Lake Agnes Tea House Adventure up to the highest tea house in the Canadian Rockies

The Proper Function

Amongst The Clouds 

The majority of the structures that exist in the Canadian Rockies are a product of the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) and the Lake Agnes Tea House is no exception. CPR recognized that while it was successful bridging a nation, it needed stops for passengers while luring wealthy tourists to the beautiful Rockies (Robbins, 2015). As a result, the Chateau Lake Louise Hotel was built in 1890 and the Lake Agnes Tea in 1901. While the current structure replaced the original in 1981, the tea house has kept its rustic charm kept the original red door, windows, tables and chairs. It continues to operate without electricity or running water.
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lake agnes tea house
The Lake Agnes Tea House sits on the eastern shore of the lake at an elevation of 7,005 ft, making it the highest tea house in Canada. It received its name in 1890 after two noteworthy visitors. Agnes Knox, a public speaker from Toronto, was the first caucasion woman to visit the lake. A few days after that visit, Lady Macdonald, wife to Canada’s first prime minister, would arrive and was also an Agnes.
11While they serve over 100 types of loose tea overlooking the lake, this tradition started  in 1905 and little has changed since. You will see staff members fetching water from the lake in large tea kettles as you enjoy fresh food overlooking the majestic waters of Lake Agnes. To further enjoy this function, we recommend that you arrive to the teahouse by 9:00 am as it tends to become very busy during the summer months. Also know that they only accept CAD or US Dollars, no cards accepted.

Lake Agnes Tea House

The trail begins at the base of Lake Louise near the Fairmonth Chateau Hotel. Begin walking down the pathway near the lake and you will see a trail break-off to the right and start to ascend. A sign here marks the Lake Agnes Trail. The trail will quickly start to climb up hill and several switchbacks lie ahead. Due to the tall tree-line, there isn’t much of a view until you reach higher elevations.
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Eventually you will arrive at Mirror Lake, given it’s name as the natives referred to it as the ‘Goats Looking Glass’. Legend has it that mountain goats would use the mirror of the crystal clear water to comb their beards! Mirror Lake marks your final ascent to the tea house as you approach a set of wooden stairs located next to a waterfall.
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As you reach the top of the wooden staircase, the Lake Agnes Tea House comes into view and the small of freshly baked bananna bread clears your sinuses. They offer tea, pressed coffee, breads, sandwhiches, soup and cookies. Restrooms are available and located a short hike above the tea house.
1 lake agnes After you have enjoyed a meal, spend time exploring the area surrounding Lake Agnes. There are several log benches where you can sit and appreciate the magnificent scenery or just listen to the waterfall. Reflect not only on what is present, but consider that you shared the same trek as the first explorers. You’re at the tallest tea house in Canada, be proud.

Discovery

Fir SapReferences

1It is recommended that you not consume or apply Douglas Fir Sap, but the Natives employed it for various medicinal purposes. It was used as an antiseptic and the “Native people used the resin to treat cuts, burns and wounds. It can also be chewed and used for sore throats”. (“Medicinal herbs: DOUGLAS FIR – Pseudotsuga menziesii,” n.d.)

  1. Robbins, J. (2015, July 26). John Gilchrist: Camp Cookhouse puts a stake in food worthy. Retrieved from http://calgaryherald.com/travel/hiking-to-canadas-oldest-tea-house
  2. Medicinal herbs: DOUGLAS FIR – Pseudotsuga menziesii. Retrieved August 7, 2016, from http://www.naturalmedicinalherbs.net/herbs/p/pseudotsuga-menziesii=douglas-fir.php
  3. Banks, K. (2012, December 26). Canada travel: Alberta’s lake Agnes teahouse is well worth the climb | Toronto star. Travel. Retrieved from https://www.thestar.com/life/travel/2012/08/30/canada_travel_albertas_lake_agnes_teahouse_is_well_worth_the_climb.html

 

This Proper Function
(Approximate Data)
Canada
57°
clear sky
humidity: 47%
wind: 15mph WSW
H 52 • L 51
44°
Tue
37°
Wed
41°
Thu
53°
Fri
50°
Sat
Weather from OpenWeatherMap
F
Party Cloudy
2,315ftElevation 13.7hrsDistance From You
LocationBanff
Coordinates51.416330°, -116.244081°
DirectionsView on Google Maps
DifficultyModerate
WaterBring
DogsYes
HistoricYes

TPF

Dan is an explorer for The Outbound and founder of The Proper Function, an outdoor editorial. He is passionate about exploration and can’t stay put for more than a week.