Peter Kropotkin Has Crossed Back from Vancouver to Calgary


2022 Anniversaries in the History of Canadian Science and Technology

First posted Monday, September 12, 2022 / Yom sheni, 16 Elul, 5782.

By David Orenstein, Emeritus, Danforth CTI, Toronto

On Sunday, August 12, 1897, exactly 125 years ago – a century and a quarter – Prince Peter Kropotkin had crossed back by train over the Coast, Selkirk, and Rocky Mountains of British Columbia, to Calgary. From there he wrote a handwritten letter on a single sheet, folded to give four pages to write on. It was to Prof. James Mavor, his friend in Toronto:

Page 1:

“I came here yesterday night and followed all your instructions, calling first of all on Mr. Pearce. Dennis is out. Lott is in town, but Pearce is so far from town, that we only had time to drive from him to Mr. Hull’s farm[.] Mr. Lott called in the afternoon at the hotel but I was out, and

Page 2:

“so I did not see him

“In the evening I called on Mrs. Bele Irving – very nice people[.]

“I go now on Monday morning to Edmonton and return Friday night, – Hoyle comes here on Friday night too. I hesitate

Page 3:

“going to Macleod – Time being short (I must write my XIX Century article) but all arrangements which Mr. Pearce makes will suit [the] Hoyles[.] Mr. Pearce insists on my going, however[.]

“I have got a little diarrhaea, like several of our party which broke on Saturday

Page 4:

“as they went to Kootenay[.]

“I have cashed one cheque of 25$ through [Sir Edmund] Walker (banker) who was with us.

“Thank you very much for all your arrangements, all kindness. You are so good and think of everything.

“I am anxious for letters from home. I got those you sent to Vancouver (2 letters from you) but found more form Sophie here[.]

“Much love to you all[,] many kisses to children[.] Yrs affectionly[,] PK”

When he returned to Calgary from his visit to Edmonton, Kropotkin wrote his next letter to Mavor. That was on Saturday, September 18, 1897, from “The Ranchmen’s Club Calgary”.


But that’s another story!



Previous Kropotkin-Mavor CSTHA Blog Posts:

Kropotkin in Vancouver. Posted September 8, 2022

Kropotkin arrives in Canada. Posted August 8, 2022.

Kropotkin shares good news: “I’m coming to Toronto for the BAAS.” Posted July 21, 2022.


Other Links:

U of T.s A.B. Macallum wrote in Science, on Friday, August 6, 1897, encouraging participation in the 1897 Toronto BAAS, and concluding with a prospective attendance list that placed Kropotkin among other illustrious neighbours:

“The Right Hon. The Lord Kelvin, M.A. LL.D.,

D.C.L., F.R.S., F.R.S.E., University of Glasgow.

Prince Kropotkin, South Acton, London.

G.W. Lamplugh, F.G.S., Geological Survey Office, London Eng.

The Right Hon. the Lord Lister, D.C.L., Pres.R.S., etc., London, Eng.”

Closing the list are:

“The following men of science from the Continent are to be present.    …..

Professor Bohnslav Brauner, University of Prag.

Professor Braun, University of Strassburg.

Professor Fittica, University of Marburg, Germany.

Professor K. Huirthle, University of Breslau.

Professor [Albrecht] Penck, University of Vienna.


The full article is to be found on JSTOR at:

Albrecht Penck was also an excursionist in Kropotkin’s BAAS geologists’ party. His Reisebeobachtungen aus Canada is on the Internet Archive.

Sir Edmund Walker in the Dictionary of Canadian Biography (français/English). ,



The Kropotkin-Mavor Correspondence is to be found at the Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library at the University of Toronto. It’s in the manuscript collection MSS 119, where Box 10B is “Peter Kropotkin”. Our letters are in File #5.

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