Category Archives: Recreation

Dick Fairhurst’s Memories: Paul Golnick

Many people know Dick Fairhurst as the owner and operator of Cypress Lodge on Alta Lake, now occupied by the Whistler Sailing Association and the Point Artist-Run Centre.  When he first moved to Alta Lake in 1943, however, Dick spent the springs working for Alf Gebhart at the Rainbow Lumber Company Mill.  After Cypress Lodge opened in the late 1940s Dick continued to work as a logger and, through his work, got to meet many different characters that came through the valley.

In Dick’s short collection of “Whistler Stories” some are mentioned only briefly while, others, like Paul Golnick, seemed to make life at Alta Lake exciting and memorable.

Paul Golnick arrived in the valley in 1952 and was assigned to work under Dick at the Van West logging camp.  Paul, a young German immigrant, was described as a “very husky, burly, no nonsense man” who “looked like he could carry the logs out on his back.”

The Van West Logging Camp in the 1950s, set up closer to today’s Function Junction. Noyes Collection.

Paul’s time at the logging camp stuck in Dick’s memory from his first loggers’ breakfast.  Before coming to Canada Paul had lived in post-war Germany and then worked in the coal mines in France.  The breakfast tables at the camp were piled with food and, as Dick recalled, in one sitting Paul made it through a dozen eggs, a plate of bacon and hot cakes and a finisher of toast and jam.  Paul later told Dick he had never seen so much food before.

Though Paul quickly proved to be a hard and capable worker, his time at Alta Lake was not without mishap.  While getting a drink from a creek one day he accidentally dislodged a small pole which came to stop of the head of a coworker (a chaser) getting a drink slightly down the creek.  The chaser’s head was pushed down and when he came back up mud streamed from his mouth and was lodged behind his glasses.  This wouldn’t have been so terrible but, in his temper, the chaser tripped over another log and fell into more mud.  While Dick hid behind a tree laughing and Paul tried to explain the accident the chaser gathered his things and left.

Logging donkeys, caterpillar tractors with arches and mobile loaders were used by Van West. It was hard work but an improvement over the hand logging of the 1920s. Green Collection.

There were few opportunities for driving in the valley but by the 1950s a rough tote road had been made by the logging camp on the old Pemberton Trail.  Dick bought three Ford Model As and, though his was a “real lemon” and good only for parts, Paul’s was good enough to get them to work.  Unfortunately, according to Dick, Paul wasn’t the best driver and he wouldn’t let anyone else behind the wheel.  On steep hills the motor would stall and Dick would have to jump out to put a rock behind the wheel – apparently Paul couldn’t yet handle the brake and gas at the same time.  On one occasion the rock failed and Paul, thinking he’d hit the brake, went back down the hill in reverse at full speed.  Dick described it as “the fanciest bit of steering I ever saw in my life.”  Despite two flat tires, the car was back on the road in just a couple of days.

After a year at the camp Paul took over Dick’s job hooking for the catskinners and brought his bride Marianne to join him from Germany.  A wedding party for them was held at Dick’s house and went well until, just moments after Paul had commented that he “had never seen so many happy people,” a fight broke out leaving Dick with a smashed window and a bloody wall.  Dick never asked what he thought about the “happy people” after that.

When Marianne was seven months pregnant a group from the Van West logging camp went to visit at Parkhurst.  This journey involved driving over the “road” to the log dump at the south end of Green Lake where they got a ride on the Queen Mary across the lake.  Visits to Parkhurst were great socializing opportunities and by the time the group left it was getting dark.  The Queen Mary brought them back to the log dump where there was so much bark and debris floating that, in the dusk, the debris could be mistaken for solid ground.  Unfortunately the first one out of the boat was Marianne who went straight through the debris and into fifteen feet of cold water.  Paul and the others still onboard quickly grabbed her and hauled Marianne back into the boat.  Luckily there were no ill effects from her dunking.

The settlement at Parkhurst in the 1950s, across the lake from where Marianne fell in. Clausen Collection.

