Island Lake Lodge

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March Pow

March 19, 2018 - 21:23

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Island Lake Lodge Wins 2018 Employees First Award

March 12, 2018 - 17:50

We are incredibly honoured to have won this prestigious award. A huge thanks to all current and past employees of Island Lake for making the place so remarkable.

Below is the press release from go2HR

Island Lake Lodge Wins 2018 Employees First Award

Kelowna, BC – Island Lake Lodge has won the coveted 2018 Employees First Award, presented this afternoon at the BC Tourism Industry Conference in Kelowna. The award is sponsored by go2HR, BC’s tourism human resource association, as part of the 2018 Tourism Industry Awards.

The Employees First Award recognizes a British Columbia tourism industry employer who has upheld high standards of excellence in human resources and people management practices. Based in Fernie, BC, Island Lake Lodge runs on a grassroots, team-oriented organizational culture.

“At Island Lake we recognize how important our staff are to the overall success of the company. They are the very foundation of the brand and business and their stories are integrated into the overall story of the company,” said Mike McPhee, Island Lake Lodge’s Director of Sales and Marketing. “We have striven to be a modern employer with an offering of unique benefits, perks, flexibility, continual training / education and collaborative atmosphere.”

The company’s vision and values revolve around providing a safe workplace and a collaborative environment. Some examples include:

  • Extensive onboarding training at the beginning of each season, covering occupational health and safety, social media, guest services, and more;
  • Ongoing support for professional development, such as First Aid, WHMIS, avalanche training, Red Seal Chef training, and Serving It Right;
  • Weekly staff recognition, and end-of-season awards that include peer recognition;
  • Company perks and benefits including swag giveaways, staff meals, shuttle to work, catskiing trips and outings, and photos contests.
  • Open and ongoing communication including suggestion box for employees, regular teammeetings, and monthly employee newsletter.With such a dedicated focus on employee training and satisfaction, Island Lake Lodge has seen positive results as their retention rate steadily climbed over the years. In 2017, 90 per cent of staff had returned for the season.
  • On TripAdvisor the company is ranked #1 in the speciality lodging category in Fernie and awarded a Certificate of Excellence. It is not uncommon to see individual staff regularly recognized by guests in post-visit surveys.“Island Lake Lodge’s inclusive, team-oriented culture contributes to a high level of employee satisfaction, which in turn leads to high levels of guest satisfaction,” said Arlene Keis, go2HR’s CEO. “By providing a work environment that employees can grow, thrive, and take pride in, Island Lake puts their employees first and boasts an impressive retention rate, setting a fine example for our industry as an employer. We congratulate the Island Lake Lodge team on their achievements.”To learn more about the BC Tourism Industry Awards, visit About go2HR

go2HR is BC’s tourism human resource association, responsible for coordinating the BC Tourism Labour Market Strategy. go2HR provides tourism employers with resources in the area of recruitment and retention, as well as training and certification programs to develop relevant skills for prospective and current tourism and hospitality employees. For more information, visit


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80+ cm’s this week!

March 2, 2018 - 22:48

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March 2, 2018 - 08:18

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Staff Profile – Executive Chef Keith Farkas

March 1, 2018 - 17:25

Executive Chef Keith Farkas has been leading the culinary team at Island Lake for several years now. He is known for inspiring his team to think creatively and outside of the normal lodge fare. His wife, L’wren, is the restaurant manager and oversees the Island Lake wine collection. Together, they make Island Lake’s culinary program a unique attribute that speaks to the surrounding old growth forest, dramatic peaks and “lodge life” that we are known for.

A quick Q&A with Keith Farkas:


Yes, I actually get asked this question a lot by our own team. Our philosophy is unpretentious; complex without being complicated. What does this mean? To me, it means seeking good flavours without being too fussy or overdoing it. It’s about simple pairings and seeking local wherever possible. Perhaps most importantly however, for dining at Island Lake Lodge, is that it’s as much about the incredible natural setting; the view and the calm atmosphere.


