Site hosted by Angelfire.com: Build your free website today!

BANFF SPRINGS HOTEL

ALBERTA

1974


Bill Christmas and I were semi-assured jobs at Banff Springs Hotel in Alberta. We were given a letter of reference from my friend John Tullett to give to his past employer, Chef Amsler. My father gave us his 1970 Mercury Marquis Braugham to drive out with the idea of selling it once we arrived, as supposedly it was worth more out west.

Monday July 1, 1974

Got up at 4:00 a.m., packed and drove to the Outlet Beach in Picton where Bill was camping with Roger Metcalfe. I arrived early enough that I didn't have to pay admission as the guard was asleep. Bill's campsite was easy enough to spot it was the one with two legs sticking out. They have yet to make a tent that would contain the full length of Roger. Bill finally finished packing so we set off for Alberta. We got lost in Orillia and somehow ended up there twice. At Parry Sound the hot light flashed on so we filled up with water and bought eggs, butter, bread and Pepsi for tomorrow's breakfast. The car seemed fine so we drove on taking our usual tank shifts. As you can see by the pictures - we stopped in at Sudbury somewhere along the way.

BILL AT THE BIG NICKEL

WHY IS BILL LAUGHING?

Bill supplied the music he brought two eight tracks. One was the best of the 60s with songs like "Sherry Baby" and "Runaway". The other was Neil Young's Harvest. After the first 6 hours of both tapes continually I came to loathe them...especially Neil Young.

Presently Bill is contemplating passing a camper full of girls so he can get a better look. I'm not trying to discourage him but I did point out that there is a transport heading in our general direction.

Once it started to get dark we looked for a free camping spot by the road but finally gave up and pulled into Pancake Provincial Park and set up my green tent. When that was done we went to the General Store which had only two of everything and it appeared that almost everything was taken. I asked the boy who was running it if there were any hot dogs. "I don't know", he replied and went back to looking at the ceiling. There was a girl there also so I asked if they had any alarm clocks. "I don't know", she replied, and asked the boy if he knew. He replied with the phrase that pays. Bill picked out a can of spaghetti, toffee and some gum and asked "how much?" The boy replied, "I don't know give me .35 and we'll call it a deal."

Back at camp Bill and I set off in search of firewood. All we could find was twigs. We started a "small" fire and using my food colouring made up a batch of green spaghetti in hopes of attracting the girls next to us. The only thing it attracted was flies.

During the 4:00 a.m. downpour we discovered that my tent was not waterproof. Bill waded out to the car to sleep, at the same time letting in so many species of bugs that I feared I might get malaria or the Hong Kong Flu. I got dressed in the dark and discovered a large aluminum nickel in my shoe. Perhaps I picked that up in Sudbury.

THE LAST TIME I SAW BILL...

NAME THIS RIVER

EDWARD & THE GREEN EGGS

Tuesday July 2, 1974

It was still raining in the morning so we set off without breakfast. About two hours later we stopped at a picnic area and made some green scrambled eggs. Campers were flocking all around us so Bill & I made a point of talking about having had the eggs two or three years. One couple came over and advised us not to eat them. After our yummy breakfast we went for a quick swim up to our ankles (hey it was cold). I took a picture of Edward, a semi-tame crow that hung around our garbage pail and took an interest in our eggs. We set off again. By the way, Fred (the invisible penguin) went to Halifax with Roger so our replacement was Edgar, an Italian rattlesnake with some Cree on his mother's side. Edgar quite often gets "rattled" by Bill's driving.

Neither of us have a watch so we have no idea what the time is. About 5:00 we had supper at McDonald's in Thunder Bay then we drove over to Kakabeka Falls. There was a fence around the 200' cliffs but Bill and I managed to climb over them for a closer look. I was unable to persuade Bill to jump so I could win the photo of the year award. We picked up a male hitchhiker even though it was against our rules and contrary to the green hand painted sign we had posted in our window "Girls Only".

 

KAKABEKA FALLS

 

At our next fill-up the car overheated so we had to get water again. When it got dark we pulled into a campground on the Manitoba border. We were supposed to pay twice to get in but the second guard was asleep so we coasted by and picked out a spot. The hitchhiker was still with us but had his own tent which was only half as big as he was. Bill and I couldn't figure out how he was going to fit in but we were too tired to watch so we just got out our sleeping bags and slept in the car.

Wednesday July 3, 1974

About 6:30 a.m. the hitchhiker woke us up, so after getting washed we set off for Winnipeg to see Mrs. Breen, our previous neighbour. I looked her up in the phone book, phoned and got her address. The hitchhiker knew where it was so he directed us. We got lost a few times but finally found it. The hitchhiker lived only a few blocks away so he said "goodbye" and disappeared.

