Lake O’Hara Lodge was constructed in the winter of 1925-26 by the Canadian Pacific Railway.
The CPR was looking for a way to promote increased passenger traffic through the region, as they had a monopoly on rail transportation through the Canadian Rockies at the time. In order to accommodate its more adventurous passengers, the CPR constructed a network of backcountry lodges, each of which could provide an alternative to larger popular hotels like the Banff Springs and Château Lake Louise.
Although an original Lake O’Hara camp had already been established in a nearby alpine meadow, the present site for the Lodge was chosen when a larger building was needed. And so, the impressive douglas fir timbers for the Lodge were hauled up the horse trail from Wapta Lake on sleds and construction on the main building commenced.
The winter after the main lodge building was built, the existing Lakeshore Cabins were brought down from the alpine meadow using horse teams. The main building at the alpine meadow was then handed over to the Alpine Club of Canada, which still operates as the Elizabeth Parker Hut. Our larger Guides’ Cabins were added in 1961. Since that time little has changed; new staff accommodation and maintenance buildings have been added along with continual upgrading of the infrastructure. And yes we do change the carpet and add a fresh coat of paint or stain to things. It is like a really big cottage that requires plenty of upkeep and tender loving care.
Although Lake O’Hara Lodge guests enjoy all the amenities of home today, its rustic feel serves as a reminder of a time when modern luxuries were harder to come by. In fact, until the late 1950s, the only way to reach the Lodge was by horse or on foot – bus service didn’t begin until 1958.