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 Posted in    |  on March 4th, 2011  |  by

Landmark lodge to be demolished

Radium Hot Springs Lodge in 1935. Courtesy of the Whyte Museum

A nearly 90-year-old lodge that was built to coincide with the opening of the original Banff-Windermere Highway will soon be torn down and removed from Kootenay National Park in the name of ecological improvements.

Built into the rocky hillside overlooking the Radium Hot Springs Pools, the Radium Hot Springs Lodge was constructed in 1925 by the Canadian Pacific Railway, and has since housed hundreds of thousands of visitors during its 86 years of operation, including the late Sir Winston Churchill in 1929.

Because the lodge is located within Kootenay Park boundaries on Crown land, it is classified as an Outlying Commercial Accommodation Operator (OCAO), and until recently, the land on which the lodge sits was under a lease agreement. In January 2001, Parks Canada gave notice to all OCAOs in the Sinclair Canyon area that their leases would not be replaced.

Later that year, Parks Canada purchased and removed three bungalow operations in the Sinclair Canyon area on a willing-buyer/willing-seller basis, said Pam Veinotte, Superintendent of Lake Louise, Yoho, and Kootenay National Parks. “At that time, Parks Canada confirmed its intentions to purchase Radium Hot Springs Lodge should funds become available,” she added.

That time has now come.

“Parks Canada has accepted the transfer of title for Radium Hot Springs Lodge back to the Crown on mutually agreeable terms,” Ms. Veinotte said, adding that the terms of the agreement are confidential.
Until recently, the lodge was owned by Hans Brouwer of Sherwood Properties, based out of Wetaskawin, Alberta. He could not be reached for comment by press time.

The Radium Hot Springs Lodge in 1955. Photo courtesy of the Whyte Museum

In addition to the lodge and already-removed bungalows, Parks plans to remove the former Kootenay National Park superintendent’s residence. Since 2001, Parks Canada has spent $750,000 on restoration activities in the area. The cost of the lodge’s removal is yet unknown.

“This initiative is not new,” Ms. Veinotte said. “Parks Canada began removing facilities in Sinclair Canyon 30 years ago, in recognition of the area’s importance as a rare open forest and grasslands ecosystem, and as a low elevation wildlife corridor.

“As the stewards of Canada’s national parks, our first priority is to make sure the natural and cultural treasures we have been entrusted with are protected . . . we feel that the investments made in restoring Kootenay National park to date are valuable to all Canadians and will help us realize long-term ecological goals for Kootenay National Park and its contribution to the Columbia Valley.”

When questioned about the pools and pool parking lots across the highway from the lodge, Ms. Veinotte said she doesn’t expect visitor numbers to the pool to decrease, and that the pool facilities don’t need to be removed because the south side of the highway isn’t comprised of important wildlife habitat or connectivity.

The current Radium Hot Springs Lodge. Photo by Ron Verboom

Kent Kebe of the Radium Chamber of Commerce said that while he understands Parks’ reasons for doing so, it’s a sad day to see the 66-room lodge shut down.

“It was a wonderful place for people to come,” he said, “Now we will do what we can to host the visitors who would have gone to the lodge in Radium and other parts of the valley.”

Patricia Kilback, who has managed the lodge for the past 15 years, said, “I will truly miss meeting people from all over the world. I have great memories of working here.”

Patricia hopes to stay in the Radium area, but now faces an uncertain employment future as the lodge she loves closes its doors for the last time.

Kelsey Verboom
Email: kelsey@cv-pioneer.com
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Editor Kelsey Verboom grew up in the Columbia Valley, and is excited to be involved with her hometown newspaper. Kelsey studied English at the University of Calgary before attending a journalism and photojournalism program at the Western Academy of Photography in Victoria, British Columbia. Before becoming editor, Kelsey worked as a reporter for The Columbia Valley Pioneer. Her photography and writing reflect her deep-rooted passion for the Columbia Valley.

30 Responses to Landmark lodge to be demolished

  1. Reg Seymour says:

    Curious as to whether the “Old lodge” 1935 photo or the building from 1955 photo is still there or is the newer looking building being replaced Which building is being demolished?

  2. RockyMtnHigh says:

    Isn’t this just a crock on the part of Parks Canada and Ms Veinotte.
    Parks has this broken idea that buildings have an impact on our Big Horn Sheep.
    I’m sorry, but this idea truly is WRONG !!!