A PICTURE OF NOTHING

CAR TROUBLE & HITCHHIKERS

BILL PONDERS A PLAN

Mrs. Breen hadn't changed a bit and we were soon talking of old times about the things we did to some of the borders we had, like buttering their toilet seats etc. After finishing our coffee, we left and a couple of hours later picked up two female hitchhikers. Apparently their parents thought they were driving to Calgary. An hour later at the next gas stop, the car overheated again. Unfortunately, I didn't watch the attendant and he didn't put much water in as about three miles down the road the hot light came on. We pulled over to discover the rad was empty. The four of us hovered over the engine for a while then Bill decided to run mile out on the flats to a pond and fill up our cooler. The girls decided to take their chances with a real car so I helped them carry their lead-filled luggage 300' up the road. I said goodbye to them then raced out on the flats to help Bill. The pond was only 3" deep and most of that was filled with bugs. We filled our cooler as best as we could and headed back to the car. As we waded through the grassy field, Bill remarked that he hoped Edgar didn't have any relatives lurking nearby. Back at the car we filtered the water through a rag then drove back to the service station for water. Their pump wasn't working properly so it took about 7 minutes to fill each bucket. We sped back to pick up the girls but they were gone. Bill now discovered his wallet was missing. It contained his social insurance, I.D. \\$50 and his licence. We searched everywhere with no luck. Bill decided it was somewhere between Thunder Bay and Winnipeg. As Bill said, "Why me...here I am out on the prairies. I guess you could say I'm 'flat' broke." Bill was driving at our regular cruising speed of 90mph. The RCMP chose this opportunity to pull us over. Bill was asked the normal questions including the ever popular, "Let's see your driver's licence." We made a show of searching for it and told him it must have been left behind at English River (I'd never even heard of it). Bill didn't bother to tell him that it was only a learner's permit. The officer was fairly nice and let us off but told us that only I could drive. I don't know if we went along with that not likely.

We arrived in Regina around 5:00 and stopped at McDonald's for a late breakfast. I managed to drop all my change on the floor while ordering Edgar a "big rat". Edgar told us tales of his engagement. His girlfriend had cheated on him so he had demanded his ring back. We taunted him by saying he was a "diamond back" rattler. We searched the car again and found Bill's wallet. It had dropped into a hidden compartment inside the cubby hole.

VIEW OF THE PRAIRIES PART I

VIEW OF THE PRAIRIES PART II

After foolishly trying to follow a CAA city map we came to a CAA building. I went inside and asked if there was an Ontario Motor League garage nearby. The clerk replied, "This is Saskatchewan, but I think I know what you mean." He gave me directions but on the way we discovered a Ford/Mercury dealer so we stopped there instead. The mechanic said he would grease the car as soon as he finished his drink. He was at the table with some other mechanics. After listening to his half hour talk on how he drove his car off cliffs, bridges and through buildings he greased the car and we left. From there we drove several hours and then pulled into a campground for the night. Once again we slept in the car. Bill in the back, me in the front. We insisted Edgar guard Bill's wallet in the glove compartment. He thought we were pulling his leg until we reminded him he didn't have one. I've done a complete turnaround Neil Young rocks. I can't get enough of the Harvest tape. It must be an acquired taste.

PRAIRIE DAVE

PRAIRIE BILL

Thursday July 4, 1974

Amazing enough, Bill and I washed our clothes the next day. Edgar insisted his cotton shirt shrunk. Around 1:00 we arrived at Banff Springs and went directly to the hotel. We walked through the lobby wearing our grubby jeans and jean jackets while everyone around us were in suits and ties. Eventually we were directed to Chef Amsler who was busy. He left us standing foolishly in the middle of the 500' long kitchen. Half an hour later he came out again, looked us up and down and said, "you must be the fellows from down east. Come back and see me at 5:00." We left and took a 4 hour tour of the surrounding area then returned to the hotel. We were told to report for work at 7:30 the next morning, but to first go down to the personnel office. We trotted off and filled out some forms while watching a nice looking girl get turned down for employment. When we left, she was outside hitchhiking so after making sure we had no room in the back, we stopped and picked her up. It turned out she was taking a course at St. Lawrence College in Kingston. It is a small world. We let her off in Banff then paid 2.00 at a camping area and set up the tent. Several minutes later the wind blew it down so we slept in the car.

