An impromptu wake at Alta Lake Station


Charlie Chandler was originally from Wisconsin and moved to Whistler near the turn of the century. In 1908 he obtained 160 acres on Alta Lake. According to an interview with Dick Fairhurst, “Charlie had quite a problem with the bottle, and decided that only thing to do would be to get the hell away out in the woods some place where it wouldn’t be too handy.”

However, as Oscar Wilde once said, “the only way to get rid of temptation is to give in to it.” Whenever Chandler got some money put aside he would leave his cabin in the wilderness and head for civilization to blow every cent.

Charlie was a trapper and had a trap line on Wedge Creek. He also did odd jobs during the summer months, but he was still considered to be a bit of hermit by the other residents of Alta Lake. In 1916 he sold his land to Alex and Myrtle Phillip and move further north near Alpine Meadows.

Dick Fairhurst related one story about Chandler and Alex Phillip. The two men were out on a hunting trip and when they made camp, Charlie began making bannock for dinner. However, when we went to flip it over, he missed and the bannock started rolling down the hill. Chandler took off down the hill after his rogue dinner. Finally, the bannock came to a halt and Chandler picked it up saying, “you look a little dirty but we are going to eat you anyway!”

In the winter of 1946, Chandler didn’t come to pick up his mail. His friends became concerned and went to check up on him. What they found was quite a shock. Apparently poor Charlie had had a heart attack and died, while sitting in a chair outside his cabin.

He was frozen stiff, still in the chair. This proved to be a bit of problem. There was nowhere in Whistler to bury Charlie and he had to be transported to Rainbow Lodge to catch the train south.

So poor old Charlie was put on a speeder, still in his chair, and taken all the way to Rainbow Lodge. He was left (still in his chair!) on the platform at the station, as the train was not due to arrive until the next day.

His friends decided that Charlie needed a proper send-off. Consequently, an impromptu wake involving copious amount of liquor was held, with Charlie in the (ahem) seat of honour.

According to Jack Jardine, his brother Bob was at the lodge late one night, and heard a ruckus. As he walked behind the lodge he heard some men yelling, “Yay! He was good old stout! Old Charlie, have another drink!” Alex Phillip, Charlie Munsen and another gentleman, a little worse for wear, had somehow got poor old Charlie into a boxcar, propped him up and were offering Chandler one last drink!

Well, all I can say is, bon voyage Charlie!

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