Bulkley Valley Cross Country Ski Club History 1920-present
As more people moved into the Bulkley Valley, cross-country skiing grew in popularity and by 1970 three cross-country ski groups had evolved: Tyhee Mountain Club – Telkwa, Silver King International (SKI) Club – Driftwood, and Smithers Ski Group – Smithers. In addition to these, there was a fourth group known as: Every Man and His Dog Ski Club, which, as the name suggests, encouraged dogs to accompany club members on their ski trips. By the late 1970’s these clubs had amalgamated to form the Bulkley Valley Cross Country Ski Club.
Shortly thereafter, Gary and Liz Murdoch started a “Jack Rabbit” ski program out of Telkwa Elementary School. Cross country ski trails were established around Tyhee Lake and it wasn’t long before young skiers from Telkwa were becoming very successful in cross country ski races throughout British Columbia. A few years later Esther Bahen, an Olympic cross country skier, and Gary Murdoch established a racing program for youths based out of Telkwa Elementary School. The program utilized technical knowledge of cross country ski equipment and training to develop the young racers in the Telkwa area. It wasn’t long before the fledgling racers were seeking more challenging terrain to ski and train on.
The Smithers Community Forest provided a perfect opportunity for the Bulkley Valley Cross Country Ski Club to develop a more challenging array of trails and in the early 1980’s ski trails along Pine Creek were established. As the need for even more challenging ski trails emerged, work began on the Chris Dahlie trails across Ski Hill Road, and by the early 1990’s the present day Chris Dahlie trails were largely completed.
In the early 1990’s the complex of cross country ski trails at the Pine Creek and Chris Dahlie trails were serviced by the rather modest (i.e. “funky”) lodge – the “CN shack.” Plans were developing to construct a larger, more comfortable lodge, however funding for the proposed lodge remained elusive.
In 1994 a tragic helicopter crash claimed the lives of the Buchfink family, a family devoted to cross country skiing in the Bulkley Valley. Part of their legacy was a large cash endowment to the Bulkley Valley Cross Country Ski Club, which enabled the club to construct the magnificent facility which graces the Smithers Community Forest today.
On the last Sunday in January every year, the Bulkley Valley Cross Country Ski Club members and families come together to celebrate the lives of the Buchfink family.
The Buchfink Family embodied participation in Nordic skiing, community, and sport. Gary, Linda, Brodie, and Molly will forever be remembered in the pictures showcased in the Lodge and in the memories of all who knew them.
The whole family was tragically killed in a helicopter crash in the winter of 1994. Relatives of the Buchfink family donated estate insurance to the club to complete the new Lodge. The Lodge was dedicated to the Buchfink memory at the first annual Buchfink Family Memorial Ski Lodge Day in 1995.
On the tenth anniversary of the Lodge dedication, the sign on the front of the Lodge was carved and unveiled with surviving family members in attendance.
The next time you are using our wonderful Lodge facilities, take a moment to look through the Buchfink family photos showcased in the display case on the second floor. Their legacy lives on through our enjoyment of the Buchfink Lodge and all it offers us.
Gary Murdoch Memorial
Gary Murdoch was instrumental in the early days of club development. Gary and his wife Liz started the racing program in Smithers, quickly making our team and club the most successful in Canada. Our magnificantly craft wax "hut" is dedicated to Gary Murdoch.