No single event has had such a dramatic impact on place names in Alberta than the First World War Battle of Jutland. Deep in the heart of Kananaskis Country can be found a series of mountains bearing the names of the ships and naval commanders of this naval battle. At least twenty-six mountains bear names commemorating the Battle of Jutland – sixteen of them are named for Royal Navy vessels that took part in the battle and ten are named for the Admirals, ship captains and seamen that lead and fought at Jutland. Additionally, many features associated with the mountains (glaciers, lakes and creeks) have subsequently been given Jutland names. The great number of Jutland-related geographical names in Alberta is curious. While there is no questioning the significance of the Battle of Jutland – it was the only major sea battle of the First World War, one of the few times in which dreadnought battleships fought directly against each other and its results affected strategy and tactics on both sides and altered the course of the war – it was also a battle in which there was no significant Canadian presence; no Canadian ships were involved and only one Canadian casualty has ever been confirmed. So, how did so many of these mountains along the Alberta-British Columbia boundary end up being named to commemorate this battle?
On May 31 to June 1, 1916, in the North Sea off the coast of the Jutland Peninsula, 151 Royal Navy vessels (including 28 battleships, 43 cruisers, 78 destroyers and one seaplane carrier) split into two main groups under the command of Admiral Sir John Jellicoe and Vice-Admiral Sir David Beatty, clashed with 99 vessels of the German High Seas Fleet (including 21 battleships and 16 cruisers). Despite having superior numbers, the Royal Navy took a mauling, suffering the loss of 14 ships and nearly 7,000 casualties (6,094 killed, 674 wounded and 177 captured) compared to the German loss of 11 mostly smaller ships and just over 3,000 casualties (2,551 killed and 507 wounded).
At the time, both sides claimed the battle as a victory, but history has shown that regardless of the loss of men and ships, the battle was a long-term strategic victory for the Royal Navy as it prevented the German surface fleet from sailing into the North Atlantic and strengthened the naval blockade of German ports, ultimately depriving the German military of essential supplies. However, as historian Martin Gilbert cites, in the immediate aftermath, Great Britain and its allies did not know if they were “celebrating a glorious victory or lamenting an ignominious defeat.” The Royal Navy and the British public, and to a great extent the rest of the Empire, had been expecting a sea battle between Britain and Germany to result in another Trafalgar, a clear British victory and an undeniable demonstration of Great Britain’s dominance of the seas. The ambiguous nature of the end of the Battle of Jutland, coupled with the severe loss of ships and men was unacceptable and shook the confidence of and tarnished the reputation of the Royal Navy.
The Interprovincial Boundary Survey
While the First World War was progressing, a significant mapping and surveying exercise was being carried out in western Canada – the official delineating, mapping and marking of the boundary between Alberta and British Columbia. The boundary between the two provinces had been established on paper, but had not been surveyed. Timber and mineral resource development in the Rocky Mountains made it essential to definitively determine the exact location of the provincial boundary. In 1913, a commission was established to survey, map and demarcate the boundary. The survey and its commissioners, notably Arthur O. Wheeler, was also tasked with naming the mountains and other geographical features along the boundary. Working with the Geographic Board of Canada, the Surveyor General’s office and representatives of other surveying agencies, such as M. P. Bridgland who was surveying the Waterton and Crowsnest region, the boundary survey suggested and recorded names throughout the region. As the First Word War progressed many features were given names associated with the war – battles, military and political leaders of Britain’s allies, naval vessels, and a few (but not many) casualties.
Memorialization and the First World War
The commemoration and memorialization of the First World War is a curious thing and took many forms. The form that most Canadians are familiar with occurred largely in the years following the end of the war. Thousands of communities across Canada erected some form of war memorial. Cenotaphs, statuary and plaques were preferred for their symbolic value, but functional memorials, such as halls, arenas and libraries were also dedicated. Historian Jonathan Vance has noted that attempts to centralize control over war memorials was resisted by communities and local organizations, resulting in memorials with a strong emphasis on individual soldiers, and on the families and communities that mourned them.
