Tag Archives: construction

Constructing a Cabin

Thanks to the recent donation of some UBC Varsity Outdoor Club (VOC) Journals to our research collection, we’ve been enjoying learning more about how the VOC Cabin came to be.  Last week we took a look at the long search for a site, which culminated in 1965 with a piece of land in today’s Nordic Estates that was to be reserved for club cabins (find it here).

Once the process of finding a site was complete (and even before provincial government surveyors arrived to do their own survey of the area) construction began on the VOC Cabin at Whistler.  Most of the planning and construction work was done by VOC members, including many hours contributed by grads such as Byron Olson.  An architect, Olson postponed his planned trip to Europe to design the structure.  His plans called for a main structure with a lounge to accommodate parties and events of 150 people, a large kitchen, washrooms, a boot-drying room, storage, and separate dormitory structures designed to sleep 90.

The VOC Cabin under construction by VOC members. Karl Ricker Collection.

The plan was to construct the VOC Cabin in stages, beginning with the main structure.  The first stage included putting up walls and getting the roof on by Christmas 1965.  Construction began in August with “enthusiastic work parties of VOC’ers.”  While members volunteered to work on the cabin, the VOC did hire a CAT driver to help clear and level the site.  In the first couple of months, a road to the site was cleared, trails were cut and a waterline was installed.  Building was not, however, always straightforward.

VOC members carry supplies to the building site. Karl Ricker Collection.

Karl Ricker, who was heavily involved in the project, recalls that there was an old logging road that went to the site, which was used by the CAT driver and to get gravel for concrete delivered.  However, the logging road became unusable after the first rain.  Instead, equipment and supplies would be brought up the back road that came within half a kilometre of the site and then carried for the rest of the journey.  Most of the supplies came from Vancouver and, as the highway to Whistler had not yet been completed, had already been on quite a trip.

In the VOC Journal of 1965, Judy MacKay wrote that “autumn brought wind, rain, and a deluge of prospective new members to the site.”  Ricker recalls that each weekend between fifteen and 100 volunteers would arrive to work “like beavers” on the VOC Cabin.  The VOC members were not the only ones making their way to the site – according to Ricker a few Alta Lake residents would also appear each weekend to observe the students’ work.

The VOC Cabin begins to take on a familiar shape. Karl Ricker Collection.

By mid-October the VOC was getting close to finishing the first stage of construction.  By the end of the month, construction was at a point that the VOC Halloween party could be held at Whistler and MacKay reported that, “The cabin sagged and swayed in rhythm to every polka beat.”

Later in the season, however, mid-terms unsurprisingly meant that student labour was harder to come by and members of the Alpine Club helped with the roof and putting on shakes.  Ricker remembered carrying the windows for the cabin from the highway with snow on the ground about two weeks before the beginning of UBC’s December break.

VOC members get inventive carrying materials through the snow. Karl Ricker Collection.

Though there was still a lot of work to be done, the VOC did finish the first stage of construction by Christmas and the cabin was ready for some students who chose to spend their break at Whistler.  The lifts on Whistler Mountain, however, were not quite to ready and did not open in December as planned, leaving the VOC members to spend their holidays ski touring through the area.

Photographs and the WCA

Throughout 2018, the Whistler Museum’s blog, Whistorical, published a weekly feature called “This Week in Photos” (find all the posts here).  We had recently finished scanning the Whistler Question collection of photos from 1978 to 1985 and used the photos (which were helpfully arranged by their week of publication) to illustrate what was happening in Whistler in a particular week for each year the collection covered.  Most photos that had been published in the paper were catalogued with captions that helped provide context but for some photos you need to go to copies of the Question to understand what’s pictured.  One such photo can be seen here:

Crowds begin to mass for the Town Centre rally organized by the Whistler Contractors Association. Over 300 people took part in the rally and march through Town Centre.  Whistler Question Collection, 1980.

The image of a protest in front of a partially constructed Town Centre was published in the week of September 11, 1980 but the story behind it can be found in the Question throughout that year.  The first report of tensions around Town Centre construction projects in found in an editorial from June 5, 1980.  The dispute was mainly over whether the Town Centre was considered an integrated site, allowing both union and non-union workers to work on the different parcels, or a common site, allowing the Town Centre developers to employ only union workers.  There were four parcels being built by non-union contractors at the time.

