Agreement reached between Parks Canada and Twin Falls Chalet operator
The woman who has run the Twin Falls Chalet in Yoho National Park for more than a half-century will continue operating it for one more season, then it will be tendered through an open, competitive bidding process, Parks Canada says.
Fran Drummond, 82, has operated the Twin Falls Chalet since taking over the building from Canadian Pacific Railroad 57 years ago.
The isolated lodge in Yoho National Park offers meals, beds and tranquility to guests but few modern amenities as there is no electricity or plumbing.
Even though Drummond runs the lodge, it’s owned by the federal government as it sits in a national park.
The government offers long-term agreements to business operators on their property in exchange for a share of the profits. However, the agreement between Drummond and Parks Canada expired five years ago. She has continued to operate the chalet under the previous arrangement but the government planned to take control on July 1.
Drummond met with Parks Canada officials on July 12, and “the meeting was successful for all parties,” reads a release from Parks Canada.
Jessica Drummond, Fran’s great grand-niece, grew up watching her run the chalet and says family members are “all deeply saddened” by the news this could be her final year.
Jessica says Drummond was told she will have the lease until Dec. 31, then she has to remove her personal belongings and it will be opened to a public competitive bidding process.
Drummond can make a bid, but Jessica said she was told she would have to take on a business partner to do that.
“I know ultimately her goal is to just continue operating it,” said Jessica.
Despite her age, Jessica said Drummond is healthy enough to continue.
“She’s so physically fit,” she said.
“When I phone her up on a Saturday afternoon and I ask what she’s done that day, she tells me she’s gone for a 10 kilometre hike through the mountains already. She’s a very strong woman.”
If she loses the bid, Jessica says she’d like to see the chalet dedicated to Drummond.
“I’m not ready to stop fighting. I’ll do whatever it takes to see that she can run that place if possible,” she said.
Bookings are now being taken for the month of August.
“In the sense that it is her last summer, I want to see her get the best send-off possible, I want to see that place full,” said Jessica.
“I’ve already had lots of her old friends, friends she hasn’t seen in about 20 or 30 years, have reached out to me and asked to book. She’s going to have a lot of surprise guests.”
(With files from CTV News Calgary's Kevin Nimmock)