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Historic Sites and Museums

Historic Sites and Museums in Banff and Lake Louise

Canada’s oldest national park, Banff National Park has preserved its classic historic and cultural sites for visitors to explore. Immerse yourself in a history just as rich and complex as the landscapes of Banff and Lake Louise by visiting some of the many historic sites and museums.

Banff Park Museum

The Banff Park Museum is housed in a log cabin constructed in 1903 and is the oldest museum of natural history in western Canada. Displaying historical collections of the diverse flora and fauna of Banff National Park, including an impressive taxidermy exhibition, it has been designated a Heritage Site of Canada.

Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

Founded by the prolific landscape artists and husband and wife duo, Peter and Catharine Whyte, the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies seeks to preserve and make accessible the history and culture of the Rocky Mountains. The museum hosts ongoing events, seasonal art exhibits, and a comprehensive collection of original artworks, photographs, and other archives.

Open daily and located on Bear Street in the town of Banff. 

Whitney Arnott

Cave and Basin National Historic Site 

This historic site preserves the stories of the hot springs that have drawn visitors to Banff since three railroad workers stumbled across them in 1883. The classic bath houses, sulphuric mineral springs, and interactive displays will transport you back in time to relive the origin of Banff and Lake Louise and Canada’s National Park system.

The site is located a short drive or pleasant stroll outside of Banff’s town centre.

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. 

Open daily and located just across the Bow River to the south of Banff’s town centre. 

Fairmont Banff Springs 

Nestled between towering peaks at the confluence of the Bow and Spray Rivers, the iconic Fairmont Banff Springs hotel has as much historic significance as it does grand beauty. It was constructed in 1888 and marked the beginning of tourism in the Canadian Rockies. Its architecture, fine dining, and the rumours of ghosts make this luxury hotel a must visit.  

Located on the outskirts of town, the hotel offers accommodation, drinking and dining, and a bowling and entertainment centre.

The Historic Luxton Museum 

The Historic Luxton Home tells the story of a Banff family – Norman Luxton, Georgina McDougall Luxton and their daughter Eleanor.  The Home Museum features a glimpse into the life of this pioneer family and of Banff over a period of nine decades. It houses stunning collections of First Nations artifacts, paintings, china, furniture, and more. The Luxton Garden is also part of the historic footprint, with 120-year-old lilac trees and a garden designed in the Arts and Craft Style ca. 1910. 

Canadian Ski Museum West 

This display is located in the Cascade Shopping Complex in the centre of Banff.

Banff and Lake Louise is home to some of the greatest mountainous landscapes in Canada – so it’s no surprise that there is also a rich history in mountain sports and legendary athletes. The Canadian Ski Museum pays tribute to Banff’s ski heritage and allows visitors to delve into the lives of some of Canada’s Olympic skiers who have trained on the local slopes. Also featured are the history of Swiss mountain guides in the Rockies, the evolution of equipment, and historic backcountry ski lodges in the area.