Historic Photos of Num-Ti-Jah Lodge

Jimmy Simpson was born in England in 1877 and emigrated to Canada in 1896. After landing in Winnipeg and farming for awhile, Simpson left town by stowing himself away on a westbound train. He was discovered somewhere near Castle Junction and was kicked off the train, leaving him to hike the 30-some-odd kilometres to Laggan, which is now known as Lake Louise. Being a hard worker and having an adventurous spirit, it didn’t take Simpson long to find work. He learned the outfitting business from the legendary Tom Wilson and the renowned ‘Wild’ Bill Peyto.

Mr. and Mrs. Jimmy Simpson in the main lounge of Num-Ti-Jah Lodge, Bow Lake, Alberta, 1957

Sometime in 1898, while working for Wilson, Simpson landed on the shores of the spectacular Bow Lake. The group camped along northern edge of the lake where it was reported that Simpson proclaimed, ‘I’ll build a shack here sometime.’ It wasn’t until 1922 that Simpson proved good on his word, erecting a log cabin near the same location that they had camped all those years ago. When the Icefields Parkway was completed in the late 1930’s, the Bow Lake area was open to increased tourism, leading Simpson to build a small guest lodge. Simpson christened the lodge with the Indigenous name ‘Num-Ti-Jah’, meaning Pine Marten.

Jimmy Simpson outside of Num-Ti-Jah Lodge, Bow Lake, Alberta, 1957

Num-Ti-Jah Lodge underwent a major expansion project in the early 1940s in an attempt to keep up with demand. The renovation increased the guest rooms from six to sixteen. Simpson moved into the original lodge after the expansion was complete and lived there, in what became known as the ‘Ram’s Pasture’, while still operating his guiding business. The end of World War II also signalled the end of Simpson’s guiding career, leaving his son to take over. Two years after his death in 1972, the peak to the northwest of the lodge was named Mount Jimmy Simpson in his honour.

Jimmy Simpson at Num-Ti-Jah Lodge, Bow Lake, Alberta, 1957

Today, Num-Ti-Jah has a group of new owners who are, ‘committed to the preservation of the property’s history and the surrounding environment’. They are currently in the process of renovating the main lodge and upgrading its infrastructure and utilities. They hope to open the main lodge in the summer of 2023 but their long-term plans include additional accommodation, which would replace ones that were previously demolished. Their goal is to create an amazing experience for their guests while providing a deep understanding of the natural and human history of the area.

Jimmy Simpson outside of Num-Ti-Jah Lodge, Bow Lake, Alberta, 1957

You may have heard that Num-Ti-Jah Lodge is now known as The Lodge at Bow Lake. Here’s the rationale for the name change as printed on their website.

“Formerly known as Simpson’s Num-Ti-Jah Lodge, The Lodge at Bow Lake honours the deep history of the property and individuals who built it while seeking to reconcile transgressions of the past. In working with Indigenous consultants and an Elder from the Stoney Nakoda Nation, it was determined that “Num Ti Jah” was not officially gifted to Jimmy Simpson. Therefore, at the Elder’s recommendation, the new stewards of The Lodge decided to remove it from the name.”

The new owners ensure the history and legacy of the previous name will still be celebrated in some fashion, along with that of the Simpson family.

Num-Ti-Jah Lodge, Bow Lake, Alberta, 1957
Jimmy Simpson and his dog outside of Num-Ti-Jah Lodge, Bow Lake, Alberta, 1957
Num-Ti-Jah Lodge, Bow Lake, Alberta, 1930
Num-Ti-Jah Lodge, Bow Lake, Alberta, 1930
Jimmy Simpson, painting by Num-Ti-Jah Lodge, Alberta, 1969
Linda Curtis and Jimmy Simpson at Num-Ti-Jah Lodge, Alberta, 1969
Exterior view of Num-ti-jah Lodge, Banff National Park, 1983. Object #A9578
Num-ti-jah Lodge from highway across Bow Lake, Banff National Park, 1983. Object #A9579
Exterior view of Num-ti-jah Lodge, Banff National Park, 1983. Object #A9580
Exterior view, from lake, of Num-ti-jah Lodge, Banff National Park, 1983. Object #A9581
Exterior view of Num-ti-jah Lodge, Banff National Park, including sign, 1983. Object #A9582
Exterior view of Num-ti-jah Lodge, Banff National Park, including sign, 1983. Object #A9583
Chair in Guest Lounge at Num-ti-jah Lodge, Banff National Park, 1983. Object #A9584
Interior view of guest room at Num-ti-jah Lodge, Banff National Park, 1983. Object #A9573
Guest Lounge at Num-ti-jah Lodge, Banff National Park, 1983. Object #A9576
Interior view of Elkhorn Dining Room, Banff National Park, 1983. Object #A9586
Interior view of Elkhorn Dining Room, Banff National Park, 1983. Object #A9587
Interior view of guest room, Banff National Park, 1983. Object #A9574
Interior view of Guest Lounge, Banff National Park. Includes moose antler chairs, 1983. Object #A9577
View from guest’s room of Bow Lake and Crawford Glacier, Banff National Park, 1983. Object #A9585

*The photos above were collected from the Glenbow Archives and the Provincial Archives of Alberta. If you’re interested, additional information can be found for each photograph on the Glenbow website by searching the identification number that is printed on the photo. There is also the option to purchase a high resolution copy. If you search the object number that can be found in the photo captions, you will find additional information about the photographs on the Provincial Archives website. Stay tuned for additional posts featuring historical photos from across Alberta. We’d love to know what you think in the comment section below.

 

 

About Tyler Dixon 199 Articles
Tyler is originally from Saskatchewan, and yes he cheers for the Roughriders, but don’t hold that against him as Calgary has been his home for the past eight years. He is a teacher working at a wilderness- based treatment program for youth working to overcome addiction. Tyler is also a volunteer with the GOT Parks initiative, which aims at reconnecting Canada’s youth with our national, provincial, and territorial parks. During his time away from work, Tyler enjoys outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and snowboarding, team sports, travelling, photography, spending time with good friends, and being at home with his wife and German Shepherd, Rome.