The honey we use at the Lodge is locally-produced from the bees of the Elk Valley and harvested by Elk River Apiaries. Our Elk Chorizo is reared and produced locally in the Valley. Our coffee beans are the “Island Lake Blend” from local coffee roasters, Zaltana. We source locally wherever we can; it’s important to us. Throughout the summer, I can be found most Sundays at the Fernie Farmer’s Market where I talk with the farmers, where I’ve developed a relationship with them. I like to know where our produce is coming from, the journey it’s had before I serve it at dinner.


Yes, we do. We pick stinging nettles from just outside the Lodge which we then use for soups. We forage lots of fireweed that is flavoured with pesto and served in our Market Salad which happens to be one of our dinner menu’s most popular items. We create a deliciously-sweet cedar syrup with maple, too. We will often use wildflowers from just outside our back door to garnish our desserts and cocktails. Foraging is important as it’s our connection to our landscape.


Of course. Lodge-made speaks to the elements of our dishes that are made right here at the lodge from scratch. From our house-made granola we serve at breakfast, to the condiments we create here in the Island Lake Lodge kitchen such as our own ketchup and mayonnaise. I believe in it, and I know it inspires our cooking team when they can have confidence in the fact that even the little details of our menu are created by hand.


The Bison Short Ribs! Due to the popularity of this dish with our guests, I’ve not been able to take them off the menu for years! The Market Salad is a popular one too. I like this dish for its simplicity, its flavour and its freshness. Also, the foraged fireweed that features as a key part of the salad; it’s delicious and our guests agree. I think it’s appealing that the salad is prepared from local ingredients.

Keith, on the right, with guest chefs Justin Leboe and JP Pedhirney

Justin and Keith harvesting Spruce tips

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February 26,2018

February 26, 2018 - 19:49

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February 22,2018

February 23, 2018 - 10:52

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February 21, 2018 - 09:21

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Staff Profile – Katie Hamar

February 15, 2018 - 11:36

Katie Hamar is the Sales and Event Coordinator for the lodge. Her professional and detail-oriented personality helps ensure all our events go off to the best of our abilities. She also leads our green sustainability committee and has a passion for mountain culture and the Island Lake property. Her positive and happy energy rubs off on all the staff around her and her smile is infectious. She is a valuable asset to the company. Here is a little interview we did with her recently.

Where did you grow up? 

I grew up in Moncton, New Brunswick.

When did you move to Fernie and what brought you here in the first place?

I came for the 2008/2009 winter season to visit my sister and her now-husband who had moved here a few years prior. I promptly fell in love with the mountain lifestyle and officially moved to BC the following September; to Cranbrook where I would complete my BBA over the next few years. I wanted to finish my degree while living as close to Fernie as possible and Cranbrook was the best option. I spent most weekends and summers here. In May 2013, when I was done school, I officially became a Fernieite.

How long have you been working at Island Lake Lodge?

I started working for ILL in June 2013.

Which jobs have you been in for the company?  

I worked as a Guest Services Representative at the lodge front desk my first few years. When I was given a few extra responsibilities, a job title of Special Projects Coordinator was added. During this time, I also assisted Nicole, the then-Event Coordinator, with weddings. When Nicole moved away, I applied and got the job as Sales & Event Coordinator. I started working in this role in October 2016.

What is your favourite part of the job?  

I love working with people, both the public and ILL’s awesome staff. It’s rewarding to see the lifespan of an event from sale to planning to implementation. It makes me feel warm and fuzzy to see happy couples on their wedding day and I feel honored to be a part. I also like the challenge of having several simultaneously-moving parts to an event, the organization that that entails, and problem-solving. Plus, you absolutely cannot beat the view.

What is your favourite hiking trail and why?  

I love them all but I like Big White for the views and exhilarating scramble and the new trail, Goldilocks, for showcasing a new perspective. If you only have a couple hours, Tamarack Viewpoint is my favourite option for an incredible view of the lodge and Lizard Range. Heiko’s Trail is the ultimate Fernie trail. I can’t decide!

