Alpine Club of Canada

ACC Gazette Winter 2019

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34 The Alpine Club of Canada | Gazette | Winter 2019 CLASSIFIEDS 5% Discount for canaDians suMMitcLiMB anD suMMittrEK Are you ready for a beautiful summer in the Karakoram? Nepal, TibeT, KaraKoram, acoNcagua, africa & SeaTTle glacier School Climbing and walking trips for men and women with Dan Mazur. All ages and abilities, expert to novice. Everest and K2 summit climbs, training climbs and treks. Broad Peak, Ama Dablam, Cho Oyu, Baruntse, North Col, Lhotse, Everest Glacier School Lobuche, Island Peak, Muztagh Ata, Mera Peak, Shishapangma, Aconcagua, Kilimanjaro, Mount Kenya. Trekking to K2, Everest, Christmas Treks. Charity Service Walks near Everest. Canada-USA Friendship winter, spring, autumn climbing school (free, no charge). 360-570-0715 Follow our progress on current expedi- tions updated daily on our blog at: Interested in becoming a mountain guide? Already a mountain guide? The Back Page Lest we forget... by Dean Albrecht A chance discovery connects an early pioneer of The Alpine Club of Canada with a family sacrifice in "the war to end all wars". T his story begins with a battered old envelope that was found in a stamp collection, the contents long lost. It was postmarked July of 1917 and addressed to Miss D. Mitchell in Winnipeg, the letter was then redirected to the Alpine Club House, Banff, Alberta. Also written in fading ink was; "On Active Service July 7, 1917 Private". The envelope had been roughly opened and re-sealed with paper tape then stamped "Passed Field Censor 3087". These clues revealed it was a letter from a Canadian soldier, serving on the front lines of World War I, sent home through the military mail. If the Mitchell name is familiar, it is likely because Stanley Mitchell was one of the ACC's founders and its first secretary; the club's Stanley Mitchell Hut is named for him. Dorothy Mitchell, to whom the letter was addressed, was Stanley's niece. The author of the letter was Dorothy's brother Jack Mitchell. Jack enlisted in the Canadian Infantry upon his 18 th birthday in September of 1914 and by 1918 rose to the rank of Captain. Within a few weeks of writing the letter, his unit engaged in the battle of Amiens after which he received the Military Cross "for conspicuous gal- lantry and devotion to duty during a raid." Dorothy Mitchell, or Dot as the family called her, was six years older than Jack. She was an avid mountaineer and graduated into the ACC's full membership with an ascent of The President at the 1914 camp in Upper Yoho Valley, the site of the Stanley Mitchell Hut today (membership in the early ACC required climbing a peak over 10,000 feet). During the year of Jack's letter, Dorothy served as Manitoba Section Secretary. The Winnipeg social columns often reported on Dorothy's travels to ACC camps up to 1921, but her life took a different course after then. We can only speculate, but perhaps that was due to her brother Jack. You see, he never made it home from Europe. In late September of 1918, almost at the War's end, Capt. Jack Mitchell participated in an advance near Cambrai, France. His unit was forced to withdraw under fire when an artillery barrage came down on their position, then ordered to reclaim the same ground, and experienced heavy losses. Jack was admitted to a Casualty Clearing Station, listed as "dangerously wounded", and didn't survive the night. He died on Sept. 29, 1918, at the age of 22 and was buried at the Bucquoy Road Cemetery near Arras. Dorothy went on to complete her train- ing as a teacher at Columbia University in New York. She joined the Anglican Mission in Peking in 1924 and became part a grow- ing movement of single women engaged in missionary work throughout Asia. She frequently returned to Winnipeg on holidays and spoke to service groups about her work in China. Sadly, tragedy seemed to stalk her family. Dorothy's mother never recovered from the death of Jack and passed away soon after her son. Dot's other brother, Hugh, had died at the age of 31, and her father succumbed to injuries from a car accident in 1935. Uncle Stanley Mitchell had retired to Victoria, B.C., where he lived until his death in 1940, so perhaps that is why Dorothy decided to settle in nearby Sooke. Having never married, she always main- tained her association with the ACC and achieved the distinction of being a 50-year member. Dot passed away on June 28, 1966, at the age of 76. Her life and achieve- ments were noted in the 1967 edition of The Canadian Alpine Journal. Dorothy and Jack shared a need to serve and desire for adventure, but their genders and the times dictated different paths. If one accepts as "heroic" someone who demonstrated courage in the face of adversity and personal sacrifice for a greater cause, its becomes clear they both should be remembered as heroes.

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