Tag Archives: 19 Mile Creek

Frozen Alta Lake

Winters at Alta Lake were a quiet season for the small community without the crowds of summer visitors.  Whistler Mountain did not open for skiing until 1966 and until then downhill skiing in the valley was uncommon.  Instead winter sports centred on and around Alta Lake.  In addition to cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and sleigh rides, activities that took place on the frozen lake itself were popular within the small community.

Myrtle Philip and Agnes Harrop ice-boating on a frozen Alta Lake. Photo: Philip Collection.

With the right conditions skating was a common pastime that could quickly become a community gathering with a bonfire and marshmallows.

In 1924 Sewall Tapley built an iceboat for his daughter Myrtle after she injured her leg.  He used a few boards, old skate blades and a sail and thus introduced a new activity to Alta Lake.  With a good wind the iceboat could easily outpace the skaters.  While the iceboat did have a tiller attached it was not an effective means of steering.  Instead, Myrtle recalled, “we’d crash into the snow bank on the other side of the lake, get out and turn it around to get home.”  In the 1980s a new generation tried sailing on Alta Lake, this time using “windskiers” which hopefully had much better steering capabilities.

Wind skiing was a new sport for Alta Lake. Photo: Whistler Question Collection, January 1985.

The lake continued to be a community gathering spot for Alta Lake residents through the 1950s and into the 60s.  In the January 5, 1960 edition of the “Alta Lake Echo”, the weekly newsletter put out by the Alta Lake Community Club under various named from January 1958 until June 1961, it was noted that “a good crowd turned out Friday night to skate and spectate at Rainbow Rink.  Cabin 8 was cosy and warm for the less hardy types and those whose feed would not fit the available skates.”  The evening ended with hot dogs and hot chocolate provided by Alex and Audrey Greenwood, then owners of Rainbow Lodge.

The same newsletter also reported on the annual New Year’s hockey game that was postponed “due to poor player condition after New Years Eve.  Rescheduled for 2 pm Jan. 2nd, game commenced promptly at 3:30.”  On the side of the Alta Lake Amatoors were Frantic Fairhurst (foreward front and centre) and Non Stop Crankshaft, Capricious Croaker, Gummed Up Gow and Fearless Ferguson (all playing defence).  The Rainbow Rockets lineup featured Sky Scraper Skip (“centre, right and left, fore and back”), Spud Murphy (“goal defence and generally against Alta Lake making a goal”), Gallopping Greenwood, and GoGetter Gordon.

A game of hockey on frozen 19 Mile Creek, November 1978. Photo: Whistler Question Collection.

Despite having fewer players, Rainbow took an early lead that they kept for a final score of 7-1, though the accuracy of the score is questionable.  According to the sports report, “before the first half of the first quarter was over the judges retired to the warmth of Cabin 8 and the score was rather hard to keep track of.”  Clearly the residents treated this game with the utmost professionalism.

The opening of Whistler Mountain shifted the focus of winter sports away from Alta Lake, though it took only one winter with very little snow to return people to the lakes.  According to the Whistler Question, in January 1977 Whistler Mountain closed due to “adverse weather conditions”.  Instead skating, hockey and even ice stock sliding kept the community busy.

Ice stock sliding, a sport introduced to Alta Lake during a particularly bad snow year, remained popular in Whistler for some time. Photo: Whistler Question Collection, January 1980.

Today, if the lakes have a safe layer of ice, ice skating and hockey games can still be seen on lakes throughout the valley.

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Chasing Waterfalls

There are few natural phenomena as universally adored as waterfalls. From the sublime power of Niagara Falls to the delicate cascading ribbons of Yosemite or even a secluded cascade in the forest, waterfalls are some of the most magnetic destinations on Earth

Surrounded by the steep, rain-drenched Coast Mountains, Whistler and the Sea-to-Sky region is a veritable waterfall watcher’s paradise. Ever since the early pioneer days, locals and visitors have been drawn to the powerful spray and serene flow of the many cataracts to be discovered.

Alex Philip and friend in suits and ties, sitting at the base of Shannon Falls, circa 1920.

Shannon Falls are arguably the most dramatic and most accessible in the region. Here Alex Philip and friend pay a rather formal visit, circa 1915.

Based on our photo archives, it is clear that Myrtle Philip of Rainbow Lodge fame was especially drawn to waterfalls. There are dozens of such  images in her collection, and they were one of her favourite attractions when guiding lodge guests through the surrounding forest.

Some of the waterfalls in these photographs we know quite well, while others remain a mystery. Perhaps some of Whistler’s many waterfall enthusiasts can help us identify them?

On the reverse is written a note, presumably to Myrtle of Alex Philip. It reads "This could be made a nice picnic spot for hikers or riders from Rainbow as it is a beautiful waterfall and to make a pony trail would mean very little work from Pemberton trail below mile 43 post. Wedgemount Creek Falls.

On the reverse of this photo print Myrtle wrote “This could be made a nice picnic spot for hikers or riders from Rainbow as it is a beautiful waterfall and to make a pony trail would mean very little work from Pemberton trail below mile 43 post [of the PGE Railway]. Wedgemount Creek Falls.”

Photograph appears to be a copy of an original postcard. On the front is written "19 Mile Creek Falls, Alta Lake, B.C." On the reverse is written the following: ' "Above Alpine Meadow - that's where they get their water supply". (MP '83) "This was taken when we just began going up there about 1924. MP ('83)'

In a recorded interview, Myrtle noted that this photo was “taken when we just began going up there about 1924.” It became a favourite destination for lodge guests on short day hikes from the lodge. Today, 19 Mile Creek runs right through the Alpine Meadows neighbourhood.

 

These are identified as "Rainbow Falls" but it is unclear if they are half of the twin Rainbow Falls that can be seen up close from a short spur trail, low down on the Rainbow Lake trail.

These are identified as “Rainbow Falls” but it is unclear if they are half of the twin Rainbow Falls that can be seen up close from a short spur trail, low down on the Rainbow Lake trail.

 

This steep cascade in heavy flood is reminiscent of the several creeks that can be seen while hiking the Rainbow Lake trail. Any thoughts?

This steep cascade in heavy flood is reminiscent of the several creeks that can be seen during the middle section of the Rainbow Lake trail. Any guesses?

 

Brandywine Falls circa 1920s.

The stunning Brandywine Falls, circa 1920s. Photo taken by celebrated Vancouver photographer and frequent Rainbow Lodge guest, Lawrence Frank.

 

Tweed Neiland Jardine dog at Cheakamus in 1930s

Residents of and visitors to the Cheakamus Crossing neighbourhood should be able to recognize these falls, which provide a stunning winter backdrop for Tweed, the Jardine family’s dog, circa 1930.

 

Most likely somewhere in the Green River canyon.

Most likely somewhere in the Green River canyon.

 

Nairn Falls?

Nairn Falls?

 

Green River Falls in summer. Inscription on verso : "Green River Falls 1918-19 taken by Myrtle Philip.

Inscription on the back: “Green River Falls 1918-19.” Taken by Myrtle Philip.

 

Another unidentified gem, shot by Myrtle.

Another unidentified gem, shot by Myrtle.

This is just a selection of photos, primarily from Myrtle Philip’s collection. There are many more images of waterfalls in our archives and, of course, many more waterfalls in our region.

What are your favourites?