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Historic Swiss village in B.C. saved, turned into resort

You'll be able to stay there soon!

A group of Swiss-style homes in B.C.'s interior that was on the market for just $2.3 million a couple of years ago has been turned into a resort, and is opening soon.

Edelweiss Village, located near Golden, received global attention in 2022 after a story about it being on the market for more than a year sparked interest. Around the same time, the Swiss Edelweiss Village Foundation (SEVF), a not-for-profit dedicated to saving the homes, was founded.

Now, just over two years later, Edelweiss Village and Resort is preparing to open.

Historic context

While the homes are located just north of Golden on B.C.'s side of the Rocky Mountains, they look like they're straight out of the Alps. That's because six of them were built more than 110 years ago for Swiss mountain guides who were essential to the early mountain tourism industry of the region.

In a 1913 edition of the magazine BC Saturday Sunset, a reporter visited the village and noted they were built so the guides didn't have to return to their families in Switzerland every year when they were done for the season. The Canadian Pacific Railway built them so the guides' families could move to B.C.

"No more enjoyable spot can be imagined to spend a bright autumn afternoon than the upper verandah of the Feuz chalet," wrote Mrs. Arthur (Ellen) Spragge over a century ago.

Swiss guides were essential to exploring the Rockies and building the mountaineering culture B.C. and Alberta are famous for now; for example, guides from the Edelweiss village built the Abbot Pass Hut, which was a National Historic Site.

In 2010, the Swiss consulate and Ilona Spaar put out a 50-page book called Swiss Guides: Shaping Mountain Culture in Western Canada. The Edelweiss village was specifically highlighted; it's noted the homes were built by locals who didn't know the inner workings of a true Swiss chalet.

In the 1950s, the last guide living there, Walter Feuz, bought all six of the properties and rented them out. A seventh building, a lodge-style home, was added in the 1970s.

Over the years, the historic and unique buildings were in use but weren't as famous as they had been.

Edelweiss Village's new era

In 2021, the 50-acre property and all seven buildings were put on the market for $2.3 million and the future of the site was uncertain. A group of Swiss-Canadians, including Spaar and Johann Roduit, created the SEVF in 2022 to secure the property and keep the historic homes in place.

With national and international attention, the project got more support, including from the Swiss consulate in Vancouver. A 3-D model of the village was made.

Eventually Montayne, a real estate consulting firm based in Canmore, Alberta, bought the site, and the next phase of the village began as the property and homes were renovated to become Edelweiss Village and Resort.

Phase one of the project is starting soon, which will see the original chalets open to the public as accommodation.

"These cabins, meticulously restored, offer guests a unique blend of history and modern amenities. Our resort is not just a stay; it's an immersion into the tranquility of nature, a step back from the rush of modern life, encouraging guests to rediscover the joy in simplicity," reads the resort's website.

Two more phases are planned, which would see additional buildings added, with a spa, thermal pools, eco pods, and a "Swiss Guide Great Hall" built.

"In collaboration with the Swiss Edelweiss Village Foundation, we are devoted to preserving the rich cultural heritage of the Swiss Guides. Our resort serves as a living museum," states the resort's site.

While no opening date has been announced (an estimate of summer or fall 2024 has been released) the project has already received an award from Heritage BC.