The Labour Relations Board (LRB) had been asked to make a decision on the matter.  On June 11, the Whistler Contractors Association (WCA), headed by Doug O’Mara, attended the talks with a letter from Mayor Pat Carleton and the rest of Council expressing a desire to keep the Town Centre as an integrated site, allowing the independent contractors of the WCA to continue working there.

This seemed to be the main question in Whistler that summer. Whistler Question Collection, 1980.

The LRB chose not to make a ruling at that time and construction of the Town Centre by both union and non-union workers continued over the summer, though there was still tension.

Over the August long weekend the unions did stop work for a day, leading to what the Question described as “an extra long weekend.”  However, the Question editorial staff were confident enough that the construction season would end without a major disruption that they published an editorial on August 21 thanking those who had kept the Town Centre moving and claiming “we’re fairly confident that the relative harmony that has existed over the area for the summer will extend into the fall.”  One week later, on August 28, approximately 200 union workers walked off the Town Centre site.  This action began another hearing of the LRB beginning September 3.

The rally pictured was quickly organized by the WCA and took place on September 4.  Over 300 people turned out to support the WCA and signed a petition to be taken to the LRB.  The rally also attracted media attention and interviews with O’Mara, Nancy Greene, and other contractors were aired on CBC and CKVU and featured on the front page of the Province.

The WCA led media and supporters on a walk through the Town Centre showing just how much work was still to be completed. Whistler Question Collection, 1980.

The talks with the LRB continued for almost two weeks while the remaining construction season got shorter.  On September 15, the LRB announced that they needed to investigate the issue further and would send two officials to Whistler.  In the meantime, the Town Centre was to be treated as an integrated site.

Work resumed on the Town Centre over the next week, just in time for the Premier and Cabinet to visit, but the dispute did not end there.  The LRB announced on December 2 that, effective January 1, 1981, the Town Centre would be considered a common site, excluding the Whistler Golf Course and work on Blackcomb Mountain, which opened just two days later.  The WCA stated that they would appeal the decision, but Mayor Carleton was not hopeful the decision would be reversed.

Though looking through the Question doesn’t always provide the whole story behind a photograph, it often helps provide some context.

This Week In Photos: August 9

1978

The ski jump emerges from the forest onto Lost Lake.

Paul Burrows carries a couple cases inside Whistler’s liquor store.

Okanagan Helicopters help with the construction of the Little Red Chair on Whistler Mountain.

Sailing on Alta Lake, a popular summer pastime.

1979

The parade travels through Squamish during the Squamish Days Loggers Sports Festival.

Ian Moratti gets stuck into the log in the open chop.

Mike Carney (left) and his father Owen on the birling log.

The cabin built on the shores of Daisy Lake for the movie set of Strange Companions.

The 13-unit, concrete finish condominium block to be built by MacArthur for Riverina Developments at #8 Bayshores.

The Bow Helicopter Aloutte Machine after the crash.

Pemberton Information Booth, in front of the Pemberton District Library.

1980

The doors of the former Filling Station Restaurant will open again – under a new name and management. No one is saying just what the new restaurant will be like at its location next to the Whistler Creek Lodge.

Summer skiers hike up to ski down the Horstman Glacier.

A visitor to the Whistler/Pemberton area points out a feature of Nairn Falls, a scenic attraction only minutes from either town that many visitors miss.

Lost Lake south shore from two angles (see photo below) showing where a beach and picnic ground will be.

See caption above.

Swimming lessons are much more fun when you’re with a friend – and a competent instructor like this one. Lessons are on now at the Whistler Creek Lodge.

Some of the lakes on the golf course. Tees are constructed and greens are being worked on now.

1981

Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream… sunbathers enjoy some of the upgrading at the old Rotary Wharf access to Alta Lake. The Municipality has brought in tons of sand and moved the Rotary wharves to the beach at Lakeside Way.

Hummingbirds take flight around the owners of Whistler’s newest gift shop (l to r) Fran Carlberg, her son Greg and daughter Lisa Knight.

Athletic Society President Roland Kentel applies a coat of paint to the Society’s first project – bleachers for the ball field behind Myrtle Philip School.

Excitement abounds at the ‘boat races’ at L’Apres Beach Party on August 6.

Geisha with a Sony – one of Roger Hale’s satirical comments on new tech society.

The Mountain Inn takes shape – precast concrete wall forms are put in place on the eight storey building.

