Monday, August 01, 2016

Banff Revisited


Banff was planned as a resort town from its inception.  In 1883, as the Canadian Pacific Railway made its way westward through the Rockies, railway workers came upon the natural hot springs now known as the Cave and Basin National Historic Site (which was on our list to visit, but didn’t because of Duane’s illness).  Turmoil over conflicting claims led the Federal Government to establish the Hot Springs Reserve in 1885.  Banff was at first built in two sections.  South of the Bow River were large Villa lots for the wealthy, hotels, sanatoria, and hospitals.  The north side was more typical of western prairie towns, based on a grid of small lots and rudimentary zoning.  Here lived the locals, and the CPR survey and construction workers, many of whom stayed in Banff (after the rr moved on) to become wilderness and Park guides, outfitters, and local businessmen.

As the rr was being planned the equipment came in on the Tunnel Road, where our campground is situated.  Across from the campground is this nice little walking/biking trail along the top of the bluff.


The bluff falls down to the Bow River valley.  Notice the oxbow in the river.


  The path is dotted with overlooks of scenic and historical sites.

These hoo-doos are visible from several different places.


We finally learned why this is the Tunnel Mt. Rd. even though there are no tunnels.


The mountain on the right is the one the rr was supposed to go through, but went around.  It does look like a sleeping buffalo.


Banff Avenue (below, l to r) was the earliest access road from Siding 29 which was the original settlement of Banff located at the base of Cascade Mountain along the CPR line.This area was typical of other western commercial centres (Canadian spelling) consisting of a main street lined with wooden false-fronted structures.  Some of these ‘boom-town’ buildings were replaced with more substantial brick structures in the early 1900’s.


The Bow River Bridge (from which this view to the east of a later footbridge was taken), was built on pontoons just west of the current site to facilitate the transportation of building supplies to the south side of Banff.  The bridge was relocated upstream (west).  The present bridge was completed in 1923 and restored in 1987.  Too bad I didn’t take a pic of it!


The Park Administration Building and Cascades of Time Gardens were build in 1935.  It was constructed on the site of a former sanatoruim or spa hospital.  The gardens were originally designed to have waterfalls cascading into pools lined with rock from the surrounding mountains, but for some reason the plan was not carried out.  The garden itself was successfully completed and remains much as it was originally planned.  The Garden is open to the public.


The Banff Park Museum National Historic Site of Canada, built in 1894, was the first museum in Banff and included part of the house originally intended for the first Park Superintendent.  In 1903 it was replaced by a more sophisticated building built in the rustic tradition.  It is the oldest natural history museum in Western Canada.  From 1904-1937 a park zoo and aviary operated adjacent to the site.


The Rundle Memorial United Church, built in 1927, commemorated Robert Terrill Rundle, the first missionary to come to Alberta.  Previously a Methodist church, in 1925 the Methodists were joined by the Presbyterians and Congregationalists.  In 1962 the United Evangelical Brethren joined the United Church.

(The white car is driving along Banff Ave.  Most of the oldest buildings in Banff are located along Banff Ave.).


This half of Harmony Lane and the other half below was originally the photographic studio of Byron Harmon, the Alpine Club of Canada’s first official photographer who bought the building in 1908.  In 1917 it burned and was rebuilt.  Since that time it has house a curio shop, tea room, bookstore, beauty parlor, theatre, library and drugstore.  Harmony Lane had Banff’s first gas lighting. 



The Banff School Auditorium was constructed in 1939.  The Banff School of Fine Arts leased the building in the summer.  In 1972 Parks Canada acquired the building and opened it as its Information Centre.  It is the only original education building still standing in Banff. 


The Brewster Transportation Co. Building is a streamlined Art Moderne style building unique in Banff.  The style represented a deliberate backlash against the earlier ornate Victorian styles. 

When the Federal Government lifted the ban on automobiles in Banff National Park, local guiding operations such as the Brewster Brothers motorized their equipment and expanded into the mass tourism and transport business.  This marked the transition from the original vision of Banff, as an exclusive spa and resort for the elite travelers, to a year-round tourism destination accessible to the masses.

(I stepped in here for a moment before our bus came.  It smelled heavenly.)


Next stop—Jasper.

Louise and Duane

1 comment:

where's weaver said...

Now that is a history lesson. Interesting why they didn't build the tunnel.