Two months later Paul and Marianne created more excitement when, at 3 am, Marianne went into labour.  With no scheduled train, the section foreman had to be called to bring his speeder with a trailer to take Marianne to Squamish.  At Brackendale Marianne was loaded into an ambulance and a daughter was born before they made it to the hospital.

We’re not sure what happened to Paul and his family after they left Alta Lake and Dick doesn’t include any details on their later years.  This is not uncommon – so many people pass through the valley that it’s hard to keep track of everyone.  Paul’s time here, however, was certainly memorable to those who knew him.

Advertisements

This Week In Photos: October 4

You may notice this week’s post is shorter than usual – some weeks have missing negatives while others are missing entirely.  This happens to be one of those weeks, but there was still a lot going on in the years that are covered, from bridge openings to boat building to Brownies meetings.

1978

Mayor Pat Carleton waits for a train to arrive outside the Whistler Station.

Construction crews on Whistler Mountain recently got the feeling that they were being watched…

The most photographed bridge on #99! The bridge over the 19 Mile Creek as it was in a nearly finished state last Saturday.

1980

The Midstation towers on the new Olympic Chair on Whistler North. Picture taken from the top of the Village Chair.

The new Whistler Mountain lapel pin.

Do-it-yourself! – Whistler United Pharmacy owner Dave Stewart gives his front windows a polish.

LUNCH BREAK! Nello Busdon, Neil Roberts, Pat Greatrex and others enjoy the sunshine in the town centre plaza.

Workers lay interlock brick tiles in the Whistler Village Square.

Chamber of Commerce’s Michael D’Artois shows off the Town Centre to members of the BCIT Hospitality and Tourism Faculty.

Cst. Chuck Klaudt, the new member of the Whistler RCMP detachment.

1982

The winners: The Boot Pub Ladies Golf Classic.

Dryland downhill training – Dave Murray takes Blackcomb and Whistler Ski Club members through some of the exercises that help limber up skiers for the season opening.

The winning team (minus one key player) who put together Whistler’s weekly miracle, the Question, which was judged top in its class by BC and Yukon Community Newspapers Association October 2.

Dennis and Judy Waddingham display the new sign painted by Charlie Doyle, which hangs outside their store in Whistler Village. Opening day will be before the mountains begin their season.

Whistler’s Brownies rekindled the campfire spirit October 4 when they gathered at Myrtle Philip School for the first meeting of the year.

T’is the season to get sawing and chopping. These Alpine residents seem well prepared for winter’s onslaught.

A crew of landlubbers helped hoist the deck onto the sleek craft which Cress Walker and Paul Clark have been building all summer long in the driveway of their Alpine Meadows home.

Members of the Niels Petersen Band. Niels Petersen (lead vocals), Connie Lebeau (bass guitar), Christopher Allen (harp) and Gary Petersen (drums) warm up an act that will be entertaining Whistlerites all winter. The band will be appearing at Tapley’s and at the Brass Rail throughout the ski season.

1983

A cold crisp morning kept most creatures inside early Sunday, but this great blue heron had work to do. It was photographed as it flew over the River of Golden Dreams close to Green Lake looking for fish. Shortly after this photo was taken an industrious beaver swam past carrying wood for its lodge.

A smiling Ted Pryce-Jones proudly snips the ribbon to mark the official opening of the new suspension bridge built across the Callaghan River near the Cheakamus River junction last Thursday. Pryce-Jones designed the army-style bridge and with the help of a host of EBAP workers completed the project in under three months.

Bridge decking is composed of 3.5m long fir planks treated with a special wood preservative designed to make them last more than 20 years. And for those with bridge phobias, 2 1/2cm steel cables stretch across the river to provide for a safe crossing.

Marilyn Manso, one of three employees at the Alta Lake weather station, enters local weather information on a data terminal linked with Toronto. Entries must be made every hour on the hour or more often as changing weather patterns dictate.

Posing for photographs can be an awkward process.

 

50 Years of Green

When the mountains open this winter things will look a bit different.  Over the summer both mountains have undergone some changes.  On Whistler a new six-person Emerald Express will replace the four-person chair.  This will be the fifth chairlift installed along this lift line, with this season marking fifty years since the installation of the Green Chair.

