Tag Archives: Green River

Summer Jobs at Rainbow Lodge

The Barnfield family is best known in Whistler as the owners of a dairy farm that once operated where the Barnfield neighbourhood is located today (read more about that here).  The farm was moved south to Brackendale in 1926, though the family continued to bring the cows and chickens back to Alta Lake for the summer tourist season.  Vera Merchant, the only daughter of the Barnfield family, continued to come up for summers even after her family had stopped bringing up the farm and worked at Rainbow Lodge for three seasons.  Her recollections provide a unique view of Rainbow Lodge and Alta Lake during the mid-1930s.

Daisy Barnfield (Vera’s mother) feeds the chickens with some help from the children.

Although Vera worked at Rainbow Lodge in 1934, ’35 and ’36, her experiences seem familiar to anyone who has worked in Whistler’s busy tourism industry.

During the summer, employees at Rainbow Lodge didn’t get many days off.  Vera was paid $25 a month and was provided with room and board.  This meant that she and another girl (also coincidently named Vera) shared a small two-bedroom cabin at the lakefront.

Though we don’t know which cabin, Vera and other employees at Rainbow Lodge were lucky enough to get lakeside accommodations during the summer.

Vera’s work included cleaning cabins, setting and clearing the dining room and leading activities such as hiking and horseback riding with guests.  On Sundarys, the Pacific Great Eastern Railway ran excursions where passengers could come to Alta Lake just for the day.  These excursions were dreaded by Vera and her coworkers as they would have to rush to set up the dining room for lunch for guests and then again for day trippers and then reset the tables in time for dinner.  The staff did not eat until after the guests had finished their meals and the tablecloths, dishes and food had been put away.

Though most of the guests at Rainbow Lodge kept their cabins relatively clean, Vera remembered some cabins were left “an awful mess.”  A few times cabins were covered with “lemon peels and gin bottles and… no broken glass, but liquor all over the floor.”  When Vera showed the cabins to Alex Philip, who she suspected of being in on the previous evening’s party, he assured her that she would not have to clean up the cabin and that he would have the guests take care of their own mess.

Vera Barnfield (far left), Alex Philip and two unidentified women, possibly Rainbow Lodge employees, wait for the train at the station.

Despite working hard in the cabins and dining room, Vera enjoyed the work at Rainbow Lodge.  She and the other girls she worked with would go to the dances at the schoolhouse and the next day employees and guests would ride to the Green River for a picnic breakfast on the bridge.  Mason Philip, Alex Philip’s nephew, would go ahead with the faster riders and the horses with the supplies and Vera would bring up the rear with the guests less comfortable on horseback.  By the time Vera and her group arrived the table was set, the fire was going and food was already being prepared.  A full breakfast was provided, including eggs, bacon and hotcakes.  Vera loved being surrounded by the trees and the glacier water of Green Lake (her personal record for swimming Green Lake was five minutes).

Vera only worked at Rainbow Lodge for three years before her marriage but her summers at Alta Lake, both as a child with her family’s dairy and as a young woman with the Philip, provided memories that stayed with her until her death in 2014, just seven weeks before her 99th birthday.

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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?