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David Begg

A long-time resident of Canmore, David Richard Campbell Begg passed suddenly on Wednesday, May 31, 2023 at the age of 68. He lived an outstanding life rich in curiosity, commitment, friendship and adventure. 

David grew up in New Zealand with his four younger siblings. At 16, he discovered mountaineering and quickly became a skilled climber, participating in several first ascents. He completed his education in botany and then committed to a life of mountaineering and travelling, interspersed with brief periods of work to finance his lifestyle. David soon discovered guiding, a profession he pursued with passion his whole life.

In 1983, as a newly-minted IFMGA certified mountain guide, David emigrated to Canada, settling initially in Ottawa where he started a mountain instruction and travel business. In 1987, he moved to Canmore, and purchased Yamnuska Mountain School, the draw of the high peaks proving too hard to resist. Under David’s leadership, “Yam” became the leading mountain school and guide service in Canada. Countless people had their first true mountain experience with Yam and with David, forever changing their lives.  With Hiroshi Namba, formally of Canmore, David started Yamnuska Mountain Tours, an in-bound hiking and trekking company for guests from Japan that later included trips to Japan for skiing and hiking.

In 2010, David and his wife, Maria Cashin, sold Yamnuska Mountain Adventures and began working as polar guides and expedition leaders in the Arctic and Antarctica. David continued to have a strong influence on young guides, sharing his knowledge, joy and friendship. For 21 years, David and Maria shared a deep love for each other and a great passion for adventure, which they shared generously with others. They continued to work in the polar regions, splitting their time between their homes in Canmore and NZ.

A wonderful and loving father to Katie and Nick, David will be remembered for his adventurous spirit, sense of humour, and expansive vocabulary. As aptly described by a friend, “he was wise, kind, brave, and just the right amount of crazy.” An avid reader and fly fisher, David was adventuring until the very end.

David was predeceased by his father Richard Campbell Begg and mother Margaret (Peggy) Begg (Hughs).  David is survived by his loving wife and adventure partner Maria Cashin, his wonderful children Katie (Carey), Nick (Jess) and their mother Genevieve, his siblings John (Glenda), Joan (David), Susan (Richard) and Fiona all of New Zealand, Maria’s parents and siblings and his many nieces and nephews, Carl (Thomo) and Sue Thompson, his best friends in NZ, his friends in Canmore and from around the world, and the tight-knit but well-dispersed polar guiding community.

David was taken too soon but lived full and well. He will be deeply missed. David generously donated to causes he believed in. For those who wish to make a donation in David’s honour, consider environmental, foster kids, or medical humanitarian support (or the cause of your choice). A celebration of life for David is not yet planned.

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