The commemoration of the war through the naming of places and geographical features is very different. Unlike the largely community-driven creation of local war memorials, the naming of geographical features was a top-down, government initiated form of commemoration. Furthermore, while the erection of cenotaphs and memorial buildings occurred after the war, as Canadians were trying to come to terms with the bloodshed and loss of so many, war-related place names were adopted while the war was still ongoing. Parks Canada historian Meg Stanley, who has done significant research on the place names of the Rocky Mountains, argues that Canada’s mountains became “usable geography in the war of words which was fought alongside that in the trenches.” Mountains, the largest, most imposing and most dramatic of geographical features, became a medium for propaganda and diplomacy. In the case of the Jutland mountain names in what is now Kananaskis Country, these mountains were primarily named not as a form of memorialization, but as a way to demonstrate the might, majesty and unity of the British Empire. Furthermore, while most of the Jutland names were not officially adopted until the 1920s, they were recommended for use and began to appear on federal government maps before the end of the war, suggesting an effort to show the Battle of Jutland as a glorious victory through its association with the dramatic landscape of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.
Responses to the Jutland Names
The naming of these mountains for the Jutland ships and commanders, along with the dozens of other peaks throughout the Canadian Rocky Mountains named for First World War Allied generals and political leaders, met with general approval at the time. These names are indicative of the role and position that Canadians saw themselves as having within the British Empire. However, questions about the appropriateness of the names have been raised over the years. Morrison Parsons “M.P.” Bridgland, who played a large role in the adoption of many of the war-related place names in Waterton and Jasper, wrote to the Geographic Board of Canada saying that while he recognized the necessity of the war names, he “did not like naming everything after military men.” However, he did acknowledge the expediency of using these commemorative names because of the ongoing war and the difficulty of “naming mountains in a country which is destitute of names.” Interestingly, Bridgland, who recommended many indigenous names for geographical features in Waterton, the Crowsnest and Jasper regions, does not appear to have considered aboriginal place names for this part of the Rocky Mountains. More recently, historian Donald B. Smith has lamented that the “patriotic fervour” of the time in which these mountains were named resulted in so many being named for men “already forgotten by the world,” as was suggested by a Vancouver newspaper as early as 1947. Even though these war-related place names are featured in dozens, if not hundreds, of maps, trail guides, road and trail signs and websites, maybe Albertans and Canadians many generations removed from the First World War have forgotten the origin and meaning of these names. Regardless, the Battle of Jutland names have become an indelible part of the Kananaskis Country landscape and can inform current Canadians of our societal values during that great and terrible conflict.
Battle of Jutland Mountain Names
Mount Beatty (50°40’10″N & 115°17’23″W) – Named for Vice-Admiral Sir David Beatty, RN. Beatty was commander of the 1st Battlecruiser Squadron at the Battle of Jutland. Tempestuous and daring, in contrast to Admiral Jellicoe’s decidedly cautious style, Beatty’s squadron was the first to engage the German fleet at the start of the battle and lured them into an engagement with Admiral Jellicoe’s larger Royal Navy fleet. Beatty is often remembered for his comment “There appears to be something wrong with our bloody ships today” following the explosion and loss of HMS Queen Mary and HMS Indefatigable. Beatty would later succeed Jellicoe as commander of the Grand Fleet, and became considerably more cautious with the safety of the entire fleet under his charge.
Mount Black Prince (50°41’43″N & 115°14’41″W) – Named for Royal Navy armoured cruiser HMS Black Prince, which was sunk during the Battle of Jutland with a loss of 857 crew.
Mount Blane (50°43’35″N & 115°04’23″W) – Named for Commander Sir Charles R. Blane, commander of the cruiser HMS Queen Mary. He was killed during the battle of Jutland when his ship exploded and sank.
