Last summer the Friends of the Rossland Range (FORR) built three new shelters in the Rossland Range Recreation Site as part of the implementation of a management plan. This year work continues with even more new shelters being built, including the new Chimo cabin. Volunteers behind the project are looking for Castlegar businesses who can provide materials.
Last year, volunteers helped FORR fundraise for and build Mosquito, Viewpoint and Lepsoe Basin Cabin. Each cabin was also supplied with an outhouse, care of the Recreation Sites and Trails BC, a branch of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and the Arts. Chimo cabin will also have an outhouse supplied by Recreation Sites and Trails BC, but otherwise it’s up to volunteers from the 44th Field Engineer Squadron of the 39 Combat Engineer Regiment to execute and fundraise for it.
Lt. Bart Fyffe, who lives in Castlegar, is heading up the project, leading the part-time reservists from the 44th squadron who have volunteered to take part in building Chimo.
“This cabin is not part of the operations plan, it’s not an official training event, but what we’ve done is decided to get together and volunteer some of our skills and labour to go do a project for the community,” says Lt. Fyffe. “Being able to take some of the things we’ve learned in both the reserves and our civilian jobs and apply it on this pretty cool project.”
Chimo is used as a toast by Canadian Military Engineers (CME) and was derived from the Inuktitut salutation saimo. The word can also be used to refer to the CMEs.
“The reason why we chose Chimo cabin … is that this cabin is going to be one of the closer ones to reach, one of the more easily accessed ones, and it’s a really unique project, so it kind of has an engineer spin on it,” says Lt. Fyffe. “With the word Chimo itself being a friendly greeting, we thought it was fitting to have a cabin up in the woods with that and then have the history of the word up on the wall.”
Chimo cabin will replace the Rock ’n’ Roll cabin, which has already been decommissioned. All of the rock ’n’ roll memorabilia has been saved and is currently being stored in Lt. Fyffe’s house.
“The owners had requested that it … was preserved and we spoke briefly and we’re going to reserve one of the walls of Chimo to hang up the old Rock ’n’ Roll stuff,” he says.
Chimo will be located approximately 200 meters from where Rock ’n’ Roll was, with a great new view.
“We’ve sited out a new location that takes it up to a rock ledge overlooking the valley, and a really nice vista of Old Glory in the background,” says Lt. Fyffe.
To access the site, volunteers had to dig out about 200 meters of road.
“We had a small machine up there and minimized our impact as much as we could, where we could to scratch out the trail,” says Lt. Fyffe. “The intent with the road is to leave it open for ski trail access to the cabin in the winter.”
Volunteers now have vehicle access right to the site, which has been cleared for construction, and they have just under a cord of firewood cut from clearing the site. A planner has drafted the design for the cabin and the 44th will soon be starting to source vendors for materials.
“As I was talking with Les [Carter, a director of FORR], there was interest in focusing some efforts in Castlegar, just because Castlegar businesses haven’t been involved in one of these cabins before, from what I understand, so my intent is to try to keep the majority of our vendors in Castlegar,” explains Lt. Fyffe.
Windows, doors and a stove have already been donated, but anyone wishing to donate additional materials, funds or volunteer time can contact Lt. Fyffe through the Chimo Cabin Facebook page at Facebook.com/chimocabin.
Once the volunteers have collected all the materials, the plan is to prefabricate the walls at the Kemball Armoury in Trail before taking everything on site to complete construction.
“Our goal that we’re trying to achieve is to have it ready to go before the first snow flies,” says Lt. Fyffe.
So far they’re right on track.