The Eva Lake Cabin has been restored, 85 years after the federal heritage building was constructed in 1928 as one of the first buildings in Mount Revelstoke National Park.
A building restoration team from Banff National Park spent almost two weeks in the park to restore the cabin, which was experiencing a number of problems, notably the bottom logs (known as sills) were rotting.
“Since the cabin sills were in contact with the ground they were rotting,” said Claire Sieber, the cultural resource expert for Mount Revelstoke National Park. “Mice were getting in, the whole cabin structure was compromised by that.”
Eva Lake is named after Eva Hobbs, the Revelstoke school teacher who discovered the lake in 1909 as she explored the summit area of Mount Revelstoke.
The Eva Lake Cabin is the second oldest still-existing building in Mount Revelstoke National Park after the fire lookout, which was built a year earlier in 1927.
The construction of the cabin coincided with the completion of the Meadows in the Sky Parkway to the summit of Mt. Revelstoke in 1928. Prior to then, Eva Lake was a lengthy hike from town. Now, it was a seven kilometre hike from the summit.
The cabin was built as a warden cabin in the backcountry of the park. It was built to assist park warden’s patrol the park in order to protect flora and fauna from poachers, and to monitor forest fires.
“It was quite a popular Revelstoke community destinations,” said Sieber. “Once it was designated as a park, we needed to have a warden presence out there to protect the flora and fauna.”
The cabin is now designated a federal heritage building due its historical associations, architectural value and environmental values.
It was a built as a one-room cabin, constructed using fir logs found around the site. It was a common design used by Parks Canada for warden cabins in national parks in the area until the 1950s.
This isn’t the first time the cabin has been repaired. Sieber said there are signs the bottom sills were replaced in the past because of the way they were hewn – whoever did the job used a chainsaw and not a broad axe like was used in 1928.
For the current repairs, the restoration crew used a mix of both tools. They first used a chainsaw to get the shape, and then a broad axe to mimic the look of the original sills.
They also replaced the floor to help keep mice out, removed the windows to repair the frames, and put in new chinking – the material that fills the space between the logs.
The process started by jacking up the cabin off the ground. The old sills were removed and replaced by the new ones. A new plank floor was put in place.
“What they did is put a bunch of wire mesh in to keep the mice out to keep from being further deteriorated, then they placed rock work underneath the cabin to allow for air flow,” said Sieber, adding the repairs mark an improvement to the cabin.
“They were able to maintain the authenticity and also add a bit of height to keep it from deteriorating in the future.”
While the original cabin was built from logs harvested by the lake, the new logs were harvested from elsewhere in the park, but at the same elevation. The logs were cut and shaped using a chainsaw and broad axe in order to save time and expense.
They also replaced the chinking – the filler material between the logs. The burlap sacks, horsehair and lime that was used in the past were replaced with a mix of oakum and mortar.
Last Saturday, Aug. 10, the restored cabin was on display to the public for the Eva Lake pilgrimage. The cabin is open to the public as a shelter, but not for camping.
“We’d like to encourage everyone to go and have a look because the cabin looks fabulous now,” said Sieber.
“It smells a whole lot better,” added spokesperson Jacolyn Daniluck.