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Mountain Park

In native folklore, the site of Mountain Park, surrounded by the incredible alpine beauty, was known as the place where "stones that burn." And from their very first sightings, pioneer prospectors were moved by the magnificent vistas of spectacular Rocky Mountain peaks and pristine alpine valleys, brushed by countless rows of towering spruce trees, and kaleidoscopic meadows of wild flowers.

Mountain Park Pioneer Cemetery
© Johnnie Bachusky

The awesome beauty of the towering Rocky Mountain peaks inside Jasper National Park offer a spectacular backdrop to the rustic ambiance of the Mountain Park's pioneer cemetery, the final resting place form more than 150 Coal Branchers, and the highest graveyard in the British Commonwealth, sitting at an elevation of 1,890 metres (6,100 ft.).

Coal fields were staked in 1909, and the town of Mountain Park established in 1911, becoming the first community along the Coal Branch's western line. For the next 39 years, it was the highest civilized point in Canada and the British Commonwealth.

The coal mining community of Mountain Park in 1935, with the towering Rocky Mountain peaks of Jasper National Park in the background.
Photo by Charles Lee.
Mountain Park in 1940. The community's population had by then grown to more than 1,000 coal miners and their families. Photo by Charles Lee.
A closer look at the Mountain Park townsite. Today, there is nothing left of the community. Photo by Charles Lee.
At one point, Mountain Park had up to 1,400 citizens. The mining town was a complete multi-cultural community, with a school, hospital, morgue, library, theatre, community hall, hockey and curling rink.
Mountain Park men 1920
Mountain Park Funeral 1922
A group of men from Mountain Park at the summit of Mount Cheviot, the most prominent Rocky Mountain peak overlooking the community.
Photo by Charles Lee.
A funeral procession makes its way through the Mountain Park community in 1922. Photo by Charles Lee.
But it was also at the end of the line; the town's remote wilderness location more often than not creating intense isolation, loneliness and hardship.
Horse back riding 1920's
Because of Mountain Park’s remote location, most recreational opportunities were limited to the pristine and spectacular wilderness. Here a group of citizens from the alpine coal mining community take a break in the 1920s to go horse back riding. Photo by Charles Lee.