April 18, 2016
By Afton Aikens
With notes from Jack Newton and Sara Samson
1. Cave and Basin: In 1883, three Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) workers discovered thermal springs that had long been used by Aboriginal peoples at what is now this national historic site. An ownership dispute ensued, and in 1885 the federal government designated Banff Canada’s first national park.
2. Brewster Adventures: Dairy farmer John Brewster arrived in Banff in 1886, beginning the family’s storied history in the region. His sons Bill and Jim had a taste for adventure, and at ages 12 and 10 they guided their first horse pack trip at the request of a Fairmont Banff Springs hotel manager. Today, Brewster Adventures operates a stables and golf course, and outfits overnight pack trips.
3. Fairmont Banff Springs: Even in the 19th century, CPR manager Sir William Cornelius Van Horne recognized Banff National Park’s potential for tourism. Noting, “Since we can’t export the scenery, we’ll import the tourists,” he championed construction of a grand hotel in Scottish baronial style. In 1888, the Banff Springs opened its doors. As the hotel’s popularity grew the facility expanded. Major reconstruction occurred after a 1926 fire, and by 1928 the hotel had been rebuilt to its current exterior. During the golden era of the 1920s and 30s the world’s elite spent their summers at the Banff Springs.
4. Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise: Van Horne also oversaw the first iteration of this grand hotel, inspired by his vision for “a hotel for outdoor adventurer and alpinist.” The Chateau began in 1890 as a one-storey log cabin on the Lake Louise shore, hosting 50,000 guests by 1912. During the first half of the 1900s, CPR-hired Swiss mountaineering guides taught thousands of guests to climb the region’s peaks, achieving over 250 first ascents. Beginning in the 1920s, many Hollywood films were shot in Lake Louise, and even nowadays the Chateau hosts celebrity guests.
5. Banff Park Museum: This national historic site was built in 1903 and is one of Western Canada’s oldest natural history museums, displaying more than 5,000 specimens. Its elaborate ‘railway pagoda’ style architecture features Douglas Fir logs and large lantern windows that provide natural light to both levels. Today, exhibits emphasize shifting attitudes toward natural resource management.
6. Banff Railway Station: Built in 1910 to replace a smaller iteration from 1888 and to accommodate more tourists, the station’s arts and crafts architecture earned it designated Canadian Heritage status. Under-used in recent years, new leaseholder Banff Lodging Co.’s grand plan to revitalize the station has yielded interim results. Inside is a Parks Canada/Banff Lake Louise Tourism info desk, Explore Rockies activity booking kiosk, coffee shop, car rental, and Greyhound bus and Rocky Mountaineer train depots.
7. Totem Ski Shop: Jasper’s longest established store, Totem opened in 1911 as W.S. Jeffery & Sons. The store originally supplied clothing, gear and groceries to outfitters and railway men. Roy Everest bought the business in 1956, changed the name, and in 1967 moved one door east to the current store. “For 100 years, we’ve been proud to sell top-of-the-line, outdoor-oriented merchandise,” he says. Today, traditional apparel by Stanfields, McGreggor and Crown Cap shares shelves with newer brands like Rossignol, Merrell and The North Face.
8. Jasper Information Centre: This rustic landmark and national historic site built in 1913-14 with local timber and stone was the town’s first major building, and is now a tourist hub. The centre houses Tourism Jasper and Parks Canada visitor kiosks, the Friends of Jasper retail store and Parks Canada offices.
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