History of the Larch Hills Nordics Chalet

As presented by Jim Beckner, Chalet Expansion Committee member, at the Grand Opening of the Chalet Expansion Thursday, January 3rd, 2019

Today we are celebrating not only the completion of the final phase of our chalet but also the end of a journey and evolution that started in 1983. A small group of member skiers had a vision to build a chalet, Maureen Defoe and Dick Riach got the ball rolling. Dick procured a Canada Works grant to hire 6 log home building apprentices, under the supervision of Duncan Morris who had just recently started his log home building business. The site was down in the bush off Salmar Trail. 2 1/2 years and $200,000 later it was completed. For 22 years it served our needs. Pat Hutchins kept up the maintenance – painting the floor annually, plus built the tables and benches, and Gullan and Ole Hansen removed the windows in the spring so as not to be vandalized then put them back in the fall.

In 2005, Dave Wallensteen, club president, initiated a club Strategic Plan. It was determined that the highest priority was relocation and expansion of the chalet. A Chalet Expansion Committee was struck: Don Huntington, Garry Landers, and myself. In 2006, two proposals were presented to the club: 1. build a new chalet; 2. move the current chalet and expand it. Club consensus – move and expand. A busy summer ensued – the chalet was hauled to this location, power was hooked up to the chalet, the south-facing deck was added under the direction of Dave Maxwell, a caretaker was hired and here we struck gold – Pauline Hickson, the only serious applicant, has proven to be a treasure! She moved her modular onto the site.

Now water and septic system were required. We applied for a water license and were refused. We were told to haul the water up the hill. Didn’t make sense. And we didn’t have $20,000 to dig a deep enough well. Committee member Don Huntington, former superintendent of Public Works, knew what we had to do. Hand dig a seepage well back in the bush and Pauline had water.

In 2007, the building movers were back to raise the chalet. Then excavation, footings, and foundation for an 8‘ basement were completed.

In 2009, a successful well was drilled and the seepage well was abandoned – now we were legal. Now came indoor plumbing – washrooms, hot and cold running water, sink upstairs. Many projects followed: roof cover for the wood supply at a new basement entrance, dinoflex flooring installed on the main floor, kitchen cupboard upgrades, wood stove replaced and new chimney. We had gone from a rustic chalet in the woods with no power or water, to lights, plumbing, and heated washrooms. Quite the transition.

Then, in 2013, the need for a larger chalet came to the fore. A presentation to the club to consider the next phase gained acceptance.The chalet expansion committee was revived. Don Huntington and I remained, and five new members stepped forward to join the committee:

Suzy Beckner, Chris Elliott, Rob Nash, Kari Wilkinson, and Randi Ostby – the next generation with new energy and enthusiasm. Don stepped down after a huge amount of effort to get us this far. I stayed on as a representative of the Old Guard. This committee proposed to the club executive a two level, 2400 square foot addition. Strategic study carried out and we got support from the club to proceed with the plan. Projected cost $400,000 with the stipulation that it be done without raising the club membership fees or borrowing money. Architectural plans were drawn up, fund raising was initiated, and construction began spring of 2017. By ski season we had it to lock-up.

We put the project on hold through the 2017-18 ski season , giving us the time to replenish the needed funds. Project was rebooted spring of 2018.

For 1 1/2 years this has been a work in progress. We have had an army of club members help out in many ways feeling this was OUR project and all take ownership. I was in charge of volunteers and never had a problem finding help. We had many generous donations from members and trades who were involved. Most of you are here and we thank you. We received grants from local service organizations, and governments regional and provincial. Dancing With The Shuswap Stars with Val Heckrodt and his committee raised close to $90,000 over its three years.

There were countless hours of time and effort by Expansion Committee members:

CHRIS ELLIOTT project manager, overseeing contractors and tradesmen and volunteers. Huge amount of finish work done by himself. Fitted this in between his contract business which was largely out of town.

ROB NASH right behind Chris picking up details Chris couldn’t get to. His day job became a night job since he was up here most every day. More time than anyone on site. Rob’s shed and yard became action central for daily board staining work parties, many days on end.

KARI WILKINSON sign work and advertising. Fundraiser especially with Rotary Clubs and service organizations.

RANDI OSTBY fund raiser. Our grant writing specialist. Her persistence in applying for grants was ultimately rewarded by, among other grants, the $100,000 from BC Lottery Corporation after two refusals.

SUZY BECKNER led the committee. Kept us on task, held regular meetings. Kept an eye on spending and budget. Next to Rob, the most hours on site – staining/painting and keeping the work site clean.

To conclude: Duncan Morris, builder of the original chalet and using his expertise in building this expansion has bookended his successful career with these two LH projects. This is his swan song. Thank you, Duncan!

The Larch Hills Nordic Society has a management agreement with the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resources. We are winter users but want this facility to expand its all season use. Our presence secures this as a wilderness recreation area. We have 125 km of trails that we have expanded and upgraded over the past 40 years. This is the jewel we want to be sure is preserved and protected for the next generations. This facility will help keep us on that path.