Tag Archives: fire

Fire at Alta Lake

Prior to the formation of the Alta Lake Volunteer Fire Department (ALVFD), the Alta Lake area had no official response to fires – they were put out by the small community.  But after two large fires in the early 1960s, some residents decided to form their own fire department.

The first fire is still a little mysterious.  One a reportedly beautiful morning in April, a single passenger got off the Budd car at the Alta Lake Station.  His outfit, a trench coat and dress shoes, drew the notice of everyone at the station as he asked Don Cruickshank, the station agent, how to get to the other side of the lake.

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.

Later that same day, Dick Fairhurst received a call from Cruickshank to check on smoke coming from the area of an old empty lodge.  Fairhurst and Louis White grabbed a small fire extinguisher and a bucket each and ran to Fairhurst’s boat.  When they arrived at the lodge, they found that the fire had taken hold in some piles of lumber inside the three-storey building and that their buckets and extinguisher would be of no use.  They also found a piece of candle at the back of the lodge, and footprints from dress shoes in the soggy ground.

By the time the evening train arrived, two RCMP officers from Pemberton were aboard and waiting to arrest the stranger in the trench coat, who had been pacing in the station while waiting for the train.  Though we don’t know what happened to this mysterious man after his arrest, we do know that the date of the trial was set for June 6, 1962, the date of the second fire.

Cypress Lodge as seen from the lake. Fairhurst Collection.

This second fire appears to have been far more accidental than the first.  The provincial government was building a new highway to connect old logging roads, small community roads, and the Pemberton Trail.  The surveyors and their families were staying in cabins and lodges throughout Alta Lake.

One couple, Bruce and Anne Robinson, were staying in a cabin at Cypress Lodge, owned by Dick and Kelly Fairhurst.  Anne chose June 6, a warm day with no wind, to make bread in the old Kootenay Range in the cabin.  Dick was at the trial in Vancouver and Kelly had gone to vote at the Community Hall (it’s not entirely clear what the vote was for, but it is likely it was for the federal election).  She and her children had just arrived home when Bruce arrived at Cypress Lodge to discover the roof of his cabin on fire.  Kelly got on the party line, interrupting Alec Greenwood’s call to his mother-in-low to announce the fire.

Bert Harrop built cedar-bark furniture that was used in Harrop’s Tea Room, later the site of Cypress Lodge.  The museum has some of his creations in our collection, but most were destroyed in a fire.  Philip Collection.

Luckily, Bill and Joan Green and a group of loggers were hanging out at Rainbow Lodge after voting.  Bill radioed to the Van West logging operation to bring their fire pump, and Alex loaded his pump onto his tractor.  Soon everyone in the area know about the fire, and many of them came to help.

The fire, which had started from smouldering sparks in needles on the shake roof, had spread to a storage shed, but the lack of wind prevented it from spreading further.  Someone moved Dick’s truck onto the road, but other vehicles, piles of dry wood, and cans of gasoline, paint, diesel and propane were still around the property.

The two pumps were used to get the fire under control, and then to keep wetting everything down.  The Robinsons lost almost everything in the cabin, and many pieces of Bert Harrop’s cedar-bark furniture that were stored in the shed were lost, along with the two-rope for skiing on Mount Sproatt.

Alex Philip spent the night patrolling the area for sparks, but the fire was truly out by the time Dick arrived home the next day.  The community came together again to help with the clean up.

Dick Fairhurst, Stefan Ples and Doug Mansell rafting the fire shelter and its contents across the lake to Alta Vista, 1967. Petersen Collection

When the ALVFD was formed later in 1962, its members were Dick Fairhurst, Doug Mansell, Stefan Ples, and Glen Creelman.  They held regular practises and, until the formation of the Resort Municipality of Whistler in 1975, relied on fundraisers such as the Ice Break-Up Raffle and the Fireman’s Ball to buy supplies.  The residents of the valley relied on them in case of emergencies.

