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Cave and Basin Bathing Pavilion

Banff National Park oF Canada, Alberta, Canada

Formally Recognized: 1994/03/17

General view of main entrance of the Cave & Basin Bating Pavilion showing the two octagonal belvederes, 1991.; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, W. Lynch, 1991
Main entrance of Cave & Basin.
General view of the interior of the cave and Basin pool showing its warm mineral waters, 2002.; Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, K. Dahlin, 2002
Interior view
Detail view of the main entrance to the Cave and Basin Bathing Pavilion  showing the use of natural materials consistent with the principles of rustic architecture, 1988.; Parks Canada Agency / Agence Parcs Canada, W. Lynch, 1988.

Other Name(s)

Cave and Basin Bathing Pavilion
Hot Springs Bathing Pavilion
Pavillon des sources thermales

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)

1912/01/01 to 1914/01/01

Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/06/16

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Cave and Hot Springs Bathing Pavilion in the Banff National Park of Canada consists of a symmetrical frontispiece articulated by two octagonal belvederes. Behind it is a long man-made swimming pool fed by natural hot springs and terminated by a wooden bathhouse structure. Along one side of the swimming pool is a multi-storied and terraced long house containing the change rooms and the interpretive center. Alongside the other side is a simple arcaded stone wall providing enclosure as well as vistas into the landscape. At either end of the long house are the naturalistic Cave and Basin pools. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Cave and Hot Springs Bathing Pavilion is a Classified Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental values:

Historical value:
The Cave and Hot Springs Bathing Pavilion is one of the best examples of the theme of early Canadian tourism. It is considered the birthplace of Canada’s national parks system and because of the quality of its architectural design. It is also the oldest facility of its type within the Canadian Parks system. The Bathing Pavilion represents the first major undertaking of the National Parks Branch following its establishment in 1911. The discovery of the Cave and Basin Hot Springs and the decision to preserve them from private development provided the catalyst for the establishment of Canada’s first national park and the eventual network of parks.

Architectural value:
The Cave and Hot Springs Bathing Pavilion is a well-crafted and excellent example of rustic architecture. The characteristic finish is of rough-hewn and irregularly coursed grey Rundle
limestone masonry, which contrasts with the red Spanish tile-clad roofs of the belvederes. The rough texture of the massive walls is contrasted by the small, regularly spaced cut-stone scuppers and corbels. Wrought iron lantern-type fixtures provide a material contrast and enliven the arcaded stone wall. The use of colour and texture derived from natural materials is an important character-defining feature. The wooden bathhouse structure is a representation of the 1904 configuration of the original bathhouse.

Environmental value:
Built around the naturally occurring but somewhat modified Cave and Basin hot spring pools, the jagged rugged and massively proportioned Bathing Pavilion reflects the ruggedness of the mountain setting in a carefully arranged composition. The Cave and Hot Springs Bathing Pavilion successfully integrates with the landscape; it is picturesquely nestled along the hillside of the Bow River valley at the base of Sulphur Mountain. The grotto-like underground Cave, the protected out-of- doors Basin, the rooftop promenades and terraces, and the trails extend from the building out into the landscape, thereby enhancing the relationship between the building and the environment.

Kate MacFarlane, Cave and Basin Hot Springs Bathhouse, Banff National Park. Federal Heritage Buildings Review Office Report 93-114; Cave and Hot Springs Bathing Pavilion, Banff Town site, Banff National Park. Alberta, Heritage Character Statement 93-114.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Cave and Hot Springs Bathing Pavilion should be respected:

The manner in which the Cave and Hot Springs Bathhouse illustrates the birthplace of Canada’s National Park system and the eventual network of parks.

Its Rustic style and very good quality materials and craftsmanship as manifested in:
- the two octagonal belvederes and the symmetrical stone arcades flanking the swimming pool.
- the use of natural materials consistent with the principles of rustic architecture such as
the rough coursed and irregularly laid grey limestone masonry, and the small, regularly spaced cut stone scuppers and corbels.
- the wrought iron lantern-type fixtures.
- the arcaded stone wall.

The Rustic building style and the well-known building’s vocabulary of textures and natural materials, which all complement and reinforce the spectacular site and setting of Banff National Park.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Treasury Board Heritage Buildings Policy

Recognition Type

Classified Federal Heritage Building

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Function - Category and Type



Pool or Beach

Architect / Designer

Walter S. Painter and Francis S. Swales



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




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Entrance to Cave and Basin

Cave and Basin National Historic Site of Canada

Cave and Basin National Historic Site of Canada is a hot spring located in Banff National Park. The site was developed for public use with a nearby swimming pool and bath-house…


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