Blog Windigo - Mont Assiniboine

Did you know that the Canadian Rockies have their very own Matterhorn?  The mountain has a striking resemblance to the famous Swiss summit, of which Toberlone’s logo was inspired.  While the renowned Swiss emblem is accessible by a series of trains, only those daring to hike its trails can come face to face with the great Mount Assiniboine.  The shortest hike to Assiniboine Lodge, the closest nearby accommodation, is a 26km (16 mile) trek!  Or, if you really prefer, just a short helicopter ride away 😉


Near the end of the 19th Century, the Canadian Pacific Railway (C.P.R.) made western Canada more accessible by building a nationwide rail system.  To promote their achievement, the organization hired Swiss mountain guides to trek through the wilderness and talk about their adventures.  During this era, tourism guides were sold with titles like “50 Switzerlands in One”.  You can see one of these original guides, published in 1915, here.  During the 1920s, the Canadian Alpine Club began to build rustic shelters throughout the vicinity for the incoming adventurous hikers and climbers to spend the night.

It was in 1928 during a ski expedition on Mount Assiniboine that a Norwegian ski instructor unlocked this region’s potential for tourism by convincing the C.P.R. to build a lodge; it was the first ever constructed in the Canadian backcountry. Today, it remains open to travelers, its 1920s charm intact.  With simple rooms, a sauna, and exceptional food, this lodge has everything one could need, allowing you to take full advantage of its incredible, natural surroundings.

If your time is limited, know that it isn’t required to spend the night at the lodge to enjoy the scenery.  It’s possible to hike the 26km one way, and then reserve a helicopter ride for the other way, or reserve a round trip.  Even better than from a bus or car, the panoramic view from the sky is worth the trip in itself!

Blog Windigo - Mont Assiniboine vue


Altitude: 3,618 meters (11,870 feet) – the 7th highest summit in the Canadian Rockies.

Landscape:  High mountains, rocky facades, glacial lakes, alpine and subalpine vegetation.

Wildlife: Black bears, Grizzly bears, elk, deer, moose, mountain goats, coyotes, groundhogs, squirrels, and more.

First Nation Peoples: Kootenai and Ktunaxa tribes.

International Recognition: The Canadian Parks of Banff, Jasper, Kottenay, and Yoho; Mount Robson, Mount Assiniboine, and Mount Hamber are all UNESCO World Heritage sites listed under Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks.

First time the summit was reached: In 1901 by a Canadian and two Swiss guides.

Possible Activities:  hiking, climbing, fishing, horseback riding, wildlife viewing, and backcountry alpine skiing (winter).

Best time of year to visit: mid-July to mid-August for the wild flowers, mid-February through Easter for skiing and snowshoeing.

Blog Windigo - Mont Assiniboine champ


Spending the night in a lodge lost in the wilderness is meant to take you far away from the daily grind, and love it!  Admire the high, rocky peaks, the incredible beauty of the glaciers and the starry sky, follow animal tracks through the wilderness, and savor the local cuisine.  You can relax or be active, the choice is yours!  Here are a few more suggestions for an unforgettable trip:

Banff National Park

  • Take a moderately leveled hike for 14km (8.6 miles) and stay in the comfort of a spacious lodge with delectable cuisine. The park’s emerald lakes, waterfalls, and wild flowers will more than impress!
  • Step into the shoes of former pioneers and stay in a prospector’s tent, accessible by horse or on foot. Don’t forget to take advantage of the on-site chef!

Hamber Provincial Park

  • Access Fortress Lake via a 20 minute helicopter ride to the lodge and check-in to this modern dwelling. Take advantage of the wild scenery and epic trails, or head out on the water (kayaks and canoes available to rent on site)

Jasper National Park

  • Hike 20km (12.4 miles) on Skyline Trail to the historic lodge. Don’t want to worry about carrying your luggage?  Elect to have horses carry them for you! (optional)
  • Take the 23km (14.3 mile) hike on foot or by horseback crossing the Tonquin Valley before reaching your wooden cabin on the lake, spending the evening around a campfire.

Of course, it’s also possible to enjoy a wilderness getaway without having to trek quite so far, as many other accommodations exist near the outskirts.  For those who wish to try wilderness lodging in less remote places, Hostelling International Canada offers a dozen rustic hostels and inns accessible by car or bus.

Experience the warm welcome by those who live here year round!

By Caroline Asselin 

Translated by Julie Rotharmel

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