Tweedsmuir Ski Club
From Ron Harrison – First President
One day while living in Bella Coola, Ron Harrison saw Don Battensby skiing down the hill just east of Todd Rambo’s place. That got his long time interest back in skiing from his days as a boy in the Kootenays where he had been skiing since 1941. Ron talked with Don about skiing and borrowed his wife’s skis and boots and took a trip up into the Nusatsum toward Medby Lookout, on a beautiful sunny day. Ron has pictures of this day to prove it.
Not long after that, Ron ordered skis from a shop in Vancouver – second hand wood skis. The interest grew and a group used to go up to Stuie, just west of the lodge , and spent a considerable time skiing on a small hill, perfect for beginners – Gerald and Joan Saugstad, Don and Jo Battensby, Eric Hammer and Maureen and Ron, just to name a few. Ron doesn’t remember where all the skis came from; he could have had his ski shop business running by then. He dealt with a friend in Kamloops, Harry Burfield, who set him up in business.
Don Battensby was working for the highways and spent some time grading snow on the Mountain Road where there was lots of snow in those days and suggested they go up to East Branch to seek out better snow conditions and hills.
In the spring of 1964, Don and Jo Battensby, Gerald and Joan Saugstad and Maureen and Ron Harrison took a trip to East Branch and skied into the ski area as we know it now and found conditions perfect.
Later on in the spring of 1965 they managed to find more interest and formed the Tweedsmuir Ski Club.
Around that time Burt Mathews bought a new sno-cruiser to tow Peggy (his wife) out to the hill. There was no set trail into the ski area until they were thinking about the cabin… the group had a meeting regarding the cabin and decide to build it near the lake. This was suggested by Peggy who had been there during the summer months.
After the site was decided on, that fall of 1965 a group made a trip into East Branch Cabin site, fell and peeled logs for the cabin — Don Battensby, Wayne Saugstad, Dr. Dave Crosby just to name a few. It snowed all that day and the roads weren’t plowed and it took about 4 hours to get off the mountain – it was a “Hell of a Trip”. Nothing else was done that year except planning the cabin.
In September 1966 Burt and Peggy Mathews, Gloria as well as Ron Harrison spent one week skidding logs with Burt’s tractor and constructing the cabin, walls and roof logs to the peak as a 10/12 pitch so there was a loft. It was 20 x 20 feet. Each day Ron would drive the loaded tractor trailer with material from the camp by the road to the cabin site. They had constructed a trail or road by this time.
Ron adds that while putting up the logs, the black flies were really so thick, he could hardly see Burt at the other end of the logs about 20’ away.
The following weekend most of the membership came up to East Branch to help put on the sheathing and shakes. Maureen’s parents, Odin and & Mabel Pedersen, Ed and Ruby Battensby and several others came up to help.
They put the floor down plus Ocean Falls canvas which someone got from Ocean Falls served as a slip free carpet. Most doors, windows, stove, heater, sink and chimneys were all pretty well donated. Very special thanks to Dr. Dave Crosby who bought and donated the shakes for the cabin.
Later on, a team of members cleared the ski hill where the existing tow is now. Since then it has been brushed many times and apparently needs it regularly. At one time we had three tows on this hill. A special thanks to Don Battensby who sold advance ticket credits in order to purchase a 12 hp Briggs & Stratten motor and 1400’ of ¾” or 7/8” tow rope. The pulleys were also donated.
Ron would like to express a special thank you to the people who worked so hard to hold this ski club together the past 48 years. There is no one more proud than he is. He can’t mention all the names, but is sure they know who they are. Mind you don’t forget the ladies – cooks, book keepers, treasurers etc.
Also he would like to express a special thanks to the two instructors who came here to help train the beginners, Joe Ashwalden and Wayne Booth and not to forget the ones lost over the years who were a great asset to our ski club since day one.
Ed Note: This story was put together by David Flegel from a speech Ron Harrison (1st club president) gave at the grand opening of the new overnight cabin in March of 2013 at the site of the new cabin.