Category Archives: Flash Back Fridays

Flash Back Fridays! (#FBF)


Tim Rippel

Tim Rippel

I was accepted in the 4 month Guide program at Strathcona Park Lodge in March of 1983. After the course I was hired and worked six seasons instructing and guiding school groups, and led the COLT -Land based program teaching survival,search and rescue, climbing and mountaineering courses. My first High Altitude climb took place while on an expe- dition with Rob and Laurie Wood from Strathcona, with a group to Mt. Waddington.

I left Strathcona to I work winters as the leader of the Pro-Patrol team at Powder King Ski Village in the Pine Pass, mountain safety and eventually also ran outside operations. It was here I met Becky who was running ski tours up to this area from Prince George. Working winters allowed me the flexibility to get out into the mountains in the spring and summer and climb in other parts of the world.

Becky had two children so we had to pull out from northern ski post and move to a community for school. We chose Nelson, B.C. We built a log home in the woods together and I worked winters as a Heli Ski Guide with Kootenay Heli Ski, now CMH. I trained for my first Everest expedition while working at Powder King. Becky joined me to climb Everest in 1991, my first Everest climb Read more

Flash Back Fridays! (#FBF)


Vancouver Island, Canada
Strathcona Park Lodge and Outdoor Education Centre
P.O. Box 2160, Campbell River, British Columbia, Canada V9W 5C9

August 30, 1983

Province of British Columbia
Ministry of Lands, Parks and Housing
Parks and Outdoor Recreation Division
Victoria, B.C.
Attention: Mr. K.W. Baker
Manager, Operations Section

Dear Sirs:

I have been going to rewrite my original answer to your letter of June 4th all summer but have not been able to figure out what to say. I have decided to send my original reply.
In respect to your request that we require a park use permit for our trips, I would like to enter into some sort of a dialogue with you or someone in your department.

1. As you may be aware we have been using the park for twenty-three years with no mention a permit required.

2. Over the last twelve or so years we have dealt with approximately 5,000 school and university students per year teaching them outdoor education.

3. Two of the things we stress will all of our guests are wilderness ethics and low impact camping.

4. Our adventure holiday trips have grown out of teach education courses that we used to run.

5. We are not a business in the usual sense. As you can see by the enclosed list our education programs are backed by a foundation.

6. We particularly stress the use of quiet boats i.e. Canoes, kayaks, sail boats, windsurfers.

7. We promote the use of helicopter only for people who are unable to walk the considerable distance into the alpine in Strathcona Park, and then not into the Nature Conservancy areas (we were only told this rule last year).

8. We feel we are good neighbours to the park and do more than almost any other group to teach and promote good attitudes and the right use of the wilderness. We also have put out at least 6 fires in the park since we came here.

9. At the same time we are vastly unhappy about some other users of the park:
a. Western Mines – need I say more (the trout fishing is terrible – the water polluted)
b. A gold prospector madly staking the whole area for a foreign company – he seems somewhat eccentric and carried 2 powerful revolvers in holsters. He claims to have found a boulder with $20,000 worth of gold in this area.
c. Recently the industrial traffic past our place, particularly logging trucks from Western Mines has been truly frightening.

10. The public service by the Parks Branch doesn’t excite us either.
a. They have a rather inconspicuous office.
b. They keep very limited hours.
c. They do not register the trips of hikers (hikers plead with us to do
d. They do not have a public phone, causing all campers, locals and passersby to ask to use our radio phone. This is impossible because with our own business calls and staff outcalls and all the people on the channel; people trying to contact us for registrations just simply can’t get through.
e. Even after repeated requests for a sign on the highway before cars get to the Lodge saying that the Park Information and campsites are x km ahead; we still get a steady stream of people dropping into out office. We spend expensive hours giving information about the park. Perhaps we should enter into a voucher billing service to the Parks Branch for services rendered.

11. We expect that this sudden interest in us is a result of my husband being interviewed on National T . V . about park policy in respect to fire watch, and the use of water bombers. Unfortunately, this debate deteriorated into an irrelevant argument about who phoned in the first (the telephone company said that we did). His information about the water bomber policy was from a good government source/

12. We are also unhappy that the Parks Branch couldn’t give us any of the fire damaged wood last winter although they gave it to the cadets and also, according to a driver we talked to, to the air force.

You must understand that we really care about this park and are more concerned about its long term survival than are, it appears, some civil servants and politicians. We have spent years trying to beautify the area, at the entrance to the park, by removing stumps, removing debris from the lake, bringing in soil and sand, planting trees etc; in other words trying to repair the damage done by hydro development on this watershed.

You should read the diaries in the archives written by the early surveyors, people with profound vision. They would be horrified by what has happened to their beautiful park.

We do not want to fight with the Parks Branch. It seem during these troubled times that co-operation might mean survival for both of us. I just had a British guest leave this morning because the lorries kept her awake. The industrial traffic to Western Mines in steady from three a.m. on. I also hear the forestry has given approval for Elk Mountain to be logged. This is the beautiful mountain at the entrance to the park shown in the large picture (reversed) in our brochure. The ensuing mess and debris will probably mean our Waterloo.
Yours truly,
Myrna Boulding

Flash Back Fridays!


