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Love History and Canada's National Historic Sites? The Cave and Basin National Historic Site Wants to Hear from You

WHY IS THE CAVE AND BASIN NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE IMPORTANT?

The thermal waters found at the Cave and Basin have played an important role in the area for hundreds of years. Numerous Indigenous nations from Treaty 7 and beyond value the Cave and Basin as a sacred and spiritual place where people have gathered for generations and cultural ceremonies are still practiced today. However, in 1885, Indigenous access to the Cave and Basin was fundamentally changed. Through an Order in Council, the Government of Canada set aside 26 square kilometres of land in and around the Cave and Basin to protect the thermal springs on Sulphur Mountain for the benefit of Canadians. Two year later, this hot spring reserve was expanded to 665 square kilometres, becoming the core of the first national park in Canada. The Cave and Basin has developed into one of Banff National Park’s must-see year round attractions and one of Parks Canada’s most visited national historic sites.

Ecologically, the thermal springs are among the most unique natural features of Banff National Park, providing habitat for rare plants, invertebrates and the endangered Banff Springs Snail, the most at-risk wildlife species in Banff National Park.

GET INVOLVED

We invite you to review the Cave and Basin National Historic Site draft management plan and help shape the future of this integral piece of Canadian History. All feedback received will be carefully reviewed and be used to inform revisions to the draft plan.

Comments will be received until March 1, 2019. Stay tuned for more updates to this page.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Cave and Basin National Historic Site (NHS) is located just outside the town of Banff in Banff National Park. The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada recommended the designation of the Cave and Basin as a national historic site in 1981, as the Birthplace of Canada’s National Park system. The historic site encompasses the Cave, the original vent hole, the archaeological remains of the original hotel near the vent hole, the Basin, the thermal springs above and below the buildings, the Bathing Pavilion and the Caretaker’s Cottage.

This management plan replaces the 2007 Management Plan for Cave and Basin which provided management direction for major improvements to commemorative integrity, visitor experience and presentation, many of which were achieved through the 2010 to 2013 Birthplace of Parks Canada renewal project.

In the new plan, three key strategies are proposed to guide management activities for the Cave and Basin NHS over the next 10 years.

Key strategy 1: Employing an integrated management approach to the protection of cultural resources and natural landscape features, the provision of memorable visitor opportunities and the maintenance and renewal of assets.

The focus of this strategy will be an integrated approach to site operations focused on protection of cultural resources, maintenance of assets, provision of memorable experiences and protection of the site’s sensitive thermal water environment including the endangered Banff Springs Snail.

Key strategy 2: Building relationships with Indigenous peoples and organizations

Through relationships based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership, Parks Canada is committed to a system of national heritage places that commemorates the contributions of Indigenous peoples, their histories and cultures, as well as the special relationship Indigenous peoples have with traditional lands and waters. Parks Canada acknowledges the need to improve its understanding and recognition of the importance of the Cave and Basin to Indigenous Peoples, and how access to the site was limited for them after the establishment of Banff National Park in 1885. The primary focus over the coming years will be on relationship building with Indigenous communities to improve understanding of Indigenous perspectives and values and how these could be expressed at the site; use of the site for traditional activities; and the identification of ways to work together to increase public awareness of Indigenous cultures and histories at the site.

Key Strategy 3: Enriching and creating enjoyable experiences

The strategy will focus on visitor experiences that are relevant and engaging. Through public programs and partnerships diverse histories and heritage will be presented, explored and challenged. Canadians are invited to visit Parks Canada places to learn about Indigenous cultures, traditions, and customs. In doing so, we can create new opportunities for Canadians to better understand the cultures and histories of Indigenous peoples in Canada. The sense of place of the Cave and Basin will be enhanced through programs, special events, use of social media, attraction and retention of passionate staff and use of a diverse approaches to deliver interpretive programs and content.

WHY IS THE CAVE AND BASIN NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE IMPORTANT?

The thermal waters found at the Cave and Basin have played an important role in the area for hundreds of years. Numerous Indigenous nations from Treaty 7 and beyond value the Cave and Basin as a sacred and spiritual place where people have gathered for generations and cultural ceremonies are still practiced today. However, in 1885, Indigenous access to the Cave and Basin was fundamentally changed. Through an Order in Council, the Government of Canada set aside 26 square kilometres of land in and around the Cave and Basin to protect the thermal springs on Sulphur Mountain for the benefit of Canadians. Two year later, this hot spring reserve was expanded to 665 square kilometres, becoming the core of the first national park in Canada. The Cave and Basin has developed into one of Banff National Park’s must-see year round attractions and one of Parks Canada’s most visited national historic sites.

Ecologically, the thermal springs are among the most unique natural features of Banff National Park, providing habitat for rare plants, invertebrates and the endangered Banff Springs Snail, the most at-risk wildlife species in Banff National Park.

GET INVOLVED

We invite you to review the Cave and Basin National Historic Site draft management plan and help shape the future of this integral piece of Canadian History. All feedback received will be carefully reviewed and be used to inform revisions to the draft plan.

Comments will be received until March 1, 2019. Stay tuned for more updates to this page.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Cave and Basin National Historic Site (NHS) is located just outside the town of Banff in Banff National Park. The Historic Sites and Monuments Board of Canada recommended the designation of the Cave and Basin as a national historic site in 1981, as the Birthplace of Canada’s National Park system. The historic site encompasses the Cave, the original vent hole, the archaeological remains of the original hotel near the vent hole, the Basin, the thermal springs above and below the buildings, the Bathing Pavilion and the Caretaker’s Cottage.

This management plan replaces the 2007 Management Plan for Cave and Basin which provided management direction for major improvements to commemorative integrity, visitor experience and presentation, many of which were achieved through the 2010 to 2013 Birthplace of Parks Canada renewal project.

In the new plan, three key strategies are proposed to guide management activities for the Cave and Basin NHS over the next 10 years.

Key strategy 1: Employing an integrated management approach to the protection of cultural resources and natural landscape features, the provision of memorable visitor opportunities and the maintenance and renewal of assets.

The focus of this strategy will be an integrated approach to site operations focused on protection of cultural resources, maintenance of assets, provision of memorable experiences and protection of the site’s sensitive thermal water environment including the endangered Banff Springs Snail.

Key strategy 2: Building relationships with Indigenous peoples and organizations

Through relationships based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership, Parks Canada is committed to a system of national heritage places that commemorates the contributions of Indigenous peoples, their histories and cultures, as well as the special relationship Indigenous peoples have with traditional lands and waters. Parks Canada acknowledges the need to improve its understanding and recognition of the importance of the Cave and Basin to Indigenous Peoples, and how access to the site was limited for them after the establishment of Banff National Park in 1885. The primary focus over the coming years will be on relationship building with Indigenous communities to improve understanding of Indigenous perspectives and values and how these could be expressed at the site; use of the site for traditional activities; and the identification of ways to work together to increase public awareness of Indigenous cultures and histories at the site.

Key Strategy 3: Enriching and creating enjoyable experiences

The strategy will focus on visitor experiences that are relevant and engaging. Through public programs and partnerships diverse histories and heritage will be presented, explored and challenged. Canadians are invited to visit Parks Canada places to learn about Indigenous cultures, traditions, and customs. In doing so, we can create new opportunities for Canadians to better understand the cultures and histories of Indigenous peoples in Canada. The sense of place of the Cave and Basin will be enhanced through programs, special events, use of social media, attraction and retention of passionate staff and use of a diverse approaches to deliver interpretive programs and content.

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