The Beauty – and History – of Mount Edith Cavell

Edith Cavell was executed by Germany for assisting Allied soldiers in occupied Belgium during World War I.

Edith Cavell was executed by Germany for assisting Allied soldiers in occupied Belgium during World War I.

Mt. Edith Cavell is not only one of the most scenic locations in Jasper National Park, but one of the most historically significant as well.

No matter what your interests are in your vacation, Mt. Edith Cavell is sure to offer something for you.

There is, of course, the scenery. With a peak reaching 3,363 meters (11,033 feet), you’re going to have spectacular views. Chief among those is the stunning Angel Glacier, which falls from a cliff about 300 meters (7,005 feet) high on the north face. If you’re interested in climbing, there are several trails on the mountain that lead you to views of the glacier and of Cavell Lake.

It’s a popular destination for skiers, too. Cavell Road is closed to traffic in the winter months; it becomes a well-traversed cross-country ski trail, and vacationers like to stay at Mount Edith Cavell Hostel before striking out into the Tonquin Valley.

Nature enthusiasts are encouraged to try the Cavell Meadows Trail, especially in July. The trail begins where Cavell Road ends, following the trail left by retreating glaciers. The trail leads you above the remnants to a subalpine meadow that erupts into beautiful flower life.

But it is the story of Edith Cavell that sets this site apart.
Cavell was born in 1865 in Norfolk, England. She served as a governess for several years, including for a family in Brussels, Belgium, from 1900-1905, but felt called to the nursing profession. After training at the Royal London Hospital, she was recruited to work at a hospital in Brussels in 1907, soon becoming a training nurse for three hospitals, 24 schools and 13 kindergartens.

Then came World War I.

In 1914, Cavell began protecting British soldiers and helping them escape German-occupied Belgium for neutral Holland. She eventually helped some 200 Allied soldiers, drawing the ire of German authorities. Cavell, noted for her outspokenness and honesty, did little to help her own cause.

On August 3, 1915, the Germans arrested Cavell. She was held in St. Gilles prison for 10 weeks, the last 2 in solitary confinement. British government officials said there was nothing they could to help her, seemingly resigned to her fate. The United States, not yet involved in the war, reacted more strongly, urging Germany to show clemency and saying executing her would not sit well with neutral parties all over the world.

The German military would have none of it. Having arrested her not for espionage, but for treason, the Germans tried her quickly and sentenced her to death.

On the eve of her execution, she told an Anglican chaplain who had been allowed to see her: “Patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone.” The words would later be inscribed in a statue built in her honor in St. Martin’s Place near Trafalgar Square in London. She was killed by firing squad at 6 a.m. on October 12, 1915.

Canada honored Cavell’s memory by naming the peak for her in 1916.

Mount Edith Cavell features skiing, hiking and some of the most beautiful scenery the Canadian Rockies have to offer.

Mount Edith Cavell features skiing, hiking and some of the most beautiful scenery the Canadian Rockies have to offer.

 

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