Edward Feuz Jr.: A Story of Enchantment by D. L. Stephen

Dr. D. L. Stephen’s Edward Feuz Jr. is “an intimate look at the life and climbs of Swiss alpine guide Edward Feuz Jr., patriarch of Canadian alpinism and genuine lover of mountains.” A unique and beautifully written biographic memoir, this book is a true gem for lovers of travelogues, well-written literature, hiking, climbing, and a passion for being outdoors.

“As a young Swiss boy, Edward Feuz Jr. (1884–1981) developed an insatiable passion for climbing. Handsome and charismatic, Edward (while still in training for his trade) was instantly smitten with the Canadian landscape — and so were his guests. They raved about the young man who showed such exceptional skills. He guided them all — professors, students, newspaper people, a Hindu holy man, and even Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle — through untrailed forests, across roaring streams, up icy glaciers, and to the tops of rocky summits. Young and old, they were all enchanted, and so they returned time and again — to the mountains and to their friend, Edward. Edward Feuz Jr.: A Story of Enchantment transports the modern reader back to a simpler time when mountaineering in North America was less about pushing personal limits and more about the splendour of grand vistas, wide-open spaces, and the opening of the West.”

I admit, like Edward, smitten with the Canadian Rockies, I too was smitten when I received this book, moved by the notion of a uniquely personal hybrid of biography, memoir, and mountain-trek travelogue. Author Dr. D. L. Stephen not only has a way with words, the precision of articulate, well-crafted prose, but an unsurpassed knowledge and passion for her subject.

Here we learn a bit more about Edward, not simply from biographical narration, but shared through a window-like perspective, placing us with the mountain guide somewhere on our way to a summit. “When making an emphatic point, he would remove the omnipresent pipe from his mouth. Then, holding it in his right hand and leaning forward for a pause in the narrative, he very clearly communicated ‘listen carefully; this is the crux of the matter.’”

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With a critical eye we glimpse what others might see if they viewed footage of Feuz on TV, without knowing the man caught on camera. “But I wonder what feelings were generated in viewers when the Edward episode of This Land was first shown in 1971. Did they think it was put on, or did they understand his genuine love of mountains? As Don Wood noted in 1947, Edward talked to mountains as a matter of course, just as he talked to animals and even trees. He also talked for years afterward about his thrilling helicopter ride to Abbot Pass, but it was not quite goodbye.”

For an engrossing look at one of Canada’s eminent mountain guides, lover of natural history and geography, Dr. D. L. Stephen’s Edward Feuz Jr. is an ideal read at a time when outdoor pursuits offer not only the exoticism of travel and exploration but the welcome juxtaposition of space and distance with the intimacy of being physically immersed in nature.

Dr. D. L. (Donna) Stephen was brought up in Los Angeles, California. She earned a B.A. with a major in philosophy from UCLA and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Manitoba. Every summer, beginning at age three, she travelled by car with her family to the Canadian Rockies to hike, climb, and spend time with their good friends Edward and Martha Feuz. Donna is a practising psychologist who writes and climbs at every opportunity. She lives in Alberta’s Bow Valley.

  • Title: Edward Feuz Jr.: A Story of Enchantment
  • Author: D. L. Stephen
  • Publisher: RMB | Rocky Mountain Books, 2021
  • ISBN: 9781771605090
  • Pages: 320
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