Posts tagged #field

Christopher & Joseph Daem

Christopher Daem c.1930.

Christopher Daem c.1930.

Joseph Daem. c.1930.

Joseph Daem. c.1930.


Christopher Daem: b. Revelstoke, 1908 d. February 1933

Joseph Daem: b. Revelstoke, 1909 d. February 1933

Cemetery Location:

Christopher Daem: Block J, Row 27, Plot 19

Joseph Daem: Block J, Row 27, Plot 21


Brothers Christopher and Joseph Daem set out on a ski trip through Duchesay Pass, between Banff and Field, on 24 February 1933, but failed to return.

According to the local newspaper, a number of search parties were mobilized but they were unable to find any sign of the men.

“As a result of their recklessness a number of men are risking their lives and the Canadian Rockies are liable to receive a bad name. Expert skiers claim, however, that skiing is perfectly safe in the Rockies, providing normal precautions are taken. There is no such evidence that the lost men took such precautions.”

After several months, the bodies of Christopher and Joe were discovered by Swiss guides in June, 1933. They had been buried under avalanche debris.

Christopher was 25 and embarking on a writing career and Joe, 24, was a graduate in engineering from Queen’s University.  Joe had undertaken survey work in Rogers Pass for several years, was an experienced climber and like his brother, familiar with the terrain through which their last journey was made.

The Daems were a well-known Revelstoke family and the incident deeply affected the town’s residents. The brothers left behind their parents, Joseph and Rose Daem, two brothers, Joris and Frank, and two sisters, Joan and Alberta.

Douglas Hector

Dates: b. 1877 d. 15 August 1903

Cemetery location: Block F, Row 7, Plot 54


The gravesite of Douglas Hector represents a piece of Canadian history.  The marker reads:  “Douglas Hector, of Wellington, New Zealand.  Died August 15, 1903.  Aged 26 years.”

Douglas Hector was the son of James Hector, an explorer who was responsible for the surveying of the Kicking Horse Pass. James Hector was trained as a medical doctor and geologist in Scotland. In the late 1850s, he joined the Palliser Expedition to map the Canadian west and look for a suitable pass through the Rocky Mountains for a railway. Hector and a small group of men were exploring the area around Field when his horse kicked him in the chest. Hector was rendered unconscious, and his companions actually believed he was dead. They were digging his grave when he came to, but Hector was in very bad shape. He asked one of his companions to make up a medical mixture at his instructions, but the man was terrified he would get the blame if Hector died, so he asked Hector to sign a waiver before he would administer the medicine. 

After the completion of the Palliser Expedition, Hector made his way to New Zealand, where he was involved in more survey work. He established his family there and was eventually named Chancellor of the University of New Zealand. In 1903, the CPR invited him to return to Canada and give talks to interested groups across the country.  He decided to bring one of his sons, Douglas.  The pair traveled by boat to Vancouver where they got on a train and began their journey.  They made it to Glacier House in Rogers Pass, and Sir James was regaling his audience with the story of the Kicking Horse Pass when Douglas became ill.  He was rushed to the Queen Victoria Cottage Hospital with appendicitis, but he died of peritonitis after his appendix burst.  Sir James was devastated by his son’s death, but because of the difficulty of getting the body back to New Zealand, the decision was made to bury him in Revelstoke.  A few CPR officials and distinguished visitors at Glacier House attended the funeral and Sir James returned to New Zealand.

Almost a year later, Arthur O. Wheeler, who was working on the geographical survey of the Selkirk Range, and T.D. Kilpatrick, CPR superintendent at Revelstoke, decided to raise money for a monument for Douglas Hector, and also for a monument in honour of Sir James’s achievements during the Palliser Expedition. Finally, in June 1906, almost three years after Douglas’s death, the memorials were put in place.  The plaque to honour Sir James was placed at Laggan (now Lake Louise) and later moved to the Great Divide.

The memorial stone for Douglas’s gravesite was described in the Mail-Herald newspaper on 2 June 1906:

“…Hewn out of granite, chiseled, polished and inscribed at the CPR quarries, was shaped a monument which shall endure as long as the mountains. The laying of the monument has just been completed.  It is a beautiful yet massive piece of work. The stone selected is the big-grained granite of the Cascade Range, polished and hewn to the size and shape of the grave on which it is laid horizontally, set on a basement of the finer-grained granite, of which the CPR corner stones are cut.”
Kicking Horse Valley, c.1915. Douglas's father James Hector surveyed the Rocky Mountains for CPR in the late 1850s.   

Kicking Horse Valley, c.1915. Douglas's father James Hector surveyed the Rocky Mountains for CPR in the late 1850s.