William Adolf Baillie Grohman

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Baillie-Grohman in 1885

William Adolph Baillie Grohman (1851–1921) was an Anglo-Austrian author of works on the Tyrol and the history of hunting, a big game sportsman, and a Kootenay pioneer.


Grohmann was born in 1851 in Gmunden, the son of Adolf Rheinhold Grohmann (1822–1877) and Francis Margaret 'Fanny' Reade (1831–1908). He spent much of his youth in Tyrol in Austria, and could speak Tyrolese dialect like a native. His early years were spent at the Schloss von St. Wolfgang which had a famous garden. His father was a manic depressive and in 1861 Fanny had him committed to an asylum, 1873 Fanny bought the semi-derelict Schloss Matzen in the Tyrol, near the branch of the Zillertal and the Inn Valley.[1] As a young man Grohmann roamed out from the family castle to hunt chamois and deer in the surrounding high alps, wandering for days through the still-remote Tyrolese mountain villages. His two earliest books, Tyrol & the Tyrolese (1876) and Gaddings with a Primitive People (1878), provide a rare first-hand insight into Tyrolese folk customs and the austere, isolated existence of pre-industrial Alpine village communities.

He was an expert mountaineer and made the first winter ascent of the Großglockner, the highest mountain in Austria (3798m), on 2 January 1875, and was a member of the Alpine Club. He is credited as being one of the first to introduce skis to the Tyrol,[2] having previously encountered their use at his father in law's hunting lodge in Norway.

A crack shot and a passionate big-game hunter, he travelled out to the American West many times the 1870s and 1880s to shoot big game when the Rockies and mountain states were opening up to sportsmen. His book Camps in the Rockies (1882) gives an account of his travels though Wyoming and Idaho, both as a "topshelfer" (a rich comfort-laden sportsman) and later on – more to his boyhood taste of stalking with Tyrolean mountain huntsmen – roughing it with trappers and Native Americans. Although written in a style of detached amusement to titillate armchair Victorian readers, this work, like his earlier books about the Tyrolese, has careful and sympathetic passages on American Indian and local customs, and gives a valuable first-hand account of the American and Canadian West just before and after the arrival of the railway. He ranged widely over the Pacific Slope and the Central Rockies and explored new ranges in the Selkirks.

Baillie Grohman liked the new country he found so much that he returned to British Columbia in the 1880s as a pioneer, investing through the Kootenay Company Ltd, a London registered company which obtained a concession of 78,525 acres (317.78 km2) to develop the Upper and Lower Kootenay valleys. He wrote a number of articles for British magazines promoting the possibilities of British Columbia. In his youth he had seen how the embankment of the Inn River in the lower Inntal had turned unproductive flood land into profitable farmland and so envisaged that a similar control of the Kootenay River and a lowering of the water levels of the Kootenay Lake would create large areas of fertile farmland. This plan was thwarted by political pressure from the Canadian Pacific Railway and others, who managed ultimately to get the concession revoked and awarded to rival interests. Probably his impatient and untactful temperament and privileged background was not well suited to the political manoeuvring needed to mollify the Provincial Colonial Administration and counter the machinations of competing American syndicates.[citation needed] Before the concession was revoked the Kootenay Company was held to one of the conditions of its grant – that it must build a canal to connect the Columbia River and Kootenay. The canal took a massive investment and because of the railway, was pointless (only two ships ever used it) and the project failed. It is now a historic site at Canal Flats, British Columbia. Grohmann lived some time in Victoria, British Columbia, negotiating the concession with the government of BC, and then in the Kootenay, opening the first steam sawmill in the region. His account of his time in BC Fifteen Years' Sport and Life in the Hunting Grounds of Western America and British Columbia (1900) describes his time pioneering, and also has accounts of hunting the rare white Rocky mountain "antelope goat", known then as "Haplocerus Montanus" but now assigned the Linnaean name of Oreamnos americanus, along with many other types of game.

His later works include successful works on the history of the Tyrol (by then an increasingly popular destination for English tourists); Tyrol, The Land in the Mountains (1907) and Tyrol (1908) as well as a guidebook to his own castle Schloß Matzen im Unterinntal: Kurze geschichtlich (1908).

A passionate collector, he amassed a large collection of furniture and European sporting art (his collection of sporting prints was sold at a special sale at Sotheby's in 1923) and in his later years he developed an erudite interest in the history and art of sport, building up an extensive library on hunting and game animals, including early ecological studies along with early treatises on hunting in many different European languages. Assisted by his wife, Florence, he produced a lavishly illustrated and authoritative edition of the The Master of Game (1904), the second oldest English book on hunting, a translation (from the French Livre de Chasse 1387 from Gaston Phébus) by Edward of Norwich, 2nd Duke of York. This has a foreword by his friend and later US president Teddy Roosevelt, also an avid hunter. His book on early depictions of hunting Sport in art, An iconography of sport (1913) remains a definitive work on the subject,[according to whom?] written with a unique combination of both field and historical learning. An edition of Maximillian I of Austria's Das Jagdbuch Kaiser Maximillians I (1901) with Dr Mayr is also of interest for early game ecology.

As well as writing authoring 11 books, he published numerous articles in contemporary magazines on both historical and travel subjects.

He died in 1921.


In 1885 Baillie Grohman married Florence née Nickalls, daughter of Tom Nickalls (1828−1899) and Emily née Quihampton (1834-1909), Tom was a London stockbroker known as the "Erie King" from his many coups in American railway shares, the rowers Guy Nickalls and Vivian Nickalls were Florence's brothers.

