What does Edward Wilson Moberly have to do with Jasper National Park history?

The answer:  Lots.  Moberly and his family were there for most of Jasper’s modern history.

Edward Wilson Moberly had more ties to the Jasper National Park experience and history than just about anyone.

The book “Culturing Wilderness in Jasper National Park” is where I learned about Edward Wilson Moberly.

The book is a collection of scholarly articles on the history of Jasper National Park with one of the articles all about Edward Wilson Moberly. One of the articles, Homesteading in the Athabasca Valley to 1910 by Peter J Murphy, is an interview with Edward Wilson Moberly.  In it, I learned that Edward Wilson Moberly (1901-1992) was the real deal when it comes to the Jasper National Park experience.

According to Peter J Murphy’s excellent article and interview, Edward Wilson Moberly was born in the current park boundaries prior to the region being made a national park.  Moberly’s family lived in the Athabasca valley (center of today’s Jasper National Park) prior to being relocated in 1909 to an area just outside of the park.

Most of the article is a transcript of an interview with Edward Wilson Moberly at age 78.  Moberly talks about his experience living and working in the park.  Though he only lived in the park’s boundaries from 1901 to 1909, Moberly says he spent 52 years as a guide in Jasper, starting in 1920.  After he left that, he did landscaping in the park including Whistler Campground and even the gardens of the administration building.

Moberly’s Jasper family history goes way back. His grandfather was one of the first residents.  In the interview, Moberly says that in 1850, his grandfather Henry John Moberly moved in.  His father John Moberly and his uncle Ewan Moberly were both born in the Athabasca valley too.  John lived on the Athabasca River near Jasper Lake and Ewan lived on Jasper Lake.  (Note: See a pictures of ruins near John’s homestead here via Jasper Yellowhead Museum’s archives). Then, in 1909, they were dispossessed and forced to move out.  They both moved to an area around the Prairie Creek, which is just over the modern eastern Jasper National Park border.

In the interview, Edward Wilson Moberly discusses the way of life.  He talks about his father cutting hay to feed the cattle in winter.  “There was no sleigh.  There was no wagon.  There was no road.  He had to pack it down with packhorses,” says Moberly in the interview.

Life was not easy.  Only a small number of families called the Athabasca valley their home.  Moberly says “Sometime you have to work hard — sometime you have to go far away for things — but everybody was happy — because everybody helps one another, all the time.”

Moberly lived through a lot of Jasper history.  He was there in the beginning before the park came into being.  He was there when the parks were made a park and his family was forced to move out.  He was there when the railroads were coming in.  He was there when the roads were built and automobiles drove on the roads.  He died in 1992 at a time when hundreds of thousands of tourists visited Jasper National Park each year in the area that used to be his home.

If you are interested in more Jasper National Park history, take a look at “Culturing Wilderness in Jasper National Park“.

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