Recognized Federal Heritage Building
Banff National Park of Canada, Alberta
© Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, 1997.
Cascades of Time Garden, Banff, Banff National Park of Canada, Alberta
Treasury Board Policy on Management of Real Property
1934 to 1935
Event, Person, Organization:
Harold C. Becket
FHBRO Report Reference:
Description of Historic Place
The Cambrian Pavilion is situated in the northeast corner of the Cascades of Time Garden in downtown Banff. Of simple massing, the Cambrian Pavilion is a rectangular structure consisting of an open-walled garden pavilion built of rock in the Rustic style. Squat with a hipped roof and wide overhanging arches, the symmetrical façade is five bays wide and has a central entrance arch. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.
The Cambrian Pavilion is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.
The Cambrian Pavilion at Banff is a very good example of the development of Canada’s national park system and early Canadian tourism. It is also associated with the emerging ideals of protecting and enhancing designated wilderness areas for the pleasure and benefit of the Canadian people. The department of Public Works funded the project and provided relief for unemployed workers during the Great Depression.
The Cambrian Pavilion is a very good example of Rustic design within the National Parks program. As an integral part of the Cascades of Time Garden, the Cambrian Pavilion is one of the first features in a planned picturesque walk through the gardens. The informal Rustic style was perceived as harmonious with the mountain setting. Reflecting the rustic, picturesque aesthetic consistent with parks’ tradition, local building materials were used and the Cambrian Pavilion and surrounding pools were built of local rock. It is a good functional structure built to reflect its picturesque setting. The pavilion exhibits good quality materials and very good craftsmanship.
In the northeast corner of the garden, the Cambrian Pavilion is encountered just before pools representing the primordial era (one of the geological eras during which the Rocky Mountains were formed). The building serves as an observation platform for distant off-site points. Reinforcing the present character of the theme garden, the Cambrian Pavilion is a familiar landmark nestled into a hill on the Administration Building’s grounds. Emphasizing natural building materials and the picturesque landscape, the Cambrian Pavilion is constructed to be compatible with its environment.
Source: Cambrian Pavilion, Banff National Park, Banff, Alberta. Heritage Character Statement 97-011.
The following character-defining elements of the Cambrian Pavilion should be respected.
Its Rustic style and very good quality materials and craftsmanship as manifested in: the simple low massing of the one-storey structure with a rectangular plan and hipped roof, and the cedar-shingles laid in staggered lines to give a random roof pattern; the exposed roof framing of peeled pole rafters; the log colonnade between end-bays, peeled log lintels and columns, diagonal braces and an ornamental balustrade; the use of Corral creek shale in broken courses for the exterior walls, with deeply raked joints in the masonry; the symmetrical five-bay façade with wide arches with one central entrance arch; the arched opening in each face of the end bay and the end-bay buttresses; the wide overhanging eaves and the use of rustic timbers; the stone flagged floor; the plank benches with burl specimens.
The manner in which the Cambrian Pavilion reinforces the picturesque setting of the Cascades of Time Garden.
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 Cambrian Pavilion was constructed in 1934-35. It was designed by the architect Harold C. Beckett. Alterations include the replacement of the roof and some structural supports (no dates). The building continues in its original use as a garden pavilion within the Cascades of Time Garden. The Parks Canada Agency is the custodian. See FHBRO Case File No. 97-11.
Reasons for Designation
The Cambrian Pavilion has been designated “Recognized” because of its historical, architectural and environmental associations.
The development of the Cambrian Pavilion is directly associated with the completion of Banff National Park’s Administration Building and its broader setting, the Cascades of Time Garden, in the 1930s. This construction was part of an effort to attract international tourism to Banff National Park. The Cambrian Pavilion is closely associated with this intense period of development, an increase in visitation, and ultimately an important turning point in the history of the park. It was built by unemployed relief workers during this period.
The Cambrian Pavilion is a very good example of rustic design within the national parks program, and is characteristic of Harold C. Beckett’s work set within the realm of landscape design. Very good craftsmanship is evident throughout the structure.
The Cambrian Pavilion is an integral component of the Cascades of Time Garden. Its site has remained virtually unchanged since the original development, with the exception of maturing vegetation. The rustic form and detailing of the pavilion reinforces the Picturesque character of the established garden setting. A key element of the larger site development, the Cambrian Pavilion is a familiar structure to the townsite’s residents.
Character Defining Elements
The heritage character of the Cambrian Pavilion resides in the features characteristic of its status as an open-walled garden pavilion built in the rustic style. Externally, the features characteristic of this building type are the simple massing (rectangular, squat, a hipped roof with wide overhanging eaves); the symmetrical facade (five bays wide with a central entrance arch); the masonry end-bays (solid stone walls, strengthened by a pair of buttresses with “set-offs”, a semi-circular arched opening in each face of the end-bays); the log colonnade between end bays (peeled log lintels and columns, diagonal braces and an ornamental balustrade); the style of masonry (ledge stone with deeply raked joints to give the appearance of dry stone masonry); the roof finish of hand-split cedar shakes laid in staggered lines to give a random roof pattern; and, the modified “Boston” ridge and hips. These features deserve protection.
The heritage character of the exterior and interior would be best protected by replacement in-kind of any heavily weathered or mechanically damaged building components, materials and finishes as the need arises.
Internally, the features characteristic of this building type are the exposed roof framing (peeled pole rafter pairs abutted against and spiked to a ridge board; the feet of the rafters tied by a pole tie-beam); the exposed peeled pole laths carrying the shakes; the flag stone floor; and’ the plank benches with burl specimens (abnormal bulges on the limb or trunk of a spruce tree) as legs.
The heritage character of the interior would be best protected by careful maintenance of the shake roof finish and winter protection of the more vulnerable bench furniture.
The Cascades of Time Garden is nestled into a hill on the grounds of the Administration Building, its landscape designed in conjunction with the building. The garden was created in the romantic tradition of English Picturesque landscapes, boasting deliberately irregular pools, flagstone walkways and planted clumps of trees that blend with the surrounding forest. The original program for the landscape, although never fully realized, was intended to depict the evolution of life through the geological eras.
The prominent position of the Cambrian Pavilion in the northeast corner of the garden, adjacent to the Cambrian Pool, makes it highly visible from the Administration Building. The pavilion also provides a viewing platform to points off-site. These relationships should be protected.
The site of the Cambrian Pavilion is characterized by a natural flagstone walkway, and steps which reflect the construction of the columns. Contrasting rubble stone terraces complete the composition. The form and materials of these features, and their relationship to the pavilion, should be maintained.
The larger garden emphasized a wide variety of floral and shrub species which complemented the pavilion and the stonework. The relationship between this pavilion and these naturalistic plantings is important and should be protected. Ornamental plantings should be maintained at the planters formed on the “set offs” of the buttresses.