Friday July 5, 1974

This morning we went to work polishing carts, dishwashing and other odd jobs. Just about everyone there is from Toronto. After work we picked up some more hitchhiking girls and dropped them in Banff. Bill and I went up to Sundance Canyon and followed a mile and a quarter trail to the top. We posed for a picture with my Pentax on self-timer. Just as it went off my glasses started to fall off - should be an interesting shot.

SUNDANCE CANYON

DAVE & BILL

BILL CHRISTMAS LIVE

Later that night, three police cars raced down the street and stopped at the tavern and arrested several of our friends for miscellaneous offences. Bill and I decided to sleep in the park as they didn't have a room for us yet at the hotel. Besides we were getting low on funds. Bill was sleeping in the front and I was in the back. About 1:30 a.m. we awoke to a loud rapping on the window. It was an officer of the RCMP who Bill later christened as "Bullshit". Bullshit told us we had to leave immediately and that we could only camp in a campground. What a spoilsport. We left but ignored his advice and slept at a lookout point.

Saturday July 6, 1974

Today after work we picked up a couple of more girls and drove them to town. Then we practiced our favourite pastime of walking up and down the street watching girls. The majority of people here are all around our age (18). That night we found a parking lot along with 16 other campers and we all decided to stay the night. About 11:15 Bullshit rolled in with his old Volvo with the one headlight out. As was his custom, he rapped on our window. Bill and I pretended to be asleep for five minutes or so, then Bill finally rolled down his window. Once again we were told to vacate the premises. Meanwhile, outside, a small crowd of 16 angry campers had gathered. None of us wanted to leave so we all annoyed him by staying an extra half hour and by pointing out that he was driving illegally with one light out. We were one of the last to leave. We spent the night at our lookout spot again.

Sunday July 7, 1974

At work today, half the people didn't show up because of hangovers. Susan Winger (from Toronto) and I took on the task of six people and ran the commercial dishwasher. This consisted of gathering dirty plates, stacking them in different groups and feeding them into one end of the 45' long dishwasher. I fed them in. Susan's job was to catch all the dishes and silverware coming out the other end, stack and put them away. She asked me to load them slowly as she was inexperienced so I did. Suddenly, one of the managers, Ross, appeared out of nowhere and began yelling that I was going to slow. I explained what was happening but he insisted on both him & I loading as fast as we could. I can still see the look of horror on Susan's face as 3 tons of dirty dishes came endlessly towards her.

After work, Bill and I drove to girls who were from BC to a youth hostel. Then we drove over to Lake Louise to try and secure better employment. We had no luck but saw some wild mountain sheep on the way. We stopped at a Buffalo Preserve and saw only 3 buffalos. Apparently they need to work on their preserving techniques. Back at Banff, we walked around and met Joe from Toronto. He has the illustrious position of pot washer which is one of the more sought after jobs. We ate at a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet and stacked our dishes neatly leaving a note on top, "courtesy of the Banff Springs dishwashers".

LAKE LOUISE

LAKE LOUISE

That night we decided to camp right at our lookout point and eliminate the middle man. Bill played my harmonica while I sang. We made up a song about our friend Bullshit, to a Roberta Flack tune that went something like this:

The first time, ever I saw his face - it was 1:30 in the morning and I wanted to punch it in.

The second time, ever I saw his face - we were parked with some campers and we all wanted to punch it in.

The third time, ever I saw his face - we were asleep at a lookout point and someone had punched it in.

We suspected it would never make the charts but it was effective in getting rid of some other people who were competing for our spot. Edgar slept outside on the wooden park bench. He later complained about getting "slithers' in his stomach.

Monday July 8, 1974

Today was my day off but Bill had to work. I climbed up Tunnel Mountain (4 hours up and back) then picked up two girls and drove back to the hotel. I rented a canoe and went up the Bow River. The guy I rented from wanted my driver's licence. I told him I didn't want to part with it. He said, "Well, I don't know about Ontario, but up here you don't need a licence to paddle a canoe". I left him my Youth Card instead. I went upriver of a mile and portaged into a swamp, watched some ducks and returned.

