Charles Ernest Fay

Professor Charles Ernest Fay (1846–1931) was an American alpinist and educator.

Charles Ernest Fay
Academic work


He was born at Roxbury, Massachusetts. He graduated in 1868 at Tufts College and became instructor in mathematics there in 1869, and professor of modern languages in 1871. He was a founder of the Modern Language Association of America; of the New England Modern Language Association, of which he was president in 1905; and of the New England Association of Colleges and Preparatory Schools (1885), of which he was president 1888-89.[1]

Fay first visited the Canadian Rockies in 1890, and was a pioneer in the development of mountaineering in the Canadian Rockies and the Selkirks. He was a founder of the Appalachian Mountain Club, and served as president in 1878, 1881, 1893, and 1905; he was also a founder and the first president of the American Alpine Club (1902-1904).[1][2] He also edited the publications of these two organizations, Appalachia and Alpina Americana respectively. For Appalachia, he furnished numerous articles. For Alpina Americana, he wrote the richly illustrated monograph The Rocky Mountains of Canada.[1]

He was one of a party of four attempting to climb Mount Lefroy in 1896 when Phillip Stanley Abbott became the first mountaineering fatality in the Canadian Rockies. Fay made an, “impassioned defence of mountaineering at the inquiry into Abbot’s death that put an end to the grumbling in political circles that mountaineering ought to be banned in Canada.”[3] Fay returned in 1897 to summit both Mounts Lefroy and Victoria. Fay continued climbing and mountaineering until well into his eighties.

His activity as an alpinist was recognized abroad by his election as an honorary member of the English, Italian and Canadian Alpine Clubs. He was a frequent lecturer on literary and geographical subjects.[1] The Alpine Club of Canada named the Fay Hut located in Kootenay National Park after him.


  1.  Rines, George Edwin, ed. (1920). "Fay, Charles Ernest" . Encyclopedia Americana.
  2. AAC executive roster going back to 1902 Archived September 10, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  3. R.W. Sandford – Introduction to “Every Other Day” by O.J. Ostheimer; Alpine Club of Canada; 2002
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