(Chinese) Ha Ling at Peak Racism
3 Sisters Mountains are so popular, people are taking pictures with them in the backgrounds, but have no idea that these mountains are so famous/popular. Every time someone shows me pictures of Banff, they somehow make it to where those mountains are in the backdrop, but those mountains are in Canmore, Alberta, not Banff, Alberta. You have to see them if you drive from Calgary to Banff, on the TransCanada highway, so everyone I know who has done that trek, knows these mountains by picture, if not by name. You’ve seen thousands of shots and writeups and great photography about the 3 sisters mountains. I’ve accidentally tripped and taken a picture of these 3 mountains. Even people who don’t normally travel to Canada much have shown me pictures of 3 sisters when just traveling along the TransCanada Highway. They got their name in 1886, each one getting its own individual name too, and the naming was inspired by heavenly, beautiful, pure snow falling from the heavens, illuminating and adorning the mountain tops so wonderfully, so white… Well, OK enough of that BS crap story about that garbage, let’s get a story with Drunkphotography.com history re-telling all over it (factually accurate because I read it on the Internet and got it from a real locals’ mouths, with a touch of irony/comedy). Down the road from the 3 sisters, to the northwest, is a particular mountain peak that ended up receiving an interesting name too, maybe not so heavenly inspired. Maybe a Chinese Angel inspired, hmmm???
The other heavenly peak, which was not shown any love historically, has an interesting racial overtone to it, that people don’t normally associate with Canadians, but shows that the 1800s’ European/Western Settler spirit was always alive and kicking there, like it was here in the USA. You always have to wonder why/how some mountains or mountain peaks get their names, normally there is folk story background or it’s dedicated to some man who somehow owned ungodly, massive amounts of land for unknown reason when everyone else was broke and it all belonged to Indigenous/First Nations people. The mountain peak in question is called the Ha-Ling, and if you continue northwest of 3 sisters, you’ll see its peak. Now that sounds like a respectable name, it’s Chinese, so you think Canada, you think always friendly and nice people, this must be named after a locally, respected Chinese business man, right? Well, how did it get this name, from someone who lived there in the foothills? Well yeah, kinda, because the popular Chinese labor of the time was to be cooks, laundry washers or employees for whatever day to day tasks of the time, but not where the town was, on the side of the mountain where the MINE was constructed. Canmore was a mining town since 1887, so you go where work is, and Chinese and European descendants did not mix much, outside of providing services by Chinese people. That Ha Ling name though… The first reason you know some Fkery was afoot, when giving it THAT Chinese name, was that the peak only got THAT name in 1997! So, WTF, right?
The backstory is a rather racial one, of course. It starts with a bet by “locals” in Canmore, Alberta. As with the USA, Canada was expanding its railways in the last 1890s, and the major source of cheap labor, where there were not former African American slaves turned workers, in the region, was Chinese immigrants. This is true of the Pacific Northwest of USA, and Alberta, Canada region especially. It’s also the start of terms we know today as a racially offensive terms for Chinese people specifically, given to them by European Descendant Settlers. The sound of a steel hammer hitting nails and spikes to stabilize train tracks that Chinese were paid to build, is the racially offensive term that those pure-blooded Americans called Chinese people. This is likely due to jealousy of Chinese people taking all the railroad jobs, for much less money, which would allow for many more Chinese workers than European descendant workers, and the Chinese were doing a bang-up job at it, pun-intended. So, when I learned that Chinese people were working on the railroads of Canada too, I thought Canadians were better that USA haters-of-the-time, and it turned out I was wrong. Ha Ling Peak was not the original name for that mountain top, as mentioned. The names come from a legend about a man in 1896, who was a cook for the Canadian Pacific Railway, named Ha Ling. Local “European Descendants” who were workers on the railroad, had bet Ha Ling $50 (a fortune back then) that he couldn’t summit the mountain peak of 7897 feet (2,407 meters) in 10 hours, and plant a flag on top as proof, figuring he wasn’t equal to them and would fail. Ha Ling left early morning, came back to town by lunch. LOL He wanted his money, so went to claim the prize, but nobody believed him anyway. So, they made him take them up there a second time, this time he took a huge flag that could be seen from town, and already there was the first flag as proof that he was there the first time. He planted the second to shut the haters up.
They respected Ha Ling after that, right? Gave him his props, right? Well, clearly they respected him so much they named the peak after him. They called it “CLICK HERE FOR NAME” (have to not say it because woke a-holes of the Internet today are triggered at any term written, despite the context used, ask Joe Rogan). I guess he didn’t follow the guide on how to properly use racial slurs – actually, I believe he did and context is everything?? What’s wild is that term is was used the world over, it’s known as that name mostly, and not by the newer name of Ha Ling. It’s still written this way even in most modern hiking trail sites, books, and what-have-you, and is even seen with Ha Ling in the bracket as if its not official. Follow that link, I use it for trails and notice how it’s referred to. Chinese even call it by the racially offensive name still. So until 1997, that offensive name stayed, and docile folks didn’t care. In fact, it was reported that the Chinese people were proud that European descendants called it that. I kid you not, it’s documented. They were so proud to have anything of their own, given them by the people who treated them subpar that the settled for the offensive naming. 🤦♀️They didn’t care because well, that’s what everyone called them so they accepted it. 😒Damn, imagine if they called Harlem, New York by the name “N-word’s creek”?? We’d be livid and you don’t have to be WOKE to kind of hold your head in shame there.
Is it racist though, to name it that way? Hmmmm Of course it was. The problem was European descendants didn’t care about Chinese people and their names, especially then, and disrespected Chinese people at every turn. They were being treated as beneath human, quite frankly, all documented, no wokeness. When the Chinese worked with the local European descendants, they referred to the Chinese as racial name TERM #1, TERM #2,…. when referencing the Chinese employees in mines, for instance, they did not reference Chinese people by their proper, individual names. That’s crazy disrespect. So for anyone saying it’s not racism at its finest, to not even acknowledge someone by even their personal name, as you surely would do for your own European descendant neighbors or strangers, what ELSE could it be? Thus, you see, that name of the peak, originally, it was mean to be racist, a total mockery, in fact. That’s not woke talk, that historical fact! It took a guy named Roger Mah Poy to get the name change officially recognized, in 1997, and there are even documentaries about the struggle to get it changed. That’s 100+ years to get that slur removed. And you thought Canada was woke like that?
But if you really wanna get all WOKE about it, the Stoney First Nation, who inhabited all of this land prior, originally called it “Ehagy Nakoda”, so it had a name way before any of these two groups showed up, and had all their land was taken away by European descendants to make towns like Canmore,… way before it had its offensive name, so… you wanna walk back some of that wokeness now? LOL