Mount Burney (50°42’37″N & 115°03’42″W) – Named for Vice-Admiral Sir Cecil Burney, commander of the 1st Battle Squadron and second-in-command of the Grand Fleet at the Battle of Jutland. His flagship, HMS Marlborough, was the first to engage the German fleet. When Marlborough was struck by a torpedo, Burney transferred to HMS Revenge and continued to fight. Following the battle, Burney was
promoted to full Admiral and Second Sea Lord, but was controversially forced into a land post due to his age.
Mount Chester (50°48’26″N & 115°15’48″W) – Named for Royal Navy light cruiser HMS Chester. Built in Great Britain for the Greek Navy, Chester was acquired by the Royal Navy in 1915. During the Battle of Jutland, Chester came under heavy fire resulting in many casualties, largely amongst her gun crews who were inadequately protected by the gun shields. One of the casualties, Boy 1st Class John Cornwell, received a posthumous Victoria Cross for his actions during the battle.
Mount Cornwell (50°18’02″N & 114°46’53″W) – Named for Boy 1st Class John Travers Cornwell, VC. At only 15 years of age, Cornwell enlisted in the Royal Navy in October 1915 and served on HMS Chester. During the Battle of Jutland the other members of his gun crew were killed or mortally wounded by shell splinters. Despite his own grievous injuries, Cornwell remained at his gun until the ship was able to withdraw from the battle. Sixteen year old John Cornwell died of his injuries early on June 2. He was posthumously awarded the Victoria Cross for his actions. He is the third youngest recipient of the Victoria Cross.
Mount Engadine (50°51’53″N & 115°18’39″W) – Named for Royal Navy seaplane carrier HMS Engadine. This converted packet ship was one of the first seaplane carriers in service with the Royal Navy. Engadine was used mainly for reconnaissance before and during the battle. Engadine also attempted to tow the disabled HMS Warrior back to port, but had to abandon that vessel when it began to sink. Despite being holed by Warrior during the evacuation and being in danger of capsizing due to overloading once Warrior‘s crew had been brought aboard, Engadine made it safely to port with no casualties.
Mount Evan-Thomas (50°45’57″N & 115°05’45″W) – Named for Rear Admiral Sir Hugh Evan-Thomas, commander of the 5th Battle Group of the Grand Fleet. The name of the mountain was initially approved as Mount Evans-Thomas. The spelling error was corrected in 1972.
Mount Fortune (50°53’30″N & 115°24’46″W) – Named for Royal Navy destroyer HMS Fortune. During the Battle of Jutland, Fortune was part of the 4th Destroyer Flotilla, which, in the darkness of May 31, mistook three German battleships and three cruisers as Royal Navy vessels. During the resulting engagement Fortune was hit and set afire. She reportedly sank with guns still firing. There was one survivor of her 68 crew.
Mount Galatea (50°50’23″N & 115°16’26″W) – Named for Royal Navy light cruiser HMS Galatea. At the Battle of Jutland, Galatea was the first ship to sight the German fleet and the first to be struck by enemy fire. Galatea survived the battle and was scrapped in 1921.
Mount Hood (50°44’48″N & 115°05’2o”W) – Often mistakenly assumed to have been named for the Royal Navy battleship HMS Hood, Mount Hood was in fact named for Rear Admiral Sir Horace Hood, commander of the 3rd Battlecruiser Squadron at the Battle of Jutland. Hood took his squadron to the rescue of the severely damaged HMS Chester, likely saving that vessel from being sunk. Hood’s squadron then engaged two German battlecruisers. Hood’s flagship, HMS Invincible was hit by a shell, exploded and sank. Rear Admiral Hood was one of the casualties.
