Whether you find yourself in Banff for a day, a week, or a month, exploring Banff’s heritage is a must-do for visitors. This bustling town has been around since the early 1880s and the area of Banff has been used by First Nations for thousands of years. That’s a lot of history! But don’t worry, we’ve prepared a short list of Banff’s culture and heritage hot spots that has something for everyone!
1. Banff Park Museum- 91 Banff Ave
If you've come to Banff National Park with the sole goal of seeing diverse wildlife like black bears, grizzly bears, cougars and wolves all up close and personal, then Banff Park Museum National Historic Site is a must see for you! The museum was created in 1903 by Norman Sanson, the museum’s curator and local meteorologist. It’s the oldest natural history museum in Western Canada and oldest surviving federal building in any Canadian National Park. This museum boasts over 5000 specimen found in the Canadian Rockies, everything ranging from bison to fish! What makes this museum so different from others? It’s a “museum of a museum”; it has been kept in its original rustic, Swiss style architecture from 1903, and its diverse collection of species reflect the changing attitudes towards wildlife at the time. Leave yourself 30 min to 1 hour for exploring.
For more information visit: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/ab/banff
2. Cave and Basin National Historic Site – 311 Cave Ave.
Cave and Basin National Historic Site, the birthplace of Canada’s National Parks, will help you reconnect and build a stronger connection to Canada’s National Parks. “Re-discovered” in 1883 by three railway workers, the hot springs soon became public knowledge, and set into motion a set of events that lead to creating the first National Parks System in 1885. Today, the Cave and Basin celebrates Canada’s natural and historical treasures. It shares stories through its interpretive and interactive Story Hall and boardwalks. Take the Discovery Tour and go on a journey through time where interpreters recount the stories of the various groups that have crossed these lands for multiple centuries. Make sure to check out the CPR Railway Exhibit and experience what it was like to live the rough n’ tumble life of a railway worker back in the 1880’s! Be sure to leave 1-2 hours to soak it all in.
For more information visit: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/lhn-nhs/ab/caveandbasin
3. Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies – 111 Bear St.
The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies inspires wonder when people and the Rockies meet. Telling the stories of the Rocky Mountains and Banff through its amazing collections of historic and contemporary art, artifacts, photographs and more, the Whyte Museum provides visitors with many ways to experience history, art and culture. Take a tour through an early 20th century log home, pilot a replica Bell Model 47-G helicopter, or spend some time in our Summer Craft & Game Corner! The museum is best enjoyed in 1-2 hours!
For more information visit: https://www.whyte.org/
4. Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum – 1 Birch Ave.
The Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum seeks to demonstrate the cultures, traditions, and values of the First Nations of North America. Continuing the legacy of Banff local Norman Luxton, who founded the Museum in the early 1950’s, Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum is dedicated to showing how First Nations lived and adapted to their surroundings both prior and after contact with European culture. Give yourself 1-2 hours to see everything.
For more information visit: http://www.buffalonationsmuseum.com
*Lead image courtesy of The Whyte Museum of The Canadian Rockies archive - V108/455, Lloyd Harmon fonds