Sunbathing in hiking boots, Marjorie Biscoe strikes a pose beside the Mount Becher Cabin still buried in snow in June 1948. Photo from Step into Wilderness page 101, CDM Capes Collection.

If you live in the Comox Valley, then you’re probably familiar with the beautiful mountain peaks that surround us. The Comox District Mountaineering Club (CDMC) provides over 150 members with opportunities to explore this wilderness. But how did this diverse club, ranging in age from young adults to 80+ years, come to be?

In 1927 a small group formed of people interested in exploring Forbidden Plateau. They blazed trails and explored the area, soon expanding into Strathcona Park. By 1928, the club had built a cabin on the remote eastern shoulder of Mount Becher, thereby providing easier access to the backcountry. Two members, Clinton Wood and Jack Gregson, introduced skiing to the club in the winter of 1929. A toboggan was bought for the club and many members of the CDMC purchased snowshoes for their own winter enjoyment.

During the Great Depression of the 1930s, trail building was included in the provincial government’s work programs. This provided much-needed employment while also opening up the region for greater tourism and recreational opportunities. In the early ’30s, Clinton Wood built the first Forbidden Plateau Lodge.

If you’re exploring the alpine areas this summer, take a look at the names on your map: many of the peaks, lakes, and geographical features are named for early CDMC members. In some places, you can even spot the original blaze or axe marks left by these trail builders, still visible after almost a century. The club continues to develop, improve, and maintain trails throughout the area, and provides an enthusiastic community for those who love to climb, ski, and camp.

To learn more about the founders of the CDMC and other early recreationalists, check out Step Into Wilderness – A Pictorial History of Outdoor Exploration in and around the Comox Valley, available now at local bookstores or at the Courtenay and District Museum. You can also find out more about the club and how to join here.