Tag Archives: Bob Jardine

Love and romance — Whistler style

As Valentine’s Day approaches, we thought we would share one of Whistler’s lesser known love stories.

Bob Jardine first came to Whistler around 1921 with his family. He spent his childhood here, attending the first school in what was then Alta Lake. Later, at the age of 21, he joined the Air Force, where he spent the next 28 years. It was during his time with the Air Force that he met Stella Stracken.

Bob Jardine: quite possibly the handsomest Whistler pioneer

Bob worked in the fire department and Stella worked in the air man’s canteen as a steward. Although Bob knew Stella slightly, they never really spent a lot of time together.

One day, Bob received a telegram from his brother, which stated that he was going to be in Vancouver and asked if Bob would be able to go and meet him. The Jardine brothers hadn’t seen each other in five years, but the Air Force wouldn’t give Bob the time off.

During an argument with his superior over the matter, he was asked if he wanted a discharge. Bob said yes and he was given $100 for clothes and 30 days leave. So Bob went to Vancouver and had a month-long party with his brother. However, Bob became lonely and began looking for some work to fill up his time away from the Air Force. He ended up getting a job as a telephone lineman with the PGE Railway.

One day he went to work on a telephone pole near Function Junction. His boss asked him to climb the pole and make sure the lines were properly hooked up by calling the Vancouver operator and then ask to be connected to an outside number. Jardine pulled out his address book and happened across the name Stella Stracken. He couldn’t even remember who the girl was.

Bob decided to call the number anyways and her mother happened to answer the phone. He asked where Stella was and was informed that she had gone to work. He asked Stella’s mother to inform her daughter that he was coming to Vancouver that weekend and intended to take her out to dinner. That’s right — Bob Jardine scored a date with a girl he barely knew from the top of a telephone pole without even speaking to her directly.

So, Stella showed up for the date and Bob took her to a café. Not long into the date, Bob said, “This is a helluva time to mention this, but why don’t we get married?” At Stella’s justifiably shocked expression, Bob went on to say that they were never going to make a better connection with anybody else like the one they were making at that very moment, with each other.

Somehow, over the next two hours Bob convinced Stella to marry him. They were married for 58 years until Stella passed away.

Bob and Stella on their wedding day.

An impromptu wake at Alta Lake Station

Charlie Chandler was originally from Wisconsin and moved to Whistler near the turn of the century. In 1908 he obtained 160 acres on Alta Lake. According to an interview with Dick Fairhurst, “Charlie had quite a problem with the bottle, and decided that only thing to do would be to get the hell away out in the woods some place where it wouldn’t be too handy.”

However, as Oscar Wilde once said, “the only way to get rid of temptation is to give in to it.” Whenever Chandler got some money put aside he would leave his cabin in the wilderness and head for civilization to blow every cent.

Charlie was a trapper and had a trap line on Wedge Creek. He also did odd jobs during the summer months, but he was still considered to be a bit of hermit by the other residents of Alta Lake. In 1916 he sold his land to Alex and Myrtle Phillip and move further north near Alpine Meadows.

Dick Fairhurst related one story about Chandler and Alex Phillip. The two men were out on a hunting trip and when they made camp, Charlie began making bannock for dinner. However, when we went to flip it over, he missed and the bannock started rolling down the hill. Chandler took off down the hill after his rogue dinner. Finally, the bannock came to a halt and Chandler picked it up saying, “you look a little dirty but we are going to eat you anyway!”

In the winter of 1946, Chandler didn’t come to pick up his mail. His friends became concerned and went to check up on him. What they found was quite a shock. Apparently poor Charlie had had a heart attack and died, while sitting in a chair outside his cabin.

He was frozen stiff, still in the chair. This proved to be a bit of problem. There was nowhere in Whistler to bury Charlie and he had to be transported to Rainbow Lodge to catch the train south.

So poor old Charlie was put on a speeder, still in his chair, and taken all the way to Rainbow Lodge. He was left (still in his chair!) on the platform at the station, as the train was not due to arrive until the next day.

His friends decided that Charlie needed a proper send-off. Consequently, an impromptu wake involving copious amount of liquor was held, with Charlie in the (ahem) seat of honour.

According to Jack Jardine, his brother Bob was at the lodge late one night, and heard a ruckus. As he walked behind the lodge he heard some men yelling, “Yay! He was good old stout! Old Charlie, have another drink!” Alex Phillip, Charlie Munsen and another gentleman, a little worse for wear, had somehow got poor old Charlie into a boxcar, propped him up and were offering Chandler one last drink!

Well, all I can say is, bon voyage Charlie!