Janet was 21-years-old when she worked at the Lodge for four months in 1982. Following in her footsteps, her brother, Derrick Brenchley, came to work for the Lodge two years later.

Janet Brenchley-Krug (left) teaching knot tying

Janet Brenchley-Krug (left) teaching knot tying

I was an instructor/leader with school groups in May and June. During the summer, I led Adventure Camps, kayaking and canoeing courses, was a personal guide for families exploring the area, plus I did everything and anything that needed to be done. One of my favourite jobs was bat patrol up in the annex when we would go up with old tennis racquets to decrease the bat population. Lots of time was spent in the kitchen helping make Nancy’s wonderful scones and other breads. Making pancakes for 200 was a regular early morning task. I remember starting the day with espresso coffee and Grand Marnier. (Note from Myrna: ‘This is news to me’). Heart palpitations to say the least.
After leaving Strathcona, my next jobs were working for Black Feather/Trailhead also leading trips and selling outdoor equipment. I became a high school physical education teacher and loved to lead canoe trips and coach skiing. It has always been a dream to run a camp or Centre. I am currently teaching Mind Body classes at the Y and am a certified Pilates instructor.

My husband and I have fun get-togethers with Elizabeth Boulding , her husband Toby Hay, and their daughter Emma. Toby has been a godsend when completing woodworking projects and home renovations for my family. Toby has built and donated furniture every year for many years to raise money for two Wyndham House youth homes in Guelph.

Visions of a Cougar

cougarDuring the summer of 1982, it only rained a half dozen times during the four months I spent working as a skills instructor at the Lodge. I had arrived from the East with four sets of raingear, prepared to face the torrential downpours in the rain forests of the west coast. However in August, because of the poor visibility due to the smoke from the forest fire, we worked at perfecting the skill of taking a compass bearing across Upper Campbell Lake.
In July, I was having a lovely time leading an Adventure Camp of 8-10 year olds on an overnight hike along the Elk River trail. The external frame back packs were too big for these little tykes and bumped them in the back of the knees. I would have liked to cover a bit more distance but this crew would stop every ten metres to gape in awe at the big fat green and black slugs on the trail. Little people have a way of teaching us to appreciate the wonder of our surroundings. I was alone as the leader and struggled to keep this motley crew together. I had returned to hustle a straggler along and glanced over my shoulder along the trail in the direction we had come, and saw what I think was the back end of a cougar silently disappearing down the trail. It was a flash and I spent the next few minutes with my heart pounding wondering if I really had seen a cougar and feeling very vulnerable with six kids to look after. Needless to say, I kept my little band on a bit shorter tether and in my sights if possible. I replayed the vision over and over in my head of the hind quarters of that cat. We only went a few kilometres that summer day. I never mentioned the cougar to my campers and let them continue to happily gawk at the slugs and munch on salmon berries.

A New Flower Planter for the Deck

Jim Boulding was larger than life, an inspiring but intimidating boss to work for. On my first day off at the Lodge, a group of us paddled the Campbell River. My partner and I managed to wrap an abs plastic canoe around an iron bridge girder. The canoe had to be sawed in half to release it from being pinned in the current. I was sure that my employment at the lodge was going to be short lived. At supper that night, Jim got up to speak to the staff. Feeling ashamed and embarrassed, sick to my stomach and ready to pack my bags, I remember and will always appreciate his words in saying that the Lodge had needed a new flower planter for the deck. This was what my sawed off canoe became that day. I hope that I have learned from my mistakes and will extend his generosity of spirit and sense of humour to others.

Janet (white coat right of centre) leading a group

Janet (white coat right of centre) leading a group

Flash Back Fridays


Terresa hiking in Strathcona Provincial Park.

Terresa hiking in Strathcona Provincial Park.

Teresa lived at the Lodge off and on over a period of eighteen years beginning in 1983. Her first visit was to a folk weekend in 1982. She came with her friend and former Simon Fraser roommate Danusia Kanachowski. She came back to the Lodge and helped to look after 70 mine refitters who were working at Westmin mine. There was a lot of extra house work to do. Teresa remembers how hard it was to keep track of who was staying in which room when, and more than once walked in on a sleeping fellow! Read more

Flash Back Fridays

Youth Potential: an interview with Jim Boulding 1982

jim boulding

Jim demonstrating the use of a pitch stick.

“The great potential of this country is our young people. There is a real need to have trained staff in these fields to staff other programs. We don’t mind that they go elsewhere. There’s enough here (in Canada) for everyone. Tourism programs can provide needed rural employment and development without being environmentally destructive. I think tourism is the most important business we have here in Canada. If we can show the government that a certain stand of trees can produce more money from tourism rather than cutting them down for logging, then we provide more rural jobs and in- come.”

