Category Archives: Flash Back Fridays

Flash Back Friday

A story by David Boulding

Jim and Myrna at a Rendez-vous tradeshow.

Jim and Myrna at a Rendez-vous tradeshow.

Some 25 years ago, maybe longer, Jim and Myrna were invited to the second year of Rendezvous Canada. This is a federally funded high profile project that connects the best international buyers and sellers of quality tourism products from around the world to the finest Canadian tourist operators.

Strathcona was a unique Canadian product, in a picture perfect place, with a special focus on children and families, because of this S.P.L. was in on the ground floor. While the Lodge started as a trout and salmon fishing place in the summer and did not directly focus on children in the early years, by 1970, the focus was all children and then in a few years the focus broadened to include families. This approach Read more

Flash Back Fridays


Jim had electric lines, water lines, septic pipes and propane all in the same trenches. One day Patrick came upon an outdoor electric socket with water pouring out of the plug. He found out that a join in a nearby water line had separated. Because the electric line had been threaded through cheap pipe, the water got into that pipe. The circuit breaker had shut the power off and the plug coming out of the ground was done properly. Patrick repaired the leaking water line and all was well

The main office building in the foreground the Outdoor Centre in the background.

The main office building in the foreground the Outdoor Centre in the background.

A more serious event happened and Patrick almost got electrocuted. The furnace in the Annex had frozen pipes. He walked up the hill with a propane torch to thaw the pipes. Because he didn’t want to go back down to get Read more

Flash Back Fridays

Hilary Stewart (1924-2014)

Hilary Steward (left) with Joy Inglis.

Hilary Steward (left) with Joy Inglis.

It is with sadness we must note the passing on June 5 of the renowned BC artist and author Hilary Stewart, author of more than ten titles including Cedar: Tree of Life of the North West Coast Indians and the perennial bestseller Looking at Totem Poles. Long a resident of Quadra Island, Stewart was an important authority on Northwest Indian art and culture with numerous titles directly concerned with Aboriginal cultures starting with Artifacts of the Northwest Coast (1973) and Indian Fishing: Early Methods on the Northwest Coast (1977). Cedar (1984), an examination of the various ways Aboriginal cultures utilized cedar, received one of the first four B.C. Book Prizes that were presented in 1985. Stewart’s reiusse of the journal kept by English sailor at Nootka Sound in 1803, John R. Jewitt, Captive of Maquinna (1987), also received a B.C. Book Prize. Other titles Read more

Flash Back Fridays

“Wilderness in jeopardy: see it before it’s gone”
By Myrna Boulding, the Campbell River Courier, Thursday, September 25, 1986

The former minister of Lands, Parks and Housing, Jack Kempf, spoke to the Gold River Chamber of Commerce on Sept. 16, not on Strathcona Park as he was originally scheduled to do but on forestry, his new portfolio.

He will make a good forests minister. That is where his heart lies. My concern is with parks, particularly Strathcona Park, now in the hands of Austin Pelton along with environment.

If Mr. Pelton has ideas very different from Mr. Kempf it will invalidate much of what I have to say, but I expect consensus within the Social Credit Party has pretty well been established regarding the future of Strathcona Park.

At the 75th birthday celebration of Strathcona Park on Aug. 4, Mr. Kempf promised a detailed review of plans for this park with public hearings to be held in Campbell River and Courtenay sometime this fall.

His stated objective was to make sure of the continued orderly development of our parks system, with a first step toward meeting this goal being to implement the conclusions of the Wilderness Advisory Committee.

He said that this process was now well under way. The question is, what constitutes orderly development?

Strathcona Park has approximately 300 of the 650 mining claims presently stakes in B.C.’s 365 provincial parks. Many were staked in the mid-60s, about the time that the designation of Strathcona as a Class A park was changed to three “nature conservancies” and 127,206 acres of Class B park.

Most of the acreage is now recommended for deletion by the Wilderness Advi- sory Committee. I think that definite areas were set aside back in ’65 and ’66 for mining and logging.

Mr. Kempf has stated that he is a firm believer in multiple use, including development in park areas. He is against resource areas being used for single purpose. Multiple use may work for mining and forestry, but tourism with its dependence on wilderness, scenery and wildlife – forget it! Multiple use means industrial use.

After listening to Mr. Kempf talk to forest interests, I’ve realized that large sections of Strathcona Park are slated for logging.

Tourist and recreation interests, not to mention wilderness values, are going to be further compromised. One young man from Gold River tells me that logging on the west side has already extended into Strathcona Park and is clearly visible from a helicopter.

The early park pioneers had their own ideas about orderly development. In 1911 it was hoped that a park similar to Banff or Yosemite with what were termed ‘attractions’ – hotels, trails, etc. – would bring to the province many thousands of visitors year after year, proving eventually to be one of the province’s best resources.

