Restoration Stories and Facts

CBC Radio, Halifax Chronicle Herald, Global TV and the Calgary Herald, toured BC Parks historic restoration project of Assiniboine Lodge. 

"Our old gal" shines in the print press and video. Read and take a look at Canadian Press coverage.

Oldest Backcountry Ski Lodge in Canadian Rockies

Undergoes Historic Restoration Project

Next generation of Renner family to lead world-renowned lodge into new era

Canada’s oldest backcountry ski lodge in the Canadian Rockies, Assiniboine Lodge, is in the midst of a monumental restoration project led by BC Parks.

Built in 1928 by the Canadian Pacific Railway as the first ski lodge in the Canadian Rockies, BC Parks spearheaded the restoration project that required rolling the historic building 100 feet onto the meadow in front of the lodge in order to rebuild its failing foundations.  While ensuring the lodge retains its original charm and feel, BC Parks also expanded the kitchen, breezeway and basement. Work was also done on the staircase leading to the guest rooms.

“The goal of the project has been to restore and stabilize the structures so people can continue to enjoy the warm hospitality of Assiniboine Lodge for generations to come,” said B.C.’s Environment Minister Terry Lake of BC Parks. “This first-of-its-kind undertaking enables Assiniboine Lodge to be warmer and safer while keeping its charm from the past, which will allow all park visitors to enjoy the magnificent surrounding.”

The renovation began in May, 2011 with the Lodge back in full swing for summer in June, 2012 and a winter re-opening in Feburary, 2013.

Operated since 1983 by Barb and Sepp Renner, the parents of Olympic silver medalist in cross-country skiing Sara Renner, the new era of Assiniboine Lodge will now be in the hands of the next generation of the Renner family. Sara’s brother, Andre, along with his business partner, Claude Duchesne, will continue working with BC Parks to provide a one-of-a kind experience to park visitors, while taking over the reins of the operation. The two entrepreneurs won a recent bid to lead the operation for the next 20 years.

“You are not allowed to take fossils out of the park, so we are thrilled that Andre will ensure Assiniboine remains a part of our family for the next two decades,” said Sepp Renner, who added the Strom family controlled operations for the 50 years prior to the operation being awarded to the Renners. “Our children grew up in the backcountry and the love of wild spaces is very much in their blood. This has been our second home for 25 years, and it is comforting to know Assiniboine will be in caring hands well into the future.”

The Renner sisters, Sara and Natalie, will continue helping the Assiniboine Team where needed, including serving as ski guides in the winter. Sara will also continue to operate a boutique hotel, The Paintbox Lodge in Canmore, with her husband legendary alpine skier, Thomas Grandi.

Claude Duchesne first met the Renners when he brought his young family to the lodge to visit his wife, who at the time, was the chef at the lodge.

“During my guiding career, I have worked and travelled through many mountain places in the world. Mt. Assiniboine has kept me returning to this area each year,” said Duchesne. “The beauty of the setting, flora and wildlife make it a very special place. Each time I step into the park, I am at peace with nature and myself. I look forward to building on the great tradition Barb and Sepp have created here so that we can continue sharing this incredible mountain experience with visitors from all over the world.”

Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, draws visitors to the backcountry from around the globe. The spectacular park is only accessible by hiking, skiing or helicopter. The focal point is Mount Assiniboine, which is distinctive for its height and its pyramidal shape.  Throughout history, the famous peak has been called “The Matterhorn of the Canadian Rockies.”