Morris Bridgland (Courtesy Whyte Museum, CAJ 1907)
Morrison P. Bridgland
Born in Toronto, Morrison Bridgland was educated at the University of Toronto and became qualified as a Dominion Land Surveyor. In 1902, he came west as an assistant to Arthur Wheeler. Athletic and very powerful, "Bridge" became respected as a tireless worker as he produced detailed and accurate maps over extensive areas of the Rockies particularly in Jasper National Park. He was eventually put in charge of the federal Department of the Interior's Dominion Land Survey crews in Revelstoke, Crowsnest Pass, the Kootenays, Waterton, and Jasper. Using the newest technology of his time, Bridgland was considered a master of the phototopographical surveying process that involved using panoramic photographs and trianglation to make detailed maps of complex mountain landscapes that are accurate to this day. Although based in Calgary, he spent months at a time leding expeditions into the wilderness to collect the photographs necessary to map his assigned areas.
Through his work he became a highly proficient climber and entranced by the wilds of Alberta's foothills and the Canadian Rockies. His climbing while undertaking topographical surveys was accomplished while carrying instruments and equipment weighing about thirty-five pounds. Like Arthur Wheeler, he was a founding member of the Alpine Club of Canada within which he was highly regarded both as a mountaineer and instructor, serving as the "chief mountaineer" during the first four years of the club's existence. Arthur Wheeler's son wrote that, "He led party after party up the same climb, to him an easy and uninteresting climb, always safely, always with patience and good temper, and always with the utmost consideration for his party."
Morris Bridgland's obituary in the Journal of the Alpine Club of Canada suggested that he was deserving of a higher, more prominent mountain than the peak that was named in his honour. Its author, C.B. Sissons wrote that, "The mountain (Mount Bridgland) which none too worthily bears the name of a great alpinist, who, I suppose, has climbed more peaks and pioneered more trails than any other Canadian, is near the Yellowhead Pass."
Please note that there is a Bridgland Peak as well as a Bridgland Glacier and a Bridgland pass about 20 km north of Mount Revelstoke National Park in the Selkirk Range.
THE BRIDGLAND REPEAT PHOTOGRAPHY PROJECT
In 1915, Morrison Bridgland took 735 photographs from 92 survey stations on mountain peaks and ridges in Jasper National Park in order to make a topographical map. During 1998 and 1999 members of the ñRepeat Photography Projectî re-occupied all 92 stations and rephotographed all 735 images. The purpose is to show changes in the cultural and physical landscape of the park over the last century.
The project has now gone beyond Jasper National Park and work is being done based on Bridgland's 300 survey photos of Waterton National Park taken in 1913 and 1914.
Regarding what Morrison Bridgland might have thought about the Repeat Photography Project, his niece, Marmie Hess, who accompanied him on many recreational photography adventures in southern Alberta, is quoted as saying, "I can just imagine him being overjoyed, but just giving a little chuckle knowing that his work is now helping to interpret and preserve the beautiful and important areas that he cared for so much."
To learn more about this wonderful project and view the images visit http://bridgland.sunsite.ualberta.ca
"Mapper of Mountains," the biography of Morrison Bridgland, was written by I.S. MacLaren in association with Eric Higgs and Gabrielle Zezulka-Mailloux and published in 2005.