This Week In Photos: December 27

This may be the last week of This Week In Photos but there are many more photos from 1978 – 1985 that we haven’t yet had a chance to share with you.  Take a look here to see them all (assuming you have a few spare days)!

1979

7 dwarfs from left to right: Eric Bredt, Martin Elmitt, Duncan Maxwell, Richie Bridgewater, Alistair Crofton, Clint Logue, Serap Graf, Kelly McKay is Snow White.

Simon Beller consults with Santa at the Christmas Concert.

Representatives from Men’s Club Magazine of Japan who toured Whistler on Thursday with hostess Gail Palfreyman on right.

Community Club Christmas Carol singers on Saturday. From left to right: Andrew Roberts, Melanie Busdon, Clare Jennings, Rachel Roberts, Jessica Wilson, Sara Jennings, Roger Systad, Christopher Systad, Bishop children, Duncan Maxwell.

The Sabey house in Emerald still smoulders in the rain.

1980

At the Myrtle Philip Christmas Concert – a rousing chorus of Robin Hood’s followers…

… and a portion of the school choir.

Neil Roberts and Gordon Turner dispense flapjacks and sausages to the children at the Christmas breakfast at the school.

The new additions to the Whistler Brownie Pack.

1981

The latest in practical fashion. Meg Davies shines in her new plastic bag… compliments of Blackcomb. Well, at least it keeps you dry no matter what.

The finish line for the Subaru Pro Series held on Blackcomb Mountain this past week.

Jamie Kurlander accepts congratulations from Mayor Pat Carleton after winning both races in the Subaru Pro Series.

Charlie “The Scribe” McClain presents Al Davis and Geoff Hesthemer with plaques over their dead bodies.

1982

Excited skiers head up the Village lifts…

… while these two are all smiles as they find a different way down Whistler Mountain.

The Whistler Singers perform…

… and are joined for an impromptu dance performance by some of the younger audience members.

This Week In Photos: July 19

We’ve got quite a few photos for this week – that’s because we happen to have this week represented in almost every year of the Whistler Question Collection!

1978

Kayakers are dwarfed by the Daisy Lake Dam.

Werner Furrer (third place K1) explodes over waves, heading for gate 28.

The finished product – a distinctive Zurbrugg chalet.

First the chasm over the river…

… then the stringers.

Asphalt oil heater is lifted off a lowbed at Malloch & Mosley on Friday as Doug Muir looks on.

1979

The new municipal waterworks tank above the Town Centre.

FIRE on Blackcomb! The scene from Alpine Meadows at 11:30 pm on Sunday.

The Whistler Volunteer Firemen practice – John Howells up a ladder.

Architect’s drawing of the new Whistler Tri-Service Building.

1980

Parcel 16 will have a clock tower rising from the right hand side and will feature retail outlets on the first floor and residential on the second.

Most work in town centre is construction but some is destruction. These two workers pound away at steel-reinforced concrete. A day long job for sure.

The giant twin-propellor Canadian Forces Rescue helicopter used to help rescue crews get to the crash site of a small plane on Whistler Mountain.

Roof gone and the rest going, this old mill is deteriorating along the Green River north of Whistler. Only ghosts and rodents inhabit it now.

1981

Whistler Village parking! Wagon misses the parking lot on Wednesday evening, ending up in the newly landscaped garden.

Herb and Jean Hepburn of Okanagan Produce, Vernon, managed to get in a few fruit sales before being asked to leave by municipal authorities.

Bob Dawson and Neil Mawdsley unsuccessfully try to get a fly ball.

Chris Green, Laura d’Artois and J.G. Luckhurst at the Fireplace Inn opening party.

And here he is! The mysterious Mr B.A. Bell of Whistler slowly unpeels his talent – much to the giggles and appreciation of his audience at the first Jock Contest held at Mountain House, July 20. With competition from Fast Eddie and Schultz, things looked mighty tough – but then Peter Lamare took the floor and the $100 first prize.

