The Conrad Kain Centennial Society has planted another interpretive sign in the valley celebrating Canada’s premier historic mountain guide. This time, mountaineer Conrad Kain — who was based in Wilmer until his death in 1934 — shares the stage with a Catholic nun.
Sister Ethelbert (nee Marie-Madeleine Newlen) was a member of the Order of the Sisters of Providence who visited the upper Columbia in 1894 on behalf of the Saint Mary’s Hospital in New Westminster. Her mission, on this and many other previous visits to other parts of B.C., was to raise money for the hospital. She travelled up the river from Golden on Captain Armstrong’s sternwheeler and died in New Westminster soon after the arduous journey. Armstrong subsequently named the prominent 3176-metre mountain within sight of the Columbia River and Highway 95 in her honour. Kain led the first ascent of the mountain in 1915.
Next time you’re headed up the valley, keep an eye out for the new sign placed on a viewpoint pullout to the west just north of Brisco. Through a gap in the trees, Mt. Ethelbert and other peaks can be identified with the help of a panoramic photo on the sign. CKCS member and author Brian Patton wrote the text, Frank Purschwitz created the design and Hermann Mauthner built the sign superstructure from locally-sourced wood. While you’re there, you can also read the interpretive text on an existing Columbia Wetlands Stewardship Partners sign.