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Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station National Historic Site of Canada

Banff National Park of Canada, Alberta, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1982/06/12

Photo of the expanded cosmic ray station as it appeared in March 1974; David Hobill
Photo of the expanded cosmic ray station, 1974
Original building, 1950s-1960s; National Research Council Canada Archives | Archives du Conseil national de recherches Canada
Original building, 1950s-1960s
No Image

Other Name(s)

Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station National Historic Site of Canada
Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station
Station d'Étude des Rayons Cosmiques du Mont-Sulphur

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1956/01/01 to 1957/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2009/03/13

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station National Historic Site of Canada is the site of a former laboratory located near the summit of Sulphur Mountain, in Banff National Park of Canada. The remaining concrete foundation is accessible only by foot. Official recognition refers to the building on its footprint, visible today by its remaining concrete foundation, as well as the level platform cut into the rock that surrounds it, and the upper switchback of the former access road.

Heritage Value

The Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station was declared a national historic site of Canada in 1982 because of:
- its role in the Canadian contribution to the International Geophysical Year 1957-58.

The heritage value of Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station lies in its location, the legibility of its remains, and their association with an important worldwide scientific phenomenon. The Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station was one of nine Canadian monitoring stations built in 1956-57 to meet Canada’s commitment to the International Geophysical Year of 1957-58 organized by the International Council of Scientific Unions. Situated at an altitude of 2383 metres, it became Canada’s most important cosmic ray observatory, contributing to our understanding of how the sun effects the earth’s environment. Its sponsor and initial occupant was the National Research Council of Canada, although the University of Calgary assumed operation of the laboratory from 1960-1978. During this period, the size of the original building was expanded to accommodate an upgrade of its monitoring equipment. Once the station closed, both the building and its equipment were removed in 1981.

Sources: Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada, Minutes, June 1982; Commemorative Integrity Statement, December 1999.

Character-Defining Elements

The key elements that contribute to the heritage character of this site include:
- the location of the site at 2383 metres altitude, close to the summit of Sulphur Mountain;
- the viewplanes to the adjacent Sulphur Mountain Weather Station and to the lower slopes of Sulphur Mountain and along its summit ridge, and of the surrounding mountains and valleys;
- the remains of the switchback trail in its route, extent and materials, and its spatial relationship to the foundation remains;
- the legibility in terms of materials and configuration of laboratory remains including the concrete foundation of the building, its surrounding level platform, and the upper switchback trail.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Historic Sites and Monuments Act

Recognition Type

National Historic Site of Canada

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)

1957/01/01 to 1958/01/01
1960/01/01 to 1978/01/01
1981/01/01 to 1981/01/01

Theme - Category and Type

Expressing Intellectual and Cultural Life

Function - Category and Type



Health and Research
Research Facility

Architect / Designer




Additional Information

Location of Supporting Documentation

Indigenous Affairs and Cultural Heritage Directorate Documentation Centre 3rd Floor, room 366 30 Victoria Street Gatineau, Québec J8X 0B3

Cross-Reference to Collection

Fed/Prov/Terr Identifier




Related Places

Side view

Sulphur Mountain Weather Station

Perched on the top of an exposed ridge at the peak of Sulphur Mountain and overlooking the Banff townsite, the Sulphur Mountain Weather Station, also known as the Sulphur Mountain…


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