1982

Although it only lasted three days, the BCGEU strike at the local liquor store was viewed by some imbibers as near-fatal. But liquor store staff (l to r) Rod Harris, Ian Frew, Diane De Gusserne and Allyson Edwards still maintained they had a clause that refreshes.

Steel tower pipes for Blackcomb Mountain’s new lift No. 6 lie waiting for attention in Parking Lot C. Construction is right on schedule for the $1.6 million project to be completed by November.

Swimmers set off on a mile-long swim during the Molson’s Fun Swim, which started from Wayside Park on Sunday.

Paul Clarke and Karen Edwards assemble the first of the emerald green and white signs in the municipality’s new signage program.

1983

Not quite the last spike but David Lane of Vancouver gives it all he’s got as BCR crews work on gauging the tracks at the Green River crossing 10km north of Whistler.

One of the competitors vies for position in the triangular race.

Bill Hoosen (WMSC consultant) and David Zelmer (vice president of International Land Corp.) answered questions from the public on the Blueberry Trail Estates development and shared a proposed model at the public hearing August 8.

Kevin C. Griffin, newest staff member at The Question, limbers up his fingers for the flurry of reporting that awaits him. Griffin, a native of Vancouver, is a recent graduate of Langara’s accelerated journalism program and has a B.A. in political science from UBC.

Reporters attending Monday’s press conference announcing $138 million to improve Highway 99 seized upon the opportunity to poll the reaction of Mayor Mark Angus. Whistler’s mayor later commented that although he doesn’t like to bite the hand that feeds him, he does feel that highways dept. has taken too long with past construction projects, interfering with tourist traffic to the area.

1984

Bob Lawrence, Pemberton conservation officer, holds an injured young goshawk he recently rescued. The goshawk is considered uncommon to rare in North America, and is also found in Africa, Madagascar and parts of the southwest Pacific. Adults reach a size of up to 63 cm in length.

Two separate water main projects last Wednesday caused the water to most of the village, Alta Vista and Brio to shut off from 9 am to 3 pm. Workmen from Coastal Mountain Excavations installed a water main connector to service the soon-to-be-built waterslide while a crew from Kal Sprinklers laid a water main extension to the new Municipal Hall and Village North Lands. According to engineer Doug Wylie, the lack of water resulted from a combination of the two projects and Kal Sprinklers failing to open a valve. Usually, says Wylie, there are enough loops in the water system so that if one section of the water main is turned off, water can loop through other pipes to the affected areas.

Schultz Brandt, a familiar figure around town, held his seventh annual tea party Sunday. It’s not just an ordinary tea party, though Schultz’s tea collection contains 200 varieties including 82 black teas from all over the world. In addition to his marvellous collection of teas, Schultz has a smaller but equally comprehensive assortment of teapots.

Members of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club took a swing into Lost Lake during the balmy weather last Saturday. Although it seemed we had a lot of sun last month, CBC radio weatherman John Paschal says it’s quite normal for this time of year.

This Week In Photos: August 2

1978

Pictures taken last week of the unsightly mess left by the receding waters of Alpha Lake.

Mud, water and more mud threaten to engulf this worker at the bottom of the new sewer line. Casano Construction ran into difficulty last week when an old creek hidden underground was unleashed.

The heavy equipment preparing the site for the Whistler Vale Condominium site. Approval for this 36-unit development was given on Monday night, July 31.

Stella and Murray Coates’ party over the weekend produced a fine turnout of locals in the balmy weather.

1979

The largest ballroom in town! – the completed A building of the Town Centre parking structure.

The group at the Sailer Fischer Ski Camp party catered by the Keg. (L to R) Wayne Wong, Wayne Booth, Schultz, Nancy Greene, Toni Sailer, Rookie, Alan White.

Some of the headlines recently appearing in the Vancouver newspapers about Whistler.

Gulf Oil truck pumps gas into the Husky tanks during the gas shortage due to Trimac dispute.

Vicki Vogler and Laura McGuffin with the new Whistler hiking book they produced – now on sale at the Information Centre for 75 cents.

Four excited kids take part in the 3-legged race at the Summer Recreation sports day. P. Hocking photo.

1980

Mountain Inn – as it’s been for two months. New construction should start soon.

Blacktop was laid along the Blackcomb Mountain access road from top to bottom. Reports are that a skateboard contest may be held there.