Very little has been done to provide these attractions in Strathcona Park. I had a large group from the Appalachian hiking club stay at Strathcona Park Lodge. They found the trails too steep. They couldn’t get high enough to see the beautiful alpine areas.

This October 160 or more people of 60 years and older are coming to Strathcona Park Lodge through an organization called Elderhostel. I am hard-pressed to find appropriate activities for them. Compare this with Olympic National Park where alpine access allows visitors to view and photography nature at close range.

Not that the beauty isn’t there. Last month through the courtesy of some American guests, I flew for 1 1⁄2 hours by helicopter over the west side of the park.

Even after 25 years of living at the edge of the park and making short trips into its well-known areas, I was overwhelmed by the beauty revealed by the helicopter’s perspective. Della Lake and Nine Peaks are absolutely spectacular. Victoria Peak and the area around Colonel Foster and Volcano Lake area scenery I’d match with anywhere in the world.
Landslide Lake can easily compete with Lake Louise for scenic beauty.

Trouble is, who has seen these areas? Very few. If we are going to have concerned support for Strathcona Park we need access for people who aren’t half mountain goat. Our population is aging. Perhaps we need a road up the Elk Valley to Landslide Lake. (My staff will hate me for suggesting this.)

Why not have Westmin build a properly drained road instead of its present cat road to the alpine areas of Tennant Lake. Donner Lake could also be made accessible if the old logging roads were fixed up.

To those who would say keep the public away from these areas, I would say that either we make some wilderness areas accessible to tourists and increase tourist dollars spent in this area or we are going to lose irreplaceable areas in the name of economic development.

It is hard to know where to go for support. Campbell River has not had to look to Strathcona Park to attract tourists because of the lure of salmon fishing.

It’s hard to get the Tourism Promotion Society (largely funded by Campbell River municipality) to relate to the park. Local people who work in resource-based in- dustries might be excused for seeing the park as a new resource waiting to be harvested.

The Parks Ministry seems to have low status within the provincial government. Parks employees win no brownie points if they speak out in favor of keeping logging and mining out of the parks.

On the contrary you only have to read the proposed boundary changes recommended by the parks division (and for the most part endorsed by the Environmental Advisory Committee) to see what parks people at the top have in mind for Strathcona Park.

Delete 35,000 hectares (87,500 acres). Most of these deletions mirror the parts of Class park that became Class B back in 1965. Obviously the government was responding to pressures of logging and mining interests at that time. The wool was pulled over our eyes by the apparent gain of ‘nature conservancy areas’.

These nature conservancy areas are made up of three mountainous core areas having little or no mineral, forest or hydro potential. We are going to end up with three widely separate relatively inaccessible areas of park, with helicopter fly-in not allowed.

The suggested areas to be added to Strathcona Park include 8,000 hectares (20,000 acres) of mostly logged land some of which no one asked to have included. (They were obviously searching for acreage.)

Rogers Ridge and the land north towards Campbell River from the present park entrance should not, in my opinion, be included in the park. We need a Banff-type four seasons resort village with land development profits going towards a skill hill is Strathcona Park is to be realized.

Without people living nearby to keep an eye on the park, there’s no hope. It’s even been suggested that Strathcona Park be used as a land bank for parks everywhere. The final insult to our intelligence is the proposed designation of the core of the park around Cream Lake (chief among the jewels) as a ‘recreational area for mineral claims zone’. This large area is not included in the proposed deletion of 35,000 hectares (87,500 acres).

It might as well be, because with many of the park’s 300 mining claims located here, what could possible be left of interest to tourists?

Bob Flitton, deputy minister of tourism, once said that one mine in the park at a time is enough. He also said that the provincial government will not allow B.C.’s internationally-acclaimed park system to be eroded by resource extraction.

Certainly park boundaries need revision. My husband Jim Boulding spent most of the last two years of his life trying to save Elk Mountain across from our lodge from logging. BC Forest Products and the Ministry of Tourism tried to effect a trade as the area in question was obviously at the entrance to the park and very scenic.

The view from Strathcona Park Lodge was recently featured in the ‘Times-Colonist’, and last year in the ‘Globe and Mail’. Those were old pictures. Now it is clear-cut half way up. Tourists walk into our office and say, “I didn’t come this far to see that!”

And more logging is planned, not only on Elk Mountain but also in the only remaining nice forest that tourists can get to, near Crest Mountain, which is also slated for removal from the park. Only yesterday a honeymoon couple from Alberta told us, “We are disappointed with the view.” (They left).

There was never any land set aside in this area for tourist facilities. Strath- cona Park Lodge is in the middle of land already logged or slated for logging.

Please drive up and see this area and Strathcona Park.

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