Arthur Philemon Coleman

Dr. A. P. Coleman. Lantern slide by Mary T. S. Schäffer Warren, 1907

Dr. A. P. Coleman. Lantern slide by Mary T. S. Schäffer Warren, 1907
Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, Moore family fonds

Arthur Philemon Coleman [1852–1939]

b. 1852 — Lachute, Quebec
d. 1939 — Toronto, Ontario

Arthur Philemon Coleman [1852–1939], a professor of geology at the University of Toronto, was the first person of European descent to record an attempt to climb Mount Robson. In 1907, accompanied by his brother Lucius and George R. B. Kinney [1872–1961], he approached via the valley of the Robson River and climbed above Kinney Lake. The pack trip from Laggan (Lake Louise) consumed most of their resources, and snow in early September drove them away.

Coleman’s party returned in 1908, guided by John Yates [1880–?] and Adolphus Moberly [1887–?], who took them up the Moose River valley. The party spent 21 days in the area, but only twice were there two successive days of good weather. On one climb they reached almost 11,000 feet (3350 m), but were turned back by darkness.

Born at Lachute, Canada East, Coleman studied at universities in Ontario and Germany. He was a fellow the the Royal Geographical Society and second president of the Alpine Club of Canada. He started his explorations in the Rocky Mountains in 1884. The first climber to pay serious attention to peaks in the vicinity of Athabasca Pass, in 1892 and 1893 Coleman led parties hoping to climb the famous mountains Brown and Hooker, which botanist David Douglas [1799–1834] had described in 1828 as being over 16,000 feet (4880 m) high. Coleman discovered their heights were less than 10,000 feet (3050 m).

Coleman named the following places in the Mount Robson region: Adolphus Lake, Berg Lake, and Kinney Lake.

He was author of The Canadian Rockies (1911) and Ice ages, recent and modern (1926), and was joint author of Elementary Geology (1922). He died, unmarried, in Toronto.

Sources of biographical information about Coleman:

  • Wikipedia. Arthur Philemon Coleman
  • Sissons, Charles Bruce [1879–1965]. “In Memoriam: Arthur Philemon Coleman 1852–1939.” Canadian Alpine Journal, Vol. 26 (1938):125-129
  • Watts, William Whitehead [1860–1947]. “Arthur Philomen Coleman 1852-1939.” Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society, Vol. 3, No. 8 (1940) Royal Society
  • A.P. Coleman: Geologist, Explorer (1852–1939) – Science, Art & Discovery. 2022 Victoria University Library Victoria University Library
Coleman is the namesake of the following places in the Mount Robson region:

Events in the Mount Robson region in which Coleman was involved:

  • 1893 Coleman reduces Hooker
  • 1906 ACC organized, Mount Robson attempt proposed
  • 1907 Schaffer meets Coleman in Wilcox Pass
  • 1907 Coleman – Laggan to Robson
  • 1908 Coleman – Edmonton to Robson
Works pertinent to the Mount Robson region of which Coleman was author or co-author:

  • —   “The Causes of Mountain Forms in the Canadian Rockies.” Canadian Alpine Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2 (1908):23
  • —   “Expedition to Mt. Robson.” Canadian Alpine Journal, Vol. 1, No. 2 (1908):100-103
  • —   “Mount Robson, the Highest Point in the Canadian Rockies.” The Geographical Journal (London), Vol. 36, No. 1 (July 1910). JSTOR
  • —   “Geology and glacial features of Mt. Robson.” Canadian Alpine Journal, Vol. 2, No. 2 (1910):73-78
  • —   The Canadian Rockies: New and Old Trails. London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1911

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