The Old Crag Cabin

The Old Crag Cabin
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The centerpiece of Bison Courtyard is the Old Crag Cabin, a historic cabin with over a century of stories embedded in it. The Cabin has stood on Bear Street for 121 years, making it one of the two or three oldest original structures in Banff National Park. It was built in 1888, 1889 or 1890 by Athanese Laurendeau, a young baker.

The Cabin’s simple architectural style, a corner post log structure, dates back at least 500 years to Scandinavia. In the 1400s, the great forests of Sweden and Norway gave birth to “stav og” (early wooden) farmhouse construction. The style spread to French-ruled parts of the new world, and became known as the “pièce-sur-pièce” house. In the 1800s, it was used for Hudson’s Bay Company trading posts. After that, log buildings with the whitewashed vertical log corner-posts became widely known as “Hudson’s Bay Corner” style.

A series of vastly different businesses and colourful occupants have passed through the Cabin’s door and guided us along a historical path from young frontier town to 21 st century mountain community. It was a baker’s house, a butcher shop, and a small-town newspaper. It greased people’s wheels as a gas station, and in the 1930’s it was a funeral home.

But perhaps the Cabin’s greatest adventure – the one it is known for best – was as the home of Banff’s Crag & Canyon newspaper. This still-publishing weekly paper, founded by Norman Luxton, was produced in the Cabin between 1901 and 1929.

Arctos & Bird restored the Old Crag Cabin in 1999. During the construction of Bison Courtyard, the Cabin was temporarily relocated to the Masonic Lodge property further down Bear Street. When construction was complete on the Courtyard in 2005, the Old Crag Cabin was carefully returned to the heart of Bison Courtyard. It is now surrounded by public pathways and opens onto Bear Street’s pedestrian traffic.

The Old Crag Cabin is an important symbol of Banff’s roots, and helps maintain the varied streetscape characteristic of most mountain towns.

In 2008, Banff Heritage Tourism, The Banff Heritage Corporation and the Mountain Parks Heritage Interpretation Association recognized Arctos & Bird's "outstanding efforts" to preserve the Old Crag Cabin, "a testament to the company's commitment to environmental and heritage conservation."

To learn more about the Award for Restoration, Rehabilitation and Adaptive Reuse of a Heritage Building, click here.


Simpson Roberts Architecture


Leyco Enterprises