Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Images of the past

Dr. Muriel Whitaker has kindly provided me with these pictures reproduced from her family album. She also provided the information for the associated captions. You will remember that Muriel and John owned and operated Lac Le Jeune Lodge from 1951 till shortly before it was torn down to make room for the existing lodge.

Fire Lookout (ca 1920)
This was the primitive structure erected for the use of the Fire Warden at the top of Ridge Mountain. It seems incredible that there was a phone link from this to the forestry cabin and the lodge. Muriel says she clearly remembers coming across the single wire that ran down the side of the trail. I certainly remember carrying out repairs to the portion of the line, which ran from the lodge to Knutsford during the time I spent guiding for the Lodge between 1957 to 1962. From top to bottom are: Ross Dalgleish, Olive Docker (nee Mclean), Muriel Costly (McDiarmid), Gertie Ellis, and Eddie Docker.

Lac Le Jeune Lodge
This is the third generation of the Trout Lake, Fish Lake, Lac Le Jeune Lodges, the one which was the immediate predecessor of the current lodge. The bridge would be on the left. Note the screened porch, and living room windows facing the lake and the two story construction. The picture was taken some time after the store was added as it can be seen extending beyond the main building at ground level to the right of the lodge. The clinker built row boats are lined up along the shore for the winter. The structure in the lower right hand corner is Dave Lusk’s Hotel which was still in use as smoke, and fish preparation house when I was acting as guide. The tall pine tree at the outside corner of this structure was struck by lightning when I was inside leaving only fragments of the tree and its roots and me deaf for several days.

Cowan’s Lodge and Bar
The Cowan Lodge (1906 - 1926) on the right of the picture, the bar on the left. Muriel says that the bar “Tavern” was converted into a housekeeping cabin with the addition of a screen porch. Later, John Whitaker added a bathroom on the north side to convert it to deluxe unit. Note the “road” and hey, pine trees!!

Submitted by Hugh Burton

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Lac Le Jeune Reminiscences by Hugh Burton, Part 2

As mentioned in the previous article, accommodation for fishermen was provided first by the very rough log cabin constructed by Dave Lusk in 1885, then by the improved second version in 1905. As it turns out there have actually been four versions of the lodge. The second one, Robert Cowan’s, served the fishing public till around 1926 when he apparently became too ill to continue. Thomas Costley who had, for a number of years, been enjoying camping in a cabin he built on the little lake, bought the lodge property and decided there was sufficient increase in the number of people attracted to the fabulous fishing to make it worth while building a bigger and better hotel. This new structure was placed in a position of prominence, which provided a wonderful view straight down the lake from both the full width screened front porch and the equally large comfortable lounge. A huge stone fireplace and comfy furniture completed the aura of hominess in the lounge. Behind this was the dining room where guests could have their meals and beyond this again lay the kitchen and eating quarters for the staff. There were several guest rooms on the second floor offering various views of both lakes. Much later a store was added adjacent to the pantry and kitchen areas, which served campers as well as the summer residents. It is really unfortunate that this old lodge couldn’t be saved as a heritage building when the present lodge was built.

Building construction, over the first period of expansion, was hampered by the poor condition of the road and the limited carrying capacity of the transportation available. The original road between Kamloops and Le Jeune was the Goose lake road. Very little of the original road bed was used when the Iron Mask road was put in, so it is hard to get much of an idea of just how rough and twisty the road was even into the early 1940’s. Try, even now, going down the Goose Lake Road just after spring thaw or an extended rainy period and you will get some indication of these early conditions.

As a result, lumber was pretty well restricted to two by fours, eight feet long. The two by fours of course were a true two inches by four inches, since they were not then the dressed form to which we have become accustomed.

Most of the cabins that were built were erected on a foundation of Lodge Pole Pine timbers cut locally. The foundation timbers were themselves raised on vertical posts that accommodated for the variation in levels of the terrain. The posts themselves were bedded on flat rocks to prevent too much settling - a technique only marginally successful. I know from personal experience that frequent shoring was necessary to maintain some semblance of level. Those of us who have since built permanent homes, were loath to tear down these great old structures but the piece meal construction, necessitated by the materials made them impossible to move.

It is perhaps surprising that there were not more log cabins built given the difficulties associated with stick frame construction. I can only think of three. One was the forestry cabin (now Killik’s), another was Vida Morrow’s taken down to make room for Willis’ house, and finally the one in which John and Drenna Baker now live. The Forestry cabin and John and Drenna’s were built with the logs horizontal to the ground while Vida’s was of vertical construction.

Perhaps the most dramatic evidence of the difficulty of obtaining and transporting construction materials was provided by an addition Dr. Irving made to his cabin. It seems that he wanted to bring some of the comforts available to his family in town, to their summer life at the Lake. So, following completion of the cabin, which had three cedar lined bedrooms, a spacious living room and sizeable screened porch, he decided to have his Chinese cook attend these comforts on site, hence the need for an addition. Rather than build from scratch, he found an abandoned bunkhouse in the meadows west of Little Lake and had it brought to the lot.

