Tag Archives: Lost Lake ski jump

Records of Environmental Change: Why the Stories Matter

For our last 2018/19 Speaker Series on Thursday, April 11 the museum had the pleasure of hosting Dr. Ian Spooner of Acadia University for his presentation on environmental change in Alta & Lost Lakes.  The head of the Department of Earth and Environmental Science, Spooner and his students, working with Cascade Environmental Resource Group, have been using lake sediment cores to study Alta Lake for the past five years.  In 2018 Spooner took a core from Lost Lake.

Alta Lake has seen a lot of change over the past 150 years, both around its shores and in its water and sediment. Fairhurst Collection.

Sediment cores provide a record, not entirely unlike tree rings, of minerals and organic matter found in the lake sediment.  The core taken from Alta Lake was about 40 cm long and went back around 500 years.  By dating the different layers, Spooner and his student Dewey Dunnington were able to tell a lot about how the lake has changed over time and, by connecting the dates to historical records and stories told by locals, what might have contributed to these changes.

During his talk, Spooner highlighted the changing presence of copper and arsenic in Alta Lake.  Though there is always some change over time, the presence of both copper and arsenic increased considerably from the 1880s, as the Pemberton Trail and PGE Railway were built and the area became more settled.  While both have shown a decrease in more recent years, a spike in copper sometime around the 1960s illustrates how important stories are to adding context to this data.

The building of the PGE Railway and the development that followed disturbed the landscape around Alta Lake, changing the presence of minerals in its records. Philip Collection.

From the data and records, it had been assumed that the spike in copper was part of the increasing and continued development around the lake.  However, during a talk Spooner did at the museum in 2016 one audience member offered a different reason.  He got up and informed Spooner, “No, you’re wrong.  We dumped that copper in the lake, back in the 60s.  We wanted to get rid of an invasive species.” (Copper is used in some places as a biocide as it effectively kills parasites such as those that cause Swimmer’s Itch.  It also, however, will kill all the fish.)

When asked where one might find records of or a permit for this action, the man told Spooner there was none, they “just did it.”

There is no doubt that as stories are collected to add context to the core taken from Lost Lake, this attitude of “just do it” will come up again.  After all, we already know of some such cases.

In 1977 a group of Whistler freestyle skiers made plans to build their own ski jump on the shores of Lost Lake.  With no development permit or any official permission from the district, Lost Lake offered an inconspicuous, out-of-the-way site.  To go with the lack of permission, the ski jump also had no funding for materials or labour.  Timber was scrounged from a number of sources and the plastic grass ski out from the Olive Chair was taken from the dump and given a second life as the ski jump’s new surface.  Once the materials were gathered construction took only two weeks.

A jumper unfolds their flip into Lost Lake.  Whistler Question Collection,

The finished ramp projected out 20 feet over the lake (not too far from where the sediment core was taken) and willing skiers could launch themselves up to 40 feet above the water.  According to David Lalik, one of the original workers on the ramp, “Injuries were commonplace but [an] acceptable risk in the sport and environment of the day.”

In 1981 the ski jump began hosting competitions and the next summer saw the first Summer Air Camp at Lost Lake.  Freestyle skiers came to Whistler to train with Peter Judge, the national team coach.  Far from being inconspicuous, film crews arrived to record events for television broadcasts.

Stories like these aren’t always included in the official records (permits weren’t always applied for in the 1960s and 70s) and so contributions from people who have been in the area are incredibly important for explaining the data.  As Spooner puts it, “The science isn’t worth anything without the stories.  We get it wrong.”

If you have your own stories to add, you can send them to Dr. Ian Spooner at ian.spooner@acadiau.ca or come visit us at the museum and we can pass them on.

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This Week In Photos: September 6

1979

The hydrant stands alone! The clearing adjacent to the school where the new access road will run.

Haus Heidi, one of the honourable mentions in the Garden Contest.

Ester Wunderly models the latest fashions…

… while Dave Murray, sawing through a ski, is helped by Casey Niewerth at the Skyline Sports’ new 6,000 sq. ft store opening in Kerrisdale, Vancouver.

