Glacier, British Columbia on the map. National Park Glacier (British Columbia) on the map of Canada

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Glacier, British Columbia on the map. National Park Glacier  (British Columbia) on the map of Canada

Right: The red squirrel—or pine squirrel—is one of Glacier's smallest inhabitants.

Far right: Steller's jays can be found year round in the interior rainforest of Glacier National Park. These rugged individualists will eat just about anything—grain, insects, fruits and seeds.

Right: The image of the spectacular snow-covered peaks and steep walls of the Columbia Mountains will be forever etched in the memory of this visitor to Glacier.

Facing page: Hard to believe, but the huge, ambling grizzly bear can run as swiftly as a race horse. Visitors to the park often do not realize how particularly vicious these bears are.

Glacier, British Columbia

Established: 1886   Acreage: 330,440

In both Glacier and Mount Revelstoke a distinctive topography has formed. Massive, angular mountains and steep-walled valleys characterize the Columbia Mountains, distinguishing them from the younger Rockies to the east. Glacier National Park's ice-covered peaks, sheer mountain walls, avalanche-scarred valleys and huge sheets of perpetual ice represent some of the most striking mountain terrain in the world. The heavy snowfalls maintain more than 400 glaciers in the park, and a blanket of ice and snow covers about 12 percent of the park area year round. Even during the summer, snow may fall high in the mountains.

Providing a stark contrast to the snowy mountaintops are the dense rainforests of the valleys. Devil's club, thimblebe-rry, false box and luxuriant ferns create an impenetrable jungle. Here, too, grow the giant western red cedar, western hemlock and western yew. In the valley live black bear, Stellar's jays and ravens. Farther up the mountainside, the cedars and hemlocks are replaced by subalpine fir and

Engelmann spruce, which harbor gray jays, blue grouse and red squirrels. In the upper reaches of the subalpine, the forests thin and the wildflowers cover the countryside with a wild display of color. Gradually the temperatures grow colder and the soil becomes too thin to support a forest. This is the alpine tundra—a starkly beautiful and raw wilderness.

In a century of searching, surveyors have located only one likely route across the Selkirk range of the Columbias: Rogers Pass. Without this pass, all railways and highways would have to take a lengthy detour northward around the mountains by following the Big Bend of the Columbia River. In 1871, British Columbia joined Canada with the understanding that a transcontinental railway would soon be constructed to link it to the east. The rails had stretched across the prairies and were aimed at the heart of the mountains awaiting a link between Calgary and Vancouver. By 1885, after months of trial by avalanche, forest fire and rainstorm, the Canadian Pacific Railway had crossed Rogers Pass and Canada's first transcontinental railway became a reality.

When the first passenger trains ran through the pass in the summer of 1886, the Canadian Government took steps to preserve the area for all time. CPR's General Manager, Cornelius Van Home, described the area as 'the climax of mountain scenery.'


Glacier, British Columbia on the map. National Park Glacier  (British Columbia) on the map of Canada