Psychologist, writer and hiking guide – meet Dr. D.L. Stephen. The Swiss Canadian Chamber of Commerce is very happy to welcome our new personal member to our community.
Dr. D. L. (Donna) Stephen was brought up in Los Angeles, California. She earned a B.A. with a major in philosophy from UCLA and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Manitoba. Dr. Stephen is a practicing psychologist who writes and climbs at every opportunity. She lives in Alberta’s Bow Valley. Every summer, beginning at age three, she traveled by car with her family to the Canadian Rockies to hike, climb, and spend time with their good friends Edward and Martha Feuz.
This past Autumn 2021 Dr. Stephen published the book «Edward Feuz Jr.: A Story of Enchantment». It gives an intimate look at the life and climbs of Swiss alpine guide Edward Feuz Jr., patriarch of Canadian alpinism and genuine lover of mountains. The book places Feuz into the broader record in a story that is part biography, part history, and part memoir.
We had the chance to talk to Dr. D. L. Stephen and learn more about her personal story and her book.
Dr. Stephen, how did you get the idea to write a book about the story of your friend Edward Feuz?
My mother and sister informed me very recently that Edward told us he wanted me to write a book about him. This surprised me. With all the focus on earning degrees and earning a living, I had either forgotten about this or was not present when it was said. At any rate, one day long after Edward was gone, memories started coming back fully-formed, and I felt compelled to write them down. One thing led to another and suddenly it dawned on me – this could be a book.
How long did it take to finish the book and what difficulties did you face?
I really don’t know, how long it took to complete the book, but certainly over 10 years. The biggest difficulty in writing the story was that Edward was no longer alive when the whole process began, so I couldn’t call him up to ask questions. But I do think I managed to channel him fairly well.
What is your connection to the Canadian Rockies?
I was born only 100 kilometers from the eastern slopes of the Rockies, and after we moved to Hollywood from Calgary we returned to the mountains each summer. Now I live in the mountains and visit L.A.
Which is your favorite climb and why?
It is almost impossible for me to name a favorite hike or climb. If I have to pick one climb, it would be one of Edward’s first ascents, Mt. Tupper, in the Selkirk mountains. I climbed it with my sister and Sepp Renner (who is also a Swiss Guide), when Edward was still with us. Then the three of us repeated the climb in 2006 for the 100th anniversary of the first ascent. It is special to us because Edward wanted us to climb it and because it is a beautiful climb.
What is your connection to Switzerland?
As I child, I was enamored with all things Swiss because the highlight of my year was visiting the Swiss Guides at Edelweiss Village. Also, we met a Swiss man in LA who had known Edward and the other guides in the 1920s. He used to tell me stories and cook Rösti and beefsteak with cranberries for me, but he refused to teach me any Swiss because he said it would muck up my German. However, as my German today is ganz furchtbar, it wouldn’t have been a big loss.
Have you done any hikes in Switzerland?
A long time ago, I spent only a few days in Switzerland but did manage two short hikes. I would like to return to Switzerland to see it properly. Also, I feel I have to climb the Jungfrau.
How many bears have you seen on your hikes?
We live on the edge of the forest, so we see lots of bears, both black bears and grizzlies. I think bears are magnificent, from a respectful distance. The first thing to know about bears is that you will be seen by more bears than you will see.
Why should every SCCC member read your book?
I think the story of Swiss mountain guides in Canada is one every Swiss person can feel proud of. Edward was very proud of his Swiss heritage, spoke his dialect all his life, taught his children Swiss, and shared stories of Swiss life with school children in Golden. A dream come true would be to have the book translated into Standard German (not by me) and for it to gain some attention in Switzerland. Edward would like that.
Thank you, Dr. D.L. Stephen, for taking the time to give us these interesting insights!
Listen up bookworms!
For more information about the author, D.L. Stephen visit her personal website https://www.drdlstephen.com/
All photo credits: Dr. D.L. Stephen