Part II of the photo exhibit Bert Riggall: An Intimate Visual of the Southwest Alberta Mountains is now on display in the front entrance of Kootenai Brown Pioneer Village in Pincher Creek.
The two-part exhibit features photos taken by Bert Riggall, a highly respected mountain guide, outfitter and naturalist, whose photos from the first half of the 20th century perfectly encapsulate the natural beauty of the greater Waterton region.
Part I focused on photos taken by Bert during his early years in southeastern British Columbia and southwestern Alberta, operating a packtrain business out of Waterton and taking tourists on backcountry trips and fishing expeditions.
Part II now features photos taken by Bert during backcountry trips through the upper Oldman Watershed, including notable landmarks such as Beehive Mountain, Little Bear Lake and Mount Lyell.
“Bert’s photos are visually stunning,” says Farley Wuth, curator at KBPV. “Many of those backcountry trails have not been photographed by other photographers, so it’s a good visual record of the history of that country.”
An avid photographer, Bert captured some of the region’s most stunning landscapes in his shots, while providing a bird’s-eye view of the local history of backpacking during the pioneer days.
While the photos are phenomenal visual representations, Bert took things one step forward by providing written details on the back of nearly every photo featured in the exhibit.
“On the reverse side of virtually every photograph, he’s written down when the photo was taken, the type of camera that was used, the details of the trip, where it was, who was in the party, things like that,” Farley says.
“It’s great that he took the photos, but it’s equally great that he wrote down the details of what the images are all about. It’s great to have that history.”
This travelling exhibit was organized by Wendy Ryan, president of the Bert Riggall Environmental Foundation, a non-profit outdoors group based in Pincher Creek.
Wendy has spent roughly six years working on the exhibit, but has studied Bert Riggall’s life and accomplishments for far longer.
After moving to the area in 1980, Wendy married an outfitter and the pair would often ride horses together along various trails. She did not know they were Bert Riggall trails, nor did she know of their significance, until she met Bert’s grandchildren.
Thanks to the Russell family, she learned and developed an appreciation for the hard work that goes into running an outfitting business, and for Bert’s ability to take photos under difficult circumstances.
Wendy feels it is important not only to promote Bert as an important historical figure to the region, but also to promote the stunning and unique landscapes the region has to offer.
“We’d like to encourage people that would like to learn more about the area to just go out there and discover little hidden gems like the Old Man Falls,” she says.
“I probably drove by the falls a couple of times without realizing they were there because you need to get out of your car and walk 100 metres, and there it is, and it’s very beautiful.”
Wendy will conduct a presentation of Part II of the Bert Riggall exhibit on Aug. 30 at KBPV, so those interested in learning more about Bert are encouraged to attend.