Annette Ducharma, accompanied by Jamie Boyd, strummed out many a fine tune at JB’s July 16 – 20 while Betsy Chaba took a temporary leave to entertain folks at the Folk Festival in Vancouver.

Crews replace railroad crossing on the highway by the Whistler Industrial Park.

1982

Workers repair damage done to the Lillooet bridge, which received unwanted alterations Tuesday from a truck too tall for a bridge too small.

Hanging high, window washers polish up the Delta Mountain Inn for its July 23rd opening.

Rotarians enjoy their Bravery Luncheon July 16. They were guests of Delta Mountain Inn, which was giving its Twigs Restaurant staff a taste of the dining room in action.

Virginia Meachin enjoys an early morning cup of java with two hikers who joined her Saturday hike down Whistler Mountain.

Whistlerites enjoy some of the gourmet treats served by the Gourmet, which recently completed its patio eating area outside of the Rainbow building in Sunshine Place.

Halt! A barrier blocks the drive of an Alpine Meadows residence after the ditching crew passed by.

Fresh off the assembly line is the Municipality’s 4×4 multi-purpose truck. Among other chores the vehicle will tackle the job of plowing Whistler streets this winter.

1983

Sunny skies and the colourful show put on by the Estonian Folk Dancers of Vancouver brightened up the Whistler Village Sunday, July 17.

Paul Gibson of Selkirk Cable Vision turns a final screw to get Alpine Meadows booked into Whistler Cable Television’s system. Besides six channels, subscribers can now enjoy a host of FM radio stations.

When weekend temperatures soared to the mid-20s, sun worshippers who had been denied their pleasure for nearly six weeks flocked to Lost Lake like the swallows to Capistrano. The new forecast, after four days of sun? Get out the ark, and don’t ask again.

Isobel MacLaurin.

Thuy Read admires a shirt from Whistler Tops in her role asa shopper in “Getaway to Whistler”, a promotional film being made by Curtis Petersen of Petersen Productions.

1984

You put your knees up and you toss the cool drinks down when the sun comes out at Whistler. Temperatures climbed as high as 30.4 C in the past week. Even at the Toni Sailer Ski Camp there were hot times. On Monday at noon the temperature at Midstation on Whistler Mountain was 21 C.

Despite their best efforts, Stoney’s lost 14-1 to the Suds squad.

It was the annual Rotary Installment last Wednesday at Sid Young’s house in Alpine Meadows overlooking 19 Mile Creek. Rotarians and guests were feted with steak prepared by Rudi Hoffmann and lobster, flown in from Nova Scotia, boiled by Ted Nebbeling. District Governor Ralph Crawford also installed Sid Young as the service organization’s new president, taking over from Geoff Pearce. As well, Floyd Eclair becomes vice-president, Doug Fox secretary, Nick DiLalla sergeant-at-arms, Walter Zebrowski treasurer, Arv Pellegrin club service director, Brian Brown youth and international service director and Jon Paine vocation service director.

This Week In Photos: April 19

One thing the archives of the Whistler Question proves is that there is always something happening in town, from ski races to performances to the Mountain House Jock Contest.

1978

We’re not sure which race is happening here but this racer is keeping warm on the course.

Jamie T. packing the competitors back up the course for another run.

A reminder to take caution when machines not operating?

One of the two cars that did not make it home up the Lorimer Road hill during the past week.

1980

Technicians at work inside the new BC Telephone Whistler office.

Customer Service Manager David Coath explains the system to Mayor Pat Carleton, while Brian Gilhooley & Rick Hyde listen in.

CHEERS! Vuarnets, beer and sunshine – Bonnie Campbell, Connie Smith, Helen Bartlett, Jan Haldimand, Nigel Woods and Jim Bradley enjoy the sunshine last weekend.

McConkey Cup competitor heads down the course in the ladies division of this fun race on Tuesday, April 15. Full results next week.

1981

It was a skiing Bunny up on Blackcomb Easter Sunday passing out eggs (no, not frozen ones) to mini-skiers.

