John Deere Tractor Restoration Project
Background Notes - Peter Tapp
In 1946 the Burfield family purchased the Ski Camp from Oscar Pearson. Ole Anderson, and Andrew Irvine, a group of partners who had immigrated to Canada from Sweden in the early 1920’s. The camp was renamed the Hollyburn Ski Lodge.
Fred Burfield and his family had a horse that dutifully helped the family through the first years, with the many tasks and projects that were associated with the operation of a ski-camp on one of Vancouver’s North Shore Mountains
In 1949, Fred purchased a Model MC John Deere tractor from Purves Richie, retail distributors of John Deere products in Vancouver. Not only would this tractor provide Fred with the additional “horsepower” he required, but this latest model from John Deere also offered many new advancements for 1949, including a hydraulically operated blade and “gearmatic” winch.
For the next 30 years, the tractor was the new “workhorse” on the mountain, building roads and trails, packing the snow on ski trails and transporting dignitaries aboard a “stone boat”. In addition, the tractor was invaluable in the construction and maintenance of over 20 log buildings, some of which are still standing today. One of these buildings is owned by the District of West Vancouver, and has operated as the Ranger Station for more then 40 years.
Through the summer months the family would work the tractor to pull logs, construct roads and haul supplies as required. In the winter months, the tractor would navigate the many trails of the area with ease, and its contribution to the operation was never under valued and always appreciated. An article in the May 12, 1976 edition of the West Vancouver Times, entitled “The Changing Face of Hollyburn Ridge” described it this way:
“…Fred is still carrying on, assisted by his wife, daughter, and a little old John Deere crawler tractor. Had records been kept, a book could be written about that little machine. Cars, trucks and jeeps by the dozens it has rescued from ditches and snow drifts, thousands of miles of snow trail packed by its blade and tracks, hundreds of tons of supplies hauled up the mountain. Truly it is another ‘one-horse-shay’…..”
Of significance to John Deere Inc., a second John Deere tractor was purchased by the other lodge operator on the mountain Norm Deacon. This second tractor assisted Norm and his operation at Westlake Lodge into the seventies as well. It is estimated this tractor was a late 1940’s model; its whereabouts today is unknown.
In 1976, shortly after the completion of the newly constructed Cypress Bowl Road, the assets and operations of the cross-country ski area, including the Lodge and tractor, were purchased by a group of local businessmen. Cypress Bowl Recreations (CBR) also purchased the downhill ski area and acquired a fifty year lease from BC Parks. At that time the 30 year old tractor was in operating condition, but deemed redundant to their requirements. For the last 31 years, the tractor has remained the property of the ski hill operator and resides in their operations yard on the mountain, located adjacent to Cypress Bowl Road.