    We have sheep living, eating, ineracting with humans all through Radium Hot Springs, Cranbrook area, Salmo Creston Pass area. On and on for locations. They walk around humans, they walk around buildings, they sleep beside cars, buildings, and pools.

    Oh ! by the way, are parks Canada in their ludicrous idea, going to remove as well, the entire Radium Pools infrastructure now, because the SHEEEEEEP ! can’t access their hot water ?????
    I don’t think so.
    Shame on you Vienotte. And triple shame on the employees and staff that have been advocating the removal of human interaction with decent accomodation, history, and our pools. To be consistent Vienotte, you are now going to have to remove all the pool infrastructure.
    Shame.

  3. Don Wolff says:

    So many great memories of the Lodge over the years, and very sad to see it go. By the way Ms. Vienotte, to be consistent, should you not also tear down the Chateau Lake Louise which is also on ecologically sensitive land? Maybe we should tear down the Banff Springs Hotel and the Rimrock in Banff as they too are in sensitive ecological habitat.

    • KEN says:

      I think it all boils down to B.C. ridiculous government bending over backwards to the enviro terrorist that controls the stupid LIBERAL government. B.C. will always be going backwards as long as they keep voting in NDP and LIB,S. At 65ys of age, Radium Hot Springs has always been my B.C. Heritage places to enjoy. You won,t see these idiots in ALBERTA Sights,like BANFF or others

      • David R Pacey says:

        Sorry Ken, but your rant is so far off the mark as to be ridiculous.

        This is a National Park, as in Federal Government, NOT provincial government. As in Ottawa, as in National Park?

        But an interesting rant all the same.

  4. James Jackson says:

    This lodge was a favorite spot for my wife and I to visit. It is truly fitting building with the Radium Hot Spring pools and I cannot imagine sitting in the pool and not glancing toward this unique building that has earned its place beside the hot springs.

    Whereas I would support an argument to limit further development, ripping away something that is now a part of the heritage in Radium is absurd on a fallacious ecological argument.

    If you want to talk about interfering with ecology, the vehicle activity on highway 93 has a million times more impact than this humble stationary lodge.

    This is a decision that needs to be reversed before the lodge is destroyed. So how can this be done?

  5. Janet Wells says:

    How very sad to see that the lodge is being or has been demolished. My Aunt & Uncle owned the lodge in the mid-1960′s and then passed it on to my cousins who ran it for quite a number of years. I do have many, many memories of the lodge & spent many hours in the pools across the way. It is a landmark that truly will be missed!!

  6. George says:

    I do believe that Parks Canada has better things to spend it’s limited budget on than tearing down this building. I dare say that some of the biologists and planners should be reviewed as to their thinking, you cannot change history and you know, the sheep do walk around it, sleep on the hills above it and probably have adapted better to it being there than some misguided ecologist.

  7. Danielle Rose says:

    I cannot believe that the Lodge is to be torn down.
    I have been visiting Radium since I was a little girl..my father used to take us on family trips and no matter what time we arrived, the Lodge was where we stayed. I learned how to play pool for the first time, I also learned how to swim there. Most of all, I treasured the time I would get to spend with my father that was so special. I grew up visiting the lodge, and unfortunately, on my last visit, it broke my heart to see the lack of maintenance on the hotel.
    This Lodge is a landmark–it has been there since day one of Radium itself. The pools and the lodge are one and the same when it comes to memories. Generations far older than my own have also grown up visiting the lodge with their families…it is a landmark.
    Its so sad to see someone who has never experienced the magic of this place decide that the sheep need more room to graze. The sheep have lived 93 years grazing AROUND the lodge, why the sudden change in needing that extra room. Why not tear down the pools as well? Oh, right, because that makes the government money…
    It is so disappointing to see what this has come to…pretty soon we might as well just close off the mountains with a big gate and not allow any human contact for fear of disturbing the sheep again for possible grazing area..
    I just hope that someone out there with power can empathize with tearing down the most memorable part of family vacations for many generations past, and do something about it. We’re counting on you.

