Dec 1, 2005 | Marmot, Winter 2005

Unsung Heroes Clean Up!

Paul and Lana Hawkins of Campbell River (shown right) are ready to take on full-time caretaking duties at Bear Lodge. Paul has worked on the mountain for six years as head of Security and Custodial services.

Bear Lodge is the latest condo building to open at Mount Washington, joining its sister hotel Deer Lodge and other large buildings such as Blueberry Hill, Paradise Ridge, Ptarmigan Ridge, Creekside House.

All of the homes are privately owned, and some are individually managed by accommodation companies that takes care of checking in guests.

But who are the people who look after these buildings; changing light bulbs, vacuuming hallways, taking care of burst pipes… the caretakers who often give up their own homes to live full time at the Resort?

The Marmot will profile some of these people over the next couple of issues.

Lana and Paul Hawkins are preparing Mount Washington’s newest accommodation for winter occupation. Bear Lodge began accepting visitors in the summer, but the winter season really began December 3 with the booking of a wedding party.

The Hawkins came from Campbell River to take on the full-time caretaking job at Bear Lodge. Paul is no stranger to Mount Washington, having spent the past six years as head of security and custodial services at the Resort. With the Hawkins’ new position as caretakers, his commute just dropped dramatically.

Lana has worked as a cleaner in office buildings and apartments and says Bear Lodge will be no different. “It was one of those things where I was working (at cleaning) anyway and this is closer to work for Paul,” Lana explains. “This is a new building … it’s a great opportunity to come up here.”

The job came with a furnished one-bedroom unit, which Lana has personalized with a few things from home. Their calico cat, Kitty, makes herself at home following the sun’s rays as they move across the carpet. Lana enjoys the view from their front window, which overlooks the parking lot and the trees and mountains beyond.

The Hawkins have been at Bear Lodge since August and, although the summer was quiet, they have been busy.

Lana has already established a cleaning routine that is as detailed as dusting the door jams and polishing the doorknobs. The foyer is cleaned every day.

The cleaning and maintenance taken on by caretakers at Mount Washington are building-specific – they don’t clean individual units, Lana explained.

Paul Hawkins doesn’t anticipate too much maintenance will have to be done at Bear Lodge this year, but he’s prepared for the unexpected!

Bruce Frame has been at Blueberry Hill for the past nine years. The Comox Valley native is hard-pressed to come up with just one happy memory of his caretaker’s job. “They’re all good, the whole nine years,” he says. “I’ve made a lot of friends, good friends. Some of them lifetime. I’ve met people from all over the world. Even the renters that come up here, we’re on a first-name basis. They’re like family to me.”

Frame has seen 600 visitors a year pass through the doors to Blueberry Hill, Mount Washington’s first drive to condo development. The building was just three years old when he packed up his construction business, took a building manager’s course and answered a newspaper ad for Blueberry Hill.

“I’ve seen a lot of changes. Raven Lodge, a few extra ski runs, and double the people.” He’s never regretted answering that ad, even though he rarely has a day of rest during the ski season.

“It’s been like a working holiday. I’ve loved every day of it.” Frame will retire in July, much to the chagrin of his granddaughter, who has been visiting him at Blueberry Hill since she was four years old.

An avid outdoorsman, Frame plans to fish once he’s retired. But he will be back to the Resort: taking his granddaughter horseback riding or hiking in Paradise Meadows.

Bruce Frame (shown left) uses a snowblower to clear the way for guests at Blueberry Hill during an especially snowy season. Frame is retiring in July after nine years as caretaker at Blueberry.

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