Main Building

Classified Federal Heritage Building

Banff National Park of Canada, Alberta
Front elevation, Main Building, with both new and older weathered wood. © Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, ca./vers 2013.
Main Building facade.
© Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, ca./vers 2013.
View of side elevation of Main Building depicting the massive stone chimney and projecting rear wing, viewed from east. © Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, ca./vers 2013.General view, Main Building, front and east elevation. © Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, ca./vers 2013.Front elevation, Main Building, with both new and older weathered wood. © Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, ca./vers 2013.
Address : Skoki, Banff National Park of Canada, Alberta

Recognition Statute: Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
Designation Date: 1997-07-03
Dates:
  • 1930 to 1930 (Construction)

Event, Person, Organization:
  • Earl Spencer  (Builder)
Custodian: Parks Canada
FHBRO Report Reference: 96-105
DFRP Number: 15404 00

Description of Historic Place

The Main Building at Skoki Ski Lodge National Historic Site of Canada, in Banff National Park of Canada is comprised of a rustic style, two-storey, gable-roofed structure with a one-storey, back kitchen addition also with a gable roof and a massive field stone chimney. There is a small shed roofed addition that was added along the length of the kitchen wing in 1935-1936. It was the original lodge structure built by Earl Spencer and a three-man crew for the Ski Club of the Canadian Rockies, pioneers of skiing as a major recreational activity in Canada. Twelve miles north of Lake Louise, the site was chosen following consultation with the Canadian Pacific Railway's (CPR) Swiss guides based on its suitability for skiing and on the availability of suitable building logs and water. Because of its size and central location, the main building, surrounded by five smaller guest cabins, is the most prominent building on the site and continues to accommodate visitors and ski-tourists year round. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The main building is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations and its architectural and environmental values.

Historical Value
The main building 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 Skoki Ski Lodge represents the pioneering phase of skiing as a major recreational activity in Canada as well as the growth of recreation within Canada’s remote wilderness area, known as the back-country region.

Architectural Value
The main building’s exterior design and interior layout demonstrate very good examples of the rustic design tradition in Canadian National Parks and winter resort construction. It serves as an example of an original traditional log design and construction using local materials and workmanship long associated with the Banff region. Being the first building on site its design set the precedent for subsequent structures to the site.

Environmental Value
The main building’s picturesque mountain setting, its simple rustic design and role as nucleus of the complex reinforce its historical relationship to the site. It was the first building on the site and its historical relationship to its surrounding alpine landscape has evolved from a single structure in 1930, to a small rustic complex by 1936. Because of its size and central location, the main building is the most dominant feature on site. It maintains its original physical and functional relationship to the other buildings, the site and its natural surroundings. Access to the site is 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.; The Main Building, Skoki Ski Lodge, Banff National Park, Alberta. Heritage Character Statement 96-105.

Character-Defining Elements

The following character defining elements of the main building should be respected.
Its rustic aesthetic and traditional log design construction as manifested in: its simple massing consisting of a two-storey, gable-roofed structure with a one storey addition, also gable-roofed; wood as the predominant construction material with locally hewn spruce logs as the bulk of construction material; the walls of unscribed horizontal log construction with saddle-notched corners; the dormer windows and off center elevation articulating the front entrance; the back elevation distinguished by a single roof dormer, a massive field stone chimney and a projecting kitchen wing; the shed-roofed addition along the length of the kitchen wing; the projecting gabled porch roofs at both the front and side entrances; the patina of weathered wood; multi-paned windows, the plank door and the tongue-and-groove floorboards
constructed of milled lumber components; its simple interior layout and rustic exterior;

The manner in which the main building reinforces the picturesque character of the mountain park setting.

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 main building of the Skoki Ski Lodge National Historic Site was built in 1930. Constructed by Earl Spencer for John Boyce and the Ski Club of the Canadian Rockies, it was the original lodge structure built on the site. It has undergone two major alterations, including the addition of the kitchen wing in 1931 and the construction of the upper floor, including the dormer gables, in 1935-36. A small, shed-roofed addition was also added along the length of the kitchen at a later date. The main building currently retains its original use as the nucleus of the lodge. Parks Canada is the custodian of this National Historic Site. See FHBRO Building Report 96-105.

Reasons for Designation

The main building 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 situated twelve miles north of Lake Louise in the Skoki Valley, in the centre of magnificent ski touring country close to several glaciers. Five guest cabins are arranged in a fan-like semi-circle around the main building. Since access to the site continues to be restricted to foot, horseback and ski trails, the site's remote wilderness character remains unspoiled.

Architecturally, the Skoki Ski Lodge 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 main building, as a component of the entire lodge, is derived 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 lodge remains a major destination point within the park.

Character Defining Elements

The heritage character of the main building of the Skoki Ski Lodge resides in its picturesque mountainous setting and in its simple rustic design. It was the first structure to be built on the site and it remains the nucleus of the complex.

The main building's massing consists of a two-storey, gable-roofed structure with a one-storey, back kitchen addition, also gable-roofed. Three dormer windows and an off-centre entrance articulate the front elevation. The back elevation is distinguished by a single roof dormer, a massive field stone chimney and a projecting kitchen wing. There is a shed-roofed addition along the length of the kitchen wing. Both the front and side entrances are protected by projecting, gabled porch roofs. The simple massing is an important feature of the rustic aesthetic.

Wood is the predominant construction material. Locally-hewn spruce logs supplied the bulk of the construction material. The main lodge features 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. The massive field stone chimney reinforces the rustic design. Multi-paned windows, door elements and tongue-and-groove floorboards are constructed of milled lumber components. Original wood shingles clad the main roof, while sheet-aluminum roofing clads the back kitchen addition. The patina of weathered wood contributes to the building's historic appearance. Any repairs or upgrades should match the original construction materials and retain the simplicity of their vocabulary. Consideration may be given to reinstating the wood shingles on the back kitchen addition.

The interior layout of the main building consists of a lounge, a kitchen and dining facilities on the main level and sleeping quarters on the upper level. The rustic interior remains virtually unchanged since 1936, and contains photographs and memorabilia directly associated with the history of skiing in the region. Functionally, the building continues to operate as a lodge. Facilities are simple but adequate, contributing to the back-country recreational experience. Wood stoves and propane supply the only heat and energy. It would be appropriate to maintain the existing layout and interiors, including the various memorabilia, all of which reinforce the main building's heritage character.

Located on the banks of Little Pipestone Creek, the main building sits in a clearing surrounded by smaller guest cabins. Because of its size and central location, the main building is the most dominant feature of the site. The historic relationship of the lodge to its surrounding alpine landscape has evolved from a single structure in 1930, to a small rustic complex by 1936. There have been virtually no changes since this time. Beyond respecting the traditional relationships between buildings, preventing vehicular access is the most important factor in maintaining the remote, wilderness quality of the setting.