Banff: a History of the Park and Town

By: E.J. (Ted) Hart
ISBN: 978-1-926983-12-7
Publication date: May 2015
292 pages | Numbered edition | Hardcover | 6 x 9 inches


Canada and U.S. only

Also Available Here


Banff a History of the Park and Town is a limited-edition book about the complete history of Banff, a resort town in the Canadian Rockies. The author is Ted Hart, arguably the best-known historian for Banff and the surrounding national park. 

From the region’s first Aboriginal visitors through the coming of the railway and the discovery of hot springs to modern times, Banff a History of the Park and Town represents a synthesis of E.J. (Ted) Hart’s 40-year career as a Canadian Rockies historian. Numbered from 1 to 1,000 and signed by the author, each copy of this very special edition has a cloth and printed cover enclosing 292 well-researched pages covering the entire history of Banff National Park and the town of Banff.

From the author:

The 125th birthday of Banff National Park in 2010 and the centennial of the Canadian Parks Service in 2011 are good benchmarks for an assessment of the history of Banff National Park and its town, Banff. Parts of the story have been written about in several books, including early works such Harriet Hartley Thomas’s From Barnacle to Banff (1945) and Dan McCowan’s Hilltop Tales (1947), and later efforts such as Esther Fraser’s The Canadian Rockies, early travels and explorations (1969) and parks historian Fergus Lothian’s four-volume A History of Canada’s National Parks (1970s). But apart from my own work in the late 1990s (The Place of Bows and The Battle for Banff), which examined the history of the entire upper Bow Valley, no real effort has been made to write a comprehensive history of the town and the park since Eleanor Luxton’s Banff: Canada’s First National Park, published in 1975. In this work I will attempt to rectify that by bringing together the results of a 35-year career researching and writing about Banff in a single, comprehensive volume. Because of the story’s breadth it is impossible to include everything, and I have therefore made an effort to concentrate on the main themes driving the story forward. It is, on reflection, an attempt to show how two somewhat disparate entities, Banff National Park and the Town of Banff, have attempted to adapt to each other through the vicissitudes and victories of over a century of side-by-side (or one-within-the-other) existence. It is not only the story of a national park and its urban centre but the tale of vibrant and interesting people and of human adaptation to conditions so unusual that they are unique in Canada, and indeed in the entire world.

– E.J. (Ted) Hart


E. J. (TED) HART’s life and career have been dominated by the history of Banff. Born and educated in Edmonton, Alberta, Ted graduated with a Masters in Western Canadian History at the University of Alberta in 1971. The following year he was hired by the late Maryalice Stewart to work in the archives at what was then known as the Peter Whyte Foundation, beginning what would be a 40-year-long career involved with the cultural history of Banff and the Canadian Rockies. Encouraged by noted mountain poet Jon Whyte, Ted published his first book on Canadian Rockies history, Diamond Hitch, the Early Outfitters and Guides of Banff and Jasper, in 1975. In 1976, Hart took over as the head of the Whyte Foundation, a position that evolved into the Director of the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies and that he held until 2008. During this period Hart authored 12 books relating to Banff and the Rockies, including his award winning The Selling of Canada: The CPR and the Beginnings of Canadian Tourism; Jimmy Simpson, Legend of the Rockies and a work of fiction, Ain’t it Hell: Bill Peyto’s “Mountain Journal.” Between 2008 and 2010 Ted continued to oversee the archives at the Whyte Museum and work on a major biography of Dominion Parks Commissioner J. B. Harkin, published in 2010 as J. B. Harkin, Father of Canada’s National Parks. Ted retired from the Whyte Museum in 2010 and now lives with his wife, Pat, south of Calgary in the foothills town of Okotoks.

For more books by Ted Hart, click here.