This enterprise entailed placing the structure on skids, pulling it with horses to the west shore of Little Lake, then floating it down to where the bridge now stands. The skidding process was then repeated till the bunkhouse reached the cabin site. This sounds like a lot of work but presumably it was more economical than buying and transporting lumber and hiring a carpenter. The newly arrived structure was attached to the main building in a very uneven, haphazard manner that, through the ensuing years, ensured much leaking and shifting - (he definitely should have hired the carpenter). Nevertheless, the cook moved in using the stilted structure to full advantage both as his temporary summer residence and as chicken coupe. By enclosing the area under the “kitchen” with chicken wire, he was able to keep his few chickens, from straying and at the same time protect them from coyote and weasel predation, thus ensuring that they were kept only for the human palate.

There were several dates carved into the wooden wall planks of this building, the earliest of which was 1897. It served heroically as the cook’s summer residence, and cookhouse till Dr. Irving deserted the cabin in the late 1920’s - but that‘s another story.

It also served as our kitchen till we built the new house in 1998.

The forestry cabin was built in 1910 to serve as a residence for the Forest Ranger. The Ranger carried out fire watch over the surrounding forests from a lookout at the top of Ridge mountain - the mountain directly South of the lake up which the old ski hill runs. There was a spectacular 3600 view from this vantage point. On a clear day it was possible to see Mt. Baker in Washington and many of the peaks in the costal range as well as the Raft River range to the North. It was an ideal site for early detection of forest fires that might threaten Lac Le Jeune.

A single phone line connecting the ranger cabin, the lodge and the lookout station provided for the transfer of fire information to the central Kamloops forest service. This tenuous thread that looped haphazardly from tree to tree, swayed precariously over swamps and only in its lowest reaches on the Goose Lake road found purchase on actual telephone poles, was the only means of quick linkage with Kamloops. The phones at the Le Jeune end were of the crank and hope variety and at the best of times provided distorted and patchy transference of information. In fact, I often wondered if the shouted instructions to central (number please lady) couldn’t have been heard just as well had both parties stood outside and bellowed. It was also most inadvisable to use these during thunder storms for fear of severe shock and once the storm passed, communication was frequently terminated anyway, when the line was broken by fallen trees or drowned in the aforementioned swamps.

However, there were times when this much maligned service proved its worth for the summer residents. Our family virtually lived at the Lake from school out in the spring till school in, in the fall. I can remember numerous times when Charlotte, Mother and I would trek down to the lodge in order contact Dad over some need or emergency. Most of the time he had a standard list of things to bring up on the weekend but there were times when the list needed to be augmented with things like lamp oil, wicks or mantels, and of course there were also the occasional emergencies brought on by tooth aches and other ills that made it necessary for him to make a mid week trip. There were even a couple of times when Mother called Dad to come and get us when, in 1948 and 1951, she deemed a forest fire to be too close for us to safely stay on.

More to follow, hb

More garbage dumped

Another dump of stuff at Melba Creek Forest Service Road…a blue couch, chair, perfectly good microwave stand, an old radio, a bag of pillows, baby toys (some of which my walking partner has recycled!), packing boxes, kid’s lego toys, empty “ Export A” cigarette packages, a broken outdoor light stand etc. This stuff was dumped between Sept 14 and Sept 16 early am. What a mess!

TNRD has been notified and will clean it up in 2-3 weeks. They will talk to the Conservation Officer service about increased surveillance and possibly cameras.

Somebody close by has got to be the culprit.

There are bits of garbage all over in the forest. What a shame people cannot be more responsible and take some pride in our recreation areas.

If you have any info please report on the RAPP site or phone TNRD 1-877-952-7277 or #7277 on the Telus Mobility Network.

Submitted by Bev Lorimer

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Bears in the neighbourhood

There have been several reports of bears around Lac Le Jeune this month. Lee and Kim Harvey were lucky enough to get this photo of a bear in their yard around 5:30 p.m. on the 17th trying to get at their empty bird feeders. When he left he ran down the street and across the bridge, and sure spooked a lot of other wildlife along the way!

Do you have photos for the blog? Send them to me to post ( or let me know if you'd like "author" access to the blog.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Cutting Firewood on Crown Land

A few days ago the Kamloops Daily News listed the Crown land woodcutting regulations. It prompted me to check online to see what information is available.

The Firewood Permit page for the Kamloops District on the Ministry of Forests and Range website has information about conditions when cutting is permitted and how to obtain maps. I had always assumed that obtaining a permit would be complicated, but discovered that the Free Use Permit (PDF 56 KB) is available for download. You simply print and sign the form, then carry it with you when you cut wood.

With this permit individuals can obtain 4 cords of firewood for personal use only. Here are the main guidelines to follow:
  1. Ensure that the firewood is cut from vacant crown land.
  2. Cut and remove only dead standing trees less than 40 cm. (16 inches) in diameter, 30 cm. (12 inches) from the ground; Larger trees may be felled and removed if they pose a threat to personal residential property.
  3. Cut and remove only down trees less than 40 cm. (16 inches) in diameter at their largest end.
  4. Clear all debris from roads, roadside ditches and streams, and lop all branches from felled trees and scatter them close to the ground.
  5. Refrain from:
    a. Cutting any trees marked by the Ministry of Environment for the preservation of wildlife. (See the "Firewood or Wildlife Tree?" brochure)
    b. Cutting any live, green trees (coniferous or deciduous) or removing any material from log decks.
photo by Foxtongue