In 1883 the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) formally established the village of Field, originally known as “Third Siding.” It was a camp for workers preparing the railway line from Lake Louise, Alberta over the Kicking Horse Pass and down the Kicking Horse River valley toward where Field stands today. It was also recognized as an area with mining and logging potential.
The railway reached Third Siding in 1884 but at an exorbitant cost, so the CPR sought private investors. Donald A. Smith (one of the original financiers of the railway syndicate) and William Cornelius Van Horne (then vice-president of the CPR) encouraged Cyrus West Field (a wealthy Chicago business man and promoter of the trans-Atlantic cable) to invest in the CPR.
When Cyrus West Field came to visit the area in the same year, Van Horne named both the little town and a mountain after him. However, Mr. Field did not take the bait; he went back to Chicago without writing any cheques. Ironically, the town and the mountain got their name from a man who, in the end, had no involvement with the CPR.
The railway route through Canada was completed on November 7, 1885 near Craigallachie, BC and Van Horne saw tourism in the Rockies as the best way to generate revenue to reduce their debts.
As an important divisional point and engine servicing area, Field was the first town chosen to have a luxurious hotel, the Mount Stephen House, to welcome weary travellers. The Mount Stephen House became the focal point from which visitors set out in horse drawn carriages to view the wonders of Yoho Valley and Emerald Lake.
Cathedral Mountain Lodge
The original buildings at Cathedral Mountain Lodge were constructed in 1930. Since then they have enjoyed an assortment of names, including “Altman’s Auto Court” and “Mount Stephen Auto Camp.” At that time, the lodge operated a gas station and grocery store. Designed as accommodation for the miners who worked at the Kicking Horse and Monarch mines, you can still see the dynamite storage shed on the property.
With the demise in mining and the transfer of the Monarch and Kicking Horse claims back to the Crown, the lodge began to cater to travellers. Original cabins were small and had shared outhouse and shower facilities.
Over the years, tourists’ expectations became more sophisticated, and in 1996 the cabins were renovated. At this time many cabins also began to be replaced.
2002 – 2006
In 2002 current owner Nancy Stibbard purchased the property. In 2004 the final 8 original cabins were replaced, and in 2006 a new timber frame lodge designed by renowned Vancouver architect, Brad Lamoureux, opened for guests.
Today, the 23 log cabins (31 rooms) sleep two to four guests and include gas or wood-burning stone fireplaces. The lodge’s indoor/outdoor river rock fireplace, 24–foot vaulted ceiling, and 18–foot high windows provide scenic views from every vantage point. And the private decks of each cabin offer breathtaking vistas of Mount Stephen, Field Mountain and Cathedral Mountain.