Banff National Park is Canada’s first and oldest national park, and the third national park created in the world. Established in 1885, Banff National Park was created from the discovery of various springs on Sulphur Mountain during construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
The Cave and Basin hot spring was quickly identified as the first tourist attraction. The townsite was established around the spring, following a hotel which was quickly promoted to an international resort and spa. In 1984, the UNESCO World Heritage organization recognized Banff National Park for its “exceptional natural beauty” and “striking mountain landscape.”
Before 1885, Indigenous people lived in the forests of the Rocky Mountains thriving amongst the large game and plentiful springs, streams and lakes. The area of Banff National Park historically is sacred, known for medicines and the healing properties of the hot springs.
Historical Sites of the Banff National Park
Banff Park Museum
The oldest museum of natural history in western Canada, the Banff Park Museum was constructed in 1903. The museum displays historical collections of various flora and fauna. More impressive is the museums large taxidermy display sporting bears, buffalo, bighorn sheep and much more.
Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies
Preserving the history and culture of the Rocky Mountains, landscape artists duo Peter and Catharine Whyte founded the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies. Promoting beautiful historic art collections, the museum is place to stroll through and visually learn about the Canadian Rockies historic culture.
Cave and Basin National Historic Site
Since three railroad workers stumbled across the historic hot spring in 1883, the Cave and Basin has been a preserved historical site. Bath houses, sulphuric springs and interactive displays will allow you to relive the origin of the discover of the Banff National Park.
Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum
The Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum immerses visitors in the heritage of the First Nations indigenous groups that have inhabited the Banff and Lake Louise area for centuries. The exhibits showcase a variety of artifacts and art pieces including weaponry, tools, clothing and ceremonial pieces and describe the rich and diverse First Nations way of life within Banff National Park.
The Historic Luxton Home Museum
Norman, Georgina, and daughter Eleanor Luxton was Banff’s original pioneer family. The Home Museum tells the story of the Luxton family and life in Banff throughout nine decades. View stunning collections including First Nations artifacts, furniture, china, paintings and more. Be sure to visit the Luxton Garden, designed in the Arts and Craft Style of 1910, it still homes 120 year old lilac trees.
Fairmount Banff Springs Hotel
The famous Fairmount Banff Spring hotel is nestled between the mountain peaks. Constructed in 1888, this extravagant hotel marked the beginning of tourism for Banff. Rumoured to be haunted, the historic hotel allows for shopping, fine dinning and ice skating during the winter months.