Pacific Blasting is currently at work carving out the rock in the Bayshores subdivision. Whoever buys this lot will have a magnificent view of the valley all year long.

1981

Alta Lake Beach is crowded with sun-seekers on Sunday, August 2.

Don Wildfong, project manager of Pemberton airport, takes a moment off work to pose in front of sign that welcomes recreational fliers to Pemberton.

The Ham/Murphy residence in Alpine Meadows that was damaged by fire on July 30.

Axes fly at Squamish Logger Days.

Sails flapping, windsurfers in the first heat of the men’s Triangle races skim away from the starting line during the BC Windsurfing Championships.

Ms. Sue Christopher, the new teacher at Myrtle Philip School who will be teaching the primary grades, replacing Mrs. Alexia Turner. Ms. Christopher previously taught for 5 years at Signal Hill Elementary in Pemberton.

Elisa Wilson, Anton Deduluc, Melanie Busdon and Samantha O’Keefe test out the new playground equipment at Myrtle Philip School. Built by Industrial Arts students at Howe Sound Secondary School with lumber donated by Garibaldi Building Supplies, this structure is just the first phase of the facilities. The Whistler Parent/Teacher Group has raised the funds which will raise the equipment.

ON YOUR MARKS… GET SET… and the 90 participants in the Whistler Rotary Fun Run were off. Men and women, boys and girls of all ages took part in the race on a sunny August 2nd, Sunday. The Rotary Club hopes to make it an annual event.

1982

They’re off and running at the Rotary Fun Run which started at Myrtle Philip School Saturday, July 31. Runners registered for a 2.5km or 7.5km run around the Lost Lake area.

Willie Whistler strikes up the band to celebrate their third-place ribbon received in the Squamish Logger’s Sports Parade held Sunday, August 1.

These three answered the question of the week: Jenny Busdon, Housewife, Whistler Cay resident; Larry Gunn, Whistler Courier, Alpine Meadows resident; Dave Kirk, Alta Vista resident.

They were swingin’ in the rain throughout the slow-pitch tourney, but Chris Streatham, with his dry sense of humour, came up with this catchy solution.

Andrew Stoner, owner of Whistler Windsurfing, now has to take a definite step up in the world to jump the gap between his docks on Alta Lake. The two docks, one floating and one stationary, were at equal levels one month ago.

Dave Phillips and Doug Hoy go through one of their routines during the Great West Ski Show in Village Square Saturday, July 31st. Phillips executes a somersault – one of many freestyle manoeuvres he displayed for appreciative audiences.

A grader sets to work levelling roads in the Alpine Meadows subdivision, where paving operations will begin shortly.

1984

Steve Martin? No, this wild and crazy guy is parks worker Ted Pryce-Jones who was out last week painting arrows and yellow lines on Valley Trail curves and bends. The new lines and arrows are designed to give cyclists and pedestrians warning and keep users to one side.

Swimmer Shelley Warne was one of 36 swimmers who participated in the Sixth Annual Molson’s Fun Swim on Alta Lake Sunday. Warne swam from Wayside Park to Alta Lake Inn and back under the watchful eye of Marilyn Moore, who dusted off her bathtub derby craft for the occasion. Fun swim organizers report the event went off without a hitch. Other competitors in the swim included Sharon Daly, Joan Parnell, Mike McCroden, Leslie Bruse, Molly Boyd, Shawn Hughes and Daryl Stone. Men’s and women’s winners were John Puddicombe and Shirley Fay, who completed the three-mile course in times of just over a half-hour.

George Kelly of Seattle was the 10,000th golfer to tee off at the Whistler Golf Course this year. Kelly, a food service distributor, played his round July 24. Bookings on the course are at 100 per cent most weekends and 80 per cent weekdays. Numbers are up considerably from last year when the 10,000th player came through in the second week of September. The only problem the course is having now is that players are having a hard time getting tee times.

Members from the Alta Lake Community Club officially opened one of its five benches last Wednesday that it recently donated to the municipality. The club donated $1000 and parks planner Tom Barratt used the money to build the benches located along the Valley Trail. Trudy Gruetzke cut the ribbon opening the benches with other ALCC members, Heather Gamache, Nancy Treiber, Louise Zinsli, Evelyn Cullen, Marg Fox and Suzanne Wilson.