Information Centre

Classified Federal Heritage Building

Jasper National Park of Canada, Alberta
General view of the Information Centre, showing the shingled roof, 1988. (© Photo courtesy of Mark Kolasinski, Jasper National Park of Canada / Parc national du Canada Jasper, 1988.)
Front view
(© Photo courtesy of Mark Kolasinski, Jasper National Park of Canada / Parc national du Canada Jasper, 1988.)
Address : Connaught Drive, Jasper, Jasper National Park of Canada, Alberta

Recognition Statute: Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
Designation Date: 1988-09-22
  • 1913 to 1913 (Construction)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • A.M. Calderon  (Architect)
Other Name(s):
  • Jasper Park Information Centre  (Other Name)
  • Former Administration Building  (Other Name)
Custodian: Parks Canada
FHBRO Report Reference: 87-134
DFRP Number: 15412 00

Description of Historic Place

The Information Centre in Jasper National Park of Canada is a rectangular structure. Built of log and stone in the rustic style, it exhibits a variety of architecturally rustic details. It is a two-storey gable-roofed structure with a single-storey projection at the southeast corner, a two-storey turret at the northwest corner, and an open verandah along the east and south elevations. The line of the roof is extended down over the verandah on the east side, but both the turret and the southeast projection have their own roofs, which along with the three large dormers, create a lively and picturesque silhouette. The irregularity of design of the dormers is continued in the windows of the body of the building, which vary in size and shape and are somewhat random in placement. The choice of stone over wood gives the structure a solid ground-hugging appearance. Its rustic materials and robust detailing relate to its park setting. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

Jasper Information Centre is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.

Historical value:
The Information Centre is a very good example of the theme of the development of one of Canada’s first national parks and of early Canadian tourism. It is also associated with the emerging ideals of protecting and enhancing designated wilderness areas for the pleasure and benefit of the Canadian people. The Information Centre, previously called the Administration Building, was the administrative centre of the park. It was closely affiliated with both policy and policy makers and can be seen as reflective of the ideals of Canada’s national parks. The information Centre served in an administrative function until 1931. The building is associated with Maynard S. Rogers who was appointed superintendent of Jasper National Park in 1913. Absent during the First World War, he returned to the park in 1918 to hold the position from then until 1927 and again from 1932 until 1934. He is also associated with the design of the Administration Building and also lived there for many years.

Architectural value:
The Information Centre is solidly constructed of log and local stone in the rustic style. It exhibits a variety of architecturally rustic details. It was constructed to be functional, and of good quality. Good craftsmanship and high quality building materials were used whenever possible.

Environmental value:
The building remains a prominent landmark within Jasper because of its scale, its design and its functionality. The architecture and materials harmonise with both its immediate setting in the park and with the majestic mountain surroundings. Emphasising natural building materials, the Information Centre establishes the character of the area and complements its environment.

Sources: Kate MacFarlane, Information Centre (Former Administration Building), Jasper Townsite, Jasper National Park, Alberta. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 87-134; Jasper Information Centre, Jasper National Park, Heritage Character Statement 87-134.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Information Centre should be respected.

Its rustic style and very good quality materials and craftsmanship as manifested in: its scale, irregular massing and overall picturesque design; the rustic manner in which the buildings vocabulary of texture and natural materials complement the park setting; the shingled roof; the log roof brackets and verandah posts; the wooden soffits and fascias; the remaining multi-pane windows.

The manner in which the Information Centre establishes and harmonizes with the picturesque character of the park setting and its historical relationship to the site.

Heritage Character Statement

Disclaimer - 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.

The Jasper Information Centre, a landmark "rustic" style building, was originally constructed as an administration building and superintendent's residence. It was erected in 1913 to the designs of architect A.M. Calderon, and served its original function until 1931. It was used for offices, with a fish hatchery in the basement, until 1941; it served as the community library from 1942 to 1962; and in 1972 it became the park's information centre. The custodial department is Environment Canada. See FHBRO Building Report 87-134.

Reason for Designation

The Information Centre has been designated Classified because of its historical associations, its design and craftsmanship, and its importance in establishing the character of its environment.

Its historical associations are with the early development of one of Canada's first national parks, and in particular the emerging ideals of protecting and enhancing designated wilderness areas for the pleasure and benefit of the Canadian people. Its impressive design and craftsmanship were a conscious expression of the need for harmonious and appropriate buildings within the natural setting. It remains to this day the physical, historical, social and architectural focal point of the park, located at the centre of the townsite grid and surrounded by well-tended grounds.

Character Defining Elements

The heritage character of this property is defined by the building's exterior and associated landscaped grounds, and by the few remnants of the original interior.

The exterior of this two-storey building is marked by a prominent gable roof and dormers, a single-storey projection at the south-east corner, a two-storey turret at the north-west, and an open verandah along the east and south. The irregularity of the extensions, the dormers and the windows gives the building a lively and picturesque appearance. The use of stone walls, cedar shingle roofs, and log roof brackets and verandah posts give the building its deliberately rustic character.

The exterior has survived relatively intact and should continue to be carefully maintained. More major repair or restoration should be undertaken only with appropriate levels of research and supervision. The surviving interior elements, such as the two-sided stone fireplace, should be protected and, where possible, incorporated into any redesign or reworking of the interior. Further work to the interior should be preceded by careful investigation to identify other surviving elements, details and designs.

The landscaped grounds have always been an essential feature of this building, and more generally of the design approach developed by S. Maynard Rogers as park superintendent. The development of stone-lined paths and roadways, and the encouragement of suitable trees and plant material, were part of the original design intentions and survive to some extent today. More detailed research into the design and evolution of the grounds is recommended; this research might suggest ways of recovering more closely the original balance between the building and its setting.

The most distinctive feature of the original town layout was the angle of two prominent streets (Miette and Pyramid) which created the triangle of land which is Athabaska Park. The relationship of the boundaries and orientation of the Centre to this site must be maintained.