Field is a mountain-surrounded community in Yoho National Park, BC, Canada.
Field came into existence in 1883 as the Canadian Pacific Railway pushed east past Kicking Horse Pass. Originally called "Third Siding", it's name was changed to Field after a wealthy Chicago businessman, Cyrus West Field, came to visit as a potential investor. The tight valley framed by Mount Burgess and Mount Field on the north and Mount Stephen to the south, with the Kicking Horse River running through, was an idyllic location which attracted writers, painters, nature lovers and adventurous mountaineers but Field's heart was railroading as the service center prior to tackling the 4.5% grade of Big Hill to the east.
Parking at the Yoho Trading Post precedes employment of umbrellas to provide shelter from the light rain on the walk across the bridge over Kicking Horse River.
Field boasts a rich history far too in-depth to document here, but an excellent PDF file, created in cooperation with the Friends of Yoho, provides a summary of Field's development. This fascinating document was used as a significant source of information for this post. The Village of Field once spanned both sides of what is now the TransCanada Highway but a rock slide on Mount Burgess made a convincing argument to settle on the southerly Mount Stephen side. Wandering over to the north side of the TransCanada Highway across from the Visitor Centre and Friends of Yoho Gift Shop will discover where some of the original flower gardens remain wild and stubbornly resident.
Directly across the bridge to the left, the CPR Telegraph Building (circa 1931) stands vacant as the only pre World War II railway building remaining in Field. For three decades passengers sent and received telegrams on their 20 minute stopover in Field, British Columbia. In 1961, telephone switchboards replaced telegraph keys. The telephone exchange remained in operation until 1979. Just behind the old CPR Telegraph Building is an example of a circa 1928 CPR Log House. CPR constructed these log homes for employees from 1883 until 1952 when the railroad switched from steam to diesel-powered locomotives and ceased to be the major Field employer.
East from the CPR Log House, on the corner of Burgess Avenue and 2nd Street is an example of the Boxcar House (circa 1911 - 1917). As a superior alternative to tents in a place with limited building supplies, it was expedient to use scrapped railroad box cars as the shell for a residence, rumored to be drafty in robust wind storms.
Field is built on a hill and the ascent on 2nd Street past Stephen Avenue passes the Field Elementary School (Kindergarten to Grade 3) on the right and 'the Dollhouse' on the left.
'The Dollhouse' (circa 1927) accommodated the Field's first RCMP office. When they relocated in 1932, the dollhouse became a liquor store. Nothing in the way of poetic justice there. During World War II, the store was ordered shut by the government as soldiers passing through Field lost the will to fight when they continued past their post 'Dollhouse' encounter. The moniker 'Dollhouse' is derived from the vertical architecture reminiscent of a child's dollhouse.
Around the corner, at the top of 2nd Street, at the turn west onto Kicking Horse Avenue is the resplendent architectural gem of Field. The Superintendents House was designed to establish an important presence in a town dominated by the railroad and mining industries. The area received park status when tiny Mount Stephen Park was established in 1886. The Mount Stephen Reserve was officially renamed Yoho National Park in 1901, then, in 1911, the Federal Government created the National Parks Branch, now called Parks Canada. Yoho National Park fluctuated in scope and size until 1930 when current park boundaries were settled. The mirror image of this Superintendents House resides in Jasper National Park.
Further west on Kicking Horse Avenue finds the Old Doctor's House on the opposite side of the street from the Superintendent's House. The house was built for the resident Doctor Cheeseman brought in by the Kicking Horse and Monarch Mines. He looked after miners and locals alike from his office at the YMCA. When the mines ceased operation in the late 1950's, the doctor moved on. The house, like many in Field, has been converted to a Bed and Breakfast. During renovations, several decades following the doctors departure, insulation in the walls was discovered to be pages from his medical journals.
Further up the hill, at the corner of 1st Street E and 1st Avenue is the dominant and distinctive presence of St. Joseph Roam Catholic Church (circa 1908) with Mount Stephen providing a spiritual backdrop through heavy rain. The church is open in summer months and bells toll for special occasions.
Now it is pouring rain which motivates a retreat to the car. En route passes many restored, quaint buildings, many of which have been converted to Bed and Breakfasts.
The distinctive A-frame pinnacle of the Old Church Inn camouflages a long history of the original church built in Donald in 1886 and moved to Field in 1902. Many different congregations worshiped over many decades beneath its current, highly modified appearance. Throughout the streets magnificent flower gardens are meticulously maintained. This little village has character appropriate to its rich and varied history.
Rushing past the Fireweed Hostel takes a shortcut back to the bridge in driving rain. Following Natural Bridge, this is the second dose of negative ionization for the day but this one comes with soaking pant legs. Hustling across the bridge over Kicking Horse River leads to the welcome sanctuary of the Dodge Journey. It is disappointing there was no opportunity to tour the cemetery. Another day.
Next stop is the grocery store in Golden for fresh baked lasagna and refreshments for supper. A hot tub on one of the two balconies at the spectacular Palliser Lodge condominium in Kicking Horse Mountain Resort above Golden eases muscles and occupies time while the lasagna is heating in the modern, fully equipped, vaulted-ceiling kitchen. This is our definition of roughing it. After supper, including cake made to resemble a hamburger for dessert, lunches are packed for tomorrow's significant hike on Abbott Ridge in Glacier National Park near Rogers Pass, which will become a more challenging day than could possibly be anticipated.
Photos for this short tour of Field, British Columbia were taken on August 6, 2013.