Historic Photos of Canyons from Western Canada

Canyons are deep, often narrow, valleys with steep walls. Canyons are created through the processes of weather and erosion, moving water, and tectonic activity. Most of the canyons featured below would be considered river canyons. The water pressure of a flowing river can cut deep into the river bed below. The sediments from the eroding river bed are then carried away downstream, creating a narrow channel over time.

View of the gateway to Sinclair Canyon, 1924. Object #A2984

Many of these canyons have become popular tourist destinations. Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park is one of the most visited places in the entire park, while Maligne Canyon in Jasper National Park is a sought-after destination in the winter when it’s transformed into a magical ice walk. As you can see from this collection of historic photos, these canyons have long been admired by visitors.

View of Devil’s Canyon, Banff National Park, and a horse drawn carriage crossing a bridge, 1890. Object #A17185
View of Peace River near Hudson’s Hope, at mouth of Peace River Canyon, Alberta, 1901-1910. Object #A15995
Alvin Fenton standing in front of a waterfall in Sun-Dance Canyon in Banff National Park, Alberta, 1940. Object #A20221
Man on horseback riding on trail through Elbow Canyon, Alberta, 1919. Object #A14671
Bridge across Devil’s Head Canyon and Devil’s Head Mountain, 1920. Object #A14631
View of Canyon Creek, Alberta, 1918. Object #A14642
Sundance Canyon – Banff National Park, 1975. Object #GR1989.0516/1814 #1
Red Rock Canyon – Waterton Park, 1974. Object # GR1989.0516/246 #2
Capilano Canyon, 1950-1959. Object #CL72
Moose Canyon, British Columbia, 1911. Reference Code: CA WHYTE whyte-272-is-whyte-3240
Maligne Canyon, Jasper National Park, Alberta, 1903-1942. Reference Code: CA WHYTE whyte-272-is-whyte-3381
Yoho Canyon, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, 1903-1942. Reference Code: CA WHYTE whyte-272-is-whyte-6692
Two men dragging a plaster encased fossil at Fossil Canyon, near the ferry crossing west of Munson, Alberta, 1924. Reference Code: CA RED red-2800-is-red-919
Kicking Horse Canyon, British Columbia, 1903-1942. Reference Code: CA WHYTE whyte-272-is-whyte-6833
Johnston Canyon, Banff National Park, 1920-1940. Reference Code: CA WHYTE whyte-519-is-whyte-14713
Stewart Canyon, Banff National Park, 1920-1940. Reference Code: CA WHYTE whyte-519-is-whyte-14722
Sinclair Canyon, Kootenay National Park, 1920-1940. Reference Code: CA WHYTE whyte-519-is-whyte-14731
Sunwapta Canyon, Jasper National Park, 1920-1940. Reference Code: CA WHYTE whyte-519-is-whyte-14738

For another story about canyons, please see my previous post Wild Jobs: Canyoning Guide.

Marble Canyon, Kootenay National Park, 1920-1940. Reference Code: CA WHYTE whyte-519-is-whyte-13818

The photos above were collected from the Archives Canada and the Provincial Archives of Alberta. If you’re interested, additional information can be found for each photograph on the Archives Canada website by searching the reference code that is included in the caption of each photo. If you search the object number that can be found in the photo captions, you will find additional information about the photographs on the Provincial Archives website. Stay tuned for additional posts featuring historical photos from across Alberta and western Canada. We’d love to know what you think in the comment section below.


About Tyler Dixon 221 Articles
Tyler is originally from Saskatchewan, and yes he cheers for the Roughriders, but don’t hold that against him as Calgary has been his home for the past eight years. He is a teacher working at a wilderness- based treatment program for youth working to overcome addiction. Tyler is also a volunteer with the GOT Parks initiative, which aims at reconnecting Canada’s youth with our national, provincial, and territorial parks. During his time away from work, Tyler enjoys outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and snowboarding, team sports, travelling, photography, spending time with good friends, and being at home with his wife and German Shepherd, Rome.