Bill was finished so I talked him into driving 15 miles to a mountain where we had previously seen a cave. We could see it clearly from the road but it still took us about 30 minutes to find it. It was 40' up the side of a cliff. After precariously climbing up we found it was only a slight depression. I thought this might be the wrong one. Bill headed back to the car and I set off through the woods to find another cave. After a half hour of searching it started getting dark so I headed back. About of a mile before the car I found a large muddy area covered in bear prints. By testing my weight in the mud and comparing how much I sunk in compared to the bear tracks, I calculated the bear's weight at 750lbs. I tried to track him down but then decided that was probably not a wise course of action so I went back to the car. After dark, back at the hotel, Bill and I met Matt (a fellow dishwasher) and we shared some beer in the parking lot. Matt told us about smoking opium in India where he is from. He said he would feel like an ape all over. To demonstrate he began hooting and jumping up and down scratching his armpits. At this point, Bullshit drove by. Bill and I barely got Matt into the ditch before he saw us. The three of us went to the Cabaret to a dance then Bill and I spent the night in the hotel parking lot. Bullshit came along later peering in cars with his flashlight but somehow missed us.

BANFF SPRINGS

ROCKY MOUNTAIN SQUIRREL

BANFF SPRINGS HOTEL

 

BANFF SPRINGS HOTEL

DAVE VIEWS THE BOW RIVER

FASCINATING SHOT

Tuesday July 9, 1974

Today was a banner day. Bill and I finally were given rooms at the hotel. Bill got #216 and I got #40. I picked up two girls and went downtown and got another job dishwashing from 5-11:30pm. My regular job is from 7-3:30pm. So I will be working 15 hours a day. I can only work at the new place until Friday as we are going on shift at Banff Springs from 5:00 - 1:30am. Went to bed in my new room.

Wednesday July 10, 1974

I am sharing a room with two other guys and I have the top half of a bunk bed. Not wishing to wake them I jumped cat-like to the floor. When I landed the guy at the bottom gurgled several times and although he was still asleep, asked me for .15 change.

While I was working loading dishes in the machine I kept thinking I was going to fall asleep and end up in the conveyor belt. During my break I learned from Bill that his roomate was a wild man with the women and had a card he hung on the door to warn Bill away, "Private Party." After work #1, I went to work #2 at my new job and then back to my room.

Thursday July 11, 1974

I met my roommates today. One was the linen boy and the other one is going to give me \\$15 to drive him to Calgary next week - a good deal. He's the one who talks in his sleep. This morning he carried on a one-sided converstation with himself which went something like this:

"Hello"

"Really"

"So how are the wife and children".

After work I drove two girls to my other job. This was my last night. I finished at 11:30pm and met Bill and drove us down to the Cascade Inn. There was someone playing "Country Roads" sitting on the toilet playing a guitar. He was quite good.

Friday July 12, 1974

Today we don't work until 5:00pm because of the new shift so I slept in till 12:30. I had my co-ed shower then I went down for my "free" lunch that we are entitled to as employees of the hotel. I drove two girls downtown then returned to the Hotel's staff headquarters "Moo's Place" for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It's a combination game room/snack bar where everyone hangs out. I even saw Edgar there - I found out later he thought it said Snake Bar. There are 3 pool tables, 8 different machines including shuffleboard and of course - girls! Later I went back to my room and read (it might have been a book called "Setting Free the Bears"). At 5:00 I raced upstairs, signed in and started working. For the first couple of hours there wasn't much to do except pick dust out of the air. Matt pretended to sweep but it was too clean. He picked up a stack of dishes and smashed them on the floor. "There", he said, "Now I've got something to do." Joe came in carrying a glass. "Think fast" he yelled while tossing it to Matt. Matt casually stepped aside and began sweeping up the added glass. Joe's throw was spotted by one of the department heads (Pat) so he was yelled at for a while. On our break I discovered you were supposed to eat before work so I raced back to Moo's for another p.b. & j. sandwich. When I returned Matt and I began loading dishes. Suddenly Pat came running around the corner yelling, "What happened. What was that crash?" There were 6 of us standing around looking puzzled as we told him that nothing had happened. "I demand to know what happened", he screamed and then questioned each of us separately. He finally left, feeling there was some kind of conspiracy against him. I think maybe he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Later Matt was stacking dishes and making a lot of noise. Pat yelled at him to be more careful. As soon as he left, Matt held a large stack of supper dishes over his head and let them drop to the floor.

OLD MAN RIVER

  DAVE UP A TREE?

STAFF LODGINGS

Saturday July 13, 1974

Laundry day. I picked up 3 girls and dropped them at the Banff School of Fine Arts. One of them said she met me last night but I didn't remember her. I did my laundry at "Pinkie's" then picked up a girl from Quebec and drove up to the Hot Springs and went for an hour walk on the trail. At the half way point I set my camera up on a cliff, focused and put the self-timer on. That gave me about 8 seconds to run 15', jump a ditch and climb 20' up a spruce tree. I barely made it. I returned to my room picking my way through the broken beer bottles in the corridor. After work at 11:30pm I dropped over to #216 to see how Bill was doing. He was amusing himself by burping out the door whenever anyone went by.

