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Whistler has always been home to characters

Dick Fairhurst's Whistler Stories introduce some of the best



Many people know Dick Fairhurst as the owner and operator of Cypress Lodge on Alta Lake, now occupied by the Whistler Sailing Association and the Point Artist-Run Centre.

But when he first moved to Alta Lake in 1943, Fairhurst spent the springs working at the Rainbow Lumber Company Mill, and he continued to work as a logger even after Cypress Lodge opened in the late 1940s. As a result, he met many different characters that came through the valley.

In Fairhurst's short collection of Whistler Stories some of those characters are mentioned only briefly while others, like Paul Golnick, seemed to make life at Alta Lake exciting and memorable.

Golnick arrived in the valley in 1952 and was assigned to work under Fairhurst at the logging camp. Golnick, a young German immigrant, was described as a "very husky, burly, no nonsense man" who "looked like he could carry the logs out on his back."

Though Golnick quickly proved to be a hard and capable worker, his time at Alta Lake was not without mishap. While getting a drink from a creek one day he accidentally dislodged a small pole, which came to stop on the head of a coworker (a chaser) getting a drink slightly down the creek. The chaser's head was pushed down and when he came back up mud streamed from his mouth. This wouldn't have been so terrible but, in his temper, the chaser tripped over another log and fell into more mud.

Though there were few opportunities for driving in the valley, a rough tote road had been made by the logging camp on the old Pemberton Trail. Fairhurst bought three Ford Model As and, though his was a "real lemon," Golnick's was good enough to get them to work.

Unfortunately, according to Fairhurst, Golnick wasn't the best driver and he wouldn't let anyone else behind the wheel. On steep hills the motor would stall and Fairhurst would have to jump out to put a rock behind the wheel—apparently Golnick couldn't handle the brake and gas at the same time.

One time the tire-stop rock failed and Golnick, thinking he'd hit the brake, went back down the hill in reverse at full speed. Fairhurst described it as "the fanciest bit of steering I ever saw in my life." Despite two flat tires, the car was back on the road in just a few days.

After a year at the camp, Golnick took over Fairhurst's job hooking for the catskinners and brought his bride Marianne to join him from Germany. A wedding party for them was held at Fairhurst's house and went well until, just moments after Golnick had commented that he "had never seen so many happy people," a fight broke out leaving Fairhurst with a smashed window and a bloody wall.

Two months later Golnick and wife Marianne created more excitement when, at 3 a.m., Marianne went into labour. With no scheduled train, the section foreman had to be called to bring his speeder with a trailer to take Marianne to Squamish. At Brackendale Marianne was loaded into an ambulance and, before they made it to the hospital, a daughter was born.

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