Blizzard! The scene looking down the Green Chair during a snowstorm in February, 1979. Whistler Question Collection.

The first Green Chair, a two-person lift with an uphill capacity of 1000 people per hour, was installed on Whistler Mountain for the 1968/69 season and opened up new terrain for skiing.  Over the summer of 1968 two new beginner-intermediate runs were cut and groomed, known today as Ego Bowl and Jolly Green Giant, and advanced skiers were promised fantastic bowl skiing and powder skiing in the evergreens around the lift.

Once open the Green Chair made it possible for skiers to ski down to the valley on the northeast side of Whistler.  A new intermediate run was cut from the top of the Green Chair to what was then referred to as the “gravel pit”, the future site of Whistler Village.  A bus service provided by Whistler Mountain would then run skiers back to the gondola base at Creekside.

The two Green Chairs can be seen heading up towards the Roundhouse. Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation Collection.

The Green Chair and the runs it serviced proved popular and in 1970 the lift was extended.  Loading now took place further down the hill where skiers and boarders were still loading when the mountain closed this spring.  At the same time Ego Bowl and Jolly Green Giant were widened and cleared of trees, stumps and boulders.

The Orange Chair, built in 1972, added more access to the Green Chair area and enabled the building of the Whiskey Jack run, which ran from the top of the Orange to the bottom of the Green Chairs.  By this time the “gravel pit” had been renamed the Olympic parking lot and Olympic Run was a regular ski out for many skiers.

Skiers head up the Green Chair on a sunny day, 1980. Whistler Question Collection.

By 1973, the popularity of the Green Chair and its beginner-intermediate runs already indicated the need for greater uphill capacity.  A second double lift, imaginatively named Green Chair II, was planned for the 1974/75 season.  Running parallel to Green Chair I and transporting 1200 skiers per hour, this new chair promised to eliminate lift lines in the area.

The next few years saw more changes for the Green Chairs.  A new run was cut in 1976 to reduce congestion in the area and the winner of the accompanying contest named the new route Green Acres.  Green Chair I gained a new tower in 1977 to allow the addition of a mid-station loading ramp.  The new loading point was meant to allow for skiing both earlier and late in the season.

Skiers board the Green Express at the bottom of Ego Bowl. Whistler Question Collection.

The two Green Chairs ran side by side until 1989, when both were replaced by the Green Chair Express, Whistler Mountain’s first quad chair.  This Green Chair lasted only eight years before the high-speed Emerald Express, also a quad, replaced it in 1997.

More than 20 years later the old Emerald Express has been disassembled and will reappear on Blackcomb this year, replacing the original Catskinner Chair from 1980.  The new six-person Emerald Express will provide access to the same runs build under the original Green Chair fifty years ago, though it may look a little different today.

This Week In Photos: September 27

1978

Trucks head up Whistler Mountain during the summer construction of the new chairlift.

The top drive station of the new “Little Red” chairlift being built at the top of Whistler Ski area.

1979

Smoke pillars up from the fire behind Garibaldi last week.

The concrete is poured on Wedgewood Properties Package #8 while workers get up to the roof level on the condominiums above Packages #4 and #5.

David Fairhurst proudly shows off the first Pine mushrooms he found last month.

Air West’s new Twin Otter on Alta Lake after bringing the C.O.A. delegates to Whistler.

The students give Dennis Lamarche’s wagon a good wash while the bake sale goes on behind.

The ad for Espresso Express Line, a unique business set up in Whistler.

1980

BC CABINET AT WHISTLER: Mayor Carleton greets Premier Bill Bennett and Labour Minister Allan Williams as they get off the train.

The Mayor shows the Town Centre off to Health Minister McLelland, Premier Bennett, Mrs. Aubrey Bennett, Provincial Secretary Hugh Curtis & Labour Minister Allan Williams.

Bennett poses with some Myrtle Philip students.

Miss Pemberton 1980 Kristi King presents the Premier with a giant potato casserole dish on behalf of the people of the Pemberton Valley.