Mount Indefatigable (50°39’12″N & 115°10’19″W) – Named for the Royal Navy battlecruiser HMS Indefatigable. Early in the Battle of Jutland on May 31, Indefatigable was struck by shells, exploded and sank, taking 1010 of her crew and five civilian observers with her and leaving only two survivors. Of the killed was Lieutenant-Engineer Stanley H. de Quetteville, RCN, the only confirmed Canadian casualty of the battle. Mount Indefatigable is known to the Stoney Nakoda as Ûbithka mâbi, meaning “nesting of the eagle.”
Mount Infexible (50°39’12″N & 115°10’19″W) – Named for Royal Navy battlecruiser HMS Inflexible, which fought at the Battle of Jutland. Inflexible survived the battle and spent the remainder of the war patrolling the North Sea and was sold for scrap in 1921.
Mount Invincible (50°39’50″N & 115°11’27″W) – Named for Royal Nay battlecruiser HMS Invincible, Rear Admiral Hood’s flagship at the Battle of Jutland. Invincible was struck by shells, which penetrated her magazines causing an explosion. Invincible sank in under 90 seconds taking 1,026 (including five civilians) of her 1032 crew with her.
Mount Jellicoe (50°42’52″N & 115°17’20″W) – Named for Admiral Sir John R. Jellicoe, commander of the Grand Fleet of the Royal Navy at the Battle of Jutland. His cautious approach to the battle, particularly his decision to not pursue the retreating German Fleet brought substantial criticism against him from the British public, politicians and other naval and military leaders, who were expecting a Trafalgar-like victory for the Royal Navy. Jellicoe made his decision to allow the German Fleet to escape based on his concerns that it would expose the Grand Fleet to torpedo attacks and greater losses. The loss of the fleet would have been a disaster for the overall war effort and may have ensured a German victory. Following the Battle of Jutland, Jellicoe was promoted to First Sea Lord (head of the entire Royal Navy) in November 1916, was made Admiral of the Fleet (highest rank in the Royal Navy) in 1919, served as Governor General of New Zealand from 1920 to 1925 and made an Earl in 1925. Admiral of the Fleet The Right Honourable The Earl Jellicoe died in November 1935.
Mount Jerram (50°42’02″N & 115°02’58″W) – Named for Admiral Sir Martyn Jerram, commander of the 2nd Battle Squadron during the Battle of Jutland. Jerram retired from active service in 1917.
Mount Marlborough (50°33’36″N & 115°12’02″W) – Named for Royal Navy battleship HMS Marlborough. During the Battle of Jutland, Marlborough was stuck by several torpedoes, causing flooding, a significant list and reducing her speed and maneuverability. Marlborough continued to fight through the first day, sinking one German vessel and damaging others, before being ordered to retreat to port for repairs. Following the war, HMS Marlborough participated in the Russian Civil War by patrolling the Black Sea and, in 1919, evacuated surviving members of the Russian Royal Family from Yalta. Marlborough was sold for scrap in 1932.
Mount Nestor (50°55’41″N & 115°21’53″W) – Named for Royal Navy destroyer HMS Nestor. After engaging a squadron of German battlecruisers and destroyers with torpedoes during the first day of the Battle of Jutland, HMS Nestor and her sister ship HMS Nomad found themselves disabled in the path of approaching German fleet. The two Royal Navy destroyers continued to fire all of their remaining torpedoes before abandoning ship. Eighty of her crew survived (five being taken prisoner) and six were killed.
Mount Nomad (50°39’48″N & 115°12’38″W) – Named for Royal Navy destroyer HMS Nomad. At the Battle of Jutland, HMS Nomad and her sister ship HMS Nestor found herself disabled in the path of the approaching German fleet. Nomad launched all of her remaining torpedoes before abandoning ship. The ship was stuck, exploded and sank. Eight of her crew were killed and 72 survivors became prisoners of war. Mount Nomad was not officially named until 1995. In 1991, the 144th Lake Bonavista Boy Scout Group climbed the mountain and applied to have it named for the destroyer.
Mount Packenham (50°45’14″N & 115°05’27″W) – Named for Rear Admiral Sir William Pakenham, commander of the 2nd Battlecruiser Squadron at the Battle of Jutland. The incorrect spelling of Pakenham was used when the mountain was officially named Mount Packenham in 1922.
