Maligne Lake Chalet and Guest House National Historic Site
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Approved on January 9, 2020 by:
Field Unit Superintendent
Jasper National Park
The Parks Canada Agency manages one of the finest and most extensive systems of protected natural and historic areas in the world. The Agency’s mandate is to protect and present these places for the benefit and enjoyment of current and future generations. This management statement outlines Parks Canada’s management approach and objectives for Maligne Lake Chalet and Guest House National Historic Site of Canada.
Maligne Lake Chalet and Guest House is situated 47 km southeast of the town of Jasper on the north shore of Maligne Lake, a large, glacier-fed lake surrounded by mountains in Jasper National Park. The longest natural lake in the Canadian Rockies, Maligne Lake is of cultural and spiritual significance for Indigenous peoples who have cultural ties to Jasper National Park. It has been considered one of the most scenic tourist attractions in Jasper National Park since the celebrated outdoorswoman Mary Schäffer published an account of her visit to the lake in 1911. The tourism draw of Maligne Lake remains strong today, as it is one of the most popular locations in the park for day trips as well as backcountry hikes and camping.
The chalet and guest house were constructed in 1927-1941 and 1935 by celebrated outfitter and guide Fred Brewster with support from the Canadian National Railways. The two log buildings are examples of the rustic architectural style characterised by peeled log construction, hipped roofs and exposed log detailing. The rustic style is found throughout the mountain national parks in the form of recreational and administrative buildings, many of which have been recognised by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada for their architecture and historic significance.
This National Historic Site represents the history and development of Jasper National Park as an early example of tourist accommodation in the backcountry. At the time that the Maligne Lake Chalet and Guest House were constructed, Maligne Lake was a remote location and experiencing the place involved making an arduous trip over rough trails. Horse outfitters and guides like Brewster and his staff, including Métis people, played an important role in Jasper National Park’s early development by providing supplies, transport and knowledge to intrepid tourists looking for ‘authentic’ wilderness experiences. The chalet and guest house are also representative of a wider expansion of railway based tourism initiatives and accommodations that took place throughout the Canadian Rocky Mountains during the interwar period.
The Maligne Lake Chalet and Guest House National Historic Site is managed within the respective policy, legislative and regulatory frameworks of Jasper National Park.
Parks Canada owns the land and the Maligne Lake Chalet and Guest House, while the license of occupation holder currently operates the buildings as a commercial dining and special event space. The boundary of the National Historic Site encompasses both buildings and their immediate surrounding landscape (i.e. the footprint of the license of occupation) not including three more recent structures that service the chalet and guest house (washroom buildings and storage).
Parks Canada stabilised the chalet’s foundation in 1980 and conducted structural stabilisation of both buildings in 1994 that included foundational work, sill logs, chimneys and roofs. Renovations to the chalet and guest house were undertaken by the former lessee, Maligne Tours, in 2011. The site was designated as the Maligne Lake Chalet and Guest House National Historic Site by the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada in 2014. Despite changes to the interiors and exteriors of the buildings due to their required stabilisation and renovation, they retain formal and structural integrity associated with their original design and purpose.
For a map, please refer to: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/ab/maligne/visit
Parks Canada protects cultural resources at its heritage places in accordance with its Cultural Resource Management Policy and the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada. This includes ongoing monitoring of the state of cultural resources, documentation of past and future interventions at the site, and communication with the site’s operators to ensure the commemorative integrity of the structures is protected.
Parks Canada works cooperatively with the license of occupation holder/operator to ensure management and operation of the site, including its interpretation, is consistent with the license of occupation and Jasper National Park of Canada Management Plan.
Stewardship of the site is informed by a Commemorative Integrity Statement to be prepared by Parks Canada with the involvement of the license of occupation holder and interested parties.
Parks Canada communicates heritage messages and the reasons for designation of the national historic site through monitoring and maintenance of the Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada plaque, and online through the Jasper National Park website.
Parks Canada works with the license of occupation holder/operator to ensure that welcome and directional signage is compatible and integrated with Parks Canada signage and guidelines.
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