Remember Glacier House

Glacier House, at the foot of the Illecillewaet Glacier, was about two miles from the summit of Rogers Pass. It was at the top of the old railroad grade which inched along the bases of Mount Abbott, and up the valley of the stream draining the glacial basin contained by Mts. Abbott, Green, Swanzy, Bonney and Ross Peak. This stream is now known by the name of Loop Creek. In the year 1886, Glacier House was merely a small stopping place. It was very pretty, and no one has ever duplicated its setting.

Part of it was a dining room, and there were about half a dozen sleeping rooms in it. However, as more and more travelers stopped at Glacier Station to eat and to stay overnight, the small building proved quite inadequate. No diners were taken through the mountains then, and it became a most important slopping point. Members of the Alpine Club of Canada discovered it, and it was twice enlarged, until it finally consisted of three parts; the original square building of the dining room, kitchen and about six bedrooms; an ugly, long, thin annex, and a large wing of 54 rooms, baths, and wonder of wonders, an elevator. The mountain hotel could then accommodate 200 guests and frequently did. It was only open during the summer months, snow conditions in winter proving too difficult.

It was decorated in no special style. The walls were covered with mountain pictures, and rocks, mineral samples, pine cones, pressed flowers, and bric-a-brac making it a homey, interesting interior. Enthusiastic climbers spent weeks at a time at Glacier House, and its guest books contained an amazing number of counts and countesses.

The grounds, adjoining the railway tracks, were landscaped, and the remains of the rock gardens and the basin into which sprayed a large fountain, are still to be seen at the site. Further back towards the glacier, stonework of the heating plant or laundry may be seen.

The opening of the Connaught Tunnel, and the tearing up of the old tracks by the hotel, marked the end of Glacier House. Although for several years guests were brought from the new location of Glacier Station near the tunnel mouth, to Glacier House by a horse-drawn rig, it was never the same, and Glacier House was finally closed in 1925. Pulled down, with materials and fittings removed and sold, the rubbish that remained was buried in 1929.

Product of a more leisurely age, Glacier House, the first hotel or chalet in the Selkirk Mountains, is but a memory now. Its site is a scant distance from the present Trans-Canada highway near the summit of Rogers Pass, and one can drive up to it through slopes covered thick in flowers. The National Parks has a campground close by, and the Alpine Club of Canada has a nearby beautiful log hut.

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