top of page

Beyond Interpretation

Updated: Oct 4, 2018

Written by Museum Interpreters: Cassidy Hughes, Eden Luymes, Jon Rollins, and Gemma Tarling

Images: Cassidy on the Stanley Glacier trail, Gemma above Peyto Lake, Eden on Cascade Mountain and Jon on Mt. Wilcox.


Entering the town of Banff, you pass a sign featuring the famous photo of Bill Peyto. To the average visitor, this man is a face, a pipe, and a cowboy hat. However, delving into the history of this region, we learned that he, like the rest of Banff’s past, is so much more.

Working at the Whyte Museum over the summer, offering tours and working within the Archives, Art, and Heritage collections, this region’s history became tangible to us. Through exploring the Canadian Rockies, our work at the Museum became an enriching, exciting task. Whether that meant visiting Skoki Lodge, climbing mountains and glaciers depicted in Peter and Catharine’s paintings, or gazing out over Peyto Lake—whose namesake we would discuss daily on our tours.

Knowing the stories behind these places has enriched our own experiences here in Banff, adding a level of understanding and excitement to our adventures. This is something that we wanted to convey to the visitors who we interacted with at the Museum. Being interpreters has given us the chance to pass on this knowledge in the hopes that the people we talk to are also inspired to follow in the footsteps of these first pathfinders.

When Catharine Whyte came to Banff she was enamored with - and as an artist, challenged by - the constant changes in lighting in the mountain landscape. Catharine found home in the inherent changes that constitute Banff, and so did we. The rapid shifts in mountain light paralleled our own experiences, every minute bringing something new. Newness is refreshing, like being given the chance to delve into historic artifacts in the Heritage collection or images in the Archives. It can also be a hard-learned lesson in a hailstorm at the summit of a mountain. Regardless of the immediate context, we have welcomed these varied and fresh experiences during our time in Banff with grateful and open minds.

This spring, Bill Peyto’s image welcoming us to Banff was just a face, and the Whyte Museum was but a logo. Now Bill’s story and legacy has left us inspired and the Museum is a place where our names are in the cataloguing binders, our voices ring through the hallways, and the permanent staff are keen to chat with us about our latest adventures. It has been an honour and a privilege to work in such a supportive environment.