Named after Captain John Palliser (1807-87), who under the direction of the British government spent the period 1857-60 exploring the country between the 49th parallel and the North Saskatchewan River, and between the Red River and the Rockies. He was also charged with seeking for passes through the Rockies, and this extension of his duties took him into British Columbia.
Source: Akrigg, Helen B. and Akrigg, G.P.V; 1001 British Columbia Place Names; Discovery Press, Vancouver 1969, 1970, 1973.
The Palliser Expedition: From 1857 to 1859 Captain John Palliser led a group of scientists into what was then the virtually unknown territory lying west of what is now Manitoba. Known as the British North American Exploring Expedition, it was charged by the government of the day with the task of exploring, studying, and mapping the plains between the North Saskatchewan River and the American border, as well as the southern passes through the Rockies.
John Palliser's background was wilderness travel, hunting, and seeking adventure in the western United States. He was delegated to organize and lead the expedition but the real work was to be done by respected British scientists in the area of geology, botany, zoology, climatology, and geography.
It is difficult to imagine the expedition approaching the front ranges of the Rockies without any sort of map and with virtually all the features un-named. The vastness of this unknown land and their task must have at times seemed overwhelming and it is not surprising that Palliser chose to split his group into smaller parties upon reaching the mountains. Lieutenant Thomas Blakiston, the expedition's "magnetic observer," travelled south to the vicinity of Waterton Lakes and then crossed the Kootenay and South Kootenay Passes. Palliser himself travelled to the headwaters of the Kananaskis River, crossed the Continental Divide, and explored the Kootenay Valley. Dr. James Hector, the expedition's surgeon and geologist, rode up the Bow Valley, over Vermilion and Kicking Horse Passes, and explored the North Saskatchewan Valley, Howse Pass, and the Athabasca River.
The Palliser Expedition produced the first maps of [British Columbia and] Alberta's mountainous areas and many of the prominent features were named. Generally the names chosen were those of respected fellow scientists such as one member's anatomy professor at the University of Edinburgh, government officials who supported the expedition such as the Governor General of the day, and fellow explorers of the era such as David Livingstone. At times, however, members of the expedition chose names related to the appearance of a mountain such as Molar Mountain or named a peak after a bird or animal seen nearby. ("Naming the Peaks of the Canadian Rockies" by Dave Birrell, published at http://www.peakfinder.com/namingpeaks.htm)
Source: included with note