By Jacolyn Daniluck
Parks Canada Staff
A restoration project is underway at the historic Nels Nelsen ski jump in Mount Revelstoke National Park. The historic stone walls that form part of the ski jump were in need of repair and one had collapsed.
“The Nels Nelsen ski area is a level 2 cultural resource in Mount Revelstoke and its story plays an important role in the history of the park,” said Claire Sieber, Parks Canada’s Cultural Resource Management Advisor, “so when we discovered the walls needed restoration we got to work. Parks Canada is also supporting Canada’s National Conservation Plan (NCP) by taking concrete action to enhancing visitor experience and facilitating personal connections with Parks Canada places.”
To restore the walls back to their original condition, stone masons from Parks Canada’s Restoration Services Group in Manitoba came to Mount Revelstoke the week of June 16.
Not quite mountain goats, Historic Restoration craftsmen and masons Terry Danyleyko, Nick Bogovic and Ken Dreffs got their footing after working on site for about two weeks. They quickly learned to appreciate the challenges of working in a mountain environment.
“On our first day, we stopped to enjoy the view – we had only dreamed of a view like this (coming from Manitoba), said Terry Danyleyko, Parks Canada Historic Restoration Stone Mason. “Your perspective changes the higher you go… I love the mountains, but getting from point A to B is tough, you quickly appreciate the challenges in getting heavy supplies to the work site”.
Scaffolding was put in place on the steep ski jump slope so the stonemasons could reach the top of the stone walls safely to do repointing. That is, cutting out the old mortar and putting in new where necessary. Putting the scaffolding up was as difficult challenge for the crew and Terry said it was the steepest slope he had ever worked on. The crew also repaired the collapsed wall using the original stones — about 90% of the original wall was saved — the remaining stones were found on site.
When asked about the work location, Terry said, “Everything is McGuyver – you have to be creative and think on your feet. You can’t get more challenging terrain than this”.
With the stone masons returned to Manitoba, next steps for the restoration project include securing the walls to the slope. This work will be done over the next two weeks and the Nels Nelsen ski jump site will be closed until July 25 due to overhead hazards and construction.
The Nels Nelsen ski jump was the biggest natural ski jump hill in Canada and internationally recognized as one of the best in North America. Ski jumping records were set here in 1916, 1921, 1925, 1932 and 1933. The stone support walls for the jumps were constructed in the 1800s.
Although ski jumping has not occurred at the site since the 1970s it remains — besides its role as a National Historic Site — an iconic landmark in local memory. Just how popular can be deduced by the fact that Cooper’s Foods incorporated a replica of it into their 2014 Canada Day parade float.
Here is a selection of photos of the work in progress: