In Profile: Luke deBoer
Luke deBoer is a familiar face at Mount Washington Alpine Resort.
He grew up skiing on the mountain, and living for a few years with his parents and sister in a couple of different mountain residences. You’ll have to forgive him if he is overcome by a sense of déjà vu...
Late last August, deBoer moved into Paradise Ridge with his wife and two children to take over as caretaker, just as his father did 19 years ago, when Paradise Ridge first opened.
“When we first moved up here we lived in this unit,” says Luke, sitting at a table in the combination dining / living room, leafing through family photo albums with his daughters, Katie, 12, and Alex, 11 and wife Tara. “Dad was the first caretaker here,” says Luke.
Paradise Ridge opened in 1995, offering private condominium units and Mount Washington’s first (and still only) outdoor swimming pool.
Ron and Pam deBoer and their children, Luke and Kandyce, lived in the caretaker’s unit for two years before building a chalet on Foster’s Place, where Luke lived another two years before he graduated from Vanier Secondary School in Courtenay.
Once on his own, Luke worked in Duncan, Courtenay and Campbell River. He never dreamed he would return to the Resort, and especially not doing the job his father did two decades ago.
“I’ve always liked it up here,” says Luke. “When I was a teenager I did the mountain biking and the racing and outdoors there was fishing and camping. There’s a lot to do. I was surprised at how many people are still up here that were here when we were first here.”
The deBoers, Luke and Tara, spent six years in Campbell River before moving to Mount Washington. “Up here, it was an eye opener,” says Tara, who gets up at 6 a.m. to get the girls ready to drive to school and her own job in Campbell River.
“We were looking to move back to Courtenay and this job came up, so up the mountain we came.”
She quickly learned how to drive in snow, something she hadn’t truly experienced until winter on Strathcona Parkway. While she doesn’t ski, she’s looking forward to doing some fishing and camping in her first summer living on the mountain.
“We like to take the girls to the park and feed the Whiskey Jacks,” she said. The family does a lot of geocaching as well. Tara says there are a few sites to be found around the Resort.
Life is different for the girls than it was for Luke, he admits. “I was always outside skiing, digging a snow cave, mountain biking, hiking, snowshoeing. With the girls it’s all I can do to get them out tobogganing,” he says as the girls grin.
Family outings are few and far between, especially in the busy season, as Luke is required to be available to customers. “I have a lot of time to myself but my job entails that I’m here,” he says. “When it snows, there’s definitely a lot more to do; a lot of shoveling and hallways to clear. Hand-shoveling nine hours a day really wears you out.”
“When I’m busy I get up in the morning, deal with my hot tub and pool chemicals and make sure they’re ready for the day. There is garbage in the building that need to be dealt with all the time. There’s mopping and shoveling in front and letting people know if they’re parked where they shouldn’t be.
Mostly it’s keeping the building clean, changing light bulbs. And shoveling snow.”
The building has undergone some construction updates this spring, making repairs and refinishing the pool.
While Luke has returned to his roots, his parents are both in Campbell River now.
His mother Pam has stayed connected to the Resort over the years, sitting as a director for Tourism Mount Washington. She has been involved in property management for many years at the Resort.
His father Ron runs a construction business in Campbell River and is sorry to be losing one of his most faithful employees. Ron also looks after snow removal at the Resort.
His sister Kandyce lives in Victoria and “gets up here when she can,” says Luke.
As for Luke and his family, “I hope I’m here for a few years,” he adds. “I’d like to be up here for a while. We are enjoying being up here.”