Classified Federal Heritage Building
Banff National Park of Canada, Alberta
Wolverine Cabin, west elevation
© Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, 2017
Skoki, Banff National Park of Canada, Alberta
Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
1932 to 1932
FHBRO Report Reference:
Description of Historic Place
Wolverine Cabin is a rustic style, simple, one-room cabin with a gabled roof extending over the entrance on log purlins to shelter the wooden porch. Centered on the front gabled-end is the entrance door. 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 7,100 feet in a clearing on the Banks of Little Pipestone Creek at Skoki Lodge in Banff National Park. It was constructed during the management tenure of well known Banff artists and philanthropists who sponsored the 1932 expansion, Peter and Catherine Whyte, and was one of the earlier two structures built to provide additional accommodation very shortly after construction of the main building. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
Wolverine Cabin is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations and its architectural and environmental values.
Wolverine Cabin is a very good illustration of the national theme of recreation and tourism and its development in Canada's National Parks. As a component of the first such facility to operate on a commercial basis in Canada, Wolverine Cabin, as part of the facility, was built specifically to cater to the growing number of ski-tourists shortly after the construction of the main lodge in Banff National Park 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 Wolverine Cabin continues to accommodate park visitors from all over the world.
Wolverine Cabin is a very good example 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.
Wolverine Cabin's picturesque mountain setting, layout of the buildings and their relationship to each other, historic trails, footpaths and unspoiled setting reinforce its historical relationship to the site. It remains on its original site directly east of the main building along with four other guest cabins arranged in a semi-circle around the centrally placed main building. It maintains its original physical and functional relationship to the other buildings, the site and its natural surroundings. Wolverine Cabin along with the other buildings 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 thus maintaining its original remote wilderness quality.
Kate Macfarlane, Skoki Ski Lodge, Banff National Park, Alberta. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Building Report 96-105.
Wolverine Cabin, Skoki Ski Lodge, Banff National Park, Alberta. Heritage Character Statement 96-105.
The following character defining elements of Wolverine Cabin should be respected:
Its rustic aesthetic and traditional log design construction as manifested in: Its simple and plain massing as a single-room gable-roofed cabin. The roof extended on log purlins over the entrance sheltering the wooden porch. 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 patina of weathered wood. Its wood shingles cladding the roof. Entrance door centered on the front gabled end. A single multi-paned window centered on both sides and back elevation. Multi-paned windows, the plank door and the tongue-and-groove floorboards constructed of milled lumber components. Its simple interior layout. Its wooden porch and rustic porch swing.
The manner in which the Wolverine Cabin reinforces 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 Wolverine Cabin of the Skoki Ski Lodge National Historic Site was constructed in 1932. Constructed during the management tenure of Peter and Catherine Whyte, it was one of two structures built to provide additional accommodation shortly after construction of the main building. The cabin 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 Wolverine Cabin 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 several 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 Wolverine Cabin 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.
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 Wolverine Cabin, 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 Skoki Ski Lodge influenced further recreational development in the area. The immediate popularity of the resort resulted in the construction of the Wolverine and Honeymoon cabins, built the same year. The lodge remains a major destination point within the park.
Character Defining Elements
The heritage character of the Wolverine Cabin of the Skoki Ski Lodge resides in its picturesque mountainous setting and in its simple, rustic design. In its simple configuration and use of local materials, it exhibits the basic tenets of rustic architecture.
Its massing is plain: a simple, one-roomed, gable-roofed cabin. The roof is extended on log purlins over the entrance sheltering the wooden porch. Centred on the front gabled end is the entrance door. 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 Wolverine Cabin 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 traditional log construction as practised in the mountain parks during the early decades of this century. Multi-paned windows, the plank door and tongue-and-groove floorboards are constructed of milled lumber components. Wood shingles clad the roof. Any repairs or upgrades should match the original construction materials and the simplicity of their execution.
The one-room interior is heated by a small wood-burning stove. Facilities are simple but adequate, contributing to the back-country recreational experience. It would be fitting to maintain the function and layout.
In 1932, the Wolverine and Honeymoon cabins were added to the Skoki Ski Lodge site a short distance from the main building; by 1936, the number of cabins had increased to five. Wolverine Cabin remains on its original site directly east of the main building but its relationship to both the alpine landscape and the other buildings has evolved slightly since 1932. In spite of this, and 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.