What is something people might not realize about your job?  

When I started in this role, I was surprised by how much goes into selling and planning large group events and tour operations. There are numerous steps to take and questions to field long before the group arrives. I also had no idea how many inquiries ILL actually receives. And, maybe this isn’t a surprise, but I continue to be so happy to hear how much people really love the lodge and how satisfied they are with their experiences there.

Do you prefer summer or winter these days? 

I am a summer lover but you also can’t beat Island Lake on snowy winter day. The excitement is palpable. It’s all good up there.

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Powder for Valentines day

February 14, 2018 - 15:25

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History – 1874 – Prospector and Trapper Michael Phillips

February 13, 2018 - 13:38

1874 – Prospector and trapper Michael Phillips was the first European to explore Island Lake and the Cedar Valley.  He named Lizard Creek for the “little green lizards” he found at the head waters. They were actually Long Toed Salamanders and the mountain range was later named the same. He is also said to be the first European to traverse Crowsnest Pass and the Elk River Valley.

Read a fascinating interview with him by The Fernie Free Press from 1905:  FFP – 1905-06 Michael Phillips Interview


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Daily Photo

February 7, 2018 - 14:55

Stellar day above the clouds. Photo by @markgallup

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Scot Schmidt Profile

January 28, 2018 - 16:38

Scot Schmidt is one of those quiet reserved guys who does not draw a lot of attention in a crowd. He tends to be the laid-back people-watcher in the corner. This is in contrast to the place he holds in the history of the snow industry and to many other professional athletes at his level. If you are a non-skier or if you happen to have been living in a cave for the last 25 years, Scot has the distinct industry title of “The Original Freeskier.” He is recognized by most as being the first big mountain pro skier who managed to make a living jumping off stuff and shredding powder. Back in an age when ski company sponsorships revolved around alpine racers, ski ballet and moguls, Scot sought a different path and defined a niche that has since become the standard for pro ski athletes around the world. Part of his legacy was created and documented at Island Lake Lodge, where he became a shareholder, director and regular Lodge fixture.

Part of the path Scot carved in the early ‘90s was through his ski movie segments. At a time when household VCRs were exponentially increasing the reach of  “Ski Porn,” snow video stars were able to bring the “radness” right into your living room. This changed the game. Freeskiing pros had a medium, locations became household names and filmmakers could make some money. After filming several movies with Warren Miller, Scot hooked up with a young upstart filmmaker with a unique perspective on the world. Greg Stump captured Scot’s effortless big mountain style, added cutting-edge music—all while following a more “interesting” plot-line than the average ski movie. Scot’s laid back, friendly style not only looked good on film but probably contributed to why he has been on The North Face ski team for 30 years now. In an industry full of egos, short careers and overhype, Scot is still skiing 100 days a season and not taking himself too seriously.

Scot is still a regular at the Lodge and comes at least once a season. It is most likely that he has skied more days at Island Lake than anyone other than some of the long-term ski guides. He can still be found relaxing by the river rock fireplace in the Bear Lodge after a good day on the slopes, quietly contemplating and taking in the après scene.

A few quotes from others: 

“Scot definitely pioneered the role of pro freeride skier in North America; he basically helped create the career I have. He also opened the North American industry’s eye to the potential of freeriding, plus he is a total shredder and pushed the progression and style of the sport.”  – Eric Hjorleifson; Pro Skier

“Scott was a huge part of starting the freeskiing movement in the ‘90s and was basically the man to watch during that time… I loved watching his pow segments from the Greg Stump movies!” – Ian McIntosh; pro skier

“I think Scot was the Kelly Slater or Shawn White of his day… His style was the main thing that impacted the industry and it’s still alive in a few skiers today. Proper style indeed.”  – Eric Crosland, Sherpas Cinema


Photo: Mark Gallup


Photo: Aaron Whitfield


Photo: Mike McPhee


Photo: Mark Gallup


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Powder Hound and Kitty cat

January 24, 2018 - 12:43
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Craig Kelly by Mark Gallup

January 20, 2018 - 10:12

Craig was known as a world champion. A legendary snowboarder. The Master. An Icon.