Joanne stands behind the counter of the new Spud Valley Sporting Goods Store.

1980

Town Centre site stands virtually deserted due to work stoppage which began Thursday, August 28.

As in many cases, you’ve got to start at the bottom to get to the top. In this picture we have the crew putting the cable on the Garibaldi Lifts’ chairlift that rises from the Town Centre. Also shown is the pit that the two-mountain daylodge will rise from. It won’t be completed this year but the substructure will and portable trailers will be used on site to sell lift tickets to Whistler and Blackcomb.

A jumper unfolds their flip into Lost Lake.

Dance competitors took to the floor for the University of Whistler dance contest. The winners were Chris Speedie and June Everett.

Linda Satre accepts another donation to the Terry Fox fund from a patron outside the Husky Station while Ruth Howells looks on.

1982

It was a tough weekend of close plays, but when all the dust settled in this weekend’s slow pitch tourney Tapley’s were the winners.

He flies through the air with the greatest of ease… Oh the joys of being airborne… especially when you’ve just hurtled down the aerial ramp at Lost Lake. But oh, the chill of it all once you hit that water. Eleven competitors took part in this year’s aerial acrobatic competition.

Cris Simpson and Duncan Maxwell sharpen their pencils for the first lesson of the term at Myrtle Philip Elementary School.

Busy little bees and industrious beavers welcome students to Miss Christopher’s classroom.

It was no easy task, but for the second year in a row Stoney’s team walked away with first-place honours in the Great Waters Race. (L to R) Dave Murray, Jinny Ladner, Ken Hardy, Lisa Nicholson and Brian Allen.

Bears have been a problem for businesses located in Whistler’s Industrial Park. Provincial wildlife traps are catching more than the normal number of ornery critters.

1983

Caller Ken Crisp led members of the Swinging Singles Square Dance Club in Village Square Saturday and Sunday. Garters were prominently on view as women twirled in their colourful square dancing dresses. The club has more than 300 members and is based in the Burnaby Lake Pavilion.

Relief map of proposed Powder Mountain ski area. Number areas are townsites, white lines are ski runs, and dark lines are ski lifts. Photo was taken at the Vancouver office of Powder Mountain Resort Ltd., where the relief map is stored.

Some kids got right back into the swing as Myrtle Philip School re-opened Tuesday, September 6 but Michael Hoffmann seems to be thinking of other things as Yann Omnes looks on. Sandy Pauliuk-Epplett, meanwhile, starts the rest of the Grade 2 and 3 class off on the right foot by explaining first day back-to-school rules and suggesting school supplies. Motorists, take extra caution now as the little ones head back to school.

Ross Smith, General Manager, Stoney’s, White Gold.

1984

The Fraser Valley Round and Square Dance Association entertained village visitors all weekend long. The dancers even convinced spectators in Village Square to take part in their traditional dance routines. Hundreds of visitors flocked to Whistler for the Labour Day weekend and the village came in with an occupancy rate of 62 per cent in August.

The Conference Centre is expected to be finished by May 1985 and will be one of only two facilities built for conferences in BC.

Angus Maxwell, 10 years old, was the lucky winner of a Red Baron BMX bicycle, presented here by Barb Stewart of the Pharmasave. The drugstore received dozens of entries for the contest.

Tuesday was the first day of classes for local students. Myrtle Philip School opened its doors to 111 students and the Grade 2 and 3 class, taught by Sandy Pauliuk-Epplett, saw classes end at 11:30 am rather than 3 pm.

Vandals hit the former Mountain House Cabaret Friday night, kicking apart a fence and tearing down a wooden sign. Although about $100 worth of damage was done, the vandals apparently saved the new owner the task of removing the Mountain House sign.

Paul and Jane Burrows returned to Whistler last Tuesday after spending more than a year travelling around the globe. The couple’s dog Simba hardly even noticed that the trekkers, who travelled by horse, train, bus, helicopter and even car to South Africa, France, New Zealand and Tahiti (to name but a few stops) were gone. Late summer also saw the return of Al and Nancy Raine after spending the last two years in Crans Montana, Switzerland.