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Abbot Pass Refuge Cabin

Banff National Park of Canada, Alberta, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1999/07/08

Corner view of Abbot Pass Refuge Cabin, showing the rear and side elevations, 1986.; Agence Parcs Canada, Direction des services historiques / Parks Canada Agency, Historical Services Branch, Rick Stuart, 1986.
Corner View
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Other Name(s)

n/a

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1922/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2004/12/02

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Banff National Park of Canada Abbot Pass Refuge Cabin is a one-and-a-half storey split-stone cabin of simple design with a rectangular plan and a gabled roof of medium pitch with minimal overhang. Constructed in 1922, it has a single entrance on the façade, accessed from a more recently constructed flat wooden porch. This porch is built over the original stone platform. The cabin is located right on the continental divide and the border between Banff and Yoho National Parks. Located at an altitude of 2 925.5 metres (9598 feet), it is the second highest building in the country. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Abbot Pass Refuge Cabin is a Classified Federal Heritage building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values.

Historical Value
The Abbot Pass Refuge Cabin represents the theme of alpine recreation in Canada. It remains a well-known icon to the national and international alpine community, and a reminder of the pioneer days of Canadian alpine climbing. The Abbot Pass Refuge Cabin illustrates the period that became known as the golden age of mountaineering in Canada. Through its Swiss designers, it is associated with the long tradition of mountain shelters and Swiss mountain guides. The cabin is unique for being both the only shelter above the tree line and for being the only surviving example of an alpine hut in the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

Architectural Value
The Abbot Pass Refuge Cabin is a very good and attractive example of rustic architecture. It is based on the model of high-altitude vernacular, alpine huts of Switzerland. The Abbot Pass Refuge Cabin has been described as one of the most impressive structures in the Canadian Alpine world. A very rare example of a stone cabin in the national parks, it was designed to be highly compatible with its unique setting through the use of natural materials in appropriate colours and textures.

Environmental Value
Accessed via a steep scree, the Abbot Pass Refuge Cabin was constructed in a high mountain pass. Designed as a mountain refuge, it still serves its original purpose. The Abbot Pass Refuge Cabin is successful as an extension of the natural character of its environment. The Abbot Pass Refuge Cabin reinforces the character of the Rockies between Mounts Lefroy and Victoria. This structure successfully harmonizes with its environment through careful selection and use of materials. The Abbot Pass Refuge Cabin is tiny relative to the landscape. Its existence is an isolated but permanent sign of human presence in this uninhabited area.

Sources:
Rhona Goodspeed, Abbot Pass Refuge Cabin, Abbot Pass, Banff National Park, Alberta. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 97-098; Abbot Pass Refuge Cabin, Abbot Pass, Banff National Park, Alberta, Heritage Character Statement 97-098.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of Abbot Pass Refuge Cabin should be respected.

Its rustic design and good quality materials and craftsmanship, for example:
- the simple compact form, massing and balanced symmetrical composition of this one and a half-storey structure;
- the well constructed stonework using locally available rock;
- the simple features, such as the single entrance on the façade and the small window on all four elevations;
- the original entrance platform built of the same stone as the cabin and which remains under the recently constructed flat wooden porch;
- the layout of kitchen/dining area near the entrance with the sleeping area behind it on the main floor is designed to be purely functional;
- the use of local materials such as the roughly finished stones of split limestone quarried on site and the resulting complementary colours and textures;
- the building’s design, scale, and its location within the dramatic and pristine setting of the Canadian Rocky Mountains;
- its visual prominence due to its the unobstructed placement above a steep incline of scree behind a central peak;
- its continuing use as a refuge for visitors;

The manner in which the building reinforces the dramatic character of the mountain landscape.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Federal

Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Treasury Board Heritage Buildings Policy

Recognition Type

Classified Federal Heritage Building

Recognition Date

1999/07/08

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

n/a

Theme - Category and Type

Function - Category and Type

Current

Historic

Residence
Single Dwelling

Architect / Designer

Edward Fenz, Jr. and Rudolph Aemmer

Builder

n/a

Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

National Historic Sites Directorate, Documentation Centre, 5th Floor, Room 89, 25 Eddy Street, Gatineau, Quebec

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier

8717

Status

Published

Related Places

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Abbot Pass Refuge Cabin National Historic Site of Canada

Abbot Pass Refuge Cabin is a high altitude alpine shelter in Abbot Pass, a col between Mounts Lefroy and Victoria on the continental divide on the border between Banff and Yoho…

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