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Glacier Circle Alpine Hut

Glacier National Park of Canada, British Columbia, Canada

Formally Recognized: 2000/10/05

Glacier Circle Alpine Hut Recognized Federal Heritage Building; Parcs Canada - Parks Canada
Front facade
Detailed view of Glacier Circle Alpine Hut inscription; Parcs Canada - Parks Canada
Exterior view
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Other Name(s)

Circle Alpine Hut
Refuge alpin du Cercle
Glacier Circle Alpine Hut

Links and documents

Construction Date(s)


Listed on the Canadian Register: 2005/11/09

Statement of Significance

Description of Historic Place

The Glacier Circle Alpine Hut, a modest hand-crafted vernacular structure built of materials found near its remote mountain site, sits within a natural bowl known as the Glacier Circle. It is a small, spruce log construction with a porch extension and a gable roof covered with wood shingles. The designation is confined to the footprint of the building.

Heritage Value

The Glacier Circle Alpine Hut is a Recognized Federal Heritage Building because of its historical associations, and its architectural and environmental value.

Historical Value
The Glacier Circle Alpine Hut is associated with the development of the Canadian Rockies for tourism and alpine recreation based on the model of the Swiss Alps. It is a testimony to the pioneering roles of the Swiss Guides, who played a key role in the popularization of alpine climbing in Western Canada and who introduced the concept of alpine shelter huts. It is also associated with the Canadian Pacific Railway, which constructed the first series of huts, at strategic locations close to popular climbing areas. Finally, it is associated with the Alpine Club of Canada (ACC), which since 1906 has organized alpine excursions and related activities. In 1972 the ACC undertook the restoration of the Glacier Circle Hut, the oldest surviving backcountry shelter cabin in the Glacier National Park.

Architectural Value
The Glacier Circle Alpine Hut is a good example of rustic Canadian alpine huts of its day. The cabin uses a vernacular design that lent itself to construction in a remote location where manufactured components had to be kept to a minimum. It exhibits good craftsmanship and the appropriate use of natural materials.

The Environmental Value
The Glacier Circle Alpine Hut reinforces its extremely remote mountain setting in the midst of a forest glade in the Glacier Circle. It is a landmark that is well known to the climbers and skiers who use it as an overnight destination and shelter.

Edward Mills, Glacier Circle Alpine Hut, Glacier National Park, British Columbia, Federal Heritage Building Report, 00-018; Glacier Circle Alpine Hut, Glacier National Park, British Columbia, Heritage Character Statement, 00-018.

Character-Defining Elements

The character-defining elements of the Glacier Circle Alpine Hut should be respected.

Its role as an illustration of the pioneering roles of the Swiss Guides, the Canadian Pacific Railway, and the Alpine Club of Canada in the development of the Rockies for tourism and recreation as evidenced by:
-the inscriptions marking ascents and the names of Swiss Guides and others, which are carved, written, and nailed on the interior of the log walls.

Its rustic and rudimentary design, its good craftsmanship, and its appropriate use of materials, for example:
-its modest scale and rectangular form surmounted by a gable roof, with a minimal number of small windows;
-its carefully hand-crafted construction of locally-cut spruce logs, assembled with saddle- notched corners and peeled spruce primary structural components, its foundation of boulders, and its hand-split shingle roof covering;
-its simple functional design and interior layout;
-the features of its interior and exterior upgrades by the ACC, including the loft and porch extension.

Its compatibility with its remote, natural surroundings and its landmark character as evidenced by:
-its comfortable relationship with its natural context, due to its modest scale, its local materials, and its rustic detailing;
-its status as a landmark that is part of a network of isolated overnight destinations and shelters known to the skiers and climbers who use the park.




Recognition Authority

Government of Canada

Recognition Statute

Treasury Board Heritage Buildings Policy

Recognition Type

Recognized Federal Heritage Building

Recognition Date


Historical Information

Significant Date(s)


Theme - Category and Type

Function - Category and Type



Architect / Designer

Canadian Pacific Railway



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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