After nearly 15 years of hotel rooms, trains, planes, and automobiles. From Greenland to Chile and everything in between. Craig Kelly to me was a confidant, a brother, and a friend.

To me, he was “Smelly Kelly” who never used deodorant. He always farted when he woke up in the morning. I could never turn my back on him because he was a trickster. He introduced me to avocados and he loved eating butter tarts when he came to Canada.

One time when he returned to Fernie after a trip to Japan, he walked in the door and I said, “How was Japan?”. He said, “You treat me like a rock star, I’ll act like a rock star”, and that was it. We just went up to Island Lake and did our thing. He breathed easy and was content. He was back where he belonged.

His transition from competitor to backcountry soul rider was natural. I think an important element of his plan was to find balance between making a living and managing his public image. Island Lake was the perfect platform for his transformation. In interviews, he often talked about balance in his riding but balance in everything was paramount for him; a life lesson he continues to teach me today.

– Mark Gallup

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Staff Profile – Marie-Hélène Jodoin

January 18, 2018 - 15:10

MH, as she is affectionally known around the lodge, has been a staff staple for over a decade. She is one of the seasoned snowcat driver team – driving snowcats for guests in search of powder.  This job requires a high level of confidence and experience as the snowcats drive on snow roads in some very challenging conditions… in all weather. In summer, MH is part of the Island Lake trail crew, which maintains and builds hiking and bike trails on the property.  This past year the all female trail crew completed a brand new alpine trail called Goldie Locks. The trail was very difficult to build as it navigates a high mountain pass, builder fields and steep terrain. In addition the crew had to hike up the to trial in the alpine every day. Whether winter or summer MH is an integral part of the lodge team and her infectious laugh, sense of humour and positive attitude make everyone around her smile.

Here a few questions and answers with MH

  • Where did you grow up? I grew up in Montréal, Qc.
  • When did you move to Fernie and what brought you? My dad who travelled a lot had a framed aerial picture of Vancouver and it’s surroundings mountains in the living room.  I always looked at it knowing I needed to explore that place on earth, so I did.  After hitchhiking for 2 months in British Colombia with my best friend I knew that BC was the place I needed to comeback too.  Fernie seemed liked a quiet town with a good average snowfall.  I moved to Fernie 14 years ago
  • How long have you been working at Island Lake Lodge? I’ve been working at Island Lake for 11 years.
  • What do you like the most about driving snowcats? I love the different challenges we can have with driving and blading depending on the type and amount of snow and the type of slope.  You can get stuck, you can dig yourself into a hole quickly, you can drive in a total white out or out on a narrow road.   It’s such a powerful machine that you have to drive with finesse.
  •  How is it to drive the new Pisten Bully Snowcats? They feel pretty darn good and smooth.
  • What is something that people might not realize about your job? You need to be able to drive yes, but you also need a good sense of orientation, of keeping calm and in control in stressfull situations and to be in a good physical shape as we do a lot of lifting.  We lift skis 17 000 times per season from in and out of the ski box.
  • How long were you and the trail crew working on our new hiking trail?  We have been working on the new hiking trail Goldie Locks for 2 summers, finishing it this Fall just before the snow fully covered the terrain.
  • Do you prefer summer or winter these days? I don’t prefer summer or winter.  I love them both for all the different fun things you can do.


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Pow turns with pals

January 12, 2018 - 13:21

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Friends on a Pow Day

January 12, 2018 - 12:52

There are indeed friends on a powder day! Our pals from The North Face dropped by in late December, 2017 for some friendly pow laps in our terrain. Watch athletes John Collinson, Rob Heule, Austin Smith and Alexandra Armstrong shred Island Lake for the camera of Dylan Siggers. The North Face


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January 8, 2018 - 11:17

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Epic waist deep pow!

December 22, 2017 - 18:43

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