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"Hollyburn Lodge Through the Seasons & Generations" Video

"Hollyburn Lodge Through the Seasons & Generations" is a video that reviews the history of this historic building
in its natural setting beside First Lake and the decades-long effort of the Hollyburn Heritage Society
to gain community-wide support for the restoration and continued maintenance of the lodge.

Hollyburn Lodge Part 1 - Prologue
An historical and geographical overview of Hollyburn Lodge at First Lake.

 

Hollyburn Lodge Part 2 - Hollyburn Lodge - Summer
The history of the Hollyburn Ski Camp/Hollyburn Ski Lodge and its First Lake setting during the summer season (1927 - 2002).

 

Hollyburn Lodge Part 3 - An Overview of the Hollyburn Heritage Society
"An Overview of the Hollyburn Heritage Society'" tells the story about how the Hollyburn Heritage Society came to be
and provides information about HHS projects during the past 14 years,

 

Hollyburn Lodge Part 4 - Hollyburn Lodge - Winter
"HOLLYBURN LODGE -  WINTER"  combines contemporary video of Hollyburn Lodge & the cross-country trails
on Hollyburn Mountain with vintage photos and film.

 

Hollyburn Lodge Part 5 - Hollyburn Ridge: Cabins & Interviews
Issues related to the preservation of the only surviving cabin community on the North Shore are presented during a walk down the Main Trail to the former site of Hi-View Lodge. Interviews with cabin owner Don Nelsen and Julia Toren, current manager of Hollyburn Lodge are also featured.

"Hollyburn Lodge Through the Seasons & Generations" Script 

I. PROLOGUE (4:34)

The North Shore Mountains that rise above West and North Vancouver provide a dramatic backdrop for the City of Vancouver, Canada, host city of the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

Between 1925 and 1951, when the sport of skiing began to flourish in North America, lodges were built on Hollyburn Mtn., Grouse Mtn. & Mt. Seymour. 

Grouse Mountain Chalet opened in November 1926 and burned to the ground in June 1962.

The Mt. Seymour Ski Camp was built in 1937. In the 1940’s, a larger building, Enquist Lodge, was constructed. These lodges have since been replaced by more modern facilities. 

Between 1924 and 1951, four ski lodges were built on Hollyburn Ridge. The Ski Camp at the Old Mill Site was opened in January 1925. In the fall of 1926, after two seasons of low snowfall, the lodge was moved up to First Lake where it was renamed the Hollyburn Ski Camp.

West Lake Ski Camp, which opened in May 1933, was dismantled in 1939 when the Municipality of West Vancouver included the land around West Lake in its watershed.

Logs salvaged from the building were skidded to a new site lower down the mountain. Westlake Ski Lodge was opened in 1941 and destroyed by fire in October 1986.

Hi-View Lodge, adjacent to the upper terminus of the Hollyburn chairlift, was opened in 1951 and burned to the ground in 1965.

Today, only one of the historic ski lodges built before 1960 remains on the North Shore Mountains.

In late April 2011, deep snowdrifts cover Hollyburn Peak. A whiskey jack and a raven await the arrival of the occasional snowshoer and backcountry skier. Looking south, one sees the Hollyburn Shoulder. In the middle distance are the plateau and Hollyburn Ridge. The towers of downtown Vancouver are barely visible through a wisp of clouds.

In early August, snow and ice still cover Triangle Lake on the Hollyburn plateau. Melt water drains into Sixth Lake, flooding its shores. Lower down the mountain, at Fourth Lake, there is no sign of ice or snow. A stream meanders further down the mountain, eventually emptying into First Lake. In the summer, First Lake is place of tranquil beauty. Historic Hollyburn Lodge is located a short distance from its western shore.

II. HOLLYBURN LODGE – SUMMER (12:41)

For 85 years, hikers have paused on the crest of the Popfly hill to look down at Hollyburn Lodge beside First Lake. In the late 1920’s, many young people from Greater Vancouver climbed the Hollyburn Trail to have a look at the new Ski Camp. It soon became a popular meeting place.

