Tag Archives: Mahood Lake

Fall getaways

Even paradise can get stale. Here in Whistler, locals often speak of the “Whistler Bubble” and their desire to escape this bubble from time to time. Fall is traditionally a time when many locals take extended holidays out of town, as the tourist trade quiets down substantially and, if ski bums get their wish, Whistler weather can get quite gloomy this time of year.

Sun-drenched surf retreats to Latin America or Indonesia are probably the current favourite Whistler escape, but Whistlerites are well-travelled people by nature. Come October you can find our locals scattered across the far corners of the globe.

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Myrtle hunting near Mahood Lake, circa 1950s, perhaps searching for a big stag deer like the one depicted on her rather fashionable hunting vest. 

This tradition of Whistler residents turning the tables and becoming tourists in the Fall is older than many might think. Our valley’s original vacation hosts, Myrtle and Alex Philip of Rainbow Lodge fame, were always keen to pack their bags and get out of town once their busy summer season wound down.

The Phillip’s were avid anglers, and thus many of their getaways focused on fishing. They made several autumn excursions to visit their friends Baldwin & Grace Naismith, who had a cabin on Mahood Lake in the Cariboo region of central British Columbia.

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Myrtle casting out into Bridge Creek, southwest of Mahood Lake, 1929.

 

Not only did the Mahood Lake area offer much larger fish than Alta Lake, lake trout in particular, it must have been a pleasure for the Philip’s to switch roles and be guests rather than hosts in this beautiful setting.

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Myrtle with her close friend Grace Naismith and the day’s catch, 1949.

The images span the decades and include a wonderful colour photo from 1961 of a smiling Myrtle (now 70 years young) piloting a small boat across Mahood Lake’s glass-calm waters with vivid fall colours framing the shoreline.

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Myrtle on Mahood Lake, 1961.

But just like today’s Whistlerites, Myrtle & Alex also pined for tropical shores to relax and rejuvenate. Here’s a photo from a month-long vacation they took to Tahiti in 1930-31:

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The annotation on the back reads: “Mr & Mrs Philip with their catch of Barracuda, Bonita and Miare.”

Just like Myrtle’s hunting vest shown above, in this picture the Philip’s once again demonstrate their fashion sense with their striking white outfits, Alex even wearing his trademark pith helmet.

Do you have plans to skip town this fall? Which would you prefer, fishing in Northern BC, or fishing in the South Pacific?

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The Mysterious Naismiths

File this under “people we wish we knew more about.”

We can’t even find Dr. Baldwin’s birth or death years, and he is referred to as both “A.G. Naismith” and “Baldwin Naismith.” Records indicate that his wife Grace Hilda passed away in Victoria at the age of 83 on August 9 1977, but we don’t know her maiden name or place of birth. Yet we have over a dozen photos of them, they owned a cabin in the valley, and they appear to have been close friends to Myrtle and Alex Philip for close to 50 years.

Grace and Dr. Baldwin Naismith, circa 1920.

Grace and Dr. Baldwin Naismith, circa 1920.


These tantalizingly incomplete stories can be amongst the most fascinating, and frustrating, subjects for historical researchers. Let’s review what we know…

Our earliest record comes indirectly through another Alta Lake pioneer Tom Neiland, who claimed to purchase land from Dr. Naismith on Alta Lake in 1921 in order to set up his own logging business. Then in 1927 Myrtle Philip sent a postcard to her sister Jean Tapley in Seattle, which included the line “Dr. & Mrs. Naismith are here – look fine – send love to you” so by this point they were well-known to the Philip/Tapley clan, but it is not known whether they had a cabin in the valley or were just regular visitors to Rainbow Lodge.

Grace Naismith at Rainbow Lodge holding a wood carrier inscribed

Grace Naismith at Rainbow Lodge holding a wood carrier inscribed “To Myrtle / Many Happy Returns / from Grace” with a rendering of Rainbow Lodge (presumably, a birthday present). A smiling Myrtle looks on from the Rainbow Lodge porch, circa 1940s.

From several sources we do know that Dr. Naismith worked as a pathologist near Kamloops, some recollecting that he was a lung specialist at the now-defunct Tranquille tuberculosis sanatorium on the north side of Kamloops Lake. Jenny Jardine, Tom Neiland’s step-daughter, stated that the doctor “was an Ontario returned soldier and she was a war bride. They had a Chinese foster son.” When local pioneer Harry Horstman, who lived near to the Naismith’s cabin on Alpha Lake, became too infirm to carry on his bachelor lifestyle they arranged a new home for him at a care facility in Kamloops, where he passed away in 1946.

This photograph shows a house on a point at Alpha Lake during wintertime. The house is almost certainly that of Dr. & Grace Naismith. Annotations in pen on the reverse of the image read:

The Naismith’s cabin on Alpha Lake, on what is known today as Pine Point, circa 1930.

By 1930, if not earlier, the Naismith’s owned a cabin on the shores of Alpha Lake, where Pine Point Park is now located. Also beginning in the 1930s we have several photographs of Myrtle and Grace together at Rainbow Lodge, in sophisticated dress on the streets of Vancouver, or looking quite casual around Mahood Lake, east of Quesnel, where the Naismith’s had another cabin.

Myrtle Philip and Grace Naismith in street clothes in a sidewalk in Vancouver. Photographer's stamp on verso :

Myrtle Philip and Grace Naismith in street clothes in Vancouver. A Photographer’s stamp on the back of the print reads : “MOVIE SNAPS / 541 Granville Blvd / ‘Souvenir of Vancouver, B.C.'” According to web research, Movie Snaps was a Vancouver photography business specializing in street photography – where photographers solicited pedestrians offering to take their photos for a fee (like an urban version of what Coast Mountain Photography does on Whistler-Blackcomb).

As early as 1929, the Mahood Lake cabin became a regular fall retreat for the Philip’s, where they could unwind after the busy summer at Rainbow Lodge. In an upcoming blog post we’ll go into a bit more detail about the Philips’ frequent fall visits to the Cariboo.

Another glamorous

Another glamorous “street photography” capture of Grace and Myrtle, this one appearing to be taken during the 1960s.

For now, that is the extent of our knowledge. We will have to be content placing the Naismith’s in a long line of visitors to our valley who became dually charmed by the landscape and by the Philip’s gracious hospitality. Of course, if any readers out there can share more of this story, we’d love to hear it.

Just in case these glamorous city shots were giving you the wrong impression of Grace, we’ll leave you with this interesting little snippet from the August 3rd 1962 edition of the Prince George Citizen that suggests that Grace was equally comfortable in the bush as she was in the city.

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