‘The Mountains are Calling’ art exhibit celebrates adventurous, outdoorsy women who blazed a trail

Black and white images of a generation past hang on the wall of the Canmore Art Guild Gallery. The masterly snapped film shots offer a glimpse back in time of women blazing a trail in the backcountry of the Canadian Rockies.

While they are just one frame, the stories behind every image are lengthy and moving.

It is a small collection of a vast body of work done by late, legendary Canadian journalist Harry Rowed. The pictures are part of a larger exhibit being held at Elevation Place in Canmore called ‘The Mountains are Calling.’

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Harry’s son Scott carefully selected the six photos for the gallery exhibit, choosing to celebrate some of the female adventurers Harry featured.

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“They were so athletic and very classy, I would say, and really active. They were strong skiers and climbers,” Scott said. “I think (Harry) presented them really well.”

One of the woman featured is Fran Drummond. She ran Twin Falls Chalet in Yoho National park up until just a few years ago.

For 57 years, she spent her summers cooking, managing and maintaining the chalet tucked 10 kilometers into the backcountry.


Fran Drummond is pictured near Twin Falls at Yoho National Park decades ago, in a photograph taken by Harry Rowed.

Courtesy: Harry Rowed via Scott Rowed


A photo taken in August 2020 of Fran Drummond, who was the subject of Harry Rowed’s photography in the Canadian Rockies.

Courtesy: Scott Rowed


An unnamed woman rappels during the 1950 Alpine Club of Canada ACC camp at Maligne in a photograph by Harry Rowed.

Courtesy: Harry Rowed via Scott Rowed

“I worked really hard. I wasn’t taking my coffee looking up at the falls every morning. I was shoveling out breakfast for everyone off a wood stove,” Drummond said, laughing.

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“I used to carry 100-pound packs.”

Harry featured Drummond’s story in the Weekend Magazine in 1966. She said she and Harry became good friends, and she appreciated his work to promote what people like her were doing in the mountains. But she admits it wasn’t always easy.

“You are subject to snow, fires, smoke and anything in between,” said Drummond. “You don’t do this for money — you do this for love and trying to show the beauty (of the area).”

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“It’s been a harder road for women. I was also in the oil and gas industry. It took a lot of doing, it took a lot of embarrassment almost for the parties to let me through, because females weren’t allowed to be managers,” said Drummond.

She said the 25-year-old woman beneath the glass frame is still the one sitting here today and she’s far from done adventuring.

“I don’t think anyone gets old unless they want to be and I know I’m going to live until 120, and I am scared to death of that.”

The exhibit runs at Elevation Place until Feb. 26.

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