Our Legendary Beginning

Photo: John D. Birrell

Photo: John D. Birrell

Num-Ti-Jah Lodge is the dream of the remarkable Simpson family.

Our story begins with a wild, red-haired 19 year old named Jimmy Simpson who left England for Canada in 1896. He was to become the legendary outfitter known as the last and greatest of the Canadian mountain men. He guided scientists, mountaineers, big game hunters and artists through the little-explored Rocky Mountains. His wild character, quick wit, and tall tales of the trail made him one of Canada's most eccentric pioneers.

When Jimmy Simpson camped at Bow Lake in 1898, he vowed that one day he would "build a shack here". Twenty-five years later he began building the first log cabin on the site and had a permanent base for his outfitting tours. He called his operation Num-Ti-Jah, a Stoney Plain word for pine marten, a small animal similar to a sable.

In 1937, the Banff-Jasper highway was completed as far as Bow Lake. Jimmy, his wife Billie and their children Margaret, Mary and Jimmy jr. began expanding on the original dream of a "shack". With the earnings from Margaret and Mary's professional ice-skating tours, the building of Num-Ti-Jah Lodge began. In 1940, the Lodge had six guest rooms. By 1950, a beautiful log and stone hotel with 16 rooms stood on the shores of Bow Lake.

In the fifties and sixties, Jimmy Simpson's reputation attracted tourists keen to hear his stories. While Jimmy became a living legend, his son took charge of the Num-Ti-Jah operation. Jimmy jr. has his own mountain stories from an outfitting career that spanned thirty-five years ending in 1974, two years after his father died. Although he retired from managing Num-Ti-Jah Lodge in 1996, with his remarkable memory, he is the keeper of the old tales of Bow Lake.

Num-Ti-Jah Lodge hasn't changed much since it was completed in 1950. What you'll see and feel here is the dream of the Simpson family. We invite you to learn our story.


Jimmy Simpson: Legend of the Rockies by E.J. Hart