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Area History

Banff is home to one of the oldest national parks in Canada. This incredibly scenic and beautiful area was discovered by Europeans in the 1841. George Simpson of the famous Hudson’s Bay Company came to the area and his rave reviews soon had others making the trip to see what all of the talk was about. The overall growth of the region was a little slow due to its remote setting, but once the hot springs were discovered, numerous people began making the trip and becuase of this discovery, the area around Banff was declared a national park in 1883. This was the first national park in Canadian history and this auspicious beginning boded well for the area.

A small town sprang up in the middle of the park and was slowly settled by those who most likely could not bear to leave after getting a taste of its rare natural beauty. One of the earliest settlers built the Banff Springs Hotel in 1888 and the structure was truly magnificent. A few remodels took place between then and 1920, but since then, the structure has been maintained beautifully. It still has the charm of the wild west and territorial feel while still having plenty of amenities. The General Manager of the Canadian Pacific Railways happened upon the small town shortly after the hotel was built and realized that this would make the perfect resort. All of the ingredients for success were right there. Terrific hot springs that ran all-year round, a beautiful setting, and the perfect little town. From that moment on, development on the resort aspect began in full. To this day, the hot springs remain open to the public and you can still stay at the Banff Springs Hotel, which overlooks the incredible Bow Valley.

Banff has since become the destination of choice for thousands of travelers every year. Numerous resorts have been developed in the region and there are all the comforts of home set amidst the wilds of the Alberta Rockies. You can enjoy five-star dining after a soak in the historic hot springs, or take in the nightlife at one of the many clubs in the area. Although there are modern elements, the town has not lost touch with its wild roots. It would be hard when it’s so enveloped by the mountainous terrain and incredible landscape. This is a rare place where the innovations of the current century live in complete harmony with the ruggedness of the Old West.

There are numerous historical sites in the town, as well as throughout the whole region and there are plenty of activities available to keep the whole family happy. Although time has changed since the original settlers ended up in this region, you can still appreciate the awe that the original settlers and visitors must have felt when they first arrived in the region. And, like them, you may find it hard to go home at the end of your stay.