Sunday July 14, 1974

My day off. Bill and I left to try and find the Manor (a hotel where three girls we know work) but failed. We went back to Moo's Place and played some pool. The guy I played pool with told me he spent last night in jail. If that was supposed to impress me it didn't work - I still beat him. I left with 55lbs of stuff in my packsack with the intention of camping in the Hoodoos. I searched and walked the cliffs for two hours but couldn't find a suitable spot to pitch my tent that wasn't less than a 65 degree angle. I left there and tried Sundance Canyon trail. After a while I stopped following the trail and followed the stream for about a mile drinking as I went. The best water in the world!! On the peak of a mountain I practiced playing "The Bear Went Over The Mountain" on my \\$1.00 harmonica that I bought in Banff. People below were looking everywhere for the music. I never did find a good camping spot so I headed back to Moo's and played pool against myself. I beat myself twice. At midnight I went for the 1.5 mile walk to town and back stopping at a restaurant for some pie. I spotted a nice looking girl walking by the window so I swallowed my pie and caught up to her. We walked back to the hotel. She was from Calgary and had just graduated from an English course. She worked at the hotel every summer for the past three years. I waited until 2:00 for Bill to get off work but he never showed up.

Monday July 15, 1974

My day off again. Had my usual co-ed shower then went to the Beanery (staff cafeteria), presented my meal ticket and had lunch. I stopped up to see Bill but he was gone. I grabbed my camera and set off to Lake Minewanka taking two girls from Virginia to Cascade Mountain on the way. Half way there I climbed a small cliff to where a baby mountain goat was posing and was able to get within 10' for a picture. At the lake I followed a trail until it ended where a tree had been cut over the path. This usually means to keep off because of bears. I went around it and continued on for about a mile. There were lots of bear tracks. I rested when I came out by a fast river. Had a drink there and played some tunes. I followed it for a further mile - there were trees across the path every 20 feet or so. When I got back to the main trail I joined what I thought was a girl and her little brother out for a walk. When the little boy said, "Mommy, mommy, take me to daddy up ahead", I decided it was time to move on.

A LITTLE KID

A RIVER 

DAVE RESTING

I drove over to Cascade Mountain by about 4:00pm and climbed the two mile trail to the top. It was very steep and had a lake with a stream at the top. I climbed up to the snow line to where a waterfall ran down a cliff. I had to walk on some overhanging snow to get a drink.There was a mountaneer's cap there but no one underneath it as far as I could tell. I slalomed down in my wallabee shoes and had a drink at the bottom. Edgar shed his skin on the way so he could tell his friends he had "scaled" a mountain. I had the equivalent of 15 or so glasses of water and then sloshed back to my car. As usual there were many bear tracks on the way. I met up with the girls I picked up earlier today and they accepted another ride. There were 2 guys in a Pinto next to my car that had the same idea. They were not pleased but they were still nice enough to catch up to me and return my tripod that I left behind. The three of us sat in the front listening to Neil Young Harvest. I dropped them in Banff and went to Moo's for three peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

SNOW LINE

VIEW FROM CASCADE MOUNTAIN

SNOW LINE

 

VIEW FROM CASCADE MOUNTAIN

CASCADE MOUNTAIN

CASCADE MOUNTAIN TRAIL

Back at my room I looked over a bear manual someone gave me. Apparently I have been doing all the wrong things. I was quiet. You are supposed to be noisy and carry a tin can full of rocks to shake so they know you're there. A surprised bear is usually the one that attacks. You're supposed to hike in a group, stay away from areas of bear activity, travel with the wind and steer clear of berry patches. Hey, what am I supposed to eat when I'm out hiking alone.

I went back to Moo's for a coke and watched a few pool games. Then I went for a drive down all the back roads I could find in hopes of seeing some wildlife but had no luck. So far all I've seen are mountain sheep, prairie dogs and a fur hat someone ran over. I'm starting to wonder if the Game Wardens plant the droppings and tracks for the tourists.

I drove downtown and walked around. Picked up the car in the park where I left it and picked up two more girls and drove them to the hotel. Back at my room I practiced my harmonica for a while then after midnight I walked half a mile to the bridge still playing. I met a girl trying to drag her drunken boyfriend home. He told me he'd been arrested for vagrancy in Kingston. He was from Toronto (everybody is). I continued on to the park and watched the RCMP go by 8 or 9 times. Watched some hippies smoking pot and some others playing a guitar and flute. I walked back and went to bed.

Click Here To Go On To Part II