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Visiting Marvel Lake & Bryant Creek Cabin - My Childhood Summer Home

Updated: Aug 12, 2022

Marvel Lake & Bryant Creek have always been very special places for me. Some of my earliest childhood memories were of packing into this beautiful spot, located at the south end of Banff National Park, Alberta.

Photo credit to Parks Canada | © Agence Parcs Canada / Parks Canada Agency, c. 1990.

I was fortunate as a child to spend much of my time in national parks. Back then, my dad, Ed was a park warden, and regions of Banff were part of the backcountry he was responsible for. His duties, among many others, were to make sure the one-strand telephone lines were up, which were used to communicate from and between the warden stations & the park, as well as to keep an eye out for poachers and wildfires.

Ed Stewart, Banff National Park 1980

Most of the travel back then was done on horseback, with both saddle horses and pack horses.

Our family lived at a warden station called Sixteen Mile. It got its name from being 16 miles down a five road south of Banff. I’m sure it’s not still there now, but I’ll never forget it. From this post, my dad would make his patrols out to the different areas he was in the care of.

Our recent trip to Bryant Creek Cabin, August 10th, 2022

The highlight of my summer would be when my brothers and I got to go with him on his trips to the Bryant Creek Cabin. I looked forward to this every summer. Our pack outfit was quite the sight, I’m sure! With my dad leading the pack string, which included two saddle horses, Bubbles, which was my first horse, and Joy, my brother Brett’s trusty steed, as well as others carrying cargo.

Now being that we started this annual adventure when we were quite young, I’m thinking around 3-4 years old, dad led out horses, which were head and tailed, as were the pack horses that followed ours in the string. So we got to sit, relax, and enjoy the scenery. Our only responsibility being not to fall off!

The pack horses in the string behind us would be carrying groceries and other necessities for our time spent at Bryant Creek Cabin. Except for the last horse, whose cargo was rather unusual. This pack horse, a very gentle one, I’m sure, was given the special task of carrying the live cargo. This horse would have his two-pack boxes loaded with my youngest brother Mark, a baby at the time, and in the other box, Tom Tom, my mother's cat. Well, we couldn’t leave him behind, could we? And Tom Tom was good company!

Last but not least, bringing up the rear of this unlikely string was my mum, Cynthia, who would keep a keen eye out to see that all was in order as we made out way down the mountains trails to our destination, Bryant Creek Cabin.

2014 family photo at Bryant Creek Warden Cabin

So it’s special to me now to bring my own daughters, my wife Denice, and our friends up to this memorable place in the mountains of Banff. When I visit this old cabin, I often think to myself, “if only the walls could talk.” I know of my family's adventures and memories in this cabin, but I’m sure there are plenty more they could share.

Thanks for reading! You can watch a vlog of our recent trip to Bryant Creek Cabin below and visit our Bryant Creek YouTube Playlist for more videos.

Keith J Stewart

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