Linda Ford: Banff, Alberta’s History, Healing Waters…and a Castle!

Thanks for having me here again. It’s always great fun.

The heroine in my Christmas novella is headed for Banff to work in the sanatorium hospital. I’ve always wanted to set a story in Banff. So far this story is the closest I’ve come.

Although the natives had known of the hot springs in the mountains and used them as sacred waters it was three railway workers, searching for gold on their day off, who found the cave and descended into the underground area to become the first reported white men to see the hot springs. They built a fence around the area and constructed a shack. They charged for hot baths. A gold mine of another sort.

Unfortunately for them, the Canadian Pacific Railway people decided to suggest the government set up a federal reserve and thus Banff National Park was formed.

Dr. Brett built a hospital/spa where people came for healing. This is the place my heroine is hoping to reach.  Hundreds of people came to be treated by the sulfur-rich and smelly waters. The handrails on the stairway of the hospital were held up by crutches that were no longer needed by patients thus emphasizing the healing properties of the water. (In fact crutches were given to all patients whether or not they needed them so the handrails were not an indication of the healing achieved from the springs.)

Soon William Van Horne, general manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway, recognized the potential of the hot springs to attract tourists (and use the railway) and decided to build a luxury hotel nestled in the Canadian Rockies. The 250 room hotel opened in 1888 and was immediately filled to capacity with wealthy European tourists despite the high prices of a room at $3.50 a night.

The ‘castle in the Rockies’ is still operational and still luxurious although it has undergone changes.  A fire in 18926 destroyed one wing which was rebuilt. In the ‘30s the hotel was a high profile getaway for celebrities. Because or travel restrictions during World War II the hotel actually closed for three years.

But Banff is more than hot springs and castles. It is majestic scenery, bustling little shops, hikes of every sort. It is museums of the local natives, the wildlife and the early explorers. Whyte Museum is always on my list of stops in Banff. Banff is fun little bistros and sandwich shops as well as fine dining. Of course there are still hot springs to swim in. And the Banff Springs Hotel to visit. The main areas are open to the public. It is well worth a few hours of your time. Be sure to pick up a brochure for a self-guided tour of the hotel.

For more information Google Cave and Basin, Banff, Banff Springs Hotel.

If you have questions or comments, please feel free to comment on the blog and I’ll respond as best I can.  And please pick up the Christmas collection that has my novella in—A Cowboy’s Christmas is the name of my story in the collection, Christmas Under Western Skies. Everyone who leaves a comment will be entered to win a copy of the book.

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38 thoughts on “Linda Ford: Banff, Alberta’s History, Healing Waters…and a Castle!”

  1. Hi Linda, what an interesting blog! That hotel is simply amazing. I’m sure people who stay there feel like royalty. Very magnificent. We have a place here in Texas called Mineral Wells that touted the healing waters of the mineral springs. It has long closed up and people claim it’s haunted. Don’t know if that’s true or not but the old hotel sure looks spooky.

    Love the cover for your Christmas anthology! You get some of the best covers. Christmas stories are my favorites. They always touch me.

    Wishing you lots of success.

  2. You know what I like about this cover? It reminds me of a Thomas Kincaide painting. Love it.

    The hotel at Banff is still magnificient. There is a fireplace you could hold a small dinner party in.

    The hotel is purported to have a ghost or two but I have never personally seen them. 🙂

  3. What a beautiful hotel, and what great scenery. I love holiday books and can’t wait to read this one.

  4. Wonderful blog! I would love to visit. Looks like beautiful scenery. My favorite books are Christmas ones so I know I will soon own this one.

  5. Great post! That is a very beautiful hotel! Welcome to the P&P Linda! I love a good Christmas book so I would love to read this one, it sounds like a fantastic read! Thanks for sharing with us today!

  6. Quilt Lady.

    I had such fun writing this Christmas novella so I am hoping everyone who reads it enjoys it. I know. It’s asking a lot but still, I can dream.


  7. Hi Linda, welcome to Wildflower Junction. I hope you enjoy your weekend here. The pictures are absolutely beautiful, and the cover is dreamy. I adore Christmas stories and this one is definitely on my list. God bless…

  8. Hi Linda, Always thought that hotel looked like a dreamy castle. Something out of a fairy tale.
    Where I live we have many open air hot springs that are used for soaking. I live in a very active volcanic area, but these hot springs are, and have been, used for hundreds of years just for this purpose.
    Your story sounds like fun to read.

