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The Rosseau Chalet:
Official Opening of Cabin on Mount Arrowsmith

From the West Coast Advocate July 1, 1956.

Rosseau Chalet Officially Open; Dedicated to Youth
Completed Chalet Stands As A Perpetual Memorial To Ralph Rosseau And His Love For The Mountains: Two Years To Finish

Saturday, June 30, 1956, was a happy day for Alberni Valley Mountaineers. Rosseau Chalet, 3,500 feet up on the western slopes of Mt. Arrowsmith, was officially opened and dedicated to the use of young people and others interested in mountain climbing and skiing.

Two years earlier, almost to the hour, a snow bridge on Mt. Septimus collapsed, dropping Ralph Rosseau to his death. Ralph was well known and much liked by people of the Albernis, a quiet man with a ready smile and a willingness to help others. He loved mountains, rarely missed and opportunity to climb or ski and almost every trip added to his collection of beautiful colour slides.

The origin of the Rosseau Chalet came as a direct result of closing China Creek watershed to the public about eight years ago. Until then, Mr. Rosseau and other skiers had used King Solomon Basin, headwaters of China creek, as a winter playground.

Several exploratory jaunts on Arrowsmith finally revealed an ideal ski run and near it a cabin site. Ralph and Lillah, his wife, liked the area so well that following the construction of their small, log ski hut they decided to build a big cabin which would give an extra measure of comfort during their trips - and more room for friends.

At the time of Ralph's death the cabin was better than half completed. Mrs. Rosseau felt that it would have been her husband's wish to have it completed for the use of young people, many of whom he had given their first taste of mountain air.

A committee, headed by Art Skipsey, was set up to carry out the job of completing the cabin - a task which took nearly two years and a great deal of hard work, as every ounce of material not indigenous to the immediate area had to be packed in on men's backs.

It could not have been a better day for the opening. Rain clouds of earlier in the week moved aside for a clear, bright day, just pleasantly warm and affording a good view of the valley below. Camera enthusiasts were able to make good use of their film. Over eighty people, including Guides and Scouts, attended the opening. A few went up on Friday to help with last-minute preparations, the majority arrived from early Saturday until a few minutes before the opening ceremony.

The trail, in distinct contrast to the earlier days of the cabin, is now clearly marked and well trodden. The most outstanding improvement is a new, amply wide suspension bridge which replaces the somewhat precarious hemlock log across the rushing water of the Cameron River. This fine bridge is due to the efforts of George McGarrigle.

At 4 p.m. Art Skipsey began the opening ceremony by giving a short resume of the cabin's history, then presented Mrs. Rosseau with the key. AT the time she was also presented with a pretty corsage of mountain flowers.

Mrs. Rosseau cut the ribbon of yellow cedar bark stretched across the doorway and declared the chalet open.

Inside on the west wall is the joint work of Wally McEachren and Charlie Rogg - a brass memorial plaque, mounted on a yellow cedar shield inlaid with red cedar. Above the plaque is a portrait of Ralph Rosseau, flanked by a photograph of Mt. Septimus, one peak named after Rosseau. Placed nearby is a beautiful visitors' book, made by Peter Karsholt. The covers are yellow cedar burl cut to show a marking similar to birds-eye maple. The first pages are suitable illustrated with pen drawings in mountaineering motif done by Mrs, Jennie Reith.

Before and during the short dedication talk and prayer the plaque was concealed by a curtain of red cedar bark cleverly fabricated by Mrs. Dorothy Armstrong. Mountain heather and purple penstamen tastefully decorated the valance of the bark curtain which was drawn aside to conclude the dedication.

The ceremony was closely followed by an excellent supper prepared and served by the Rangers (senior Girl Guides) under the direction of Mrs. Abernethy and Mrs. Armstrong.

After supper those who were staying the night, with the intention of climbing Arrowsmith peak next day, went in search of bed places. These varied from bunks in the chalet and neighboring cabins to under the stars on mossy ground beneath a sheltering tree.

The evening program of entertainment began with showing a few of Ralph Rosseau's color slides, views of and from Arrowsmith, early progress of the cabin and two excellent close-ups of ptarmigan.

Explanatory comments on the slides were made by Mrs. Rosseau. Also shown were slides by Art Skipsey showing later progress of the cabin building and snow conditions there during last winter.

Three comic awards were made in lighter vein to George Mcgarrigle, Hayo Huisman and Art Skipsey for bridgework.

All photo's of the construction of the Rosseau Chalet courtesy of Louise Eck (nee Rosseau)


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