Many hikers, Rovers, Girl Guides and Boy Scouts remember staying overnight in Kirkland’s cabin, a rustic structure that stood near Lake Beautiful on the way to Battery Mountain.
According to scouting historian Chris Guedes, it should probably have been known as Howe or Ferguson cabin.
The late Don Merkley told Guedes that the place was built as a hunting cabin in 1930 by three young men: Hugh Howe, Hector Ferguson and Aubrey Kirkland.
The cabin was located in the area where the Abernethy and Lougheed Logging Company had recently finished its railroad logging on the south slopes of the Golden Ears mountains.
It was not yet parkland, so was open to hunting.
The story goes that Howe paid for most of the cabin materials and hired Ferguson to do the building. He would hike there after work to continue construction until dark, so did most of the building.
Meanwhile, Kirkland spent his social time in the Maple Ridge Hotel beer parlour, boasting about “his” cabin in the mountains.
The name stuck, and it has always been referred to as Kirkland’s cabin.
Scouts, Girl Guides and Rovers began using ‘their’ cabin starting in 1937. A notice in the June 23, 1939 Gazette newspaper invited hikers to an open house to celebrate the second anniversary of the scout cabin “in the foothills of Alouette Mountain.”
There was no road access to the Golden Ears area in those days, so hikers usually followed the abandoned railway grades previously used by the logging company.
Scouts and Rovers who have used the cabin remember it contained two large shelves on which a number of people could spread out their sleeping bags. There was a pot bellied stove for cooking and heat.
It was the custom of the time to leave the cabin neat and tidy after each use, with a fresh supply of firewood for the stove.
Apparently when Scouts and Girl Guides used the cabin, Marjorie Saunders would come along to act as chaperone.
Recently, Doreen McPherson discovered four snapshots of Kirkland’s cabin in a bible belonging to her late husband, Fred McPherson. These photos were taken in the late 1940s, when Fred McPherson was a patrol leader in the Scouts.
In one image, McPherson, his troop leader Alan Luck and another patrol leader, Bill Mundell, are seen on the top of Battery Mountain with the Needle in the background. This level space where they sat was later the site of a cairn, built and rebuilt by succeeding groups of Rovers.
People may remember McPherson from the time he worked in his father’s restaurant, the Paradise Inn, or his longer career as an agent for Haney Realty.
Doreen McPherson worked for a time in the Eaton’s catalogue office on 224th Street.
Anyone trying to find Kirkland’s cabin today will be disappointed. After the Golden Ears area became a provincial park in the late 1950s with road access, more people could enter the area. The cabin was vandalized from time to time.
In the 1970s, park staff took the cabin down.
Sheila Nickols is past-president of the Maple Ridge Historical Society.