Family selling 'magnificent' scale model of Banff Springs Hotel

A four-metre-long, one-and-a-half-metre-wide model of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is up for sale.

'He would go out on weekends … literally measuring the sizes of the windows'

Frank Kaufmann starting building his scale model of the iconic Banff hotel in the late 1970s. (Frank Kaufmann)

A unique scale model of an iconic Alberta landmark is up for sale.

The four-metre-long, one-and-a-half-metre-wide model of the Fairmont Banff Springs was handcrafted nearly 40 years ago by 82-year-old Calgarian Frank Kaufmann.

Frank said he came up with the idea after visiting Madurodam, a miniatures park and tourist attraction in the Netherlands.

"It intrigued me forever … I thought, you know, Calgary needs a tourist attraction like that. So I started building," he said.

Frank said he decided to focus, like the tourist exhibit near Amsterdam, on real buildings.

Unfortunately it just didn't come to fruition, and he ended up with a bunch of these little models in his garage and they've been sitting there ever since.- Udo Kaufmann, Frank's son

He built a lighthouse in Vancouver out of wood, and a ceramic scale-model of Calgary's city hall — which is still sitting in his garage — before moving on to the Banff Springs.

He said he travelled to Banff in the late 1970s and spoke to the hotel's manager to get permission to make measurements of the building. 

Udo Kaufmann, Frank's son, said the project was a labour of love for his dad — a head chef who liked to keep his hands busy.

"He would go out on weekends or make trips … and he would go out literally measuring the sizes of the windows, the dimensions of the building, the corners, the heights, the roof lines, everything, wherever they would let him go," Udo said.

Frank worked on the model for about three years, an hour here, a day there. But once it was finished, he realized it needed a place to be exhibited — and couldn't find one. So it's sat in his garage since.

Udo said building an entire model town was his dad's dream. 

The model, which is built out of plywood, took three years to create and is a to-scale replica of the famous hotel. (Frank Kaufmann)

"Unfortunately it just didn't come to fruition, and he ended up with a bunch of these little models in his garage and they've been sitting there ever since," Udo said.

Frank offered the model to the hotel, but they weren't interested.

"I really wish the Banff Springs Hotel or somebody out in Banff would put this thing up as a museum piece. But we've contacted the hotel on a couple occasions over the years and they've just really expressed no interest in having it," Udo said, adding that his understanding is the hotel gets offered replicas on a semi-regular basis.

So, he decided to advertise it on Facebook.

He's sold many of his other models, but has yet to find a buyer for the Banff Springs. 

Frank hasn't yet settled on a price for the model, but he's glad it's attracting strong interest.

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener


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