Diamond Hitch

By: E.J. (Ted) Hart
ISBN: 9780969973270
Publication date: April 2001
270 pages | Paperback | 6 x 9 inches

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Diamond Hitch: The Pioneer Guides and Outfitters of Banff and Jasper traces the development of the tourist trade as it developed in Banff and Jasper in the late 1800s. This was a time when a special breed of men emerged to lead wealthy, latter-day explorers into the Canadian Rockies wilderness. These guides and outfitters were often as undisciplined and unkempt as their clients were refined and polished. But together this unlikely alliance forged the last chapter in the history of exploration of the Canadian Rockies. Hart’s book Diamond Hitch describes the colourful lives and times of such men as Tom Wilson, Bill Peyto, Jimmy Simpson, the Brewster brothers, Fred Stephens, and Curly Phillips—the true mountain men of the Canadian west.


The cover of Diamond Hitch is a painting that depicts legendary Canadian Rockies guide and outfitter Jimmy Simpson, who built Num-ti-Jah Lodge overlooking Bow Lake. The artist was Carl Rungius and the painting dates to the 1920s. Rungius (1869-1959) was the premier wildlife artist of his era, but was also renowned for his landscape and western paintings. His estate was purchased by Calgary’s Glenbow Museum in 1959, making this the best place to learn more about the artist.

At the time of book’s publication, the painting hung in the Shelburne Museum (Vermont, USA). The piece has since been sold, and unfortunately there are no records as to its current owner.


E. J. (TED) HART’s life and career have been dominated by the history of Banff. Born and educated in Edmonton, Alberta, Ted graduated with a Masters in Western Canadian History at the University of Alberta in 1971. The following year he was hired by the late Maryalice Stewart to work in the archives at what was then known as the Peter Whyte Foundation. This was the beginning of a 40-year-long career involved with the cultural history of Banff and the Canadian Rockies. Encouraged by noted mountain poet Jon Whyte, Ted published his first book on Canadian Rockies history, Diamond Hitch, the Early Outfitters and Guides of Banff and Jasper, in 1975.

In 1976, Hart took over as the head of the Whyte Foundation, a position that evolved into the Director of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies and that he held until 2008. During this period Hart authored 12 books relating to Banff and the Rockies, including his award winning The Selling of Canada: The CPR and the Beginnings of Canadian Tourism; Jimmy Simpson, Legend of the Rockies and a work of fiction, Ain’t it Hell: Bill Peyto’s “Mountain Journal.” Between 2008 and 2010 Ted continued to oversee the archives at the Whyte Museum and work on a major biography of Dominion Parks Commissioner J. B. Harkin, published in 2010 as J. B. Harkin, Father of Canada’s National Parks. Ted retired from the Whyte Museum in 2010 and now lives with his wife, Pat, south of Calgary in the foothills town of Okotoks.

For more books by Ted Hart, click here.