Tales from the Great Divide
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 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