his culture and language, or have dinner with Cliff and Brad Whyte, two relatives of Peter and Catherine.

“I think people are looking for experience. They are looking for a way to connect with the mountains and do the same with their friends – to do so in a social setting,” said Livingstone.

“But I don’t degrade the art because we have everything from historical art to contemporary art … local art galleries have really opened up their art stalls, and people have been so generous with material.”

The auction will go live on June 1st and can be viewed online at


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