Perhaps the most famous visitor in those early days was a black bear that made a well-documented appearance on Sunday, June 17th, 1928. Protocols about feeding bears were different in those days. Even the ski camp manager, Swedish immigrant Oscar Pearson, offered treats to the unusual guest.

The snow-free season was a busy time for Oscar his cousins, Ole Anderson and Andrew Irving, and Andrew’s wife, Stina. During the 1930’s, they built eighteen small rental cabins to provide lodging for guests. These cabins, equipped with a couple of two-tiered bunk beds and a wood stove, were located behind the lodge, near the north end of the lake, and on the top left side of the Popfly Hill.  A few paces north of the lodge, land was cleared to create space for a tennis court. A diving tower was constructed near the south end of First Lake so that hardy souls could leap into the decidedly cool lake waters. In 1928 the Swedes built a ski jump atop the Popfly Hill. A higher trestle was built the following summer. For those who wanted to paddle about the lake, two small boats were available for rent.

In 1936, the Vancouver Ski Club began to construct three cabins on the east side of First Lake a short distance south of the ski jump trestle. Two years later the cabins, featured on the November 1938 cover of “Hiker & Skier” magazine, were finished. Club members standing on the veranda of Viski Lodge could watch swimmers using the diving tower.

Panorama photos taken atop the ski jump trestle in 1945 provide a good view of the land and buildings around First Lake. There had been many changes in the landscape since the Swedes had opened Hollyburn Ski Camp in January 1927.

The Burfield family purchased the Ski Camp from the Swedes in 1945 and renamed it Hollyburn Ski Lodge.  Within a year, the Burfields built two large dorm buildings a few meters south of the lodge.

About 1950, the Ranger’s cabin was built near the south end of the First Lake dam.

The First Lake Regatta was a popular summer event during the 1950’s.  Large crowds gathered near the diving tower. One wonders why these young men appear to be so happy. Perhaps they have caught the eye of the contestants in the ‘Lady of the Lake” beauty pageant. In addition to the ever-popular beauty pageant, the Regatta also included competitions in diving, log-rolling, and swimming.

Post war developments in the sport of skiing precipitated changes on Hollyburn in the 1950’s and subsequent decades. Ski club members who were preoccupied raising the ‘baby boomer’ generation did not have the time to attend ski club meetings or participate in or support ski competitions. About 1955, the First Lake ski jump was dismantled.

During the next fifteen years the Viski cabins began to disappear. In 1963, the YMCA’s distinctive A frame cabin was built on the former site of the Vancouver Ski Club Men’s dormitory.

From 1951 to 1965, most people used the Hollyburn chairlift to get to Hollyburn Ridge. The chairlift ceased to operate in June 1965, after the fire that also destroyed Hi-View Lodge.

Those wanting to get to Hollyburn Lodge or cabins on Hollyburn Ridge either hiked up or drove, using a network of old logging roads.

Six years after the Hi-View fire, the last of the Vancouver Ski Club cabins were dismantled. The YMCA cabin was to remain for another 35 years.

The popular First Lake diving tower was allowed to decay. All traces of it were gone by 1996.

Thousands of visitors began to appear on Hollyburn, Black and Strachan after the Cypress Bowl Highway was opened in 1975. During the summer, cabin owners and summer hikers stopped by Hollyburn Ski Lodge to visit Fred Burfield and his daughter Peggy. Fred Burfield eventually retired in 1984 and sold the lodge to Cypress Bowl Recreations Ltd. In the late 1980’s, the lodge name was shortened to "Hollyburn Lodge".

In the years following his retirement, Fred continued to visit his friends on Hollyburn Mountain. He was frequently seen at the Loggers Sports Day organized by the cabin community, and enjoyed watching competitions involving log jousting and rolling, cross-cut-cut saw racing, speed hammering, and tug-of-war contests. Logger Sports Day, which had replaced the First Lake Regatta, eventually became the Fall Festival. This festival, organized by the Hollyburn Ridge Association, continues to be held at First Lake every September.