  9. Banff has been on our list of Must Visits for years. We can’t fit it in next year, a reunion elsewhere set out plans. However, we hope 1012 will be the year for Banff, Glacier and a few other choice spots out that way. We have certainly been looking forward to it for a long time.
    I’ll be looking for CHRISTMAS UNDER WESTERN SKIES. I love anthologies and Christmas ones are favorites.

    Thanks for an interesting post.

  10. Wow is that an impressiving looking building. $3.50 a night hahahahahaha. I wonder what it would be now lol. Now is the perfect time for reading Christmas stories and yours sounds lovely.

  11. I can’t decide which is more beautiful, that hotel or the cover of your new book. Both have me in the mood to start my Christmas reading.

  12. Hi, Linda! I so enjoyed your post! I loved reading about the Banff Springs Hotel. I live in VA, not too far from the world famous resort “The Homestead”. Our resort is famous for the sulphur baths, celebrity visitors, shops, great golf links, fabulous skiing, and world-class cuisine! The Homestead is located in “Hot Springs”, VA, nestled deep in beautiful, breathtaking mountain scenery. The Banff Springs hotel sounds like a “sister” to The Homestead!

  13. Linda Thank you so much for sharing the pics and info with us… Love holiday books, alway lift my spirits!

  14. Linda, this post makes me want to travel back in time to be one of those original tourists to the hot springs. Or better yet, to be the entrepreneur who built the first Hot Springs Luxury hotel! lol. I love how you weave real places and events into your stories. Can’t wait to read this new one – LOVE the Kincade-ish cover. Beautiful.

  15. Love the blog entry. So many places of healing are so beautiful.

    Virginia C, I was also reminded of the Homestead.

    Could use a visit to either place has been a pretty raw rainy day in NC.

    Linda, I love your books and you have a great cover once again. I love the set-up for your story.

    Peace, Julie

  16. Wow, I spent a few minutes writing on my current wip and look what happens. A spat of visitors. So nice of you all to drop by.
    Connie, Apple Blossom, Mary J I think you’d love Banff.

    Patricia, if you go to Banff be sure and visit the hotel. It is open to the public. Great shops.

    Catslady, I know. The prices back then are a hoot.

    Summer, thanks for comparing my book cover to Banff. lol

    Jan, I haven’t quite made Banff the setting for a book but it’s part of my long-term plan.

  17. Debora,
    You wouldn’t like the very first hotel at the hot springs. It was a crude log cabin barely big enough to qualify as a dwelling place. But the men who discovered the hot springs charged for people to come and soak in the cave. I don’t think they liked it when the powers that be took away their business.

  18. Enjoyed reading your comments. Your book sounds really good and I have added it to my TBR list. I am always looking for new authors to read.

  19. Being a Love Inspired book I know this book will be great. Love the pictures of the castle. Love the cover of your book too! Thanks for the giveaway.

  20. Would love to win the book and your blog entry has piqued my interest in Banff. Love snooping around historical places and the little shops and eateries sound wonderful. It’s probably too far for a weekend trip for me and dh, wouldn’t that be lovely though. Thank you!

  21. Hi Linda,
    I enjoyed reading your post. What a beautiful hotel! It certainly looks like something out of a fairy-tale, with the snow covering the trees.
    It sounds like a wonderful place to visit. I love the cover of your book and look forward to reading it!!!

  22. Hi Linda,

    I love this post. The first thing I thought of when I saw the castle was Harry Potter because of Hogwarts.

    I love the idea of using this beautiful setting in a book, especially with Christmas because of the romance that can develop.

    I love your books but you are one of my favorite authors

    Walk in harmony,

  23. I’ve always thought the Banff Springs Hotel was magnificant…what a beautiful picture with the snow in the background. Thanks for the information. I’d love to read your book.

  24. What beautiful pictures. I heard awesome things about Banff but have never been there. I love Christmas settings for books so your novella sounds wonderful.

    Cindy W.


  25. Sorry I had to be out later yesterday. I am overwhelmed at all the responses. It’s great to hear from you all. I appreciate comments like Cathy’s who says she loves all my books. 🙂 for those of you who like the Love Inspired Historical covers–I agree. I think they do a super job on the covers. I’m glad you all like the pictures of Banff and the ‘castle’. It is truly stunning. Like I say, some day I am going to set a story in historic Banff. Can’t wait.

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