Strathcona operates over 50 programs annually from the 16-week wilderness leadership training schools, through Read more

Flash Back Fridays


Strathcona Lodge is Canadian in outlook

What you see is what you get. Jim Boulding in the city is the Jim Boulding you’ll meet in the wilds of Strathcona Park on Vancouver Island. Granted, there may be a necktie in the city, but somehow you know it’s just a piece of cloth worn like some trifling accoutrement in deference to social custom he’s long ceased believing in. Jim be- lieves in people, their potential and ability to be positive. Nothing bores him more than negativism.

The layout of the Lodge.

The layout of the Lodge.

“After 23 years in the tourism business, I know what tough times are. I know what it’s like to live with near-failure, and I also know that there’s always a way out if you’re willing to work at it,” says Jim who, with wife Myrna, owns and operates Strathcona Park Lodge as an outdoor education centre, world-renowned wilderness training centre and family resort.

The Bouldings may be out in the boonies, but they have a definite concept of Canada, tourism and its international potential.
“We have scenery that is unsurpassable,” says Jim bluntly of the 160-acre property on central Vancouver Island. “Mountains, lakes, forests, history, Read more

Flash Back Fridays


Kristin (centre), pictured with Nancy on right

Kristin (centre), pictured with Nancy on right

My first visit to Strathcona Park Lodge was in August 1982, when I was 16. My cousin Brad Mielke was working at the Lodge as a chef for the summer. I returned as a volunteer in 1989 when I was 23. I stayed from Aug 1989 through January 1990. My job was in the kitchen doing meal prep and dishes, and also in the dining room, serving food. My only remuneration was room and board. Read more

Flash Back Fridays


Yvonne Williams

Yvonne Williams

In September of 1981, after eight months of going through a miserable divorce and down to 99 pounds (boy is that a long time ago) I drove from Calgary to the Lodge. I think I realized that a little time there would help me to get my equilibrium back. I remember Myrna taking a horrified look at me and insisting that I go immediately to the kitchen and start eating, and as I like the food at the Lodge this was not a problem.
After I settled in I found myself back in the office at the front desk, sort of like a homing pigeon I guess, because no matter what that is where I always ended up.

Myrna used to sweet talk me with compliments about how well I dealt with the tourists, so much better than hersel, blah, blah, blah….. But I must say that the blarney (and Myrna isn’t even Irish) always seemed to work on me so that is where I spent the next two months. Of course the tourists are few and far between at that time of the year, but there were some school groups; I don’t think as many as in later years because there were definitely some financial problems during that period. I remember times that Myrna or Jim would say that someone was coming to collect on a bill and then they would disappear and I would be left to make excuses, to sweet talk, or whatever worked. I must say that I got pretty adept at being evasive.

I remember some of those cold mornings in the office when Jim and I would be trying to decipher his handwriting (believe me, that is being kind) with chattering teeth and one morning he opened a drawer in his desk and said “want a drink?” – mind you this is about 9 AM, and we are talking about over proof rum—but I tell you, it was so cold that it somehow seemed the only reasonable thing to do. So we did, and let me just say, more than once.

What is reasonable at the Lodge is not necessarily what is reasonable in the rest of the world, but then, that is part of the charm of the place.

Flash Back Fridays


The strongest hikers were in front, pushing a tunnel through a three-metre- high jungle of salal. One by one, they plunged into the bush and disappeared. From above, on a granite bluff, it looked as if the salal was being shaken by a monstrous snake.

We were plodding across a point at Nootka Sound on the west side of Vancouver Island. There were no signs of humanity, not even a crude trail, when he jumped off a float plane’s pontoons and waded to a crescent-shaped beach. It was the same Van- couver Island that Captain cook saw when he make his first landing in North American at Friendly Cove, a few kilometres across the sound.

Six days later, when another floatplane picked us up at Hot Springs Cove, we knew why few hikers tackle that untracked coastline. We had managed to make it to our pre-arranged pickup point, but not without mooching a ride on a fishing boat. The worst injury was a slightly sprained ankle, but a spry, 61-year-old Toronto man bailed out three days early and had a lighthouse keeper arrange for a floatplane to take him away.

There were nine of us; four were experienced hikers.

The West Coast of Vancouver Island has many treasures for those willing to go off the beaten path.

The West Coast of Vancouver Island has many treasures for those willing to go off the beaten path.

We were on a trip organized by Strathcona Park Lodge and Outdoor Educational Centre, a trip that cost us $360 a piece. It was led by Daphne Hnatiuk, a 22- year-old woman and outdoor educator who had just returned from a stint of prospecting in the Yukon.

Daphne’s log, July 21: “We had to bushwhack across Burdwood Point to the next, Read more

Flash Back Fridays

Dave King lost with kids on mountain

One of my favourite stories from Strathcona involved a hike on Elk Mountain which was located across the lake from the Lodge. It was before the mountain was so dramatically clear cut. The original Elk Mountain was beautiful. Trees like what you would expect to see in Cathedral Grove; cool creeks running through lush forests. Dave King, one of the SPL instructors, was guiding a group of students on Elk Mountain. They had planned to hike a short distance and then establish a base camp from which they would do day hikes. The group got to their destination, established the camp, and then headed up the mountain on a day trip. Read more