Walter Charles Latter
Walter Charles Latter was born in Brandon, Manitoba on May 11, 1941, and then three years later the family moved to Duncan on Vancouver Island where he lived for the next fifty-two years. Walter finished his schooling and found employment first with the local Safeway store for a few years and then the Crofton Pulp and Paper Mill, where he eventually enrolled in a Millwrights apprenticeship. After working there for thirty-two years he concluded it was time to move on, so he took an early retirement at the age of fifty-five, while he still had his good health. In May of 1996, he began to further pursue his life long interests in the outdoors such as hiking, skiing and canoeing.
As a teenager outdoor activities were very much a part of his life and in 1974 he joined The Alpine Club of Canada and the Vancouver Island section as a life member. That year he along with others members of the ACC, traveled to Nepal and trekked in the Annapurna Himal region where they climbed Mardi Himal (5,587m, 18,325ft.) After that four of the party flew into Lukla, hired a sherpa then trekked in towards Everest Base Camp, staying at the local teahouses. Two years later he was on an ACC ski trip to Austria where he spent two weeks skiing southwest of Innsbruck. Walter also attended a number of ACC ski camps in the Canadian Rockies, Selkirk's and Purcell's. All this was done during the time he was building a log house along side the Cowichan River. Other involvement included a senior hiking and skiing weeks in the Mount Assiniboine and Eremite/Tonquin areas.
Growing up in Duncan, he knew locals Syd Watts, John Gibson, Alan Robinson, Hank Wilkinson, Ralph Morton and Roger Neave, and went on many mountaineering trips with them. Walter never considered himself a technical climber and was more interested in general mountaineering and hiking. In 1975 he went on a four-day trip with Syd Watts, Rick Eppler and John Simpson to Rugged Mountain, having a pleasurable time reaching the summit. Many trips were made into the local mountains around Lake Cowichan including Mount Whymper, Mount Hooper, El Capitan and Mount Landale, and then north to Mount Arrowsmith, Mount Albert Edward, Mount Moriarty and Victoria Peak. He made a trip from Buttle Lake to Forbidden Plateau with a group lead by Jack Shark. Another trip organized by himself and including Ralph Morton and Michael Fry, hiked from Marble Meadows to the Golden Hinde and on out the Elk River valley. Thanksgiving weekend to the Forbidden Plateau with Jack Ware, Ruth Masters and other members of the Island Mountain Ramblers was always a priority. However, he also loved the winters and did many ski trips into such areas as Mount Myra and Forbidden Plateau.
In 1981 Walter married Carol Mendenhall and they continued to pursue their outdoor activities together throughout British Columbia which included a mountaineering trip in Northern BC to the Stikine Icecap with Ralph Hutchinson, Roger Neave, Hugh Neave, Alfred Menninga, Mike Walsh, Tom Volkers, Paul McEwan and Peg Davidson. The party made the first ascent of the much sought after Noel Peak, however, Walter and Carol and several others only carried supplies up to the high camp in support of the climbing party.
As well as his love of the mountains, Walter's other passion is canoeing. Over the years he has canoed in the Queen Charlottes Islands, the Bowron Lakes chain several times, a 450 kilometre trip down the South Nahanni River, 325 kilometres on the Big Salmon and Yukon River to Carmacks, and a 235 Kilometre paddle on the Dease River from Dease River Crossing to Lower Post.
Walter led a few trips for the VI-ACC but was happier joining others on trips, however, he was particularly interested in promoting the pleasures of being in the outdoors so he became the Chairman of the Vancouver Island section for two years: 1977 and 1978.
In 1988 Walter and Carol were involved in the Price Creek civil disobedience blockade over Cream Lake, at the southern end of Buttle Lake. Carol along with two others were the first to first to put themselves on the line to be arrested, which eventually contributed towards denying the mining company Cream Silver Ltd. the right to proceed with test drilling in the park. Although not actively involved with many of the other blockades on the island, Walter and Carol continued writing letters to the government and local politicians in support as their way of protesting to implement change. Then in the 1990's they were involved with the Friends of Strathcona in establishing the Bedwell Trail and the construction of a suspension bridge across the Bedwell River.
In 1996, after retiring, Walter and Carol sold their property to BC Parks and moved to their property north of Kimberley, which they had purchased in 1992. They feel very privileged to be stewards of one hundred and seventy-one acres of bench and bottomland with Cherry Creek flowing through it, taking the position the wildlife will have free range across it. It is located between the Purcell and Rocky Mountains offering spectacular views that they never tire of. Eventually their property will be turned over to The Land Conservancy of British Columbia.
They plan to persist in voicing their concerns on local environmental and political issues in hopes that future generations will have a better place to live.
Walter continues to explore the mountains and attends some of the ACC hiking camps. Walter and Carol have traveled in New Zealand, Mexico and Costa Rica and travelled across Canada and the US, but they always return to the mountains and lakes of British Columbia that they love so much.
Hutchinson, Ralph. "Stikine Stalkoes." Canadian Alpine Journal. Vol. 65. The Alpine Club of Canada. Banff, Alberta. 1982. p. 4-5.
Gibson, John. "Rugged Mountain." The Island Bushwhacker. The Alpine Club of Canada Vancouver Island section newsletter. (October 1975) Vol. 3:4. p. 4-5.