  8. Colleen King & John Turanich says:

    We just spent the weekend in Invermere and a day at Radium Hot Springs pools. We sat for hours today remembering the times we stayed there with our families and by ourselves. From Summers to being stuck there after an avalanche after New Years! The operators, managers even kept an eye on John’s Harley when it broke down one summer. They always went way above and beyond the call of duty and never once did we walk unhappy! Thank for the wonderful memories, Radium Lodge!
    John & Colleen

  9. malcolm says:

    sad to see it go. part of parks canada “your fees at work for you” plan. the ultimate goal of the governing elite at parks canada is to fence off all national parks and only let the privileged few visit.
    hopefully the pools stay as we use them several times a year. the pool staff are excellent!

  10. David R Pacey says:

    To all the friends of Radium Hot Springs Lodge, above the hot pools?
    Parks Canada has worn out the past owner / leesor through prolonged litigation to the point that he/she chose to accept a buy out position. I had heard that the process lastd about 7 years. That is the reason for the Lodge to be closed, Parks litigation towards their own ends.
    The stated reason for killing the operation of the Radium Lodge, as stated to myself by any number of interested parties in Parks Canada and from the Lodge staff, is that they (Parks staff ) decided it was best for the sheep to demolish the Radium Lodge. So,,,,, Parks Canada has forced the closure of same, and have decided now, according to others I have spoken to, that they ( Parks staff ) will now keep ” part ” of the original lodge. Why? To use as an ” interpretive center “. An Interpretive Center? ? ? vs a historic lodge???? AND NOT FOR THE MUCH MENTIONED SHEEP !!
    So . . . Parks Canada has spent how many millions of dollars in legal fees to kill a great location, a historic location to end up going to Plan B, their own agenda, not the sheeps’ agenda, Parks’s agenda, and sheep who didn’t care a whit about the lodge short of a place to hang out, and Parks are now planning on changing the place into an interpretive center.
    And then they paid how many millions to buy the owners out? From monies that are there to help our parks grow and be beautiful?
    I guess the sheep will know the difference between a historic lodge and an interpretive center. I guess Parks Canada folks don’t however.
    And these are the beaureacrats that are managing our Parks here in Canada? Go figure.
    Maybe it’s time for a forensic audit by the government of Canada into the systems and monies in the park system to fix the mind set of this gang and the results of their decisions?

  11. Gail says:

    I explored the abandoned Lodge on July 27, 2012. What I saw inside looked ike something from either a post-Apocalypse movie or the aftermath of a midnight move. The office still had a fax machine in it, as well as desks with personal belongings and papers. The bar looked like people had just walked away. There were room keys scattered about, the menu for the day was left behind at the entrance to the restaurant and some of the rooms still had TVs in them. There were also a few rooms with printing on them that said “Danger Asbestos”.

  12. brianne says:

    My family and i were visiting the radium hot springs but before we even got into the hot springs we noticed this amazing hotel at the top of the hill.we decide to go up there. its just so amazing to see the buildings that looked like they were from the dirty dancing times and then you see this wonderful lodge that made so many great memories. we didnt go inside because we were too scared of the unknown. it was also crazy because yes it did look like something from post-apocalypse. it was also creepy seeing the “danger asbestos” and the way things were thrown around. its shame what happend to it. if my family had the money to buy this place and re-create what it once was, we would do it in a heartbeat. so if the person who is going to demolish is reading this lodge.. this is for you: what you are going to is horrid, heartless and theres no need for why you should demolish this place. find it your heart to save a wonderful landmark and a lodge that made families from generations to generations, the smiles and laughter that it would bring the children.to creat what it once was again. just think about it because this is part of history.

  13. Roger M. Schwartz says:

    If you have gone this crazy to take down the lodge you should tare down the pool and buildings at radium hot springs pool. We as people have way overboard for political corectness.

  14. Lori says:

    I guess they better shut down the highway 93 to Banff as well. Many a time I have to stop as the sheep are all over the road just up the highway from the lodge. I have even (horrors!!) honked at the sheep as they don’t seem to be in any hurry to leave. I guess I have traumatized them and should be reported to the Eco police.
    I travel the pass at least twice a month and there is more danger to the sheep from vehicles than from the lodge. In fact, fix the lodge up, provide some more decent accommodations. Shame.

  15. Gordon says:

    I just finished searching for The Radium Hot Springs Lodge and am finding it now to be demolished. It is a sad day and I for one do not feel that this decision is the right one. When I wanted to see the Big Horn Sheep all I had to do was step out from the Lodge when I stayed there a number of times in the past to see them. Parks Canada has found a scape goat so to speak in tearing this Majestic building down. I for one will miss it as I was looking forward to staying there this 2012 Christmas Season as part of my get away…. disappointing … It was a quiet restful place for a peaceful break. If there are any ideas someone rallying to keep it open I would be interested in hearing about it.

