Over 70 years, many things have changed on the Columbia Icefield. The most obvious is how the icefield's size has changed. But some things, like the way this place can touch a person's life, remain the same.
Canmore photographer Scott Rowed has spent a lifetime taking photos of the mountains of the west. He's been published in places like National Geographic, Powder and Skiing. This summer, he headed back to the shoulder of Mt. Athabasca (part of the Columbia Icefield and just above where the Ice Explorers go) to recreate a photo his father had taken 70 years ago. Rowed and his daughter Kylie eventually found the exact rock where his mother Gen had stood in 1947 when she posed for a photo by her husband, Scott's father Harry Rowed.
"It took a few hours but we finally managed to find the exact rock by lining up the moraines, trees and mountains in the background," Scott says. "I posed Kylie in the same position as my mom was in."
Now, he's lined the two images up side-by-side and the similarities between the women are remarkable.
"The result is a grandmother / granddaughter shot separated by 70 years, 1947 to 2017," he says. "I think it's a cool image."
And more than just an attractive family memento, the image says much about the natural environment as well.
"One of the biggest changes, and it's clearly visible in these photos, is the recession of the glaciers," Rowed says. "In 1947, the Athabasca Glacier is clearly visible in the photo. In the 2017 photo, it's receded and can no longer be seen from this angle. Same with the Dome Glacier in the background."
Rowed's father Harry was a successful commercial and editorial photographer based in Jasper who travelled around the world. His documentary work covered everything from the rise of Nazi Germany to the early days of the oil industry in Alberta.
Over the past few years, Scott Rowed has been sorting through his father's images. He calls it a "rewarding but daunting" task - there are thousands of negatives offering a glimpse into the history of Canada. Harry Rowed took this image of his wife using a 3x4-inch press camera, with black and white film. Scott Rowed says it was a slow process but the resulting image was excellent.
"Photography was a more deliberate process back then," he says.
Some of Harry Rowed's photos today adorn the walls of the Columbia Icefield Centre, including a famous one of the legendary Fred Brewster. Another of those on the wall leading up to Altitude Restaurant is what Scott recreated with his daughter earlier this summer.
For beautiful, historical, high-resolution B&W prints of the Rockies and other areas by photographer Harry Rowed, please contact Scott Rowed at [email protected]