In 1992, Bud and Naomi MacInnIs, two North Shore pioneer skiers from the 1930’s, began to organize summer reunions at First Lake. Those who attended the reunions had many stories to share about their experiences on Hollyburn, Grouse and Seymour.

Among these pioneers were Gordon and Iola Knight, who realized that if these stories were not recorded in some way, an important part of Vancouver’s history would be lost. Bob Tapp, another pioneer skier, had the same concerns. Eventually the three of them met and began discussing ways to collect the history the North Shore Mountains. They also shared another concern, the poor condition of Hollyburn Lodge. Photos taken in 1997 reveal the degree of deterioration.

In 1998, the Knights, Bob Tapp, and his wife, Greta, created the Hollyburn Ski Camp Project and published a newsletter, which provided information about their plans to restore the lodge, the two dorm buildings and the remaining rental cabins. Shortly after the Knights and the Tapps formed the Hollyburn Heritage Society in April 2000, Cypress Bowl Recreations Ltd. dismantled the dorms and all but one of the rental cabins. In September 2000, the Hollyburn Heritage Society hosted the Pioneer Skiers Millennium Reunion at First Lake and unveiled the restored front entrance of Hollyburn Lodge. Scenes from this reunion were later included the Society’s first film project, “Hollyburn: A Place of Memories”.

III. HOLLYBURN HERITAGE SOCIETY PROJECTS (14:50)

Encouraged by the support it had received from the large number of pioneer skiers who had attended the Millennium Reunion, HHS initially focused its attention on the Hollyburn Lodge restoration project. However, It soon became apparent that this goal would be difficult to achieve because of the modest financial resources of the Society, CBRL’s long-range plan to close the lodge, and complex legal matters involving private ownership of a building located on land under the jurisdiction of BC Parks.

The Society’s directors decided to work on projects that would inform the public about the history of the North Shore Mountains and the importance of Hollyburn Lodge in that historical narrative. During the next twelve years, with the generous support of many individuals and community organizations, HHS completed several such projects.

In August 2003, HHS placed the Hollyburn Mountain Entrepreneurs’ picnic table on Pioneer Square near the former site of the First Lake diving tower. The West Vancouver Rotary Club contributed funding for this project.

Gerry Hardman’s Snow Post and a memorial marker were installed near Hollyburn Lodge In August 2004. Funding for this project came from members of Gerry’s extended family. A month later, HHS added handrails complete with historic photos to the new Nasmyth Bridge at the south end of First Lake. The West Vancouver Foundation and other parties provided funding for this project.

In the years following the millennium gathering, HHS acquired scans and hard copies of 1000’s of mountain photos and slides, hundreds of text materials, digital copies of home movies from the 1930’s, 40’s and 50’s, and many artifacts related to the sport of skiing.

HHS used these materials to create several display boards, some of which can be seen in Hollyburn Lodge’s backroom. A many of the Society’s archival photos have appeared in its annual newsletter. In August 2006, HHS presented the West Vancouver Archives with over 5000 digital copies from its photograph collection.

In 2003, with the encouragement of publisher Ron Hatch, HHS began to work on a Hollyburn book project. At the time, what was lacking was funding for the book and a professional writer.

About a year later, West Vancouver Archivist Lois Enns & North Vancouver Archivist Francis Mansbridge contacted HHS regarding a book project they had in mind with the tentative title, “Walking Up an Appetite”. In essence, it was to be a book with information about ‘after work’ hikes and restaurants on the North Shore. HHS persuaded Lois and Francis to work on the Hollyburn book instead. In 2008, “Hollyburn: The Mountain & the City”, written by Francis Mansbridge, was published. Ronsdale Press paid all the costs related to publishing.  Lois Enns contributed many hours of valuable research time.

During the past decade, HHS has produced a number of films including “Hollyburn: A Place of Memories”, “Diamond Head Chalet; A Family’s Journey”, “Heroes of the Harnessed Hickory”, and “Hugh Aikens: Mountain Photographer”. HHS has also created an extensive Hollyburn Heritage Society website and a Facebook page.

