Mile 58 Summit Cabin
Willmore Summit Cabin
Statement of Significance
Description of Historic Place
The Mile 58 Forestry Cabin is a small log building with a metal clad hipped roof. The walls consist of nine courses of stripped logs, laid horizontally on concrete footings and with dovetail joins at the corners. Each wall features a single window with hand-hewn frames and the main, east-facing elevation has a single entry door. The cabin is located near Rock Creek and the junction of Mountain Trail and Desolation Pass Trail in an isolated region of the Willmore Wilderness Park, approximately 50 kilometres southeast of Grande Cache and 80 kilometres west of Hinton.
The heritage value of the Mile 58 Forestry Cabin lies in its association with the Dominion Forestry Branch and the Alberta Forest Service and their land management practices, as well as being an excellent example of a forestry service patrol cabin.
The Mile 58 Forestry Cabin was one of a network of patrol cabins constructed by the Dominion Forestry Branch. Founded in 1899, the Dominion Forestry Branch (DFB) was mandated to manage and protect important forested areas in the North West Territories (including present-day Alberta) that had been established by the federal government as forest reserves. By 1915, approximately 14.5 million acres (5.9 million hectares) of Alberta’s forest land had been set aside as reserves, the majority of which was in the Rocky Mountain Forest Reserve, which consisted of the Crowsnest, Bow River, Clearwater, Brazeau and Athabasca Forests on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains. Throughout these forests the DFB built a network of cabins, which were connected by a series of trails, and later telephone lines. The cabins were located about one day’s ride from each other and served as shelter for the rangers as well as storage depots for supplies and equipment, allowing the rangers to efficiently travel throughout the reserves to carry out their responsibilities, such as inspecting forestry leases, watching for forest fires, maintain trails and other infrastructure and monitoring the forest’s growth and development. Although there was some variation in cabin design and size depending on use, location and construction date, there was considerable similarity amongst the cabins built throughout the forest reserves.
The Mile 58 Forestry Cabin is located near the height of land near Rock Creek and the junction of the Mountain Trail and the Desolation Pass Trail. It was built primarily by forest ranger Jack Glen with assistance from other rangers over the 1928 to 1930 seasons. It is a good example of DFB cabins as it is similar to many others built throughout the Athabasca Forest Reserve, notably the Eagle’s Nest and Big Grave Flats cabins, both of which Jack Glen was also involved in building, and it has a high degree of similarity to cabins built in the other Rocky Mountain Forest Reserves. The design and form of the Mile 58 Forestry Cabin, like most DFB cabins, is greatly influenced by its function and location. Built in an isolated and rugged area, it is a simple and highly utilitarian building constructed of logs harvested from the immediate area and finished on-site, with some materials, such as cement, windows and roofing materials transported in by horse. The walls are made of locally-felled logs, which are laid in nine courses, joined with dovetail notches and were originally chinked moss and daubing. A pressed metal clad hipped-roof of medium pitch encloses a single-room interior, which features exposed rafters and a floor made of whip-sawn logs. An off-set entry door and window are located on the front (east-facing) elevation. The other three walls all feature single, rectangular single-hung windows.
The DFB used the Mile 58 Forestry Cabin until October 1930 when, as part of the transfer of natural resources from the federal government to the province, the forest reserves and the facilities within them became the responsibility of the Government of Alberta. The Alberta Forest Service (AFS), which had a mandate similar to that of the DFB, took over the cabin and it became part of the AFS network of ranger stations and lookout towers. The AFS and its successor organizations used the Mile 58 Forestry Cabin until it was replaced by the Grizzly Cabin a short distance to the west. Rather than demolish or abandon the Mile 58 Forestry Cabin, it has been maintained for use by hikers and trail riders in the Willmore Wilderness Area.
Source: Alberta Culture and Tourism, Historic Resources Management Branch (File: DES 2372)
Key elements that define the heritage value of the Mile 58 Forestry Cabin include its:
- scale and form of the building and overall simple design; - cottage (or hip) style roof clad in metal tiles/panels;
- narrow roof overhang with exposed rafter ends;
- walls constructed of locally-harvested logs, laid in nine courses and joined at the corners by dove-tail notches;
- tool markings on the hewn areas of the building corners;
- historic fenestration pattern;
- hand-made wooden window and door frames;
- original two-pane, single hung, wooden windows;
- original door made of five boards with a Z-shaped reinforcement on the interior side;
- concrete block footings at the corners;
- completely open space of the interior;
- exposed roof structure on the interior;
- wooden floor made of irregularly sized planks or hewn logs;
- metal sheet in the centre of the floor, showing the original location of the stove and patched hole in the ceiling showing the original location of the stove-pipe;
- east-west orientation of the cabin, with the front side facing east;
- situation on its original location of a light rise, with a forested area behind it and generally open land to the front.