Work on bridge over Fitzsimmons to bring skiers from Blackcomb into Town Centre.

Franz and Annette Wilhelmsen admire new Whistler pin while Hastings West president Ken Tolmie, Peter Alder and Trudi Salmhofer look on.

Heavy rain caused deep mud near the Town Centre. Golf course practice fairway 1 – Mark Clark truck 0.

Kayak is totally submerged at this portion of the course.

1982

Awarded a winged hat for being the fastest base runner in the beer league. Don Beverley of the 2.5 Rollbacks has all of next season to look forward to. Jan Simpson and M.C. Terry Boston presented him with his memento.

This W5 crew was on location in Whistler last week while covering a story on human rights. Segment of story covered here involved the theory of relocating Garibaldi residents to protect Whistler.

Students from UBC and the infamous University of Whistler braved chilly temperatures over the weekend to compete in the First Annual Intercollegiate Windsurfing Championship.

No one was hibernating on Whistler Mountain this summer. Renovations are nearly complete on the Roundhouse, including this new sundeck and snack stand on the east side of the building.

As the new Director of Ski Racing for Whistler Mountain, Dave Murray will be coordinating downhill race clinics, ski promotions and special events. Murray, 29, retired from the Canadian National Ski Team last year after the World Cup held at Whistler.

Parks Planner Tom Barratt and plant specialist Karen Edwards bone up on some of the plant species indigenous to this area.

1983

Brownies Karen Kogler, Sonja Richli, Madeleine Domries, Sara Jennings, Marika Richoz, Jessica Wilson, Adrienne Richters, Joanne DenDuyf, Jessica Humphrey, Melanie Busdon, Leah Wuolle and Heather Paul listened attentively to leader Brown Owl (alias Bettina Weidermann) at the first meeting of the season at Myrtle Philip School Wednesday. Brown Owl says that Brownies meet once a week, from 6:30 to 8 pm at the school, and are open to girls aged six through nine.

John Hunter Trucking goalie Steve Brunn misses a shot that grazes the post in Saturday’s Howe Sound Hockey League game opener against Tapley’s Winterhawks. Brunn was pestered with shots from Winterhawk forwards and defencemen all game long. A porous John Hunter defence coupled with fast skating Winterhawks players proved too much for the Squamish team as they went down to defeat 6-3.

Getting down is the way to get in shape at Bodyworks. Workouts will be moving to Myrtle Philip School starting Monday.

The skiing never stops for Philippe Lavoie and Brent Wood, seen here atop Whistler Mountain Sunday before boot-skiing on remaining snow.

Alpine Paving workmen roll along Mountain Lane and put the finishing touches to the route. With Village Stroll paving now complete, all that remains is completing Whistler Way from Tantalus Lodge to the underground parking entrance.

Greg Lee, new head skiing coach at Blackcomb, gets a head start working out with local girls and boys Sunday morning. Lee, a former World Pro Skiing Circuit skier, also does colour commentary for CBC Sports. Before Sunday’s soccer game Lee showed kids how to take their heart rate for better fitness.

Out for a postprandial training ride, cyclist Todd McPhalen coasts down Village Gate Boulevard. Not seen are Dave MacPhail, Don Barr and Murray Sudden, nuclei of the soon-to-be Team Whistler.

1984

An unidentified dog finds refuge from the rain beneath a Wedgemount Blasting truck parked in village parking lot “A”.

Chilly temperatures kept crowds to a minimum Saturday, but sunny skies brought throngs out Sunday for the fourth year of Whistler’s Fall Festival.

Pat Earley was one of six Vancouver-based artists who demonstrated their creative talents during the Sept. 22-23 Fall Festival. Earley specializes in oil pastel portraits which are exquisitely detailed and warm. Although the displays were moved indoors to the Delta Mountain Inn because of chilly weather, it was the first time artists were allowed to demonstrate and sell their wares in the streets of Whistler.

Playland set up an instant amusement park…

… but some youngsters weren’t too sure if they enjoyed the pony rides or not.

