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Banff Springs Hotel National Historic Site of Canada

Spray Avenue, Banff National Park of Canada, Alberta, T1L, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1988/06/24

Distant view of the Banff Springs Hotel.; Parks Canada Agency/ Agence Parcs Canada
General view of the Banff Springs Hotel
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Other Name(s)

n/a

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1911/01/01 to 1928/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2007/05/14

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Banff Springs Hotel is a large, Chateau-style hotel, built between 1911 and 1928. It is picturesquely situated at the foot of Sulphur Mountain in the town of Banff, within Banff National Park. The formal recognition consists of the building on its legal property at the time of recognition.

Heritage Value

The Banff Springs Hotel was designated a national historic site in 1988 because it is a leading Canadian example of a large-scale, resort hotel in a natural setting.

The Banff Springs Hotel is one of the largest and most renowned of the resort hotels established by Canadian railway companies during the late 19th and early 20th centuries to encourage tourists to travel their transcontinental routes. The hotel developed an international reputation for excellence as a vacation retreat and became a symbol of tourism in the Canadian Rockies. Its striking natural setting, Chateau-style design and lavish interior decor appealed to a wealthy clientele seeking a wilderness experience in opulent surroundings.

Built by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), the Banff Springs Hotel includes an eleven-storey tower designed by Walter S. Painter, added in 1911-14 to an earlier wooden structure, the main block of the hotel, designed by J.W. Orrock, added in 1927-8 to replace the wooden structure destroyed by fire, and various sympathetic additions added since 1969. Architecturally, the Banff Springs Hotel differs from other railway hotels in its more restrained use of the Chateau-style vocabulary, and a greater reliance on Arts-and-Crafts finishes and forms, such as rough stone masonry and rounded gables.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minute, June 1988.

Character-Defining Elements

Key elements that relate to the heritage value of the Banff Springs Hotel include:
- elements which typify Chateau-style railway hotels, including its massive scale, steeply pitched copper roofs broken by towers, dormers and gables, high-quality materials, and dramatic setting;
- its restrained Chateaux-style design with its symmetrical design, picturesque roofline with shed-roofed dormers, round arches, two-tiered gable motif, and absence of Gothic detailing;
- its steel and concrete construction;
- its cladding in hard, dark, local limestone (Rundle Stone);
- its large, public spaces, including the original entry porch, the swimming pool deck and its overlooking terrace, the garden terrace, the original main entry lobby, Mount Stephen Hall, Riverview Lounge, the "Spanish Walk," the Alberta Dining Room, the Alhambra Dining Room, the Cascade Ball Room, the Conservatory with evidence of their original volumes and decorative motifs;
- the distinctive decor of its interior spaces, including ornamental metal grillwork, plaster beamed or vaulted ceilings with decorative scrollwork, extensive use of carved Tyndall stone, the Bedford flagstone floor and decorative coats of arms in the Mount Stephen Hall, and the arched, plate-glass windows and fireplace of the Riverview Lounge;
- viewscapes of the Bow River, Tunnel Mountain, Mount Rundle and the distant Fairholme range, visible from the hotel's interior and from its exterior terraces;
- viewscapes of the hotel against its forested backdrop of steep mountain slopes, as seen along the valley of the Spray River, and from the scenic road up Tunnel Mountain.

Recognition

Jurisdiction

Federal

Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date

1988/06/24

Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1911/01/01 to 1914/01/01
1927/01/01 to 1928/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Architecture and Design
Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life
Sports and Leisure

Function - Category and Type

Current

Commerce / Commercial Services
Hotel, Motel or Inn

Historic

Architect / Designer

Walter S. Painter

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

2

Status

Published

Related Places

n/a

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