Philip Moore was born in Bayonne, N. J. in 1879, where he attended Pingry Prep School and Princeton Military College. During his college years, he became renowned for his athletic ability and tied the world’s record for the pole vault in 1901.
In 1902 at the New York and the American Sportsman’s Show in Madison Square Garden, two brothers, Bill and Jim Brewster, were looking for pilgrims for their packing and outfitting wilderness trips in the Canadian Rockies. Among the clientele they attracted were two young men about to graduate from Princeton University, Philip Moore and Fred Hussey. The success of the 1902 American Sportsman’s Show brought Moore and Hussey back again in 1903 for an extended horse trip. In 1904 Bill and Jim, needing more cash for their growing businesses, asked the two American friends if they wished to invest and move to Banff. They leapt at the offer.
Bill and Jim Brewster had a younger sister, Pearl, who quite capably met her brothers’ challenges, becoming a good shot, an excellent horsewoman, a tough talker, a western original.
In 1906 Philip took a longer look at his partners’ younger sister, then seventeen years old, and proposed to Pearl. On January 15, 1907 they married in the Anglican Church on Beaver Street. In the spring their log home was built, “out on the Bankhead Road” (at the corner of Banff Avenue and Fox Street), and in July they moved in with days to spare before Moore’s mother arrived to see her son’s home and meet her daughter-in-law.
The Moores were both diminutive. Philip’s nickname was “Runt,” but he had been captain of the Princeton Gymnastics Team, had tied the world’s record for the pole vault, and had won medals for running and standing jumps and for capers on the parallel bars. Pearl was an aggressive hockey player until she was at least forty years old.
Moore’s jobs in Banff were numerous. He was among the National Park’s first wardens (perhaps to keep his rifle-toting wife in line? She had poached a ram on Mount Edith before they were married, and a lynx near the nuisance ground afterward); he cut ice on the Bow River in the winter harvest; he was barn boss for Brewster Transfer some summers.
Moore enlisted in the Militia and became a Lieutenant in the 15th Light Horse in 1905. He became Captain in 1909 and took officer training at The Royal Military College, Kingston where upon completion he became Major in late 1909. Upon the outbreak of the Great War in 1914, he joined as a Major in the 12thC.M.R.S. Canadian Army, and spent three years in England and France while Pearl took care of Edmée, their daughter born in 1908. Major Philip Moore was sent back to Canada in September of 1917 and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel on November 30, 1917. He was in charge of the Alberta conscription branch until February 28, 1919 and was the Officer Commanding 1st Battalion Alberta Regiment.
After the War, Moore was local magistrate for a period. He was finally relieved of his duties for being too lax on the local bootlegger, and he and Pearl spent summers managing the CPR’s Yoho Camp at the base of Takakkaw Falls, and Wapta Lodge. Portions of each winter he toured the United States giving magic lantern lectures on topics such as “How the Red Man Came to America” and “Wild Animals at Home.” In the 1930’s he became recreation director at the Banff Springs Hotel where, to the guests’ amusement, he would shoot his way around the golf course with bow and arrow, using his tallycard for the end of each hole.
In the early 30’s, Moore’s mother died and the Moores inherited both a sizeable fortune and much of her Beacon Street furniture. Their home, hitherto an assemblage of small rooms, required renovation to accommodate the larger, more stately furniture: the partitions in the library and dining room were removed, to enlarge those rooms, the room at the back of the house became the master bedroom, and the walls were painted cream white to increase the illumination. (On its former lot the house was settled in a deep spruce woods.) Added to the house were its distinguishing characteristic, the blue shutters, for the Moores were now planning extended trips. In 1932 on one trip they dropped in on the King of Siam in Bangkok to tell him of the recent activities of the Trail Riders of the Canadian Rockies, of which organization he had become a member in 1930 under Phil’s sponsorship. They also began to accumulate the souvenirs and memorabilia which fill the house. No longer afraid of the dangers of small hands – their daughter by then was a young woman – the Moores placed more of their collection of Indian artifacts on the walls. The house began to be what it is now, a cabinet des curiosites.
Moore had had an interest in Indian materials from his childhood, and Pearl had grown up in the presence of Stoneys like William Twin who worked for the dairy. In the 30’s and 40’s she was frequently a judge of costumes during the Banff Indian Days parades.
With the outbreak of World War II, Lieutenant Colonel Moore joined the Calgary Highlanders, and was stationed in Banff and Calgary. He helped organize the Banff Victory Loan, from which one and a half million dollars was realized for the Government of Canada and the war effort.
In July, 1948, Pearl and Philip were taken into the Stoney Tribe, for their friendship to the Indians, for their appreciation of Stoney culture, and for their help in administering Banff Indian Days, a festival of sports, rodeo and dancing held in Banff each summer. Catharine Whyte, writing her mother, said, “I asked Pearl about being taken into the Stoneys but she couldn’t tell us much. They sing a song and say a prayer and sing God Save the King and she and Runt each got some present of clothing I think. She is now a princess (which name doesn’t seem to go with the Indians) and Runt is a chief.”
Pearl sustained their interests in collecting. The Moores had, as early as 1947 expressed an interest in starting a museum in Banff “before all the old people with collections of Indian Bead Work, etc. die off.” “The Moores are prime movers in the thing,” Catharine wrote, “and we are very interested too.” The development of the Luxton Museum inhibited a broader-based cultural history museum, but after the Whytes had established the Wa-Che-Yo-Cha-Pa Foundation, Pearl became increasingly concerned about the eventual disposition of her and Philip’s collection.
Philip Moore passed away in Banff November 1, 1951. He was a member of the Rotarians, the R.R.G.S. in London and the American branch of the Newcomen Society of England. Philip Moore was a long time member of the Royal Canadian Legion and was also a member and past master of the Masonic Lodge in Banff, and was accorded full Masonic funeral rites.
In 1971 Pearl arranged to donate her home, its furnishings and collections to the Foundation. The house was moved from its former location and placed over a new basement prepared for it. Pearl learned to love its brighter, more downtown location after a few weeks of questioning whether she’d done the right thing. After her death in 1973 her youngest brother Pat dedicated countless hours to ensuring the collection would stay together.
The Moore house and their collection can be seen at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies in Banff, Alberta.
Compiled from articles from the Calgary Herald, Banff Crag & Canyon and information and help from the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies in Banff, Alberta.