Television and movie producers seem to have developed a taste for Whistler. Actor Sean Connery, best known as James Bond, agent 007, starred Tuesday in a Japanese TV commercial for Biogur yogurt. Production coordinator Martin Yokata said they needed a “strong, healthy, clean” image, and 007 fit the part. In the ad, Connery is seen doing calisthenics and running alongside a golf green at the Whistler Golf Club with a Doberman Pinscher.

Verner Lundstrom

We are incredibly lucky at the museum to have stories from a myriad of different people who lived, worked or visited the valley over the past 100 years.  Most of the narratives from the era of Alta Lake tend to belong in one of two categories: summer resort life or logging and railroad work.  The same names are often mentioned in both, as would be expected in such a small community, but very few people really lived in both categories.

One exception is Verner Lundstrom.  In the late 1920s, at the age of 18, Verner left Sweden to join his brother Charlie at Alta Lake.  Charlie had arrived in 1927 and made his living as a logger and pole cutter, finding the tall, straight cedars that could be used as telephone poles.  The brothers lived in a cabin close tot he railway and near Fitzsimmons Creek, about a mile away from Lost Lake.  Together they logged cedar poles around the northeast area of Alta Lake.

Verner Lundstrom hard at work. Photo: Lundstrom Collection.

As Verner recalled in an oral history done in 1992, all of their work was done by hand.  With no power saw, trees were usually felled using a two-person saw.  The brothers used horses to help move the poles to the eastern shore of the lake by what Verner described as “skid roads”.  From there the poles were floated across Alta Lake to the railway station at the south end and loaded onto flatcars.

Verner and Charlie worked together for 8 to 10 years before Charlie moved on.  During that time there were various logging operations within the area and Verner knew many of the people we’ve written about before, including the Jardine-Neiland family, the Barrs, Denis DeBeck, B.C. Keeley, the Gebharts and the Woods family.

Life in Alta Lake wasn’t all work – here Alf Gebhart poses with Ben Dyke and an unknown woman in front of his house at Parkhurst. Photo: Debeck Collection.

In his first few years at Alta Lake, Verner also worked at Rainbow Lodge as a seasonal handyman and experienced life centred on summer tourism as well.  Verner recalled that, at the time, Rainbow Lodge would have up to 120 guests and he and some others spent a lot of time swimming during the day and dancing at night.  For Verner, who enjoyed swimming and hiking, his job at Rainbow Lodge sounds ideal.

With the mountains and lake nearby, working at Rainbow Lodge was ideal in the summers.  Photo: Philip Collection.

When Verner wasn’t working at Rainbow Lodge or cutting poles with Charlie, he and his brother would often head up the surround mountains.  Verner thinks they must have gone up Whistler Mountain “hundreds of times,” either to hunt or “just to walk up to the lake.”  The lake in questions, Cheakamus Lake, had an old cabin that had been used by trappers and many weekends Verner would hike up, with or without Charlie.  Though Verner didn’t recall hiking up Blackcomb or Wedge, he did remember time spent hiking up Sproat and Red Mountain, known today as Fissile.

Verner stayed in the area even after Charlie had moved on.  In 1942, when he married Lauretta Arnold, Verner was living further up the rail line at Mile 43 between Alta Lake and Pemberton.  The couple then moved up to Mile 48 where Vern did the logging for the sawmill of John Brunzen and Denis DeBeck.

After their first child, Verner and Laurette moved to Birken, then later to Pemberton where their daughters could attend school.  In 1950 the family left the Sea to Sky and moved to Chilliwack where Verner continued to work in logging camps.  Even after he retired, Verner continued to fell trees for his friends until the age of 85.

Like Verner’s story, each oral history, letter or memoir in our collection provides a unique perspective on life in the valley.  Having access to so many different memories allows us to form a more complete picture of Whistler’s past.  Come visit us at the museum if you’re interested in adding your own perspective to the mix.

This Week In Photos: September 20

While we have information for the photos we share here, we have many more photos that we have questions about.  That’s why tonight we’ll be hosting Naming Night at the Museum – we provide 100 photos (tonight’s edition focuses on the 1990s and ’80s) and ask community members to help add names and stories to the images.

