The Shining Valley is morphing into something new. We’re just not sure exactly what that state of affairs is yet, but there are plenty of clues. This is a town in the throes of reinvention, with a casino bookending one end and a monastery, whose occupants recently hit the front page of the Vancouver Sun, at the other end. The pursuit of Mammon meets the quest for meditation.
Early next month, riders in the GranFondo cycling race will dash up our main thoroughfare on the same day that Brackendale hosts its traditional fall fair, complete with craft displays, homemade preserves and confections, tractor rides and excited youngsters petting small farm animals to their hearts’ content. As this column is being written, Live at Squamish, an electronically powered music festival, is rocking the Loggers Sports Grounds. Adjacent to that celebration sits a collection of steam-driven logging machines in mute tribute to a source of income that kept downtown merchants’ ledgers in the black for almost 100 years. Those relics and their spin-offs also helped put abundant food on family tables and park shiny new Fords, Chryslers and Chevys in driveways from Valleycliffe to Cheekye.
According to Paul Runnals, the executive producer of Live at Squamish, over the past two years the festival has pumped more than $1.5 million into Squamish. This most recent iteration is slated to swell local tills by at least $1 million. The event is billed as “happy times in a big field with great music” and the late Al Hendrickson, whose name that patch of turf bears, would surely be proud to be associated with our newest economic engine.
Al started a logging company in Squamish and introduced an innovative technique to pull trucks uphill using a 10-10 Lawrence “donkey” engine. He was a legend in his own time. As retired Squamish logger Willy Boscariol puts it, “All of us young guys were just in awe of him. We thought he was the best rigger there was.”
Al also helped organize the first Loggers Sports Day in 1958 and acted as MC and chairman of the celebrated event.
Fifty-four years later, Loggers Sports is still thriving. It has become a fitting segue for Live at Squamish, the budding Squamish service/entertainment sector’s most recent addition. And the process continues. If all the i’s get dotted and t’s get crossed, in a year or two, hikers will sweat their way up the back of the Stawamus Chief, as they have for as long as anybody can remember, while just across the way visitors from every corner of the globe will be whisked to a plateau on Mount Habrich in the comfort of a sightseeing gondola. The past meets the future.