Calgary airport buys scale model of Banff Springs hotel made by local man

After months of searching for a buyer, an 82-year-old Calgarian has sold his model of the Fairmont Banff Springs. The replica is four metres long and 1½ metres wide.

Replica spent 40 years sitting in a Calgarian's garage

Frank Kaufmann says he tried to maintain a scale of 1:48 when building his model of the Banff Springs hotel. (Supplied by Reid Fiest)

A Calgary man's scale model of an iconic Alberta landmark has landed at the Calgary International Airport. 

After months of searching for a buyer, 82-year-old Frank Kaufmann sold his replica of the Fairmont Banff Springs to the airport. The model is four metres long and 1½ metres wide.

"We love Mr. Kaufman's passion for displaying the best of our province, and we think this miniature version of the Banff Springs hotel will allow our guests to enjoy the region's legendary attractions without leaving the terminal," said Michael Hayward, vice-president of marketing and guest experience for the Calgary Airport Authority, in a statement to CBC Calgary. 

The replica, which has been stored in Kaufmann's garage since 1979, is now on display at the airport in the domestic arrivals section near Door 4. 

With help from his son, Kaufmann posted his model for sale on social media a couple of months ago. The airport later contacted him about a private sale. 

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

Kaufmann came up with the idea to build models after visiting Madurodam, a miniatures park and tourist attraction in the Netherlands. 

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 travelled to Banff in the late 1970s and spoke to the hotel's manager to get permission to take measurements of the building. 

"I tried to maintain a scale of one to 48," he said. "I actually went to the hotel with the mission and took a lot of measurements." 

The build took about three years: an hour here, a day there. But once it was finished, the Calgarian realized it needed a place to be exhibited — and couldn't find one.

The hotel turned down his offer.

He ended up with a bunch of these little models in his garage.- Udo Kaufmann, Frank's son 

Udo Kaufmann said the project was a labour of love for his dad — a head chef who liked to keep his hands busy. He said his dad's dream was to build an entire model town.

"Unfortunately, it just didn't come to fruition, and he ended up with a bunch of these little models in his garage," he said.

Now, the Fairmont Banff Springs model has a new home, and Kaufmann said both he and his wife are happy to have their garage back. 

The airport declined to comment on the model's price tag.

With files from Sarah Rieger and the Calgary Eyeopener


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