Recently, the restoration of Fred Burfield’s tractor/crawler has received a lot of media attention. In 1949, Fred purchased the Model MC John Deere tractor from Purves Richie, retail distributors of John Deere products in Vancouver. For the next 30 years, the tractor was the “workhorse” on the mountain, building roads and trails, packing the snow on ski trails and, on one memorable occasion, transporting West Vancouver Mayor and Council aboard a “stone boat”.

In May 2007, HHS, under the leadership of member Peter Tapp, began a project to restore the tractor. The restoration work was done at the John Deere dealership in Langley, B.C. and completed in May 2011. The John Deere Corporation provided the funding for the project.

After appearing in the West Vancouver Community Day Parade on June 4, the restored John Deere tractor returned to Hollyburn Mountain. Included among the special guests that day were, L-R, Bob Tapp, Gordon Knight, Alex Swanson, Bert Baker, and Fred Burfield. Three generations of Hollyburners were on hand to witness the starting up of the tractor’s engine and the return journey of the John Deere to Hollyburn Lodge.

The restoration of Hollyburn Lodge was never far from the minds of the HHS directors. The project got a big boost after July 2003, when the International Olympic Committee selected Vancouver as the host city for the 2010 Olympic & Paralympic Winter Games.

At public meetings organized by the West Vancouver Olympic Committee in 2004, HHS suggested that the restoration of Hollyburn Ski Lodge would be an ideal legacy project for the Winter Games. The Lodge project was one of ten initiatives recommended by the committee for further consideration.

After the DWV applied for and received a $500,000 Capital Culture Award in January 2006, it directed $20,000 of these funds towards a lodge restoration feasibility study. Donald Luxton & Associates completed this study in the Fall of 2006.

Among its many findings, the study noted that Hollyburn Lodge “is highly valued by the community as an integral part of the recreational and social history of the area. Since its opening, countless Vancouverites have visited the Lodge for social gatherings, with a current annual attendance of 80,000. As a result, there is an extensive collective memory of this building, which remains the historic symbol of North Shore recreation.”  

The feasibility study also determined that the lodge could be restored without completely dismantling and reassembling the building. Jean Ferguson, a West Vancouver council member, presented a summary of the Luxton study at the Pioneer Skiers’ Reunion on Hollyburn Mountain in September 2006.

During the same year, BC Parks met with a number of community groups, including representatives from the DWV, the West Vancouver Historical Society and HHS, to discuss the distribution of $400,000 in Olympic Legacy funding they had received from VANOC. The proposal DWV submitted advocating restoration of Hollyburn Lodge included the following key statements:

Through consultation with the West Vancouver residents, the Hollyburn Lodge was identified as a priority legacy project for the Olympics . . . . Restoration would include replacing the base support structure and reinforcing the support structure of the building with careful attention to maintaining the original look and feel of the building . . . . We are dedicated to seeing this project come to fruition and will continue to work to raise the funds to make this happen.

Early in 2007, BC Parks made the decision to allocate $100,000 to the lodge restoration project and $300,00 to an upgrade to the Howe Sound Crest Trail.

Since the estimated cost for the restoration of the lodge was $1,000,000, more money was obviously needed. HHS identified several possible sources of heritage funding from the provincial and federal government and began to fill out the necessary application forms. When HHS learned that private companies could not receive heritage funding, the need to transfer ownership of the lodge from Cypress Mountain became apparent. In 2008, the three major parties who had a stake in Hollyburn Lodge, BC Parks, Cypress Mountain, and DWV, agreed in principle to the transfer of ownership and began negotiations to work out the details.

Meanwhile, in the years leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympics, HHS continued to receive support and encouragement for the Hollyburn Lodge restoration project from many individuals & community groups. However, it gradually became apparent to HHS that no significant progress
was being made regarding the transfer of lodge ownership.

When HHS asked DWV staff for updates regarding the lodge, the response was ‘West Vancouver is waiting for deliverables from Cypress Mountain”, or “Cypress Mountain is waiting for documents from West Vancouver”, or “the fund-raising campaign will begin in about six months, or after the Olympics,’ or next spring, or ‘in the fall.”

