Historic lodge in Yoho National Park in danger of closing
A remote mountain lodge in British Columbia that’s been attracting tourists from around the world for more than half a century is in danger of closing, thanks to a stand-off between its manager and Parks Canada.
Fran Drummond 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.
"I get a lot of repeat business from all over the world," said Drummond. "I think its homey and the unusual location is inspiring. You have to hike in but all you have got to do is backpack the necessary things to stay."
Even though Drummond runs the lodge, it’s owned by the federal government since it sits in a national park.
The government offers long-term agreements to business operators on their property in exchange for a cut 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 now the government says it plans to take control of Twin Falls Chalet as of July 1.
The government won’t say why it hasn’t extended the arrangement but Drummond says Parks Canada wants a higher percentage of the profits, something Drummond says she can’t afford. She says she doesn’t take a salary for running the facility and that she’s invested thousands of dollars in it.
"I’ve been the proprietor and I put on the new roof and everything after saving it. I have equity in that lodge."
Drummond also says wildfires in recent years have forced her to close the lodge early. She only planned to open it for three weeks this summer instead of the usual six.
"We have a great deal of respect for Fran and we admire her dedication to the Twin Falls Tea House” said Alex Kolesch, a spokesperson for Parks Canada. "We also have a duty to make sure these places are managed for the benefit of all Canadians."
According to Kolesch, the government is open to striking a new arrangement with Drummond but they are also willing to find a new operator for the site.
Drummond says she has guests booked to arrive at the beginning of July but she doesn’t know if she’ll be able to honour the reservations since she may no longer be in charge.
“It’s very stressful. When I make a commitment I like to keep a commitment"