By Marty Hastings Kamloops This Week
Sun Peaks Resort’s patrons are spoiled these days.
In 1961, there was only one way to capitalize on Tod Mountain’s world-famous powder (outside of scaling the peak by foot) — hop aboard what’s now known as the Burfield Chairlift.
The lift — originally known simply as The Chairlift — is named after Harry Burfield, a pilot who died in a plane crash while giving a tour of the Sun Peaks area to potential investors in 1971.
Eerily enough, “Tod” is German for death.
The trusty old lift turned a half-century old on Nov. 18, one day before Sun Peaks Resort opened for another winter of snow sports.
There are 11 lifts at Sun Peaks today, according to Sun Peaks Resort Corporation (SPRC) GM Darcy Alexander.
The ski destination has undergone wholesale changes since Canadians carved killer lines on Tod when John Diefenbaker was prime minister.
New lifts, new shops, new hotels — the list goes on, but some things remain the same.
If Stephen Harper were to travel up Burfield this weekend, he would experience the same vista Dief could have enjoyed in the early 1960s.
“I love looking down at the Shuswap lakes when you’re riding up, just as you get up on the shoulder of the Chief and you’re looking back across the valley,” Alexander said.
“And the ski terrain over there is second to none.”
An adult day pass at Sun Peaks will cost $74 this winter — patrons paid much less to ride Burfield 50 years ago.
“I think it was something like four bucks a day,” said Alexander, who will celebrate 20 years as Sun Peaks’ GM next spring.
Twelve Kamloopsians — Donald Munro, Victor Arduini, Ronald Bregoliss, Edgar Drew, Raymond Fuoco, Reginald Humphreys, Evelyn Irving, Gilbert Marini, William McLaren, Barry Peters, Douglas Robertson and Donald Whyte — combined to fund the lift’s construction, Alexander said.
The original lift, with its two-seat chairs, was taken down and replaced by a lift with four-seat chairs in 1998.
Burfield still climbs to the same 900-metre-or-so elevation it did 50 years ago.
Alexander said he heard an interesting story about the lift’s location, but can’t be sure of its accuracy.
“I was told the ownership group bought the lift and only had so many dollars,” he said.
“They had originally planned to go two kilometres farther up the valley, where the village site is today, and build in the area where the old Shuswap chair was, but they didn’t have enough money to get there.
“That might be a fairy tale, but it’s always good for a laugh.”
A new coffee-table book, documenting the history of Sun Peaks Resort, will soon be available for purchase.
“It’s a book full of wonderful pictures and stories, written by [Thompson Rivers University] professor Kathleen Scherf, with help from Anne Haight of SPRC,” Alexander said.
“The book will be available in early December. People can watch the Sun Peaks website, sunpeaksresort.com, for details on how to get a copy of the book when it comes out.”