Glacier Park Collection

The history of the Wheeler Cabin is as deep and wide as the lake on which it sits. Since the early 1900s, Lake McDonald has seen generations of the Wheeler family in residence. And of the many champions working to preserve this rich history, Glacier National Park Conservancy tops the list.

The Wheeler Family

The first Wheelers to call Lake McDonald home were Senator Burton “Burt” Wheeler and his wife Lulu. Many books have been written about those early days, and stories are still told around fire pits near and far. The tale of their lantern-lit cairn enabling nighttime canoe travel is legendary, and it’s now a symbol for the cabin’s significance.

Glacier National Park Conservancy's Mission

Simply stated, Glacier National Park Conservancy exists “to preserve and protect Glacier National Park for future generations.” And nowhere like the Wheeler Cabin restoration project is that mission more tangible.

When Doug Mitchell, executive director of Glacier National Park Conservancy speaks about the Wheeler Cabin project, his eyes light up. “Being present at the Wheeler Cabin allows you to redefine your place in the world. It’s a transformative experience; it makes you want to deepen your connection to everyone and everything around you,” he says. “It’s already a popular destination with easy access for visitors of all kinds, and all that’s missing is the curation and preservation.”

Over the years, the cabin and its many outbuildings were erected and demolished, renovated and destroyed by fires. Regardless of the political, social or environmental events, the Wheelers continued to restore and persevere.

A still lake dock in front of a mountain range.

Pursuit’s Promise to Place at Wheeler Cabin

Under the direction of Glacier National Park Conservancy, our Promise to Place flame was fanned, and a joint effort to restore and preserve the Wheeler Cabin was sealed. Promise to Place guides our operations and helps keep us accountable in three focus areas — Stewardship, Respect and Community. Mitchell says, “We are thrilled to have Pursuit involved in the historic preservation efforts. The project is completely consistent with Pursuit’s goal to improve the visitor experience not just for a moment but for a lifetime.”

Specifically, our team members will be deglazing the cabin’s windows in preparation for its grand re-opening in the fall of 2024. And generally, the cooperative effort is ongoing. Lana Walker, Glacier Park Collection operations support specialist, does not mince words. “What would Glacier National Park do without them? Glacier National Park Conservancy covers budget shortfalls. They’re invested in Glacier National Park’s survival for generations to come. They have a huge reach, and we’re committed to supporting their success however we can,” says Walker.

Wheeler Cabin

An International Affair

The Wheeler Cabin has been designated as an official Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park Center, and its impact will be wide-reaching. Mitchell speaks to its unique significance explaining that “the Wheeler family tradition is one of peace, and to share that with the international peace park community — and the world at large— is a great honor to the Wheelers of the past, present, future and all those who are able to visit.”

Mitchell’s vision for the property once completed knows no bounds. He imagines a full spectrum of humanity meeting on these grounds, from world dignitaries to local tribal leaders and county commissioners. “The Wheeler’s spirit of determination and grit is alive and well on the property today, and the power of this place will continue to inform relationships going forward.”

A Beacon for the Future

Through small tasks like window restoration all the way to big picture collaboration, we are grateful for Glacier National Park Conservancy’s partnership. The Wheeler Cabin restoration project encapsulates the spirit of those who came before, the unlimited possibilities of a shared future and the lived experience proving that the power of a place can’t be contained within four walls. The Wheeler Cabin demonstrates the infinite value of a single lantern from long ago that is still lighting our way forward.

We are building a team of passionate people determined to make a difference in the places we love. Every effort counts. Meet more of them here and discover how Promise to Place is the real deal.
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