After 43 years, the historic Maligne Chalet re-opened its doors with a celebration almost as beautiful as the buildings themselves. Decadent finger foods, live entertainment and visitors from all over complimented the amazing restoration of the buildings – once touted as the largest and most luxurious accommodation in Jasper National Park.
On Aug. 13, former employees, dignitaries, residents and families with connections to the famous old buildings came together to celebrate the Maligne Chalet’s grand re-opening, sharing photos, anecdotes and memories of the buildings.
Tracy Thiessen, executive director of mountain parks, Parks Canada Agency, welcomed everyone, saying that the event was in great timing with the 100 year celebration of Parks Canada. She said that Parks Canada was happy to be a partner in the restoration of the chalet and surrounding cabins given the buildings’ historic significance.
MLA Robin Campbell also attended the event, saying that he had been coming to Maligne Lake for over 30 years.
“It’s a real treat to be up here,” he said, addressing Gerry Levasseur, president and CEO of Maligne Tours Ltd. and Pat Crowley, general manager of Maligne Tours. “This wouldn’t have been done Gerry, without your vision and your dedication to looking after these buildings and restoring them and Pat, hats off to you. You’ve done a really great job here.”
Crowley, who has worked up at Maligne Lake for many years, said she was excited to see so many people in attendance at “Fred Brewster’s Rocky Mountain Camp – in it’s heyday, the largest and most luxurious accommodations in Jasper National Park.”
Crowley said she thought of telling the history around the buildings in her speech.
“But when I look around the audience today, I think the only one who’s missing is Fred,” she said. “The collective history and anecdotal experiences of Maligne Lake are here today.”
Crowley said her biggest thank you with regards to the restoration project is to Parks Canada.
“Truly Parks Canada has been a wonderful partner and it couldn’t have happened without them,” she said. “It couldn’t have happened without a ton of people.”
Crowley sent out accolades to many, including Chef Sean, the Jasper Yellowhead Museum and Archive (JYMA) staff and Floyd Coleman, who received cheers for his hard work in the construction of the chalet.
According to information provided by the JYMA, the original building was constructed in 1925 by Fred Brewster on behalf of the Canadian National Railway to provide visitor accommodations, and was operated as the main focal point of Fred Brewster’s Rocky Mountain Camp at Maligne Lake. Expanded upon over the years and eventually surrounded by sundry small guest cabins on a hill overlooking Maligne Lake, the chalet housed a dining room, kitchen and washrooms. These facilities provided services to backcountry adventurers both winter and summer. For a time, this chalet and the surrounding guest cabins challenged Jasper Park Lodge (JPL) as the largest and most luxurious accommodation in Jasper National Park. When the road came through to Maligne in 1968, the chalet fell into disuse. The complex is comprised of the chalet, a guest house, a washhouse and cache situated on a high knoll overlooking Maligne Lake.