The fitness mania had not yet hit Calgary, nor were Calgarians particularly concerned about the environment when the Rocky Mountain Ramblers Association was born in 1954. But John Hickey wanted an alternate to the Canadian Youth Hostellers Association and the Alpine Club of Canada for exploring the backcountry. He felt the time was right to form a new outdoor Club to stimulate an interest in backpacking and holiday tours with a dynamic outing program. Named after the Ramblers Association of Great Britain and affiliated with that Club and the Canadian Youth Hostellers Association, the Rocky Mountain Ramblers Association was founded March 2, 1954.
A constitution was drawn up and an executive elected. At the first recorded meeting of the executive (including Chairman, John Hickey, L. J. Owens, J. Laut, R. Taylor and Ron Smylie) on May 31,1954, amendments to the constitution were made. The following two give a bit of insight into the new Club: "Any members carrying alcoholic beverages or consuming same-on organized Ramblers trips, or consuming alcoholic beverages in the immediate vicinity of organized Ramblers trips may be instantly expelled from membership", and "any members of the Rocky Mountain Ramblers who knowingly violate the rules of the National Parks system, Alberta Forest Service, or the rules and customs of the Canadian Youth Hostels while occupying their buildings shall be instantly expelled from membership, losing all rights and privileges".
No time was lost in organizing trips. The first Ramblers trip was an ascent of Mount Yamnuska on May 9, 1954. The first weekend trip, dubbed "Kananaskis Massacre No. 1" went out Victoria Day weekend. These two historic trips are described under "Memorable Trips". Other first year rambles included trips to Mount Eisenhower, Lake Minnewanka, Helen Creek and Floe Lake, the most ambitious weekend backpack of the year. In mid-summer John Hickey led a week-long backpack into Assiniboine, the Club's first holiday tour. After that came a wet tour of the Yoho Valley and an ascent of Mt. Fairview. A weekend trip from Moraine Lake through Wenkchemna Pass to Lake O'Hara was stopped by heavy snow.
The fall executive meeting attended by John Hickey, Chairman; R. A. (Sandy) Vair, Vice-Chairman; Elizabeth Souter, Treasurer; Ron Smylie; and, I believe John's sister, Pat Hickey, as Secretary made many recommendations. They included patterning trip organization and methods after those of the Alpine Club as they seemed the most efficient and safe in alpine areas. On the other hand, members decided not to provide transportation for rock climbers as the Ramblers were not equipped to lead or rescue climbers, nor were they prepared to take responsibility for such trips.
The executive also decided at this meeting to purchase sleeping bags and tents for rental to members and have a store keeper to look after the equipment.
It was strongly recommended that a Motion be initiated at the annual general meeting as follows. "That no Rambler business or recruiting of members take place at the Hostel Meeting". It was further decided to end the affiliation with the C.Y.H.A. then.
The annual general meeting was set for Sunday morning, December 5, 1954 at 9:00 a.m. at the Club Cafe. We do not seem to have any record of that First Annual General Meeting or of any other executive meetings until July 9, 1957.
After the winter hibernation (winter trips weren't begun until 1956) the first trip of the 1955 season was again the ascent of Mount Yamnuska. The large group on a wet trip to Waterton Lakes over the Victoria Day weekend found hiking limited by waist-deep snow. They thus turned to other amusements. They found that a tick will jump up to eight feet when thrown on a hot stove.
Other weekend trips included the "Kananaskis Massacre No. 2", the Upper Red Deer River, Yoho Valley, Floe Lake, Lake O'Hara and Larch Valley. The Kananaskis trip started out as a backpack to Elbow Lake, but heat and some other unnamed problems soon turned it into Kananaskis Massacre No. 2. Only 2 out of 25 reached the destination, Elbow Lake, but they returned to camp with the others near the Highwood Pass Highway.
In August there was a holiday tour to the Tonquin Valley. That backpack was done by Sandy Vair, Elizabeth Souter and Bob and Lois Norton. It rained every day and there were severe thunder storms too.
That year John Hickey was Chairman again and Elizabeth Soutor, Secretary. I believe Sandy Vair was Vice-Chairnmn again We do not have further record of the 1955 Executive, however, the annual dues were $1.00.