At the Mountain House Cabaret, the Doc worked his magic once again for Whistlerites for six straight nights. Remember him way back when? Biminis? The Ankor?

Even stacked these should look familiar to anyone who has walked through the Village.

Now you see it – now you don’t. The cornice in Blackcomb Bowl was blasted off on schedule Easter Sunday before it fell of its own accord on some unfortunate skier.

Brand new Adam Smythe, the youngest pass holder on Blackcomb Mountain, shares a look with his mom Debbie.

Debris and ashes are all that remain after the Manson cabin burned to the ground Good Friday. A large flat metal sheet was once a 100-gallon propane tank that exploded and then was flattened after the blast.

1982

Jocks took to the floor Monday night to compete in the Mountain House Jock Contest. Pascal Tiphine took first prize and won a trip to Hawaii.

New Whistler Resident, Ken Wesman.

Whistler Creek’s Penny Wright displays the T-shirt given to her and worn by her staff at a party put on at the Creekhouse by Penny on April 15 for all her helpers.

Brent Harley of the Creekhouse shows the ins and outs of bartending to some of his 18 students as classes wind down in the six-week session.

1983

The Silver Streak cut quite a swath through the crowds on Whistler Mountain Saturday, April 16 and Sunday, April 17. He made himself popular with the after-ski hoards outside the Longhorn by offering cash in exchange for drinking feats. The Longhorn staff say he bought 500 “Kamikazes” (vodka and lime juice shooters) to distribute over the afternoon and evening.

Soloists Tami Casey (the woman at the well) and Bruce Smith (Peter) mourn the death of Christ during the Squamish Youth Chorale’s successful production of the The Day He Wore My Crown stages at Myrtle Philip School Saturday, April 16.

Head flipper Tom McKoy serves up food hot off the grill at the top of Whistler Mountain every fine day at the Ski Inn at the junction of the Orange and Black chairs.

Just try it! This magnificent Bentley was maneuvered into a convenient parking stall in Village Square Sunday, April 17 and since it was a no parking zone, Payless Towing was called to the rescue. The tow truck driver decided it was best not to touch the classy chasis… but the brazen owner did get a ticket.

You put your right foot in… Debbie Gurlach (far right) leads her jazz dance class through a routine Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 6:30 at Myrtle Philip School. (L-R) Jan Alsop, Jennifer Marien and Kenny Melamed follow the leader.

Donna Hauschka (left) registers voters for the May 5 election. Debby O’Hanley of Whistler and David and Jimmy Wong of Richmond sign up for their right to vote.

1984

The Bedrock Allstars rocked the Brass Rail last week with their tunes. Keyboard player Bob Muckle and guitarist David Osborne comprise the duet and are based in Vancouver.

Caboose 1836 rolled into Whistler last Tuesday and was promptly lifted off the BC Rail track onto an abandoned sidetrack at the Sabre Trucking yard at Mons. Once refurbished the caboose becomes the new home of the Chamber of Commerce Information Centre. The Chamber purchased the old car at the bargain basement price of $1,500.

Jane Brandon and Eric Wight were the winners this year in the Valley Championship Series held on Blackcomb.

After just eight months managing 76-room Tantalus Lodge, Hugo and Giselle Stam were chosen over 49 other hotels in the US and Canada as Mangers of 1983-84. The award was presented in Bellevue, Washington at an awards banquet April 6. Hotels were judged in five areas: service, congenial staff, cleanliness, hospitality and letters from guests. The secret, say Hugo and Giselle, is teamwork. Having operated their own hotel in Europe for 12 years, and being involved in the hospitality industry for most of their lives, they see hospitality as an attitude, and hotel management as a people-oriented business. And, Giselle adds, without the help of their sons Hugo Jr. and Roger, things would be a lot harder. But before they embark on a summer outdoors tour program a trip to Hawaii is on Giselle and Hugo’s agenda. The trip is part of the Managers award, presented by Marketing Plus Corporation of Bellevue.