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Crosby Family Fonds a New Resource in the Whyte Museum Archives

Updated: Jun 27


By Nicole Ensing, Project Archivist


Discover the rich history of Louis Crosby and his family through the textual records of the Crosby Family Fonds, which are now accessible to researchers in the Archives and Special Collections of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies. The textual records consist of personal and business records pertaining to Louis and Gertrude (née Seaton) Crosby and their family in Banff.


Louis S. Crosby was born in 1887, in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Crosby arrived in Banff in 1907, he started working for the Brewster Brothers Transport Company. Crosby was involved with the Brewster Transport Company in many roles from 1907 to 1964, finally serving as company president from1947 until his death in 1964.


Louis Crosby married Gertrude Seaton, the daughter of Henry Francis Seaton and Mary Crompton Seaton of Yorkshire, England. Together, Louis and Gertrude Crosby raised five children in Banff, Frederick born in 1913, Douglas born in 1915, Marion born in 1916, Marjorie born in 1918 and Robert in 1921 in Banff.


Deer Lodge room rates, 1958, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Crosby family fonds (M486/II/A/15/1).
Deer Lodge room rates, 1958, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Crosby family fonds (M486/II/A/15/1).

Deer Lodge: The Core of the Family Business


The Crosby family may be best known for their ownership and management of Deer Lodge, a teahouse that turned into a hotel that operated during the summer months at Lake Louise. Originating in 1921, Louis and Gertrude Crosby’s log tea house was originally called the Lake Louise Trading Company at Lake Louise. By 1925, the establishment had expanded to include six guest rooms for overnight accommodation and was eventually renamed Deer Lodge in 1928. It continued to grow, eventually reaching 75 rooms. Gertrude, the proprietor of Deer Lodge, managed all of the business operations and was eventually succeeded in that role by her sons Frederick and then Robert Crosby. Deer Lodge was finally sold to the O’Connor family in 1982 and is now part of Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts.

 

In a theme that runs through the Crosby family fonds, the family diversified their businesses, also managing the Inglenook Cafeteria, the Totem Shop, and the Lake Louise Service Station, all at Lake Louise. Throughout the textual records of the Crosby family fonds are a wealth of insights, from their business ventures like those in Lake Louise to investments in the oil industry and land acquisitions.

 

In parallel with their business ventures was their active engagement in Banff and the surrounding community. The Crosby family were active participants or members of the Canadian Alpine Club, Banff Winter Carnival, Alberta Outdoor Speed Skating, the Canadian Philatelic Society, Canadian Rockies Tourist Association, and volunteering on the Banff School Board, among other endeavours.


Unique Items of Interest in the Crosby Family Fonds


In addition to their business records and documentation of community involvement, the collection also includes documents that reflect the family personally. For instance, Louis Crosby was an avid stamp collector and enthusiast, and as a result, a member of the Canadian Philatelic Society, the national association for stamp collecting. As an active member of the philatelic community, Louis Crosby regularly participated in stamp research and won awards for his collection. Reflecting the quality and diversity of his collection, Louis Crosby exhibited some of his PEI stamps and postal history at the 1957 Canadian National Exhibition in Ottawa.


Canadian Philatelic Society award, 1956, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Crosby family fonds (M486/VI/E/1/1).
Canadian Philatelic Society award, 1956, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Crosby family fonds (M486/VI/E/1/1).

An example that further emphasizes the Crosby family’s diverse business interests is Frederick Crosby’s investment in Chinchilla farming, which had emerged in Canada as a viable industry in the 1950s. The documents regarding his chinchilla farming operation not only tell the story of Frederick’s interest in the subject, but also offer original source information about the emerging regulatory frameworks around farming practices in Canada that include animal welfare, breeding standards, and fur trade regulations.


Cover of a pamphlet advertising the investment returns of chinchilla fur, 1955, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Crosby family fonds (M486/III/A/25/1).
Cover of a pamphlet advertising the investment returns of chinchilla fur, 1955, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Crosby family fonds (M486/III/A/25/1).

Correspondence from the National Chinchilla Breeders of Canada, Hamilton Niagara Branch, 1955, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Crosby family fonds (M486/III/A/25/3).
Correspondence from the National Chinchilla Breeders of Canada, Hamilton Niagara Branch, 1955, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Crosby family fonds (M486/III/A/25/3).

And lastly, in an example of an important research interest, the Crosby family fonds include correspondence and newspaper clippings regarding the National Minimum Wage Act and labour laws in Alberta. Records such as these offer valuable insight into past employment practices, labour conditions and how compensation evolved over time and can reflect societal values and priorities, giving researchers a deeper understanding of cultural attitudes towards work and labour.  


The Minimum Wage Act (page one) regarding female employees in the hotel and restaurant industry, The Industrial Relations Board, 1925, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Crosby family fonds (M486/II/A/2/1).
The Minimum Wage Act (page one) regarding female employees in the hotel and restaurant industry, The Industrial Relations Board, 1925, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Crosby family fonds (M486/II/A/2/1).

In exploring the textual records of the Crosby family fonds, researchers can delve into the rich history and contributions of the Crosby family, gaining insights into not only the family's endeavours but also the broader social history and development of the Canadian Rockies. From their business ventures to their active engagement in community affairs, the Crosby family's story offers a window into the vibrant tapestry of the region.


Rob Crosby was the guest of our very first Fireside Chat with Chic Scott in 2012.



You can view the Crosby family textual records in person at the archives and special collections by making an appointment to search the records before your visit search online at archives.whyte.org.

Archives and Special Collections appointments are available Tuesday – Friday, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. 


To make an appointment or for inquiries email: archives@whyte.org 

For more information on visiting the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies visit us online at www.whyte.org/visit


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