January 26, 2022 • Mountain Living
House for Whale Watchers
By Kate Barker, Photography by Trevor Martin
There are only a select few homes in Canmore designed by the prestigious architect Jeremy Sturgess. Nestled on the exclusive Juniper Ridge in the resort community of Silvertip, the House for Whale Watchers sits high above town, overlooking the mountainscapes that frame the Bow Valley. This multi-award-winning house is one of the most unique buildings in Canmore, and its inspiring design blends the natural elements into a comfortable, beautiful, and relaxing home.
The name of the residence stems from its imaginative design. The original owners were engineers who loved the sea but found themselves working in Alberta’s oil and gas sector. Despite their love of the ocean and whale watching, they needed to settle close to Calgary.
At one time, the mountains of the Canadian Rockies were the base of an inland sea. Looking out over their peaks is reminiscent of watching whales rising through the waves of the ocean, and the fossils on the mountaintops are reminders of the sea creatures that once called this area home. The House for Whale Watchers is built like a ship with a very pronounced prow, designed to sail through this sea of mountain peaks in search of aquatic life.
“The people who built the home were meticulous,” says homeowner Denise Coffield, “I have to give them credit for creating something so beautiful.” While the home was designed by Calgary based Jeremy Sturgess, the actual construction was done by local Canmore builders, many of whom continue to work in the valley to this day.
Coffield has owned the home since 2004, and throughout the years she and her family have kept the original designs intact and have appreciated the beauty and comfort the home has to offer.
The details are exquisite, right down to the sign displaying the house number. This unique piece of art by local sculptor Tony Bloom is a copper design with the exact location of the house, pinpointing the longitude, latitude, and altitude so you know exactly where you are on the planet. The sign, called Habitude is just the first exquisite detail that awaits in this unique home.
“The attention to detail and the love that went into this house is profound.” – Denise Coffield
The house draws its residents into nature. Every window boasts amazing views, and every room is aligned to make the most of the incredible mountain scenery. The home is filled with natural elements including wood, copper, and stone, which have a comforting feeling that invites the outdoors in. Tony Bloom’s copper work can be seen throughout the home, alongside some spectacular finishes that tie the home together in an artistic yet comforting manner.
“Even the shower in the primary bedroom has a window looking over the Rundle Range,” says Coffield, “And in the primary bedroom, you wake up looking at the iconic Three Sisters through large, floor-to-ceiling windows.” The home also features what Coffield calls the “Ice Deck”, which is an observation platform at the very top of the home with 360-degree views of the entire Bow Valley.
This home marked a lot of firsts for building in Canmore. It was the first to feature a sod garden roof over the garage, the first to have such curved and artistic walls, and the first to have a half-curved copper roof, rather than the traditional snow peaks that are common in this area. Large cedar beams run the length of the roofline on the inside of the structure, giving the house a unique ribbing visible from the interior of the home.
Everything about the home speaks to the shapes of the natural world. “Emotionally, when you walk into the house you feel as if you’re in nature,” says Coffield, “Everything in the house pulls you outside.”
This impressive house on the market for the first time, having previously changed hands through a private sale. It’s looking for new owners who will appreciate its artistry and love the home for its unique beauty. “It’s very bettersweet to sell this home,” says Coffield, “The house has been amazing for making connections and hosting friends and family over the years.”
House for Whale Watchers has won numerous awards including:
- Royal Architecture Institute of Canada Award of Excellence for contract documentation. “The drawings for the home were just incredible, showing the whole structure chronicled throughout the build. The drawings are like art in themselves.”
- Local awards from the Town of Canmore including the Mayor’s Award for garden and landscaping as well as artistic awards for Tony Bloom’s sign, Habitude.
- It’s also been on the cover of several magazines, and featured in numerous articles both locally and abroad.