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Jasper National Park of Canada

Jasper Information Centre National Historic Site

Plaque Text: Jasper Information Centre

This building is one of the finest and most influential examples of rustic architecture in Canada's national parks. Designed by A.M. Calderon and completed in 1914, it introduced a building tradition based on the use of local construction materials, in this case cobblestone and timber. The facility originally housed park administration offices, a museum, and living quarters for the park superintendent. As the first major building in the townsite, it helped to define the character of Jasper's early development and provided a conspicuous landmark that greeted park visitors upon their arrival by train.

On the scene:

In 1913, Jasper National Park superintendent, Lieutenant Colonel Maynard Rogers, was overseeing much of the early development of the Jasper townsite. He had visions of a unified architectural theme for the town, believing local materials and building methods should be used. With this in mind, Edmonton architect A. M. Calderon designed one of Jasper’s most handsome and important landmarks - what we know now as the Jasper Information Centre. This building served as an example for future buildings in the community of Jasper and began the custom of using a rustic building style in Canada’s national parks.

Timeline:

  • 1907 - Jasper Forest Park is created with an area of about 13,000 square kilometres (5000 square miles).
  • 1911 - Construction of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway reaches Fitzhugh station (now Jasper).
  • 1912 - Recommendations for development of a townsite at Fitzhugh divisional point are made by Chief Superintendent of Parks P. B. Bernard-Harvey.
  • 1913 - The town of Fitzhugh is renamed Jasper after Jasper Hawes, former factor of Jasper House, an historical fur trade post on Jasper Lake.
  • 1913 - Canadian Northern Railway track is laid through the park. The Canadian Northern station is located a short distance west of the Grand Trunk Pacific station.
  • 1913-1914 - Jasper Park Administration is built using a rustic architectural style. The ground floor accommodates the superintendent s living quarters and administration office, while the upper floor hosts a library, museum, and drafting room. The basement houses a fish hatchery.
  • 1923 - The Grand Trunk Pacific line is incorporated into the government-owned Canadian National Railway. Canadian Northern operations, after experiencing financial trouble, had been combined with Canadian National in 1917.
  • 1930 - The final boundaries of Jasper National Park are determined after many changes. The new area of the park is set at 10,878 square kilometres (4,200 square miles).
  • 1936 - A new house is built for the superintendent two blocks away.
  • 1941 - The fish hatchery moves out of the building to a site near the confluence of the Maligne and Athabasca rivers.
  • 1949 - A small information centre is built across from the administration building, beside the railroad tracks. (This building would later house the Friends of Jasper National Park.)
  • 1972 - Information centre operations are moved into Jasper's most recognized structure. The building continues welcoming visitors from all over the world to this day.
  • 1992 - Historic Sites and Monument Board of Canada commemorates the Park Information Centre as a national historic site.

Tid-Bit

Jasper was originally known as Fitzhugh, named after a vice-president and general manager of the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway. The name Jasper comes from Jasper Hawes who worked for the North West Company in the early 1800s. He would lend his name to the fur trade post known as Jasper House, and later the town and the entire national park.

Getting there:

Whether you've arrived in Jasper by car, bus or train, you'll have no trouble finding the Jasper Information Centre. The address is #500 Connaught Drive, on the main street which runs though the town. It is just across the street from the train station. The plaque is located on the lawn in front of the Information Centre.

Bibliography:

Heritage Sites and Monuments Board, Commemorative Integrity Statement.-Park Information Centre (Draft)
Canadian National Railway, Website.
Brenda Gainer, The Human History of Jasper National Park, Alberta. 1981
Great Plains Consultants, Jasper National Park- A Social and Economic History. 1985 Susan Wolff, The Yellowhead Corridor. 1978.