Then and now: Mount Timothy

Then and now: Mount Timothy

The unhurried and unworried Mount Timothy Resort

Mount Timothy's new lodge December, 1990.
Photos by Bruce Johnson

JOANNE ELVES

Thirty minutes east up a quiet road through dense forests and reclaimed clear cuts from the village of Lac La Hache, you’ll find Mount Timothy Ski Area.

Don’t know where that is? Lac La Hache is about 25 kilometres north of 100-Mile House. Okay, how about 66 kilometres south of Williams Lake. OK, one more try … Lac La Hache has an annual garlic festival in August. There we go! Just head east 18 km in the winter for some pretty sweet powder hidden in the glades. You won’t be disappointed.

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On the timeline of ski resorts opening in British Columbia, Mount Timothy in the heart of the Cariboo region, is rather young. In 1987, a few parties in the region were prospecting for sites to create a ski area that would offer terrain for every ability of skier.


Mount Timothy October, 1990.

One of those “prospectors” was Bruce Johnson of Williams Lake. Back then says Johnson, the local small ski hills to both Williams Lake and 100-Mile House were suffering from lack of snow so he went searching for the perfect mountain at a higher elevation that would hold the snow for the season.

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“It’s funny how it all happened,’ says a soft-spoken Johnson from his home in Williams Lake. “I had my eye on another mountain further east than Mount Timothy. When I went to the government office to put in my application for a ski resort, I was surprised to find out a non-profit group had already made an application for a ski resort. It’s not like the region needed two new resorts so I decided I could join in on their efforts.”

Having been a ski instructor all over the world for a decade and a forestry consultant, the Mount Timothy Ski Society quickly put Johnson to work setting the lines for the trails.

“I hung the ribbons in the spring of 1987 on trees to designate where the logging should happen. Over the summer the lumber company who was part of the group behind the operations brought in loggers to remove the trees. The timber sales probably covered the costs of the labour needed to clear the runs,” says Johnson.


The resort coming to shape in 1988.

By December of 1987, the hill opened with a few runs and some facilities which Johnson says were a bit rustic.

“All that was built before the snow came was the basement and sub-floor of the main lodge. I don’t think there were any windows in it because you’d come in after a day of skiing and it was steamy like a sweat lodge in there. But nobody cared. It was a friendly place to gather.”

The location and the trails were a hit with the locals and the province. Mount Timothy hosted the 1988 Northern B.C. Winter Games Alpine Events. Not bad for the first year of operations!

After a few years another local log home company supplied the logs to build a beautiful 2,600 square foot lodge, complete with a brilliant red roof - seen only when the sun melts the snow away.

Almost every year, a new run or two was added to the terrain but maybe one trail wasn’t a good idea. What was a seemingly benign trail cut through the trees to create better access to the T-Bar created a channel for the wind to howl. In 1994, the wind whipped through and blew down the trees at the bottom of a few runs.

The summer of 2004 saw the installation of the triple chair that rises to the peak in about seven minutes. Almost every run can be accessed by the chair including the black runs through the trees to the east and the “Big Easy” that safely takes beginners back to the day lodge.


Installation of the triple chair, 2004.

“When they put in the Red Chair it served two purposes,” says Johnson. “It added a better lift to the top but it also gave the hill a chance to clear out trees that were contaminated by spruce and pine beetles. Now there are some runs alongside of the chair that are like glades and when there is powder, you’ll see the powder pigs having a great time.”

Today, skiers and boarders have 35 runs on a breakdown of 11 per cent easy, 49 more difficult, 20 most difficult and 20 ready for the expert skiers and riders. A tube park has been added to the area right next to the terrain park. Along with the triple chair there is a T-bar, a platter lift and two magic carpets.

Run by a board of directors and volunteers, there are countless hours put in that don’t get noticed. Johnson downplays his contribution, but he must have put in his fair share of hours on the board, volunteering and coaching because “BJ’s Burn” is named in his honour.

Timothy is a crowd pleasing mountain.

“Everyone likes it at Timothy,” says Johnson, “I’ve skied almost every year and I see a lot of the same faces every winter. It’s friendly and has a really relaxed attitude. Powder days are fantastic and the spring skiing … exceptional.”

The bistro in the day lodge is licensed and serves fresh home-made meals. If you forget your gear, there is plenty to rent in the pro-shop. Anybody with an RV is welcome to park at the bottom and make it a destination.

For more information, head to the official Mount Timothy website

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Learn about Fernie Alpine Resort, where legendary powder is credited to a legend.

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