Oliver Wheeler

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Edward Oliver Wheeler
Born(1890-04-18)April 18, 1890
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
DiedMarch 19, 1962(1962-03-19) (aged 71)
Vernon, British Columbia, Canada
Service/branchCorps of the Royal Engineers
AwardsHe was knighted in 1943, Military Cross
RelationsArthur Oliver Wheeler, father
Other workmountain climber, surveyor

Sir Edward Oliver Wheeler MC (April 18, 1890 – March 19, 1962) was a Canadian surveyor, mountain climber and soldier. Wheeler participated in the first topographical survey of Mount Everest in 1921.[1] As Brigadier in the British Army was appointed Surveyor General of India in 1941. He was knighted for the work he did surveying India. He was an accomplished mountain climber and on the 1921 expedition was one of the team to reach the 7000-metre North Col.

Early life[edit]

Oliver Wheeler came from a family of geologists. His father, Arthur Oliver Wheeler was designated a National Historic Person in 1995. His father, a Dominion Land Surveyor, co-founded the Alpine Club of Canada and mapped British Columbia’s Selkirk Mountains and the British Columbia-Alberta border.[2] His mother was Clara (née Macoun), daughter of Canadian botanist John Macoun.


Wheeler attended Trinity College at Port Hope, Ontario. He studied at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario in 1907. He commissioned in the corps of the Royal Engineers.


During the First World War he served with King George's Sappers and Miners in France. Indian Expedition Force, 1915 and with the forces in Mesopotamia campaign 1916-18. He was awarded the Military Cross, a membership in the French Legion of Honour.

In 1919, he was seconded to the Survey of India. During this time he was a member of the 1921 Everest reconnaissance expedition, using photographic surveying techniques.[3] His exploration of the East Rongbuk glacier led him on 3 August 1921 to realise that this provided the key to a viable route to the summit of Everest. He was one of the climbing team to reach the North Col.[4]

He married in 1921 to Dorothea Sophia Danielson. His son John Oliver Wheeler (1925–2015) was an award-winning Canadian geologist with the Geological Survey of Canada.

Edward came to Canada on sick leave in 1922 but returned to India in 1923. In 1925 further convalescing in Canada was necessary after another operation in London. He then returned to India. He rose through the positions of Superintendent (1927), Director (1939) and finally to Surveyor-General of India (1941–1947). He was knighted in 1943.

Personal life[edit]

Upon his retirement, he returned to Canada with his wife, and lived in Lavington, near Vernon. He was active with the Alpine Club of Canada. From 1950 to 1954, Wheeler served as President of the Alpine Club of Canada. He was a life membership of the Alpine Club (England) and a member of the American Alpine Club.

Brigadier Sir Edward Oliver Wheeler died following a stroke.

Mountain Ascents of Note[edit]

Ascent Year Significance
Mount Hector and Observation Peak in Alberta, Canada 1903
Hungabee Mountain on the Alberta, British Columbia border, Canada 1909 with Val Fynn
Mount Babel in Alberta, Canada 1910 the first ascent
Mount Tupper and Mount Sir Donald in Glacier National Park in Canadian Rockies 1910 guideless climbs
Pyrenees Mountains and Lakes District in southwest Europe 1911 with his father, Arthur Oliver Wheeler
Strathcona Provincial Park on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada 1912 led the Expedition, first ascent of Elkhorn Mountain,
Mount Assiniboine on the Alberta, British Columbia border, 1920 planned, erected, and directed base camp
Mount Everest, on the Nepal, Tibet border 1921 mapped possible mountain climbing routes (e.g. northern, eastern and western sides, Tibetan Plateau and East Rongbuk Glacier) under Colonel Charles Howard-Bury


  • Wheeler, E.O. "Mt. Babel and Chimney Peak." The Canadian Alpine Journal. Vol. 3. The Alpine Club of Canada. Banff, Alberta. 1911. p. 73-79.
  • Wheeler, E.O. "Mount Elkhorn, Strathcona Park." The Canadian Alpine Journal. Vol. 5. The Alpine Club of Canada. Banff, Alberta. 1913. p. 44-48.
  • Wheeler, E.O. "Traverse of Terrapin and West Ridge of Magog." The Canadian Alpine Journal. Vol. 12. The Alpine Club of Canada. Banff, Alberta. 1921-22. p. 53-55.
  • Wheeler, E.O. "Mt. Everest Expedition/1921." The Canadian Alpine Journal. Vol. 13. The Alpine Club of Canada. Banff, Alberta. 1923. p. 1-25.
  • Wheeler, E.O. "ACC Golden Jubilee." The Canadian Alpine Journal. Vol. 39. The Alpine Club of Canada. Banff, Alberta. 1956. p. 3-24.


  1. ^ Canadian geographer conquered Mount Everest in ‘epic quest’ National Post (Canada) 13 Nov. 2011
  2. ^ Arthur Oliver Wheeler http://www.pc.gc.ca/docs/v-g/pm-mp/lhn-nhs/wheeler_e.asp
  3. ^ McMillan, Margaret, "Risk Taking", Massey Lecture Series, Victoria, British Columbia. broadcast on Ideas, August 15 3016,9:00 p.m. EST. CBC Radio
  4. ^ Wade Davis - Into the silence, Vintage Books, London, 2012.
  • In Memoriam. The Canadian Alpine Journal. Vol. 45. The Alpine Club of Canada. Banff, Alberta. 1962. p. 160-163.
  • Wheeler, A.O. "The Alpine Club of Canada in Strathcona Park." The Canadian Alpine Journal. Vol. 5. The Alpine Club of Canada. Banff, Alberta. 1913. p. 82-95.
  • 4237 Dr. Adrian Preston & Peter Dennis (Edited) "Swords and Covenants" Rowman And Littlefield, London. Croom Helm. 1976.
  • H16511 Dr. Richard Arthur Preston "To Serve Canada: A History of the Royal Military College of Canada" 1997 Toronto, University of Toronto Press, 1969.
  • H16511 Dr. Richard Arthur Preston "Canada's RMC - A History of Royal Military College" Second Edition 1982
  • H1877 R. Guy C. Smith (editor) "As You Were! Ex-Cadets Remember". In 2 Volumes. Volume I: 1876-1918. Volume II: 1919-1984. Royal Military College. [Kingston]. The R.M.C. Club of Canada. 1984