Mount Shark (50°49’41″N & 115°24’36″W) – Named for Royal Navy destroyer HMS Shark. During the first day of the Battle of Jutland, Shark led a torpedo attack on a group of German vessels. The other destroyers escaped, but Shark was immobilize by gunfire. Her commander, Loftus Jones manned the only remaining gun and used it to sink a German destroyer, but Shark continued to be hit by fire from multiple ships and was sunk with 86 casualties, including Jones, of her 92 crew.
Mount Sparrowhawk (50°56’26″N & 115°15’57″W) – Named for Royal Navy destroyer HMS Sparrowhawk. During a torpedo run by a series of Royal Navy destroyers on June 1 during the Battle of Jutland, destroyer HMS Broke was severely damaged by German shells. Broke, out of control, collided with HMS Sparrowhawk, which remained afloat and took on survivors from Broke. However, Sparrowhawk was so severly damaged by the collision that she was ordered abandoned and was deliberately sunk by British shells.
Mount Turbulent (50°55’55″N & 115°27’33″W) – Named for Royal Navy destroyer HMS Turbulent. During the Battle of Jutland, Turbulent was rammed and sunk by a German battlecrusier, resulting in a loss of 90 crew and 13 survivors being taken prisoner.
Warrior Mountain (50°34’05″N & 115°14’15″W) – Named for Royal Navy armoured cruiser HMS Warrior. During the Battle of Jutland, HMS Warrior came under heavy fire and was severely damaged, but was saved when the German ships redirected their fire to the damaged battleship HMS Warspite. Warrior escaped the battle and was taken in tow by the seaplane carrier HMS Engadine, but the cruiser foundered and sank while being towed.
Mount Warspite (50°40524″N & 115°12’59″W) – Named for Royal Navy battleship HMS Warspite, one of the most decorated and reverred ships in Royal Navy history. Launched in 1913, Warspite served in both the First and Second World Wars. Warspite was hit by at least 150 shells during the Battle of Jutland and suffered severe damage, notably to her rudder, which would cause steering problems that would plague the rest of her career. Repaired, Warspite would serve in numerous battles during the Second World War. The Village of Warspite in east central Alberta is also named for the battleship.
Mount Wintour (50°41’42″N & 115°04’50″W) – Named for Captain Charles J. Wintour, commander of the 4th Destroyer Flotilla at the Battle of Jutland. He was killed when his flagship, the destroyer HMS Tipperary was sunk by the German battleship SMS Westfalen on June 1.
Written by: Ron Kelland, Historic Places Research Officer and Geographical Names Program Coordinator.
The author would like to thank Meg Stanley, Historian, Parks Canada and Mary Sanservino, Mountain Legacy Project, University of Victoria for their unending and gracious assistance, for their research and advice and for the historic images of the mountains.
Sources and Additional Resources
Barnett, Doug. The Demarcation of Alberta’s Boundaries (Edmonton: Self-published, 2003).
Canada. Commission Appointed to Delimit the Boundary between the Provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. Report of the Commission: Part 1, From 1913 to 1916, (Ottawa: Office of the Surveyor General, 1917).
Canada. Geographic Board of Canada. Place Names of Alberta, (Ottawa: Department of the Interior, 1928).
Gilbert, Martin. First World War, (Toronto: Stoddary Publishing Co. Ltd., 1994).
Smith, Donald B. “Towering Monuments: The Great Wars in the Rockies,” The Beaver, vol. 70 no. 1 (February/March 1990), 46-49.
Stanley, Meg, Historian, Parks Canada Agency. “War-related Place names in Waterton Lakes National Park and the Canadian Rocky Mountains,” Unpublished Background Paper, Summer 2014.
Vance, Jonathan. Death So Noble: Memory, Meaning and the First World War, (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1997).