Tales from the Great Divide

Tales from the Great Divide

Tales From the Great Divide, 2nd edition – contains everything you want to know about the origins of the Great Divide Trail and the resulting non-profit association. Packed with a comprehensive history of the GDT and GDTA, it is also full of fascinating first-hand anecdotes from those movers and shakers who propelled the vision forward.

— Mary Jane Kreisel, Victoria, B.C. and Edmonton, Alta.

Tales from the Great Divide

David McCullough (Brave Companions: Portrait in History) states “How can we know who we are and where we are going if we don’t know anything about where we have come from and what we have been through, the courage shown, the costs paid, to be where we are?” Thanks so much to the GDT leadership and all those that preceded you for your vision in publishing this important part of the Great Divide Trail adventure.

— Kasy Kaczanowski, Brooks, Alta.

Tales from the Great Divide

A wonderful story of how young people undertook a formidable task and pioneered the Great Divide Trail in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Young heroes and heroines describe hardships and excitements as they pioneered the Great Divide Trail in The Canadian Rockies on a mere shoestring of support.

— Des Allen, Calgary, Alta.

Tales from the Great Divide

No bridge plank left unturned. Extremely thorough. Comprehensive. Exhaustive research. Easy to start reading at any point. Delightful reading. Copy available for on-site perusal at the University of Calgary’s Library, Archives and Special Collections, Glenbow Collection via prior arrangement by appointment for U of C students, faculty and staff. Details here: https://asc.ucalgary.ca/contact/

— Jeff Gruttz, Calgary, Alta.

Tales from the Great Divide

Thorough, informative, in depth, well-rounded. Offers a thorough and intimate perspective into the origins of the GDT. A well founded body of information which can be drawn upon to inform potential trajectories forward for the trail and its community. Thoughtfully written and laid out. The humor is just as prevalent in the conversations as the challenges faced.

— Bethany "Fidgit" Hughes and Lauren "Neon" Reed
Her Odyssey, based in the USA

Tales from the Great Divide

Delightful read that brings alive the Great Divide Trail, from its birth, through its life – its infancy to its current growth spurt. Supported by a very impressive collection of photos, illustrations, and maps.

— Joan Pendleton, San Jose, Calif., U.S.A.

Tales from the Great Divide

Thanks to you, Louise [the desk top publisher who worked on Tales], and all the others for all the effort and time you have put into this – it will be a historical treasure. I marvel at all the work you and your team put into this effort.  Thank you for the initiative turning an idea in to something tangible and historical… Although I am only on page 24 of the book, I am impressed with the detail included in those few pages.  I enjoyed learning about the early history of the Trail and in particular the vision and dedication of Jim Thorsell when he saw an opportunity to share the grandeur of the Rocky Mountains in a unique and historic way – by foot.

— Wayne Marshall, Calgary, Alta.

Tales from the Great Divide

… the size and heft of the book looks intimidating and I thought it would take forever to read!  But once you get by all [of] the preamble, it is an extremely interesting book. It is the first book I have read where it is a verbatim record of people talking and it surprisingly flows very nicely.  I love the stories of how the GDTA came to be and especially the tales of circumstances that happened during the survey hikes.  There is a massive amount of background detail included in the footnotes that further explains certain comments.  I find I have to keep reading the stories to a point where the topic shifts so that the flow is not interrupted and then I go back to the footnotes to read those.  I am impressed by the volume of information in this book and the thorough, detailed research.  It is great to have so many photos as well to help explain or illuminate certain aspects of the story.  It is indeed a labour of love and will be a valuable resource for those who are interested in keeping the history of the GTDA alive and informing others about it.  Well done, Jenny!! … what an incredible legacy you have, both in being part of the hikes and surveys and now in helping to record the history.  I will look forward to the rest of the read.  Bummer that you did not get a photo of the tree in the car!!

— Peggy Taylor, Victoria, B.C.

Tales from the Great Divide

Amazing to see how long some people have been involved with the trail! This book is on our coffee table.

— Gail DesMoulins, Municipality of Crowsnest Pass, Alta.

Tales from the Great Divide

I’m loving this new second edition. Wow! Wonderful.  To me, the additional content made the whole book flow together. It reads better. The new edition to me has a more in-depth storyline. It holds my interest to keep reading. And of course, there are NO MISTAKES! It’s more enjoyable to read. The additions you added [like the subtitles] make this book make more sense than the first edition. It makes a much better read than the first Edition.

— Lani Smith, Olds, Alta.

