Efficient, daring, highly imaginative, an excellent man with horses and a good friend. That’s the way Walter Wilcox described Bill Peyto in his 1896 book. Born in England in 1869, Bill Peyto arrived in Halifax as a teen-ager, but soon headed west finding work as a Railway laborer in the Rockies. He worked briefly as a cowboy in the Cochrane Area, but found he didn’t really have a taste for ranch life. Exploring the mountains was what he really love. He crossed the Bow summit in 1894 and saw for the first time and saw the lake that now bears his name.
He led a climbing party on the first successful ascent of the imposing Mount Assiniboine in 1901. After service in the Boer War with Lord Strathcona’s Horse Regiment he returned to the west and Married Emily Wood in Banf. Emily died in 1906, and their son Robert was sent to live with a cousin in Armstrong, B.C. Bill gave up the outfitting business and worked as a trapper and prospector.
He served in World war one, was wounded in action, then returned to the mountains and the warden service.
In 1921 he took part in the daring rescue of Margaret Stone, who’d been trapped for several days on the lower cliffs of Eon Mountain. He married Ethel Wells in 1921, and retired from the warden service in 1936. Peto Lake, Peto Peak and Peyto Glacier Valley all bear the name of Bill Peyto, the first warden of Banf National Park.