Cuthead Warden Cabin
Recognized Federal Heritage Building
Banff National Park of Canada, Alberta
© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 2018, Mitch Fennel.
Cuthead, Banff National Park of Canada, Alberta
Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
1931 to 1931
Event, Person, Organization:
James T. Childe
FHBRO Report Reference:
Description of Historic Place
Sitting within the landscape in a small open glade surrounded by dense spruce forest, the Cuthead Warden Cabin is a small, simple, gable-roofed, one-room log structure. It is painted red-brown with white windows and trim. The off-centre 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 Cuthead Warden Cabin is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.
The Cuthead Warden Cabin is a useful example 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 the winter.
The Cuthead Warden Cabin is a very good example of a standard Number 3-Type one-room overnight patrol cabin that is simple in design and rustic in character, with picturesque qualities. This type, reflects the aesthetic favored by National Parks in the west during the early mid-20th century. Its value also resides in 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
With its shed and corral, Cuthead Warden Cabin is an important and distinctive local landmark within a 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: Cuthead Warden Cabin , Banff National Park, Banff, Alberta, Heritage Character Statement, 96-025.
The following character-defining elements of Cuthead 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, with a low-pitched roof, gabled ends and a sheltered off-centered entrance porch with verandah; its round log wood construction with saddle-notched corners and rough rubble-stone walls; its finial detail at the apex of the entrance gable roof; its six-lite windows and the wood plank door; its paint scheme of dark brown and white, which is a traditional feature of warden cabins.
The manner in which Cuthead 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 Cuthead Warden Cabin at Banff National Park was constructed in 1931 to an earlier 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 Docket 96-25.
Reasons For Designation
The Cuthead Warden Cabin was designated Recognized for its environmental significance, its architectural importance,and its historical associations.
The Warden Cabin is strategically located within Banff National Park for backcountry travel between several other warden cabin destinations positioned at intervals along the Cascade Fire Road, now a hiking trail. With its adjacent equipment shed and 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 is particularly significant, sitting within the landscape in a small open glade surrounded by dense spruce forest. By its overall form, scale, round-log construction and finishes, the Cabin integrates harmoniously into the park’s wilderness character.
Small, simple and rectangular in form and characterised by its unadorned paint-finished round-log construction, the Warden’s Cabin is a fine early example of a standard Number 3-type rustic design one-room overnight patrol cabin. This type, designed in 1918 and built thereafter, with minor variations, through to the 1960s, reflects the aesthetics favoured by national parks in the west during the early to mid 20th century.
Historically, the cabin is significant for its association with the National Parks Service and its mounted staff, and with the development of the western mountain national parks.
Character Defining Elements
The heritage character of the Cuthead Warden Cabin resides in its site relationships, overall form, scale, rustic design, round-log construction, details, materials and interior. Contextually, the original setting remains intact. The Cabin, with its shed and corral, conserves its layout and rustic design character. Any future developments or landscape alterations should respect and maintain its integrated visual and physical
relationships with the surrounding spruce forest and the glade area. The round log construction of the cabin, shed and corral contributes significantly to the site as a whole.
With its simple rectangular plan and massing, cedar shingle-finished low pitched roof and gable ends, the Cuthead Warden Cabin is characterised by its rustic round-log wood construction and red-brown external paint finish with white painted windows and trim. The high standard of workmanship should be matched in any future works. Feature elements, details and finishes should be respected and maintained. These include: the entrance gable elevation with the entrance door to one side, counterbalanced by a small 6-light window; the painted wood cabin sign centred prominently in the upper entrance gable area; the saddle-notched and trimmed logs at the corners; and the finial detail at the apex of the entrance gable roof. Chinking between logs should be maintained and repaired to match original detailing and materials.
The Cabin’s six-light windows with muntin bars, and the wood plank door should be maintained. If replaced, new elements should match originals in design, materials, finishes and operation.
Internally the Cabin retains its original function and volume. The exposed paint-finished round log framing and walls, ceiling, milled plank flooring, wood trim and stove should all be respected and maintained. New components should match originals in dimension, materials, tooling, fixings, workmanship and finishes, and should be consistent with the simple rustic design character of the cabin.