1978

Bridge girders in place over 19 Mile Creek. The main highway has been closed since August 21 for this and residents of Alpine Meadows are concerned that the detour should not last more than a month.

The driver of this truck ended up straddling a 24″ log after having driven past four warning signs, two flashing lights and a barricade on Friday evening.

Just a sampling of what the local forests have to offer those who know what to look for.

1979

The view from the top! Looking down on the Town Centre from the air, September 14, 1979.

The Town Centre two-level parking structure under construction.

The Roundhouse expansion under construction by Quadra.

The view from the Roundhouse showing the new washroom building.

Looking down the “Toilet Bowl” while the drill rig heads down to blast some more rock.

The Blackcomb runs as seen from the air.

Constable Tom Hansen stands beside the new RCMP machine.

1980

Two big coolers are fully stocked with all types of fine meats and cheeses you’d expect to find in a delicatessen. Hilda’s is now open in the Town Centre.

Just one of the many houses that were raised for basement work this summer.

A tree over wires at the south end of Mons overpass was one reason for Whistler losing power.

Increased line tension snapped this pole in half just down the line.

Hugh Naylor takes a closer look at one of the displays at the Pemberton fair.

1982

These enterprising young vendors had a refreshing pause for participants in the Terry Fox Run on Sunday.

All shapes and sizes of cars, from go-carts to the formula cars took part in Whistler’s first hillclimb competition held September 18 – 19 on Blackcomb Way.

A tribute to the joys of earlier days and ways, Renaissance Night at Delta Mountain Inn Tuesday proved to be a hit with visiting travel agents.

Dave Roberts and Curtis Beckon join the merry throng at a medieval dinner thrown for P. Lawson Travel and Bon Voyage Tours at Delta Mountain Inn.

Taisto Heinonen and co-driver Lynn Nixon buy some airtime on the Callaghan Lake leg of the Pacific Forest Rally. They went on to win the event in Heinonen’s Toyota Celica.

This kayaker is swept away in competition excitement during the Cheakamus Indian Summer Race.

1983

Amateur race driver Dan Pantages sits at the helm of his Lotus Super 7, a four-cylinder exposed wheel racer capable of about 160 km/h. Pantages joined about 35 other car enthusiasts over the weekend for a hillclimb race of the steep, winding road to Blackcomb Daylodge. Slightly modified cares races as well as exotic speedsters, but out of all the cars the fastest time was turned in by a dune buggy. Drivers competed in a slalom course in Blackcomb parking lot as well. The hillclimb and rally were sponsored by the Burnaby-Coquitlam Motorsport Association. Competitors came from as far away as Prince George.

An improved road leading into the Club Cabin area from Highway 99 needs a stop sign, having been without one since roadwork was completed in the early summer. The intersection is located about 1 km north of the Gondola area on a streak of highway with poor visibility in either direction. Ministry of Highways District Manager for the area, Ron Winbow, said Tuesday, “We’ll take care of it.”

Chris Carson and friends performed Scandinavian folk dancing during Whistler’s Class of ’83 arts and crafts show Friday.

Workmen from Alpine Paving completed paving on Village Stroll Monday. Coastal Mountain Excavations also placed three drainage basins ten days ago, ensuring that last year’s puddle problems aren’t repeated next spring. Curbs have also been placed along Whistler Way and Mountain Lane. Paving of those roads should occur next week.

When Peter Brown throws a party, money is not the biggest concern. Brown, head of Canarim Investments, treated employees to a weekend of baseball and assorted fun activities. The company limousine, complete with telephone, spent Saturday in the shade of Whistler Resort Association’s Arabesque tent, along with a weekend supply of appropriate refreshments.

Sydney Humphries, Philippe Etter, Bryan King and Ian Hampton return for the second encore at Sunday’s performance of the Purcell String Quartet at Brackendale Art Gallery.

Whistler’s newest and only board game features a mock Highway 99 plus ski runs and apres-ski challenges.

1984

Bartending course student Sandy Vallender practices the fine art of making a layered liqueur drink. Ross Smith, instructor of the three week course offered through Capilano College, teaches the 12 students everything they need to know about tending a bar professionally – including the recipe for a perfect Martini.