  16. Ron says:

    Sad all I can say is soooo sad!

  17. Charlie says:

    I am extremely saddened by the news that the lodge is scheduled to be demolished.
    We were planning on spending

  18. Ralph MacDonald says:

    I stayed at the Lodge about 15 years ago. This is one of the most insane acts of government that I have ever witnessed; the stupidity and the expense of this demolition. To reclaim environment? But part of the building will remain! And so will Highway 93 and the pools infrastructure! Radium Hot Springs — your Conservative MP is David Wilks. Are you going to get him to overturn this lunacy?

  19. Cherryle Kereiff says:

    My now husband and myself spent our honeymoon at the lodge. I remember seeing it for the first time in October 1970, I was 12 yrs old and I said then I wanted to spend my honeymoon there. It was so beautiful and exuded an elegance I would never forget. When I got married the first time I had no honeymoon but when John & I married January 23,2008, my dream had come true. But at that time the people working at the lodge told us that Parks Canada were trying to sell it. It still is unbelievable that our government can’t think! It’s always the mighty dollar, this is just the beginning of many more things about to change before our eyes. A life if dreams and wonderful memories almost gone! Hang on to your dreams, it’s the one thing that can’t be taken away from you. Remember the precious moments of Radium Hot Springs Lodge…NEVER to be forgotten! Cherryle Kereiff :o(

  20. Angie Schenker says:

    I heard the rumors about the lodge closing, and since we were planning to stay there this July (as I have whenever we visited Jasper and Banff National Parks) I was so disappointed to hear it was true. We are visiting from New York and stayed there on our last visit in 2008 and many times prior to that visit (since I was a child, growing up in Edmonton). It was so great to just walk through the tunnel to the pool and see the big horn sheep all around! Very sad to see this.

  21. gerald simek says:

    I went looking for the hotel we stayed at 5-6 yrs. ago and couldn’t find it. After some surfing I found out why. This place needed some work back then, however it was truly a treasure that can not be duplicated and just another example of government wrong doings. Have to wonder who got payed out and rich here.

  22. Rosie says:

    We are here this week for holidays, went to the pool and was wondering why the road to the lodge was blocked. Sad to see it go, not totally surprised as it was run down but guess we now know why. They should restore it and make it look like the first picture. Another business bites the dust in this quaint little town

  23. Jeff Billo says:

    I am very much in agreement with those above who see little sense or logic in the government’s actions. By that logic, we should close the Trans Canada and Yellowhead highways, cut a tunnel under the Rockies from Calgary to Vancouver, and close all of the parks, leaving them to the sheep, bears and goats forever.

  24. Donal says:

    I spent the summer of 93 living and working at the lodge . I met some amazing people and had a great time at the lodge . A truly magical place that i Will never forget . R.I.P

  25. Neil says:

    As a Californian, my family and I often travelled to B.C., and Radium Hot Springs specifically, in the late 60′s and early 70′s. I have very fond memories of RHS, and also the time we stayed across the street at the Lodge. I loved taking the elevator down to the street level. Very sad to hear just now that the Lodge is (was already?) to be taken down. Sounds like the U.S. doesn’t monopolize idiotic government logic.

  26. Grant says:

    Was there only once, but I sure enjoyed the lodge. So convenient across the street too! Why is it that everything I like gets sold, torn or burnt down and moves away?

  27. Marty says:

    Just walked up to the old Lodge today…what a sad sight! It looks like it was a pretty swanky joint but now it could be the set of a horror movie. When I poked my head in I noticed the copper water lines and copper baseboard heating had all been removed for scrap. It’s sat for too long evidently with no care taker to prevent looters and vandals. This is fairly typical of the government and see it time and time again. They close down a building, have endless council meeting deciding what to do until it’s too late. In the meantime a once beautiful building slowly becomes an eyesore and attracts all kinds of criminal activity.
    If they’re hellbent on tearing it down they should just get to it before someone hurts themselves.. I was very surprised that I could just walk right in. Crazy!
    Either that or write a screenplay for a decent horror flick and sell it to Hollywood.

  28. CeeWee says:

    Well, nothing to fight over now, since it burned today.

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