American Alpine Jounrna and Accidents in North American Climbing

Edward Oliver Wheeler, 1890-1962

  • In Memoriam
  • Climb Year:
  • Publication Year: 1963


Brigadier Sir Oliver Wheeler who died in March, 1962 was the son of our late member Arthur O. Wheeler and the father of our member John O. Wheeler. Arthur O. Wheeler joined the American Alpine Club in 1903 and died in 1945. Oliver joined in 1952 and John in 1950. Grandfather and son had been founders of the Alpine Club of Canada in 1906, and first President (1906-1910) and President (1950-1954) respectively and both were made Honorary Members. John was a Vice- President of A.C.C. 1960–1962. Grandfather and son were surveyors and the grandson is a geologist. All three climbed in their work as well as for pleasure.

Oliver, after earlier work in the Canadian Survey and following distinguished service in the Royal Engineers in the first war, joined the Survey of India in 1919. In 1938 he became Director, and from 1941 to 1947 was Surveyor-General of India, until his retirement. In 1943 he was knighted.

He was a member of the first Mount Everest Expedition in 1921, chiefly as surveyor, and was largely responsible for the first detailed map of the Everest region, a portion of which was published in the third book, The Fight for Everest, in 1924, making use of the photo-topographical method first extensively used in Canada. His work of five months, both survey and reconnaissance on this expedition, carried out despite the handicap of ill health which he refused to give in to, constituted a remarkable tour de force. His actual climbing had been done largely in Canada, from the age of 12 to about 20, and on occasional visits later on leave. He had climbed with Sir James Outram, Val Fynn, Tom Longstafï, A. H. MacCarthy, and sometimes with the guides Edward Feuz and Conrad Kain who referred to him as “one of us” and as a fellow climber of comparable ability, a rare compliment from a guide in those days. He joined The Alpine Club in 1911 and in 1956 he was made an Honorary Member. He leaves his wife, and their son John of the Geological Survey of Canada.

Henry S. Hall, Jr.

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