Skoki Ski Lodge was designated a National Historic Site in 1992, commemorated for its contribution to early tourism and outdoor recreation in the parks as well as exemplifying the rustic design tradition.
Skoki Ski Lodge was built in 1930-31 in the Skoki Valley by a group of Banff residents who formed the Ski Club of the Canadian Rockies. The site was recommended by Swiss guides employed by the CPR because of its suitability for skiing and the availability of building logs and water.
The doors opened to the first guests in the spring of 1931. At this time, Skoki Ski Lodge was a single-storey cabin constructed with unscribed spruce logs with saddle-notched corners. The lodge was the first facility built specifically to accommodate ski tourists on a commercial basis in Canada, and possibly in North America.
The lodge’s popularity led to additions built in the five years following construction. The additions included a one-story kitchen wing in 1932, and later an upper floor, living room and three side gables. These later additions more than doubled the lodge’s initial dimensions. The complex was completed in 1936 with the construction of two log cabins and a bathhouse.
Jim Boyce, a tour guide, outfitter and log builder in the area, completed much of the construction and design. He went on to build a log lodge in Lake Louise, in 1938. This became the foundations of the modern Post Hotel, one of the premier hotels in Lake Louise.
Banff National Park has been a mecca for skiing enthusiasts for years and the tradition continues today with thriving ski areas, outfitters and trail maintenance operations. The use of Skoki Ski Lodge has established a history of backcountry ski touring and mountaineering, which helped build the industry. Used as a rest stop or a destination, the hut was the first in the line of social meeting places for skiers in the Rocky Mountains.
Unaltered in function and physical appearance since this time, the interior still contains photographs and memorabilia directly associated with the pioneering stages of skiing as a recreational activity in the Bow Valley. The lack of major alterations and modern conveniences suggests that the buildings were well designed for their function.
The lodge is open year round and accommodates guests with backcountry hospitality, comfort and relaxation.
Skoki Ski Lodge House National Historic Site of Canada plaque states:
A rare and little-changed link with the early days of ski tourism, Skoki Ski Lodge is a fine example of the log building traditions long associated with the Banff region. When it opened for business in 1931, skiing was just emerging as a major form of winter recreation across Canada. Skoki was built as a destination for backcountry holidays by a group of ski enthusiasts, using timbers cut in the vicinity. It was the first such facility to operate on a commercial basis in Canada. It assumed its current appearance with additions carried out in 1935-1936.
A year after the lodge first opened, a guest visiting Skoki Ski Lodge, Dr. R.E. “Kit” Paley, one of Britain's top mathematicians, died in an avalanche, while scaling the 9,600-foot high Fossil Mountain for a downhill run. He was nearing the summit when a snowslide swept him down the mountain.
Skoki Ski Lodge operates without electricity or running water after a brief experiment with electricity was abandoned for unreliability. While running water is not available, wash water is always on hand, brought in directly from the creek via a gravity-fed pipe.
“Skoki Ski Lodge National Historic Site of Canada Commemorative Integrity Statement,” Parks Canada, 2000