By: A.P. Crawford, National Publication Editor and Production Manager (

Members of the CSP have always been involved in lifesaving rescues and in 1966 Mark Labow donated the Issie Wachman Memorial Life Saving Award in consultation with Issie’s sons who were patrollers, to recognize the most outstanding feat of first aid performed during the season and the award pin was in the shape of an ankh. In 1969 the award became a general lifesaving award for members.

Sometime in the mid-1970s, the CSP decided to rename the award in honour of John D. Harper in recognition of all the work and leadership he had contributed to the training and development functions and the ankh was retained at the pin for recipients of the award.

John David Harper was a long-time patroller with the CSP and the NSP, depending on where his career had him located at the time. He was a passionate geologist who worked across the globe making significant contributions to petroleum geosciences and hydrocarbon exploration. He patrolled in Central Zone and Terra Nova Zone, and in locations south of the border before landing in Banff/Calgary Zone where he eventually ended his career.

John was a leader in managing on-hill heart attack cases in the U.S., having researched how to address the situation with a patient on the hill and spearheading CPR and other treatments including rapid transport to advanced medical services. It must be remembered that at this time (early 1970s) CPR was an emerging treatment that was not widely known or practiced. He was instrumental in finally having CPR incorporated into the CSP syllabus.

Another of John’s accomplishments was to completely re-do the CSPS first aid manual to bring it up to date for the time and incorporate all of the current additional skills and information into it. He also served as the national training officer during this time and it was under his watch that a renewed national first aid competition was launched in 1977. Subsequent to his time on the national executive, John was elected to the board of directors and served in that capacity from 1978 to 1981.

John was the recipient of a number of prestigious national awards over his career with the CSP:

  • National Appreciation Award No. 304 in 1975
  • National Executive Achievement Award (1976)
  • Canadian Ski Patroller Award No. 364 (1976)
  • National Outstanding Executive Award (1977)

John passed away in 2017, having continued to be a staunch supporter of the CSP to the end. The CSP is proud to continue to recognize acts of life saving in his name.


The John D. Harper Lifesaving Award – how it came to be

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