HHS Bulletin Updates in 2009 & 2010 hint at the frustration HHS directors were feeling during this time.

2009 - In connection with Hollyburn Ski Lodge, its ownership and restoration project, it has been determined that things have been progressing slowly.  As we all know, the 21st Winter Olympiad is the dominating interest until March 21st 2010.

2010 - Regarding restoration work on HSL, things are “going slowly.”  It would indeed be great if we could report otherwise, but as we all know ‘money is tight.’ 

In November 2010, when HHS learned that Cypress Mountain had been waiting for a draft agreement from the District of West Vancouver for over a year, and a Hollyburn Ridge Study completed by DWV in July 2009 had not yet been formally presented to Council, HHS knew it had to act. A statement of significance in the 2009 study reiterated the importance of the Lodge as a unique heritage asset,

Hollyburn Lodge remains a multi-generational destination and an historical symbol of outdoor recreation and social life on the North Shore and province-wide. It is highly valued by the community as an ongoing integral part of the outdoor lifestyle and leisure pursuits valued by the citizens of greater Vancouver, and the collective memory of early pioneers and recent visitors alike.” Yet the study had apparently been shelved. Why?

HHS expressed its concerns to Mayor Pam Goldsmith-Jones and Council members attending the Parks Master Plan Input Forum in January 2011. This eventually led to a meeting with Deputy Chief Administrative Officer Brent Leigh, who has been working with HHS on the lodge file since April 2011.

On November 23, 2011 Brent made presentation to the West Vancouver Historical Society entitled “Embracing Heritage Assets. Included in PowerPoint presentation he had prepared for the occasion was a timeline for the Hollyburn Lodge restoration project.

• DWV as a sub-licensee under park use permit – Council 2011
• Transfer of lodge ownership to DWV – Complete Spring 2012
• legacy $100k fund - $900k fundraising - Complete Spring 2013
• Restoration - Complete Spring 2014

HOLLYBURN LODGE – Winter (10:55)

At First Lake, the brilliant colours of Fall herald the approach of winter snows. In days gone by, skaters appeared on First Lake, conditions permitting. 

At First On November 13th, 2011, the cross-country trails on Hollyburn are not yet open, but hikers enjoy a walk in the snow around Hollyburn Lodge.

Five days later enough snow has fallen to officially open the new ski season

Conditions are near perfect on December 5th. Since it is early in the season, I decide to stay on the groomed trails around First Lake. Before heading out, I stop for lunch at Hollyburn Lodge. Sometimes I sit in the backroom to have my meal. Today, however, I choose a table in the main room close to a window, which affords a good view of the Popfly hill. From 1928 to 1957, the view would include the impressive ski jump trestle that was located on top of the hill. During this period, ski jumping tournaments drew many people to First Lake. Cross-country ski races involving competitors from ski clubs throughout the Pacific Northwest began and finished on the lake.

Today I will ski south and east on the Sitzmark and then head towards the First Lake Lookout on Lower Wells Gray. After pausing at the Lookout, I will continue along Wells Gray until I reach Sigge’s Corner, where I will turn left back onto Sitzmark, and then complete the loop by skiing down Lower Telemark and Burfield.

After crossing the Nasmyth Bridge I climb a small hill. Nearby, on my right, is Hollmenkollen, a private cabin built in the mid-1930’s and owned by the Tapp family since 1961.

Further along the route is the site of Pollough Pogue’s cabin. During the 1920’s and early 30’s, Pogue wrote more than 400 articles about Hollyburn Mountain.

The ski jump trestles built on top of the Popfly hill were located near the First Lake Lookout. After descending a hill a few meters north of the ski jump, skiers could look back and see the trestles from a different perspective.

My route up Wells Gray leads to Sigge’s Corner, named after Sigge Bjorkland for his lifelong advocacy and advancement of cross-country skiing in British Columbia. A hundred meters east of the corner is the former site of the Mobraaten Ski Jump, built in by the Vancouver Ski Club in 1936 to honor club member Tom Mobraaten who competed in the 1936 Winter Olympics at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. The route north up Wells – Gray leads eventually to the Powerline, The Hollyburn Plateau, and Hollyburn Peak. I turn west and proceed along Sitzmark.