About 45 modified competition cars gathered here again this year for the Burnaby/Coquitlam Motorsport Association hillclimb and rally over the weekend. Entrants ranged from formula cars to souped-up Datsuns.

Whistler Fire Department members Craig Barker (left) and Dave Steers were among the 22 firemen who rushed to the burning house at 9516 Emerald Drive early Sunday afternoon. Although the blaze appeared to be extinguished, it re-ignited early Monday morning.

Kin Lalat, a quintet of exiled Guatemalan musicians, entertained a sympathetic audience Sunday at the Pemberton Legion. The group uses traditional instruments including marimbas, maracas, drums and guitar, and gives a strong voice to freedom-fighting Guatemalans.

Mark Angus, Pascal Tiphine and Umberto Menghi were jointly asked Whistler’s Answers this week. Although they all agreed that yes, we need more cultural events here, they disagreed on the type of house wine village restaurants should use.

The Raines: Willy, Charley, Nancy and Al, returned to Whistler just before school started after two years in Crans, Montana, Switzerland. Al and Nancy were ski instructors in the 1,500-person resort while the 14-year-old twins went to school in the French speaking community.

The Watersprite Lake Hut

In the past we’ve covered the building of various backcountry huts situated around Whistler, beginning in the 1960s.  Gothic arch huts have a place in much more recent history as well, as the Watersprite Lake Hut proves.

After the completion of the North Creek Hut in the fall of 1986, the British Columbia Mountaineering Club (BCMC) took a hiatus from building backcountry huts.  Over the next two decades, the BCMC focused their efforts on outdoor education, environmental protection, trail building and trail maintenance and mountaineering training.

In the mid-2000s, attention was brought back to backcountry huts when David Scanlon took on the task of acquiring legal tenure from the Provincial Government and First Nations for the BCMC huts built at both Mountain Lake and North Creek.  The BCMC gained full legal tenure of these hut sites in 2009.

Following this achievement, the BCMC surveyed their membership about backcountry access and building more backcountry huts.  Scanlon formed a committee that investigated sites for a new hut and after careful study they chose to build a backcountry hut near Watersprite Lake.  Watersprite Lake is located just outside the southwestern edge of Garibaldi Provincial Park and is close to Mamquam Mountain and Icefield.

The Watersprite Lake Hut covered in snow this past winter. Photo by David Scanlon.

Prior to the construction of the hut at Watersprite Lake, the BCMC built trail access to the site that opened in the spring of 2016.  BCMC members noticed heavy foot traffic to the lake on the newly built trail.  The BCMC used space at Fraserwood Industries, thanks in part to a club member, to pre-fabricate the glu-lam arches required for the hut.  Scanlon calculated that committee members spent over 1000 man-hours in pursuit of constructing the new hut.

In the fall of 2016, construction of the Watersprite Lake Hut began.  The hut design includes a wood stove for use to heat the hut in the winter, a dedicated cooking area and enough room to accommodate ten people.  In the end, four additional arches were made by Fraswerwood Industries, which enabled the BCMC to built a seven-foot overhang to provide an emergency shelter and prevent snow build up around the front entrance.  Unlike other huts built by the BCMC in the late 1960s, early 70s and mid-80s, the Watersprite Lake Hut is locked to the general public and only accessible to registered users of the hut.  After seven years of planning and construction, the Watersprite Lake Hut opened in the winter of 2017.

The cozy interior of the hut. Photo by David Scanlon.

You may have noticed that, over the past couple of years or so, the museum has had backcountry huts (specifically those of the gothic arch variety) in mind.  You may even have seen a dancing hut as part of this year’s Canada Day Parade float.  This summer the Whistler Museum and Archives Society launched Coast Mountain Gothic: A History of the Coast Mountain Gothic Arch Huts, a virtual exhibit with the support of the Virtual Museum of Canada, which can be seen here.

The museum will be opening a physical exhibit to complement our new online exhibit in November 2018.  Keep an eye on our social media or subscribe to our newsletter for upcoming news about opening night!