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Photo: Mount Bishop (left), The Hill of the Flowers, and Odlum Ridge from Hwy. #40 on the hill just north of Cat Creek

The Hill of the Flowers

  • 2400 m (7,840ft)
  • First Ascent
  • Naming History
50.4397N -114.838W
Located in the Highwood River Valley north of McPhail Creek and south of Bishop Creek

Province: Alberta
Park: Kananaskis
Headwater: Bow
Major Valley: Highwood
Visible from Highway: 40S
Ascent Date: 1935
Ascent Party: Raymond M. Patterson; Adolf Baumgart
Year Named: 1935
Named by: Raymond M. Patterson
Named for: The top of the hill was covered with flowers in the summer that it was visited by R.M. and Marigold Patterson.

In 1935 Raymond M. Patterson and his wife Marigold rode up the slopes of the large hill which, from this vantage point, appears to be below the southern slopes of Mount Bishop. Raymond had climbed the hill ten days earlier and noted that, "if this hot weather held, the whole summit of this butte was going to be a solid carpet of flowers -a blaze of colours that would outshine anything I had ever seen, even in this Highwood country."

Patterson's prediction was correct and he wrote that as he and Marigold approached the top of the hill, "the summit of the hill opened up, and we saw that it was one living, shimmering carpet of many colours: here, by God's truth, were flowers beyond all imagining -flowers such as we had never seen. It was the kingdom of the flowers, the garden of the gods." He goes on to describe the scene in detail, noting that the plants that grew here, the potentillas, forget-me-nots, dwarf asters, moss campion, saxifrages, and many others, "had to hug the gravel and take cover from the wind -but how they liked it and how they grew!"

Raymond Patterson felt that the Rockies were the worst named range in the world and in his opinion, "If you look carefully at the map you can find there, enthroned in stone, a collaborator, a traitor to his country, sundry generals of dubious merit, and a demagogue who, for his own ends, wrecked a way of life which had taken centuries to perfect -to cite only a few of these ill-named mountains." It is interesting to speculate as to the mountains and individuals he was referring to.

He felt that the "old voyageurs of the North West Company, if they had chanced to pass this way, would have called it, quite plainly and simply, La Butte des Fleurs -The Hill of the Flowers." Raymond and Marigold Patterson knew it by that name following their day on the Hill of the Flowers as have, I'm sure, all those who have read "The Buffalo Head."

In the fall of 1990 I spoke with Marigold Patterson in Victoria, BC and mentioned the Hill of the Flowers. She straightened up, her eyes sparkled, and she recalled the day instantly saying, "It was marvellous, a sea of flowers." She then proceeded to list the names of many of the flowers that she could still, fifty-five years later, visualize on that hilltop on the other side of the Rocky Mountains.

*A hiking route to the summit is described in Gillean Daffern's Kananaskis Country Trail Guide.

[Additional information: "R.M. Patterson -A Life of Great Adventure" by David Finch]

Photo: The Hill of the Flowers from the east on Holy Cross Mountain (beyond l-r) Mount Abruzzi, Mount Bishop, Mount Cadorna, Mount Swiderski, Mount Battisti

The Hill of the Flowers (Mount Bishop beyond)