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Museums of Banff and the Rockies

by K Gordon Schultz

Banff National Park Museums

Banff is proud home to a host of museums that are only too happy to share the wealth of Banff’s history with visitors. From dinosaurs to paintings, it has everything for the days when you are not hitting the slopes. Here are but a few.

Banff Park Museum National Historic Site of Canada

This is one of Canada’s oldest and greatest natural history museums. The old architecture in itself is a vision back to what Banff once was. One of the highlights is the early natural history interpretation of Banff’s many mammals, birds and insects. The curator at the museum for over 30 years, Norman Sanson has personally collected thousands and thousands of specimens in an effort to make this museum the best of its kind in Canada and a fine job he has done too.

91 Banff Ave.
PO Box 900
Banff, AB   T1L 1A9

Phone: 403-762-1558
Fax: 403-762-1565
Email: ted@canadianrockiestravel.ca

Hours: Banff Park Museum National Historic Site of Canada
15 May – 30 Sept
daily 1000 – 1800

Bankhead, Ghost-Town

Bankhead was once considered to be the most modern town in Alberta, easily outdoing Banff. At its peak, this mine employed 300 men and produced half a million tons of coal a year – a remarkable sum in the early 1900’s. However, by 1922, the profits were down, the miners were on strike and the mines were abruptly shut down.

Today, it really feels like a ghost town. An easy 1.1 km loop trail leads through the ruins of the coal mining operation with plaques explaining what once stood there. A few ruins of the residential area of Bankhead are located in the Upper Bankhead picnic area. A highlight is following the abandoned Bankhead railway line to the beautiful Cascade ponds day use area 2.5 km away. A very different kind of museum.

Located on Lake Minnewanka Rd, 7.4 km from Banff
PO Box 900
Banff, AB   T1L 1K2

Phone: 403-762-1550
Fax: 1-403-762-1551

Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum

This is a museum dedicated to the resilience of the Fist Nations People. Everything from ornamented costumes to beautifully decorated tipi’s, from colorful quill work to hunting equipment, the Museum displays a wealth of Native artifacts and collections.


1 Birch Ave.
PO Box 850
Banff, AB   T1L 1A8

Phone: 403-762-2388
Fax: 403-760-2803
Email: ted@canadianrockiestravel.ca

Canada Place

Celebrate the accomplishments of Canada’s land and owners. Discover again the new frontiers discovered by early explorers to the new frontiers of space. This is a great museum for all ages and people. Even the younger ones will enjoy what the museum has to offer with modern touch-screen technology and even a computer game to play called Canucklehead.

101 Mountain Ave.,
Park Administration Building
Banff, AB   T1L 1K2

Phone: 403-760-1338
Email: ted@canadianrockiestravel.ca

Hours: May 17 – Sept. 28, 2008
Daily 1000 – 1800

Canadian Ski Museum West

The Canadian Ski Museum is FREE! If that’s not enough of a reason to visit, then there is also a host of information about the history of skiing in Banff National Park.

Cascade Plaza, 317 Banff Ave.,
PO Box 2380
Banff, AB   T1L 1C1

Phone: 403-762-8484
Fax: 403-7624221
Email: ted@canadianrockiestravel.ca

Cascades of Time Gardens

Incredibly, this museum has been around since 1936. During summer, particularly, it really comes to life with gorgeous paths through terraced gardens and an array of over 50,000 flowers. Assuming you don’t have terrible hay fever, this is a really great day out.

101 Mountain Ave.
PO Box 900
Banff, AB   T1L 1K2

Phone: 403-762-1550
Fax: 403-762-1551

Cave and Basin National Historic Site of Canada

This sensational place was the first step to the discovery of Banff National Park in 1885. Today, the original bathing pavilion, emerald coloured Cave and Basin springs, exhibits and guided tours recount the fascinating history of discovery and former splendour of the site. There are also opportunities to discover the original cave openings which lie exactly as they did centuries before.

Phone: 403-762-1566
Fax: 403-762-1565
Email: ted@canadianrockiestravel.ca

Hours: Summer
15 May – 30 Sept
daily 0900 – 1800

01 Oct – 14 May
weekdays 1100 – 1600
weekends 0930 -1700

Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station National Historic Site of Canada

The Sulphur Mountain cosmic ray station was part of the International Geophysical Year (1957-1958); a major undertaking to study cosmic rays involving 66 countries, 99 stations worldwide and a dozen scientific disciplines. It is one of the few of its kind in North America. The station closed in 1978 and was dismantled in 1981 but it is still a great site to visit.

Top of Sulphur Mountain
PO Box 900
Banff, AB T1L 1K2

Phone: 403-762-1550
Toll Free: 403-762-1551

Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

This is where you want to go to learn about art, culture and the human and natural history of the Canadian Rockies. As one of the more popular stops for tourists around Banff, it has a few more facilities than its peers.

Admission: Adults $6.00, Over 65 & Students $3.50, Families (2 adults, 2 children) $15.00, Children under 6 are free

111 Bear St.
PO Box 160
Banff, AB   T1L 1A3

Phone: 403-762-2291
Fax: 403-762-8919
Email: ted@canadianrockiestravel.ca

Hours: Open Daily 10 AM – 5 PM
Archives and Library: Open 1 – 5 PM, Monday to Friday

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