Tag Archives: Lost Lake

Summer Getaways at Alta Lake

Summertime in Canada, especially for children, is often portrayed as a series of long, carefree days spent exploring the outdoors, playing in and on the water and spending time with friends and family.

While this is certainly not how the season plays out for everyone, the Matheson children of Vancouver would seem to have close to the quintessential summer vacation from 1927 to 1934.

In 2011, the Whistler Museum received an account of their summers at Alta Lake from Betty Jane Warner, the youngest of the three Matheson children.  Every year the Matheson family would spend two months renting one of William “Mac” MacDermott’s three cabins (the same cabins later lived in by Bob and Flo Williamson and the descendants of Grace Woollard).

Alta Lake was an amazing summer retreat for the Matheson children, who spent a good part of the time in and on the lake. Philip Collection.

The final days of June would see Betty Jane, her siblings Jack and Claudia, her mother Violet and, in some years, a maid board the Union Steamship in downtown Vancouver bound, eventually, for Alta Lake.  The family did not travel light – they brought a steam trunk and five bags – but unfailingly, Mac would meet them at the PGE station and see them and their luggage across Alta Lake to what Betty Jane called their “summer cottage”.

This cottage consisted of a sleeping porch, a small sitting area, a kitchen complete with wood stove, and two bedrooms.  Mac provided use of a shared outhouse and woodpile and each of his three cabins came equipped with its own outhouse.

Mac at the cabin on Singing Pass en route to Red Mountain. During his time at Alta Lake Mac took many people hiking through the valley and some of his cabins are still standing today. Philip Collection.

As Betty Jane recalled, “We loved Alta Lake and looked forward to our happy times each summer – no matter how basic our living conditions were compared to our city living.”

It’s easy to see why they looked forward to summer.  The three children took walks around the lake picking ripe blueberries, rowed among the water lilies and dragonflies, and joined Mac on treks to Lost Lake and Green Lake where “there were always rotting old logs to climb over and the threat of lots of bees!”

Over the years they got to know their summer neighbours and packed picnics for train excursions with permanent Alta Lake residents.  With the nearest store at Rainbow Lodge, even going out to get groceries could be an adventure.

Baths in the copper tub were reserved for Saturday nights and few days required dressing up.  Once every summer Betty Jane and Claudia rowed up the lake for tea at Mrs. Harrop’s tearoom, requiring them to “shed our blue denim coveralls for something a little more dressy to wear for the occasion.”

Every summer, Betty Jane and Claudia visited the Harrop’s tearoom where they had a floating cottage right on Alta Lake.

The Matheson family chose Alta Lake after their father, Robert, met Mac and the Philips while staying at Rainbow Lodge with Violet and became “enchanted with the area.”

He was unable to join his family in the summers and remained in Vancouver where he worked as an architect.  His firm, Townley & Matheson, designed quite a few buildings still standing in Vancouver today, including Vancouver Motors, the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club, Point Grey Secondary and Vancouver City Hall.

It was after his death in 1935 that the Matheson family stopped coming to Alta Lake and, according to Betty Jane, “our happy summers came to an end.”

This Week In Photos: August 23

1978

Someone forgot to get a building permit and arrived to find this notice on their site.

A young boy takes a leap during cross country training at the Myrtle Philip School gym.

This car may be in need of more than just a tow.

Offering Brunch & Lunch from 11 am – but when does it end?

1979

The Whistler Tennis Club Tournament on Saturday at the Taylor courts in Creekside.

Bob Priest stands proudly in front of his new drugstore in Pemberton.

What is it? Not a squatter’s cabin but merely a plastic structure for the fire department to practice its smoke rescue maneuvers.

Impromptu sidewalk sale – Leigh Finck sells off his goods after finding himself out on the street (literally) on Saturday.

Signs appearing on the tree by the Town Centre – note the Danger Construction Zone!

The first meeting of the Whistler Council in the new council chamber trailer. Acting Mayor Horsey presides.

1980

Grant Cooper cuts through bush on shores of Lost Lake. Miles of X-country trails are being cut as well as a dock and beach for the south end of Lost Lake.

In Pemberton there’s parking for all types of vehicles.

Town Centre’s Resort Centre rises faster as summer begins to wind down.

Congregating at the Molson Whistler Fun Fitness Swim after party to check the scores.

1981

These pyjama people must have gotten their beauty sleep the night before to enjoy Club 10’s pyjama party.

Brenda Thompson talks to customers at the Whistler PNE booth in the BC Building.

Benny Hu and Peggy Lee of Vancouver and Peter Chan of Calgary eat up the flavour of soft ice cream at Hilda’s Delicatessen.

It was a busy first day for Carlbergs! Lisa Knight and her brother Greg Carlberg were pleasantly surprised by the large number of customers who visited them on their opening day August 22.

A quick coat of paint – and a quick smile – help freshen up the outside of the old Vallee Blanche. Simone Aaron and Pascal Tipine get ready to open their new restaurant – Madame’s.

A member of a party of British kayakers paddles through white water on the Cheakamus River.

1982

Craig McKenzie of the Whistler Health Planning Society inspects the trailer brought into position adjacent to the Sports & Convention Centre for Whistler’s new medical clinic.

A victorious flight from the north face of Big Old Softie brought a rush of excitement to (L to R) Dave O’Keefe, Colin Dennis, Sandy Boyd, Terry Dyke, Howie Byard and Doug Banner.

A welder fixes a part to one of the towers that will be used on Lift No. 6 at Blackcomb.

Pockets the Clown teaches a group of children about product safety through puppets and poems during the Blinkley & Doinkle Puppet Show held in Village Square Tuesday.