Near the bottom of Telemark, I pass the location of the first Vancouver Ski Club cabin on Hollyburn, used by club members before the Viski cabins were built in 1938.

I ski by the former site of the tennis court and the Blueberry rope tow during my final, short run to Hollyburn Lodge.

Evening visitors to Hollyburn Lodge enjoy fondue dinners,, hot beverages, and on some Saturday nights, live music. Some cross-country skiers continue to glide along the trails around First Lake.

V. HOLLYBURN CABINS - INTERVIEWS (13:12)

The 2009 Hollyburn Ridge and Lodge Conservation & Feasibility Study also included information about the cabins on the mountain, noting that “the relationship of the lodge to the residential cabins is important for its place within the only surviving cabin community on the North Shore.” The loss of either one of these heritage assets would diminish the value of the other.

The first private cabins began to appear on Hollyburn Ridge in 1926. By 1940, over 300 cabins had been built. Today, about 100 cabins remain, the last cabin community on the North Shore mountains.

On the shortest day of the year in 2011, I decide to walk down the main trail to the former site of Hi-View Lodge, retracing the steps of skiers in the 1950’s and early 60’s who headed for the chairlift after a full day on the slopes. The trail begins a few paces west east of the Ranger’s Station, about a hundred meters south of Hollyburn Lodge.

All but a handful of the Hollyburn cabins are situated on land leased from the District of West Vancouver. During the past eight decades, lease renewals have not always been guaranteed.

I pause for a few moments beside the Girl Guides “Burnabee Chalet”, formerly the headquarters of the Hollyburn Pacific Ski Club.

From 2006 to 2011 the Hollyburn Ridge Association, which represents the interests of the cabin owners, worked diligently to secure some form of long term permit from the District. 

Here is an older cabin with a classic design common to many cabins on the Ridge.

After a concerted effort from cabin owners to upgrade their cabins, the District's first real action was to raise rents considerably in November 2009.  Soon after, a commitment by Council was made that if a suitable arrangement could worked out, they would support the first ever 10 year revolving permit. 

Through 2010 the District and Hollyburn Ridge Association negotiated an agreement that included a 10 year renewable permit with a reasoned inspection process and the ability to transfer the permit to a third party.  On March 2011 Council ratified the 10-year permit and later that year the permit process was initiated. 

In 2021, when the permits are scheduled to be renewed, Hollyburn Ridge Cabins will be just a few short years away from their Centenary.  It is envisioned at that time the Cabins and restored lodge will, as a community, apply for and be granted a formal heritage designation.

The Boy Scouts cabin was constructed in 1982. Many of the building supplies were helicoptered in.

Walking down to the small bridge that crosses Marr Creek, I know I’m near the end of my walk. The cabin Oscar Pearson built in the early 1950’s is a short distance beyond the bridge. Oscar stayed here while working at the upper terminus of the Hollyburn chairlift. When the weather was clear, he could enjoy a panoramic view of the entire Lower Mainland. Today, the view is obscured by trees that have grown up since the Hi-View Lodge fire.

Knowing that many cabin owners support the restoration of Hollyburn Lodge, I make plans for some interviews.

Interview with Don Nelsen, Hollyburn Cabin Owner

Interview with Julia Toren, Hollyburn Lodge Manager 

CODA (5:27)

A few months ago, while putting together a display of Hollyburn Lodge photos, I reflected on what the lodge means to me and wrote the following commentary.

Few could dispute that Hollyburn Ski Lodge is a venerable old building. It is loved by those whose connection with the lodge goes back several decades and by those who walk through its doors for the first time. Parents and grandparents make a point of bringing their children and grandchildren to see the lodge because, in part, it connects them to generations past, present, and we hope, the future.

For Hollyburn seniors like myself, the lodge has been there through the different seasons of our lives. It is often said that people make a building a home. In this sense, to many of us who go back to it time and time again, Hollyburn Lodge “feels like home.”