Classified Federal Heritage Building
Banff National Park of Canada, Alberta
Raven Cabin Bunkhouse, front facade
© Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, 2017.
Skoki, Banff National Park of Canada, Alberta
Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
1936 to 1936
Event, Person, Organization:
FHBRO Report Reference:
Description of Historic Place
The Bunkhouse in the Skoki Ski Lodge National Historic Site of Canada in Banff National Park of Canada is a rustic style, simple one-room log structure with a gable roof extending over the entrance on log purlins to shelter the wooden stoop. It is located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, adjacent to a glacier fed mountain stream and surrounded by a forest filled with spruce and white bark pine at an elevation of 2,164 metres in a clearing on the banks of Little Pipestone Creek. Along with three other guest cabins, it was built in 1936 by Earl Spencer for noted Banff guide, outfitter and log builder James Boyd, to accommodate the growing number of ski-tourists to the park and completes the site. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Bunkhouse is a Classified Federal Heritage building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Bunkhouse is a very good illustration of the national 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 bunkhouse, as part of the facility, was built specifically to cater to the growing number of ski-tourists in Banff National Park of Canada and represents the pioneering phase of skiing as a major recreational activity in North America. The lodge remains a major destination point within the park and the bunkhouse continues to accommodate park visitors from all over the world.
The Bunkhouse is a very good example of the rustic design tradition in Canadian national parks and winter resort construction. It serves as a unique example of an original traditional log design and construction using local materials and workmanship long associated with the Banff region.
The picturesque mountain setting around the Bunkhouse, 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 Bunkhouse remains on its original site to the west of the main building. It is along with four other guest cabins arranged in a semi-circle around the centrally placed main building and maintains its original physical and functional relationship to the other buildings, the site and its natural surroundings. The Bunkhouse and other cabins act as a visual landmark for tourists in the park and is a well known skiing and hiking destination for travellers. Access to the site has not changed, being restricted to traditional methods of transportation thus maintaining its original remote wilderness quality.
Sources: Kate Macfarlane, Skoki Ski Lodge, Banff National Park, Alberta. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Building Report 96-105; Bunkhouse, Skoki Ski Lodge, Banff National Park, Alberta, Heritage Character Statement 96-105.
The character-defining elements of the Bunkhouse should be respected.
Its rustic design tradition and traditional log design and construction as manifested in: its simple massing as a single-room with a gable roof, extended on log purlins over the entrance to shelter the stoop; its use of wood as the predominant construction material, mainly locally-hewn spruce logs; the walls of unscribed horizontal log construction with saddle-notched corners; door is centred on the front gable end; a single multi-paned window centred on each of the remaining three elevations; the patina of weathered wood; multi-paned windows, plank door, and the tongue-and-groove floorboards constructed of milled lumber; a wooden stoop and a rustic porch swing.
The manner in which the Bunkhouse contributes to the picturesque character of the mountain park setting.
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 Bunkhouse of the Skoki Ski Lodge National Historic Site was built in 1936. Believed to have been constructed by Earl Spencer for Jim Boyce, it was one of three structures erected in the same year to provide additional accommodation. 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 Bunkhouse of the Skoki Ski Lodge National Historic Site has been designated Classified primarily for its environmental significance but also for its architectural qualities and historical associations.
The Skoki Ski Lodge is environmentally significant for many reasons. 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 Bunkhouse along with the four other guest cabins are arranged in a fan-like semi-circle around the centrally placed main building. Since access to the site remains unchanged, restricted to foot, horseback and ski trail, the remote wilderness character has survived.
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.
The historical significance of the Bunkhouse, as a component of the 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.
Character Defining Elements
The heritage character of the Bunkhouse at the Skoki Ski Lodge resides in its picturesque mountainous setting and in its simple rustic design. Its simple configuration and use of local materials exhibit the basic tenets of rustic architecture. The cabin's massing is simple: a single-room with a gabled roof. The roof is extended on log purlins over the entrance to shelter the stoop. The door is centred on the front gabled end. A single multi-paned window is centred on each of the remaining three elevations. The only additional features include a wooden stoop and a rustic porch swing. The patina of weathered wood contributes to the historic appearance. The simple massing of the Bunkhouse is an important feature of the rustic aesthetic.
Wood is the predominant construction material. Locally-hewn spruce logs supply the bulk of construction material. The walls are of unscribed horizontal log construction with saddle-notched corners, characteristic of the traditional log construction practiced 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 simplicity of execution. Consideration may be given to replacing the roof covering with wood shingles based on the original design.
The single-room interior is heated by a wood-burning stove. Facilities are simple but adequate, contributing to the back-country recreational experience. It would be fitting to maintain the function and the layout.
Located in a clearing on the banks of Little Pipestone Creek, the lodge consists of the main building surrounded by five guest cabins. The Bunkhouse remains on its original site, to the west 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.