Art Gallery of Alberta

High Adventure: Byron Harmon on the Columbia Icefield, 1924
March 29-August 17, 2014


image credits [click to view]


Byron Harmon, Columbia Icefield trip, on Saskatchewan Glacier, 1924. Byron Harmon fonds, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, V263 / NA – 2290

Byron Harmon, Columbia Icefield trip, 1924. Byron Harmon fonds, Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, V263 / NA – 2318



In 1924, Alberta artist Byron Harmon organized an expedition to take the first significant photographs and film-footage of a newly chartered territory: the Columbia Icefield. For Harmon, who had spent 20 years based in Banff, it was to be the crowning achievement of his career as a photographer. The mission was given added weight by the recent discovery that the massive Columbia Icefield fed rivers and streams that poured into three different oceans. The very first horse-pack to traverse the enormous icefield had done so the previous year. Harmon was determined to be the second, with the added challenge of carrying a 35 mm motion-picture camera and four still cameras, as well as the attendant film.

This exhibition traces the route Harmon took through the photographs, film, lantern and stereo-slides that were produced during the trip. It follows the expedition from its start in Lake Louise, up to Bow Lake, through Castleguard Valley to the Columbia Icefield, over to the head of the Athabasca River and ending at Maligne Lake—before returning to Banff.

This exhibition is being held in conjunction with the Art Gallery of Alberta’s 90th anniversary. Inaugurated in 1924, the AGA opened the same year that Harmon and his team left for the Columbia Icefield.

High Adventure: Byron Harmon on the Columbia Icefield, 1924 is guest-curated by Ruth Burns and Mary-Beth Laviolette and produced with the assistance of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies. It is presented with the support of ATB Financial as part of the ATB Alberta Masters exhibition series.

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