Looking southeast to The Three Sisters from the Trans-Canada Highway
The Three Sisters
- 2936 m (9,634ft)
- First Ascent
- Naming History
Located in the Bow River Valley west of Stewart Creek
Major Valley: Bow
Visible from Highway: 1
Ascent Party: J.J. McArthur (see story and entries under Big Sister, Middle Sister, and Little Sister.)
Named by: George Dawson
Named for: The three peaks were originally named "The Three Nuns" because they were thought to resemble three praying nuns after a veil of snow was left on each after a storm. George Dawson changed the name to "The Three Sisters."
One of the most photographed views in the Rockies, the Three Sisters are probably recognized by more people driving along the Trans-Canada Highway than any of the other mountains in Alberta. They are also the peaks most associated with the community of Canmore, which has evolved from a railway siding and coal mining town to its current status as a thriving tourist related community.
Although James Hector did not name the mountains when he passed by in 1858, the geologist of the Palliser Expedition clearly appreciated the view from what is now the Canmore area and wrote in his diary, "Towards evening an excellent camping place was reached opposite a mountain with three peaks, which forms a very imposing group. In a nearby clearing we made camp and stayed for several days making a geological study of the rock formation."
It was Albert Rogers, a nephew of Major Rogers, the discoverer of Roger's Pass in the Selkirk Mountains, who named the three peaks in 1883. He recalled, "There had been quite a heavy snowstorm in the night, and when we got up in the morning and looked out of the tent I noticed each of the three peaks had a heavy veil of snow on the north side and I said to the boys, 'Look at the Three Nuns.' They were called the Three Nuns for quite a while but later were called the 'Three Sisters,' more Protestant like I suppose." The name "Three Sisters" first appeared on Dr. George Dawson's map of 1886 and it is quite likely it was he who thought that the name Three Sisters would be more appropriate.