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Lawrence Grassi

From Piedmont to the Rocky Mountains

The definitive biography of this Canadian mountain hero, Lawrence Grassi will be essential reading for those interested in the history of immigration, sport, and the Rocky Mountains.

Author Information


Elio Costa is a professor emeritus in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Linguistics at York University.

ScardellatoGabriele :

Gabriele Scardellato is an associate professor and the Mariano A. Elia Chair in Italian-Canadian Studies at York University.



‘It is a fine book.’

Lynn Martel:

“Meticulously researched by the authors, both highly qualified academics, this biography reveals much about Grassi and his experiences as a climber and mountain guide, his exquisite trail work and the experience of Italian immigrants of the era. “

Pearl Ann Reichwein, University of Alberta, and author of 'Climber's Paradise: Making Canada's Mountain Parks, 1906-1974':

"Lawrence Grassi is a book of fascinating stories and intriguing detective work. Costa and Scardelatto offer a stronger picture of Grassi’s life than has been available to readers until now, as well as adding to our understanding of the development of western Canada, working-class experience, and well-known parks in Alberta and British Columbia.”

Chic Scott, author of 'Pushing the Limits: The Story of Canadian Mountaineering':

“Lawrence Grassi has long been an enigmatic and poorly understood character in the story of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. Coal miner, mountain climber, guide and trail builder, Lawrence’s roots have been shrouded in mystery and his exploits the stuff of legend. Who he really was and what he really did has been the subject of speculation for decades. In this book, Elio Costa and Gabriele Scardellato have pulled the curtain back on this mythic figure, revealing a man who is even more complex and enigmatic than previously imagined. Meticulously researched, this book is a wonderful new contribution to the fascinating history of the Bow Valley and a tribute to the millions of pioneers who ventured across the oceans to find their fortune in a harsh and distant land.”

Bruce Kidd, Principal, University of Toronto Scarborough, and Olympian:

“This is the first complete biography of Lawrence Grassi, the remarkable Italian-Canadian mountaineer, photographer, and trail builder who did so much to open up the Rockies in the vicinity of the Bow Valley corridor to recreational climbing and hiking in the mid-twentieth century. Lawrence Grassi is painstakingly researched, carefully argued, engagingly written, and splendidly illustrated with photographs, many of which Grassi took himself. I greatly enjoyed reading it.”

Audience: College/higher education;Professional and scholarly;