Tag Archives: Bill Bailiff

Rainbow Lodge’s Tough Transition

The story of Rainbow Lodge, founded by Myrtle and Alex Philip in 1914 and expertly managed for the next 34 years, is among our valley’s most celebrated stories. Less known however, is what became of Rainbow Lodge once the Philip’s decided to give up the tourist trade.

When Vancouver’s Alec and Audrey Greenwood first visited Alta Lake in 1947 the place clearly made an impression on them. Somehow in the process of expressing his enthusiasm for the lodge, the Philips hinted to Alec that they were thinking of selling into retirement. Similarly, Alec had already begun to think of leaving his stressful insurance salesman job in Vancouver. It seemed like a perfect fit.

Within a year the Greenwoods purchased Rainbow Lodge for $100,000 and along with their son Dennis became permanent residents of Alta Lake and the new operators of the iconic Rainbow Lodge.

The entrance to Rainbow Lodge during the Greenwood's tenure.

The entrance to Rainbow Lodge during the Greenwood’s tenure.

Unfortunately, the new tenants arrived during one of the worst spring floods ever. Water got to six inches deep on the kitchen floor and the entire dining room was flooded. Boardwalks outside were floating but would sink with a person’s weight. While they managed to outlast the flooding without any major damage, this certainly put a damper on their arrival.

The cold, wet spring carried into the summer. Guests cancelled by the dozens, and those that did come cut their vacations short. The fireplace had to be stoked twenty-four hours a day; it was the only heat in an un-insulated log building.

"Sit down to a familiar face." Corn Flakes and much more at the General Store under the Greenwood's watch.

“Sit down to a familiar face.” Corn Flakes and much more at the General Store under the Greenwood’s watch.

One day, smoke began to pour from under the floor. Thankfully quick thinking, and some aggressive axe work opened up the floor and fire hoses were used to extinguish the blaze before it spread. The fireplace was built on a one-foot concrete slab sitting on railway ties, which had caught fire. For the rest of the summer there was a twenty-four hour attendant monitoring the fireplace.

Despite these major difficulties the Greenwoods survived their first season relatively unscathed. That fall, with the help of local trapper Bill Bailiff, they had the lodge significantly remodeled. Bill had been a stonemason in England before he immigrated to Canada, and his fireplace was a masterpiece. It was built from river rock from Twenty-one Mile Creek just below Rainbow Falls and the mantelpiece was eight inches thick, cut from a single log from Alf Gebhart’s mill at the south end of Alta Lake. It really tied the room together.

The newly remodelled interior, complete with river-rock fireplace.

The newly remodelled interior, complete with river-rock fireplace.

The Greenwoods successfully ran Rainbow until 1970 when they sold the lodge and retired to Arizona. On September 15th, 1970, the Greenwoods held a closing bash for a select few long-time locals who he affectionately referred to as the “Rainbow Lodge Chapter of the Royal Ancient and Antediluvian Order of Froth Blowers.” Whether or not that was a reference to the biblical flood of 1948, it sounds like a good time.

Sadly, Rainbow Lodge was accidentally burned down in 1977. All that remains of the once-bustling resort are three original guest cabins near the entrance to Rainbow Park.


Camping with Old Bill

As the end of summer approaches many people might make the most of it by going on one last camping trip before heading back to work and school.  To all those, the Museum would like to offer the advice of Old Bill, suitable for all seasons.

Waiting for the train at Alta Lake station, 1937. Left to right: Bill Bailiff, Mr and Mrs Racey, Ed Droll, Betty Woollard, Larry, Flo and Bob Williamson.

Born in Liverpool, Bill Bailiff moved to Canada and began working for the Pacific Great Eastern railway in 1913.  He soon quit over unsafe working conditions and walked up the unfinished track to make his home at Alta Lake.  Bill settled in a log cabin on the Pemberton Trail near Scotia Creek and kept a trapline up the Cheakamus and in Fitzsimmons Pass.  As the community around Alta Lake grew Bill became an involved resident so that at the time of his death in 1958 he had been serving as the president of the Alta Lake Community Club.

First Alta Lake Community Club picnic on the point at Rainbow.

Founded in 1924 the Alta Lake Community Club regularly held dances, card parties, and film nights, as well as constructing the first school building in the area.  The club also put out a weekly newsletter called the Community Weekly Sunset to which Bill, as president, contributed a column on life in the mountains.  Going through the archives I found one of these columns entitled “What Not to Do” and thought it was time to share the advice of Old Bill.

Original illustration from the Community Weekly Sunset.

1. Don’t ever make your campfire against a tree and in summertime don’t make it against a log or windfall.  make it where it can be controlled at any time.  Remember, fire is a good servant but a bad master.

2. If in company never carry a firearm loaded.  By loaded I mean a live shell in the chamber.  Be careful of that sharp axe, best to have it covered as anyone brushing against you could receive a nasty cut.

3. Don’t go sliding down a steep snowbank as you may not be able to stop and the rocks below are harder and sharper than your bones.

4. If on a glacier don’t ever attempt to cross on a snowbridge over a crevice as these are liable to give way anytime so leave that to the experienced mountaineers who rope themselves.

5. Don’t be a litterbug around a campsite clean it up as someone else might be along to use it and don’t stay too long on a snowfield without dark glasses on as you may get a terrific headache from partial snowblindness.

6. Remember your forest ranger is your friend and you’ll find him very nice and co-operative providing you are not a careless firebug who none of us has any use for.

7. Don’t go killing wild life needlessly as some species are nearing extinction from indiscriminate slaughter.  Much better to try a shot with your camera and picture them.

9. Don’t be an old grouch round the camp or on the trail as this has a bad morale effect on others.  If the going is tough take it with a smile and joke about it as it makes it easier and pleasanter.

From a different issue but still applicable. Original illustration in the Community Weekly Sunset.

Sound advice, 90 years ago or today. Happy camping!