Jul 1, 2006 | Marmot, Summer 2006

Caretaking Paradise

The Marmot continues its feature on the caretakers of Mount Washington Alpine Resort with Janyce and Lawrence Erickson of Paradise Ridge Lodge.

The most fascinating part of living at Mount Washington, say Janyce and Lawrence Erickson, is the ever-changing weather.

“The mountain has its own weather pattern,” says Lawrence, who spent countless hours clearing the Paradise Ridge parking lots after each snowstorm last winter.

In the summer he tears up the mountain bike trails, enjoying whatever summer weather Mother Nature can throw at him.

Coming from “down below,” as Janyce describes Victoria, the couple didn’t know snow. Now, they really know snow. “There’s different kinds of snow,” she explains. “We can tell what it’s like by the direction it hits the suite. It’s wussy snow if it comes from over Strathcona Park. “If it comes from the mountain, watch out – batten down the hatches!”

Still smarting from memories of his snow-clearing days, Lawrence lamented that the snow came from over the mountain “all of January.” Their corner unit is often buried during snowstorms, but reveals the most stunning sunsets from the picture window in the living room.

The deck is also where Janyce adopted Chester the chipmunk. “He comes here every day. If I don’t have nuts outside by 9:15 a.m. in the morning I hear about it,” she says. Chester competes for Janyce’s affection with the couple’s two black and white cats, Fester and Sundae. Fester is not named for the Addams Family movie, but because “he’s anti-social; never turn your back on the cat.”

The couple has just finished its first real winter at the resort (the first one last year really didn’t count, as most people living and working at the resort would likely say). “Through the winter it’s a really different atmosphere,” Janyce says. “It’s frantic. When the mountain closes you see the residents come out in the sun, blinking their eyes.”

The Ericksons have 40 bosses in the different suite owners, but say the relationship between all of them has been great. Janyce receives chocolate and flowers from the owners’ kids whenever they’re around, which she loves.

This was the first year that caretakers at Paradise Ridge looked after both the building and snow removal in the parking lot. Considering Mount Washington had its third-deepest snow season on record, it was a job and a half.

The Ericksons moved to Mount Washington two summers ago, before the “no snow” winter. They had spent the previous 11 years living in downtown Victoria, managing a social housing complex. Janyce had formed a kids’ club to keep the street kids off the street.

“We liked that part of it, but we didn’t like what was happening to the city,” Jaynce said. “We needed to get out of the city,” Lawrence said. “We wanted something rural. So the city folk went to the country,” Janyce added. “We’re really rural now.”

Working at Mount Washington Alpine Resort is a family affair for the Ericksons. Not only do Janyce and Lawrence Erickson manage Paradise Ridge Lodge full time, but Lawrence’s sister, Linda Wicks, runs the General Store and two of her sons – the Ericksons’ nephews – also work at the lodge. Jordan worked at Fat Teddy’s as a dishwasher, Jared worked at Altitude and Aaron spent as much time on the hill as he could.

More from this Issue