Tales from the Great Divide

Who knew it’s possible? A ‘PhD thesis’-like compendium that’s fun to read! An assiduous history of how a dream became reality over half a century. Some of these stories are hilarious! The conversational format is engaging and highly readable. The over 300 photos and other figures provide a wealth of information and impressions. The chronologies (overview and detailed) are a helpful introduction to the broad structure of the “Tales”. A wonderful story of how much can be accomplished by combining the varied talents of committed enthusiasts. Congrats on a huge piece of work, successfully completed!

— Tom Niemann, Victoria, B.C.

What is Tales from the Great Divide?

Tales from the Great Divide, Vignettes on the Origins and Early History of Canada’s Great Divide Trail and Great Divide Trail Association is my self-published compendium of stories from individuals involved firsthand in the start and development of the GDT and the GDTA. While technically nonfiction, the tales are based on recollections and the human memory is not always entirely accurate. Nevertheless, a reader can gain a good sense of the truth from the variety of information sources used. These include transcripts of storytelling sessions and telephone interviews, personal letters, and previously published written materials, photographs, illustrations and maps, plus more recently written accounts of past events, and footnotes with supplemental information.

A copy of the Collector’s Edition of Tales from the Great Divide can be viewed by appointment at the University of Calgary’s Taylor Family Digital Library, as it is part of the GDTA fonds within the Glenbow Archives in the University of Calgary’s Special Collections and Archives. The GDTA and the Alberta Wilderness Association (AWA) also each have a copy of the Collector’s Edition in their files. Only 30 copies were printed and sold, so the document is technically out of print. However, you can order a pdf version.

Published in July 2021, the Second Edition of Tales from the Great Divide corrects numerous errors found in the first edition after it was printed. It also includes more than 100 pages of new material and over 100 additional images. The pdf can be ordered here. You can also order a print version of this book through Amazon's Kindle Direct print-on-demand service.

What prompted the creation of Tales from the Great Divide?

The idea to document the origin of Canada’s Great Divide Trail (GDT) and the Great Divide Trail Association (GDTA) emerged during the GDTA Signature Trip from July 18 to 22, 2018. Dave Higgins, Mary Jane Kreisel (née Cox) and I, who were part of the original Project: Great Divide Trails crew, plus Jeff Gruttz and Lani Smith, who were involved in the early days of the GDTA, all signed up for the fourth GDTA work party in 2018 to build trail in the southern High Rock Section. While sitting around the campfire one evening, Wayne Marshall, one of the individuals who resurrected the GDTA after its period of senescence in the early 2000s, asked the five of us who were involved in the 1970s to 1990s to share our recollections on how the whole idea of the GDT and GDTA started. The other volunteers enjoyed this sharing of anecdotes and stories around the campfire. Julien Cossette, then a relatively new and active volunteer trail builder with post-graduate training in anthropology, noted how important it was for all of the so-called “originals” to get their stories written down. The group felt especially motivated since Lani Smith had nearly died of a heart attack two and a half years before. For more information, see Recent Projects.

About the Editor

Jenny Feick July 2018Jenny Feick is an environmental biologist and geographer whose career with Parks Canada and the British Columbia Ministry of Environment gave her field experience and an understanding of land use and policy issues in the mountains of Western Canada. She currently provides technical editing and environmental policy research services through Nature Wise Consulting. Part of the history of Canada’s Great Divide Trail since 1973/74, she maintains an active interest in seeing it completed and its corridor protected. Compiling the stories and images and developing and editing the evolving manuscript that brought to light the history of Canada’s Great Divide Trail and Great Divide Trail Association was a labour of love. Tales from the Great Divide is her first published book. After 20 years in Victoria, on Vancouver Island, she and her husband Ian Hatter moved to the Invermere area in the Upper Columbia Valley of B.C. in 2021 to be closer to hiking and cross-country skiing opportunities in the mountains. This picture, taken by her husband Ian Hatter on July 21, 2018, shows her where she loves to be — out on the High Rock Section of the Great Divide Trail in Alberta.

On September 30, 2019, the GDTA gave Jenny a volunteer recognition award in recognition
of her leadership and dedication to the production of Tales from the Great Divide, the Collector’s

The pdf of the Second Edition of Tales from the Great Divide is for sale on this site for $25.00 (Canadian). The print version can be ordered from Amazon via their Kindle Direct Print-on-Demand service for $85.00 plus shipping (free shipping for Amazon Prime members) and taxes. The author also has some print versions available for sale for $65.00 plus shipping. You can contact Jenny via the Contact Form on this website.