1983

Bikers show their Harleys in front of the Carleton Lodge…

while Village Square hosts a show of Jaguars.

In between watching the Binkley and Doinkle Puppet Show in Whistler Village Thursday afternoon, these kids are participating in a jam session led by Karen Overgaard.

Arnold Palmer shows his fine follow through after sending a shot nearly 200 yards with a 9 iron. Palmer stresses proper rhythm rather than pure power to achieve those awesome shots. What a way to open a golf course!

Delta Mountain Inn’s new Director of Sales is 32-year-old Charles Ku. Hired for the position August 15, Ku was previously with the Century Plaza Hotel in Vancouver. He has been in the hotel business for 12 years and started at the venerable Empress Hotel in Victoria as a dishwasher. Ku, who has been skiing at Whistler for six years, says he almost feels like one of the locals. He replaces Robin Thompson as Director of Sales.

The Twigs patio at the Delta Mountain Inn looks busy on a sunny summer afternoon.

1984

This Baxter condotel unit may seem out of place on West Georgia Street in Vancouver, but marketing consultant Mel Grebinsky says it’s one of the “highest profile” corners in the city. The Baxter Group is marketing 165 of the $50,000 units inside the buildings, which will be built near the Whistler gondola and, according to Grebinsky, everyone from office clerks to lawyers is interested. Admission to the downtown show unit is by donation to the Variety Club.

Now that’s breaking ground! Whistler Mountain’s new addition to its Squarehouse got underway last Wednesday with (L to R) Roger McCarthy, project manager; Lorne Borgal, WMSC president; and Dave Murray, director of skiing. The initial phase of the project, slated for a December completion, includes a 350-seat dining area and 186 sq. m kitchen designed to produce baked goods, soups and a variety of other items. Additional improvements scheduled for the 1985/86 ski season include a 250-seat mezzanine and the balance of a full production kitchen.

Municipal Clerk Kris Shoup Robinson packs it in Friday for the big move to bigger and better facilities at the new municipal hall in Whistler Village. Staff have been waiting in anticipation for the move.

Furniture and files are moved into the new municipal hall (and old Keg building) on Blackcomb Way, next to the Public Services Building.

Seven athletes competed over the weekend for the Mr. Mountain title, which was eventually won by defending champ Ken Hardy. Events included golfing, kayaking, cycling, weightlifting and a series of times calisthenics.

About 120 travel agents flocked to Whistler Saturday for a fun-day event appropriately titled Battle of the Travel Stars. These office athletes completed obstacle courses by foot and by canoe, set new records in a swimming dress-up event at Delta Mountain Inn’s pool and ended the day with a rousing banquet at the hotel. The tug-of-war had the added excitement of a pool of Mazola between the two teams.

A healthy group of 30 young skiers is taking part in a month-long Whistler Mountain Ski Club ski camp. Skiing sessions are held on the Whistler Mountain glaciers using the club’s rope tow, but the skiers also spent a week doing dryland training before starting the technically-oriented camp directed by coach Jacques Morel.

The Great Toad Migration

Whistler Western toad migration is almost done!

If you’ve been up at Lost Lake recently, you may have seen these tiny toads behind the black carriers in the wetlands or crossing the paths around you.  You may have even helped us move them off the path (thank you!).

Just in case you didn’t have a chance to see them or to speak with one of the Nature Interpreters at our Discover Nature booth, we’ll be providing answers here to some of the questions people have about the toads and the steps taken to protect them.

The great Western toadlets on their annual migration at Lost Lake. Photo: Kristina Swerhun

Every spring, a female Western toad will lay approximately 12,000 eggs in shallow water.  These eggs become tadpoles in just three to 12 days and are ready to leave the water after six to eight weeks.  At Lost Lake, this means crossing the beach, the Valley Trail and the road to join the adult Western toads in the forests and grasslands.  In nature, less than one per cent of these toads make it to breeding age.  It is our responsibility to make sure human activities don’t increase their mortality rate.

To help the toads survive this journey, the RMOW is working towards a more “toad friendly” environment around Lost Lake Park.  Barriers and fences have been put in place to direct toads towards the forest and nature interpreters from the Whistler Museum’s Discover Nature program educate passersby about this sensitive and protected species.

The toads are helped across the trail by volunteers who also encourage people to walk their bikes and step carefully.

At some point, the toads must cross the Valley Trail and Lost Lake Road on their way to the upland forest areas where they will hibernate for the winter.  To protect them on their journey, Lost Lake Road is closed and people are asked to please watch their step and walk their bikes.

Although the toads are pretty cute, visitors to Lost Lake are asked not to touch the toads with their bare hands as the toads’ skin is very sensitive to human oils and sunscreen.  Picking up the toads or poking them can cause them serious harm or even kill them.

The toadlets blend in well to their surroundings, making them easy to miss.

These steps, which may seem inconvenient, are taken not only to protect a sensitive species but also because Whistler is home to many different creatures, including people.  All of these creatures deserve to be respected.

If you are interested in the Great Toad Migration and would like to help, come visit the Whistler Museum Nature Interpreters at Lost Lake.  We can supply you with gloves and cups and teach you  how to handle the toads without harming them.

If you see the toads anywhere other than Lost Lake, we would love to know!  To report sightings or if you have any questions, please contact us at DiscoverNature@WhistlerMuseum.org.

Kara is a Nature Interpreter with the Whistler Museum’s Discover Nature Program and a recent graduate of Whistler Secondary.  Find her at Lost Lake under the white tent by the concession or on our Nature Walks meeting at the PassivHaus at 11 am Tuesday to Friday until the end of August.

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.