Classified Federal Heritage Building
Banff National Park of Canada, Alberta
(© Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, 1994.)
Skoki, Banff National Park of Canada, Alberta
Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
1936 to 1936
Event, Person, Organization:
Former Bathhouse at Skoki Ski Lodge
FHBRO Report Reference:
Description of Historic Place
The Former Bathhouse is located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains at an elevation of 2,164 metres in a clearing on the banks of Little Pipestone Creek at the Skoki Ski Lodge National Historic Site of Canada in Banff National Park of Canada. It is a rustic style, simple rectangular log structure with a patina of weathered wood and two front entrances each with a gable porch roof. Adjacent to a glacier fed mountain stream and surrounded by a forest filled with spruce and white bark pine, it was originally constructed, along with three other guest cabins as a bathhouse for tourists in 1936 by Earl Spencer for noted Banff guide, outfitter and log builder James Boyd, and completes the site. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Former Bathhouse is a Classified Federal Heritage building because of its historical associations and its architectural and environmental values.
The Former Bathhouse is a very good illustration of the national historic theme of recreation and tourism and its development in Canada’s National Parks. The first such facility to operate on a commercial basis in Canada, the bathhouse, as part of the facility, was built specifically to cater to ski-tourists and represents the pioneering phase of skiing as a major recreational activity in North America. Skoki Ski Lodge remains a major destination point within the park where the Former Bathhouse continues to accommodate park visitors from all over the world.
The Former Bathhouse is a very good example of the rustic design tradition in Canada’s national parks and winter resort construction. It serves as an example of traditional log design and construction using local materials and workmanship long associated with the Banff region. The design at Skoki Ski Lodge has been followed in the development of other ski lodges throughout North America.
The picturesque mountain setting around the Former Bathhouse, the layout of the buildings and their relationship to each other, historic trails, footpaths and unspoiled setting reinforce its historical relationship to the site. The Former Bathhouse and the four other guest cabins are arranged in a fan-like semi-circle around the centrally placed main building and maintains its original physical and functional relationship to the site and its natural surroundings. Along with the other buildings on site, the Former Bathhouse acts as a visual landmark for tourists in the park and is a well known skiing and hiking destination for travelers. Access to the site is restricted to traditional methods of transportation and maintaining its original isolated and natural setting.
Sources: Kate Macfarlane, Skoki Ski Lodge, Banff National Park, Alberta. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Building Report 96-105; Former Bathhouse, Skoki Ski Lodge, Banff National Park, Alberta, Heritage Character Statement 96-105.
The character-defining elements of the Former Bathhouse should be respected.
Its role as an illustration of the development and growth of recreation and tourism in Canada’s National Parks is reflected in: its representation of the pioneering phase of skiing as a major recreational activity in North America.
Its rustic design tradition and traditional log design construction as manifested in: its simple massing as a gable-roofed structure with a shed-roofed extension along the back; the use of wood as the predominant construction material with the use of locally-hewn spruce logs; the patina of weathered wood; the front elevation articulated by two-entrances each with a gable porch roof; the walls of unscribed horizontal log construction with saddle-notched corners; the multipaned windows regularly located along the side elevations; the use of milled lumber components for the multipaned windows, the plank door, and the tongue-and-groove floorboards; the simple interior divided into three roughly equal parts, each with a separate entrance.
The manner in which the Former Bathhouse reinforces the picturesque character of the mountain park setting and its historical relationship to the site.
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 former bathhouse of the Skoki Ski Lodge National Historic Site was built in 1936. Constructed by Earl Spencer for Jim Boyce, it was one of three structures erected in the same year to provide additional guest facilities. The building currently retains its original use as tourist accommodation. Parks Canada is the custodian of this National Historic Site. See FHBRO Building Report 96-105.
Reasons for Designation
The former bathhouse of the Skoki Ski Lodge National Historic Site has been designated Classified primarily for its environmental significance but also for its historical associations and architectural qualities.
Situated twelve miles north of Lake Louise in the Skoki Valley, the resort lies in the centre of magnificent ski touring country close to several glaciers. The former bathhouse and the four other guest cabins are arranged in a fan-like semi-circle around the centrally placed main building. Since access to the site has not changed, being restricted to foot, horseback and ski trail, the remote wilderness character remains unspoiled.
The historical significance of the former bathhouse, as a component of the entire lodge, derives from its association with the growth of back-country recreation in the national parks and the development of tourism. Being the first such facility to operate on a commercial basis in Canada, the Skoki Ski Lodge represents the pioneering phase of skiing as a major recreational activity.
The popularity of the Skoki Ski Lodge influenced further development of the site. However, with the construction of the bathhouse, along with the Bunkhouse and Creek Cabin in 1936, the development of the site was complete. The lodge remains a major destination point within the park.
Architecturally, the Skoki Ski Lodge in Banff National Park is a unique example of an original rustic winter resort characteristic of the Banff region. It has remained virtually unchanged since its completion in 1936.
Character Defining Elements
The heritage character of the bathhouse at the Skoki Ski Lodge resides in its picturesque mountainous setting and in its simple, rustic design. Its simple configuration and use of locally hand-hewn materials exhibit the basic tenets of rustic architecture.
Its massing consists of a simple, gable-roofed structure with a shed-roofed extension along the back. The front elevation is articulated by two entrances, each with a gabled porch roof. Multi-paned windows are regularly located along the side elevations. The patina of weathered wood contributes to the historic appearance. The simple massing of the former Bathhouse is an important feature of the rustic aesthetic.
Wood is the predominant construction material. Locally-hewn spruce logs supply the bulk of the construction material. The walls are of unscribed horizontal log construction with saddle-notched corners, characteristic of the traditional log construction practised in the mountain parks during the early decades of this century. Multi-paned windows, the plank door and the tongue-and-groove floorboards are constructed of milled lumber components. Aluminum sheet metal roofing has replaced the original wood shingles. Any repairs or upgrades should match the original construction materials and retain the simplicity of their execution. Consideration may be given to replacing the roof covering with wood shingles based on the original design.
Originally constructed as a bathhouse, the building now provides tourist accommodation. The interior is divided into three, roughly equal parts, each with a separate entrance. Facilities are simple but adequate, contributing to the back-country recreational experience. It would be appropriate to maintain the current use and plan layout.
Located in a clearing on the banks of the Little Pipestone Creek, the lodge consists of the main building surrounded by five guest cabins. The former bathhouse remains on its original site, northwest of the main building. The historic relationship both to the alpine landscape and the other buildings has remained virtually unchanged since its construction in 1936. Beyond maintaining the traditional site relationships, preventing vehicular access is the most important factor in maintaining the remote, wilderness quality of the resort's setting.