A Brewster Story

The Brewster Family, 1898. 

Pat Brewster fonds, V91/PA - 671, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

In 1888 John Brewster, following the advice of his brother William, moved to Banff with the aim of starting a dairy farm to supply the Banff Springs Hotel and the budding town. The following year his wife Isabella (neé Thompson) and their four sons, Bill, Jim, Fred, and George, came to join him. In July of 1889 their only daughter, Pearl Evelyn Brewster, was born in Banff. Two more children, Jack and Forrest Oliver (Pat) followed in 1893 and 1896. 

The Brewster family became one of the most prominent families in Banff, in part due to the efforts of the two eldest Brewster children, Bill and Jim Brewster. Bill and Jim began guiding in 1892 at the ages of 12 and 10 when they helped escort a fishing party to Sawback Lake. In 1900 Bill and Jim created W. & J. Brewster Guides and Packers which would later become the Brewster Transport Company. Investments from Philip A. Moore and Fred Hussey in 1904 helped the Brewster business grow, and over the decades it expanded into a huge enterprise. A popular saying about the Brewsters that is still remembered today (look out for it on a wall in the Heritage Gallery) is: “tourists came to the Rockies for a change and a rest. The Canadian Pacific Railway took the change, and the Brewsters took the rest.” The growth and success of the Brewster Transport Company and the Brewster involvement in the community in Banff led them to be known as the “Royal Family of the Rockies.” 

The Brewsters during a trail ride, [ca. 192?]

Jim Brewster family fonds, V90/PA - 563a, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

Gathering of John Brewster family on steps of Colonel Moore home, [ca. 1940]

Fred Brewster fonds, V86/PA - 91, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

111 Bear Street, Banff, Alberta, T1L 1A3, Canada

T: 1 403 762 2291   

E: info [at] whyte.org

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The Whyte Museum gratefully acknowledges the support of The Peter and Catharine Whyte Foundation and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts

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