Florence and William had a son and a daughter: their son, Vice-Admiral Harold Tom Baillie Grohman RN CB, DSO, OBE (1887–1978), had a distinguished career in the Royal Navy, commanding the battleship HMS Ramillies at the start of the Second World War; and their daughter, Olga Florence Baillie Grohman (1889–1947), who married secondly Oscar Ferris Watkins, became a pioneer in Kenya and the first female Member of the Legislative Council (MLC).



Books Authored by W A Baillie Grohman
Book Published pp
Tyrol & the Tyrolese.
The people & the Land in their social,
sporting and mountaineering aspects
1st Ed London, 1876. Longmans, Green & Co. 8vo 278p
2nd Ed London, 1877. Longmans, Green & Co. 8vo 278pp
Tauchnitz, Leipzig 1877 278p. 16 cm
Elibron Classics reprint Paperback
Gaddings with a Primitive People.
Being a series of Sketches
of Alpine Life and Customs
1st Ed, London, 1878 Remington & Co. 8vo 2 vols pp279
2nd Ed, London, 1879 Remington & Co
Camps in the Rockies.
Being a Narrative of Life on the Frontier,
and Sport in the Rocky Mountains,
with an Account of the Cattle Ranches of the West
1st Ed London, 1882. Samson, Low, Marston, Searle & Rivington 8vo, 438pp., 4 illus (2 in color)
1st US New York 1882. Charles Scribner & Sons 8vo, 438pp.
2nd Ed New York 1884. Charles Scribner & Sons 8vo, 438pp
3rd ed London Sampson Low, Marston 8vo 438 pp.
3rd Ed NY 1910. Charles Scribner & Sons 8vo, 438pp
Sport in the Alps in the past and present.
An account of the chase of the
chamois, red-deer, bouquetin, roe-deer,
capercaillie, and black-cock,
with personal adventures and historical notes
1st Ed, London 1896 Adam & Charles Black xv, 356p [1]
1st US New York 1896. Charles Scribner & Sons, 356,2pp.
Fifteen Years' Sport and Life
in the Hunting Grounds of
Western America and British Columbia
1st UK London 1900 Horace Cox Quarto
1st US 1900 Quarto Green cloth, lettered in gilt, top edge gilt
2nd ed. London 1907 Horace Cox. Quarto p. xii, 403, with 3 maps in e/p pocket and 77 illus.
Schloß Matzen im Unterinntal:
Kurze geschichtlich
1st Auflage Innsbruck 1907 Wagner'sche Universitäts Buchhandlung 60pp, mit 34 Abbildungen
2 Auflage. Innsbruck 1907 Wagner'sche Universitäts Buchhandlung 60pp, mit 34 Abbildungen
Tyrol, The Land in the Mountains 1st Ed Philadelphia 1907 J.B. Lippincott & Co 288pp.
1st UK London 1907 Simpkin, Marshal, Hamliton Kent & Co. 288pp 82 plates
Tyrol: Painted by E. Harrison Compton 1st ed. London 1908 Adam and Charles Black 8vo. 208pp. 25 pl
The Master of Game,
by Edward, second Duke of York:
the oldest English book on hunting.
With a foreword by Teddy Roosevelt
1st Ed. London: 1904 Ballantine, Hanson & Co Folio, 302pp. 52 pl
2nd Prtg. London, 1909. Chatto & Windus 8vo
Sport in Art. An iconography of sport.
Illustrating the field sports of Europe
and America from the Fifteenth
to the Eighteenth Century
1st Ed London 1913 Ballantyne 4to 422pp., 8pl
2nd ed Ed London, 1919. Simkin, Marshal Quarto 422 pp
Reprint NY & London: 1969. Benjamin Blom, Quarto
Das Jagdbuch Kaiser Maximillians I
with Dr Michael Mayr
1st Auflage Innsbruck 1901 Wagner'sche Universitäts Buchhandlung Folio


Articles Published by W A Baillie Grohman
Article Published
Capercaillie-Shooting in the Alps The Secrets of a Fascinating Sport. Pall Mall Magazine London 1901 7p
Hunting The Rocky Mountain Goat The Century, vol. 29, issue 2 (Dec 1884) 11pp
The Kootenay valleys in Kootenay district, British Columbia London 1886 Witherby
Stalking the haplocerus in the Selkirks 1895
Sports in the Seventeenth Century The Century, vol. 54, issue 3 (July 1897)
The New South Africa 1900
A famous mediaeval hunting-book Monthly review January 1902
The Finest hunting-manuscript extant [i.e. the Gaston Phoebus MS.] Burlington Magazine, vol. 2 London, 1903 pp. 8–21.
Some historical portraits of the Biedermaier Period of German Art Burlington Magazine 15 (1909), 114–119
How to reach Klondike. by one who has been fifteen times to the Pacific slope The New Illustrated Magazine
In 'Big Game Shooting', Vol 2 a) The Chamois b) The Stag of the Alps[2] Badminton Library London 1894 Longmans Green and Co Vol 2 p85-122 & p123-134
Life And Labour in the Far, Far West: Being Notes of a Tour in the Western States, British Columbia, Manitoba, And The North-West Territory Second Edition. London, Paris & New York: 1884. Cassell & Company 32
A paradise for Canadian & American Soldiers Unknown Publication Vol 83 April 1918 762–778
Elk Hunting Tales An Anthology of Historic Outdoor Adventures from the Pages of BUGLE Magazine 1990 Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation ISBN 978-0-9627248-2-4

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Watkins, Elizabeth (2005). Olga in Kenya: Repressing the Irrepressible. Brighton, Sussex, England: Pen Press Publishers Ltd. p. 9. ISBN 978-1905203741. 
  2. ^ Watkins, Olga (1937). "'The first Skis in the Tyrol'". The Field. London (November): 1274–1276. 


Mount Grohman (2299 m) near Nelson, British Columbia is named after him as are the Grohman Narrows of Grohman Narrows Provincial Park.

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