Sulphur Mountain Weather Station
Recognized Federal Heritage Building
Banff National Park of Canada, Alberta
(© Environment Canada, Parks Canada, Western Regional Office, 1986 / Environnement Canada, Parcs Canada, Bureau de la région de l'Ouest, 1986.)
Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station National Historic Site of Canada, Banff National Park of Canada, Alberta
Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
1902 to 1902
Event, Person, Organization:
Sulphur Mountain Observatory
FHBRO Report Reference:
Description of Historic Place
Perched on the top of an exposed ridge at the peak of Sulphur Mountain and overlooking the Banff townsite, the Sulphur Mountain Weather Station, also known as the Sulphur Mountain Observatory, is a small, plain, one-storey, stone building with a hipped roof. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Sulphur Mountain Weather Station is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Sulphur Mountain Weather Station is associated with the collection of climatological data for the Meteorological Service of Canada. The data collected at the station made a significant contribution to the knowledge of the climate of the Canadian Rockies, and was part of an effort launched by the federal government to promote tourism in Banff National Park of Canada and to provide information for visitors. It is also associated with Norman Bethune Sanson, who was the meteorologist in charge of the Weather Station.
The Sulphur Mountain Weather Station is a very good example of a vernacular meteorological observatory. It is built of limestone gathered from the top of the mountain to provide shelter, and its simple and solid construction was a response to the elements of its natural and wild site.
The Environmental Value
At the top of Sulphur Mountain, the Weather Station appears to grow out of the natural rock summit. It is a well-known landmark and is viewed from the Sulphur Mountain Gondola, which transports many visitors annually. The Sulphur Mountain Observatory, with its solid construction and indigenous materials, is compatible with the present character of its Rocky Mountain wilderness setting.
Sources: Sally Coutts, Sulphur Mountain Observatory, Banff National Park, Banff, Alberta, Federal Heritage Building Report 86-040; Sulphur Mountain Observatory, Banff National Park, Banff, Alberta, Heritage Character Statement, 86-040.
The character defining elements of the Sulphur Mountain Weather Station should be respected.
Its very good functional design, good construction and quality materials and craftsmanship, such as: its simple, one-storey massing with a hipped roof; its two feet thick walls constructed of local limestone.
The manner in which the Sulphur Mountain Weather Station is compatible with the present character of its Rocky Mountain wilderness setting, in Banff National Park of Canada.
Heritage Character Statement
The heritage character statement was developed by FHBRO to explain the reasons for the designation of a federal heritage building and what it is about the building that makes it significant (the heritage character). It is a key reference document for anyone involved in planning interventions to federal heritage buildings and is used by FHBRO in their review of interventions.
Sulphur Mountain Observatory was constructed in 1902 for the collection of meteorological data. It is the property of Environment Canada - Parks. See FHBRO Building Report 86-40.
Reason for Designation
On December 22, 1986, Sulphur Mountain Observatory was designated Recognized because it is an example of a vernacular meteorological observatory. Built solidly of local materials to provide shelter and house weather recording instruments, the modest building has withstood the elements despite its location on an exposed ridge of Sulphur Mountain overlooking the Banff townsite.
Character Defining Elements
The designation applies to the building in general, its use of indigenous material, its simple but solid construction, and to its response to the natural and wild site. Perched on the top of Sulphur Mountain, the observatory seems to grow out of the natural rock summit. Although touristic developments have altered the wilderness setting, all attempts should be made to protect what remains of the natural context. The preservation and enhancement of the building would be ensured if the building was used, or interpreted, as a weather observatory.