Ceiling anchor

Club Evolution

Emerald Lake Campsite
Emerald Lake Campsite

The early years focused on attempts to increase club membership, expand the club’s knowledge of Rockies caves, and formalize the club structure. At first the small membership held monthly general meetings in Calgary and later in Edmonton, which were more practical and effective than a regular newsletter. By 1970 membership had reached 21 persons; 10 in Calgary, 6 in Edmonton and 5 elsewhere. In addition to caving, club activities included informational talks, practical instruction, guiding of groups upon request through Canyon Creek Ice Cave, and performing cave cleanups. Publicity to attract new members and information about caves included display booths, handouts, and even radio was considered.

By the late-70s, however, concerns over public safety and environmental damage led to the cessation of publicizing either the club or caving, and the Alberta Speleological Society became somewhat reclusive. Club guidelines such as the Leader Policy, Safety Policy and Membership Sponsorship fell into disuse and the club’s membership remained static at about 15 to 20 people. The Alberta Speleological Society gained the reputation of being uncooperative and unfriendly, and relations with Parks Canada deteriorated.

However the public's interest in caving mushroomed in the mid 1980s and the Alberta Speleological Society gradually responded by participating in cave management deliberations with governments, liaising with mountain rescue organizations, becoming receptive to public inquiries, producing handouts on cave etiquette, safety, and the club’s organization and beliefs, and establishing a web-page. By 1981, membership had grown to 33; in 1984 it had reached 70; in 1994 it had reached 100. The Alberta Speleological Society bylaws were revised to better reflect the club’s current practices and were registered with the province in 1993.

From the mid-90's to the present the club has continued to grow slowly and has maintained cooperative relationships with other caving - related organizations and regulatory agencies.  Today the Alberta Speleological Society is the primary authority on caves and karst in the Alberta Rockies, with an open and helpful membership and executive, although we still stop short of actively promoting the sport to the non-caving public.


The first issues (from 1968) of an irregularly appearing newsletter featured a cover drawing of a donkey wearing a helmet and carbide lamp, looking back over its hindquarters. A more formal publication, the Alberta Speleologist, covered the more important cave discoveries, but was terminated in 1973 after three issues as it was duplicating the function and content of Canada's national journal, The Canadian Caver. The newsletter also faltered, but was revived into a bimonthly format in 1978, then less frequently based on whenever there was news to print. In 1983 a computer word-processor was first used and the somewhat tongue-in-cheek name Journal of Subterranean Metaphysics (JOSM) was adopted; issue numbering began in November 1989 (with an arbitrary #100), and a regular, quarterly format was established in 1993. More recently JOSM moved to an electronic publlishing format; back editions are available on this site.  No doubt technology will result in further improvements in the future.


A no-frills version of an Alberta Speleological Society website first appeared around 1996. In November 1998 member Terry Wachniak presented a template for an expanded site with upgraded graphics, and by January 2000 the first website under the current domain name was fully functional. Major text expansion and modifications occurred between 2003 and 2004, and the overall look of the website was updated in 2008.