Clearwater Lakes Warden Cabin
Recognized Federal Heritage Building
Banff National Park of Canada, Alberta
© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1993.
Clearwater Lake, Banff National Park of Canada, Alberta
Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
1930 to 1930
Event, Person, Organization:
James T. Childe
FHBRO Report Reference:
Description of Historic Place
The Clearwater Lakes Warden Cabin, in Banff National Park of Canada, is surrounded by a spruce forest at the base of Mount Harris and overlooks Clearwater Lake. It is a small, simple, gable-roofed, one-room log structure, with a round rail horse corral. It is painted red-brown with white painted windows and trim. The off-centered main entrance door is tucked away under the gabled porch roof and has a verandah. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Clearwater Lakes Warden Cabin is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.
The Clearwater Lakes Warden Cabin is a useful illustration of the transportation and communications network within park boundaries. The cabin is one of a network of cabins built to house wardens patrolling the park on horseback in the summer or on snowshoes or skis in winter. It was situated to minimize the travel time to other cabins.
The Clearwater Lakes Warden Cabin is a very good example of a standard Number 3-Type one-room overnight patrol cabin that is rustic in character. This type reflects the aesthetic favored by National Parks in the west during the early mid-20th century. Its value also resides in its simple design, and the textures of its locally gathered construction materials. At the time of its construction it was felt to set a new standard to which all other warden cabins should be built.
The Environmental Value
Set in a clearing at the base of Mount Harris, the Clearwater Lakes Warden Cabin maintains a visual and physical relationship with the surrounding open spruce forest, the Clearwater River tributary and Clearwater Lake. It is an important and distinctive local landmark within an otherwise sparsely populated locality. The historic relationship of the Cabin to its surrounding landscape has remained unchanged and the cabin integrates harmoniously into, and reinforces the park’s wilderness character in its mountain park setting.
Source: Clearwater Lakes Warden Cabin, Banff National Park, Banff, Alberta, Heritage Character Statement, 93-107.
The character defining elements of Clearwater Lakes Warden Cabin should be respected.
Its standard Number 3-Type design with rustic character, quality craftsmanship and materials such as: its simple rectangular plan and massing of a one-room structure, with a low-pitched roof, with gabled ends, and a sheltered off-centered entrance porch and verandah; its roof projection at the entrance elevation, cantilevered on extended roof ridge and wall plate poles; its use of wood construction with round logs laid horizontally with saddle-notched corners and rough rubble-stone walls; its six-pane windows with their muntin bars and the wood plank door; its paint scheme of dark brown and white and the green-tinted wood shingle roof, which is a traditional feature of warden cabins.
The manner in which the Clearwater Lakes Warden Cabin reinforces the present character of its mountain park setting in Banff National Park.
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.
The Clearwater Lakes Warden Cabin at the Banff National Park was constructed in 1930 to a 1918 design by James T. Childe, Dominion Parks engineer in Banff. Built to provide overnight shelter for wardens on extended patrols, and also available for public use when unoccupied, this one-storey cabin comprises a rectangular room and verandah. The cabin maintains its original use and is little altered. Parks Canada is the custodian. See FHBRO Building Report 93-1 07.
Reasons For Designation
The Clearwater Lakes Warden Cabin was designated Recognized for its environmental significance, architectural importance, and its historical associations.
The Warden Cabin is strategically located within Banff National Park for backcountry travel with several other warden cabin destinations positioned at intervals along the Clearwater River Trail. With its round rail horse corral, it is an important and distinctive local landmark within an otherwise sparsely populated locality. Built of locally gathered materials, the cabin sits in a clearing of the sub-alpine forest at the base of Mount Harris overlooking Clearwater Lake. By its overall form, scale, construction and finishes, the Cabin integrates harmoniously into, and reinforces, the park’s wilderness character.
Small, simple and rectangular in form and characterised by its highly crafted, unadorned paint finished round-log construction, the Warden’s Cabin is architecturally a fine early example of a standard Number 3-type rustic one-room overnight patrol cabin. This type, designed in 1918 and built thereafter, with minor variations, through to the 1960's, reflects the aesthetics favoured by National Parks in the west during the early- mid 20th century period. The Cabin features round log walls, saddle-notched and trimmed to improve water shedding at the corner ends, a low-pitched cedar shingle- finished roof projecting at the entrance elevation, cantilevered on extended roof ridge and wall plate poles, to form a verandah over the entrance door.
Historically, the cabin is significant for its association with the National Parks Service and its mounted staff, and the development of the western mountain national parks.
Character Defining Elements
The heritage character of the Clearwater Lakes Warden Cabin resides in its site relationships, overall form, scale, rustic design, round-log construction, details, materials and interior.
The original setting and rustic character of the Cabin and its corral remains intact. Any future developments or landscape alterations should respect and maintain the visual and physical relationships with the surrounding open spruce forest, the Clearwater River tributary and Clearwater Lake. The round log construction of the cabin and corral contributes significantly to the character of the setting site and is to be respected and maintained.
With its simple rectangular plan, massing and proportions, its cedar shingle-finished low pitched roof, and gabled ends, the Clearwater Lakes Warden Cabin is characterised by its rustic style crafted round-log wood construction and red-brown external paint finish with white painted windows and trim, and should be conserved. The high standard of workmanship should be matched in any future works. Feature elements, details and finishes should be respected, maintained and not altered. These include: the entrance gable elevation with the wood deck and entrance door to one side counterbalanced by a small six-lite window; the painted wood cabin sign centred prominently in the upper entrance gable area; and the saddle-notched and trimmed logs at the corners. Chinking between logs should be maintained and repaired to match original detailing.
The Cabin’s six-lite windows with their muntin bars, and wood plank door should be maintained and not altered or obscured. If replaced, new windows, door, or elements should match originals in design, materials, finishes, workmanship and operation. I
Internally the Cabin retains its original function together with its volume, exposed paint- finished round log framing and walls, ceiling, wood trim and furnishings, which should all be respected and maintained. If replaced, new components should match originals in dimension, materials, tooling, fixings, workmanship and finishes. Any new fixtures and fixed furnishings installed should be consistent with the rustic design character of the cabin and not alter the internal volume or obscure finishes.