May 18

Published by Victor Barr on

Two months ago they closed Big White. Two long and strange months ago it shut down in a matter of forty-five minutes. It came as a shock even though we should have seen it coming. Like a tidal wave the first influx of the coronavirus burned a path through our lives. With a rush, a panic, they were closing ski hills and reducing tables in bars. That first week of ‘social distancing’ and self-isolation is still as surreal now, remembering it, as it was then, living it.

I remember sitting in Happy Valley Lodge the day before Big White closed. We were watching Jon Bos play the guitar. Every other table had a sign on it and no chairs. ‘Social distance’ the signs said. We were having fun and joking with friends – it didn’t seem real. Jon was in top form and we saw no reason the hill should not continue operating with its present safety measures. After all we were on a mountain away from the world. In perfect isolation… we thought.

That morning Big White had announced they were staying open. The outdoors was the safest place to be, people were wearing masks and gloves; why close?

The next day at 2:45pm they sent out an email to everyone at the same time: ‘Big White Ski Resort Ltd. Announces Operational Closing as of 3:30pm PDT, Monday March 16’. The email came from president Peter Plimmer. It went on to explain the hill could no longer protect the guests and guarantee social distancing. I re-read it just now and it still leaves an ache in the pit of my stomach. They closed our hill and many people’s livelihoods. At this point it looks as though the measures have worked. Back then there was a lot of fear, a lot of uncertainty, and this virus could strike at any time. Anyone could have it; it sent a tremor across the mountain, and across the world.

Those two months seem like a lifetime now. Our new normal is being lived and adjusted every day. New normal is one of a few phrases we have adopted in the last two months. Tomorrow we start a new level of opening and will create another new normal.

Restaurants and pubs can open again with strict measures on social distancing, or is it physical distance… I am not sure they even know. Maximum fifty people can gather and we can have six people in our homes or our personal bubble. I think many people have been living this way for a while and now the government is catching up.

It seems in many ways we have come out of these two months stronger. Our death toll is very low, there are few people in hospital and our health system is coping very well. If they had told me this when they closed my passion down I would have begged even harder to keep the ski hills open. Life is like that, we can always look back and say what if? Instead we know what is; we are moving in a new direction. There is creativity flourishing in the world.

Creative efforts abound and our new normal is very much online. Jon Bos can no longer entertain us from Happy Valley. He is now entertaining us from his recording studio in Snow Pines. Jon has done a few really good videos from his studio. he is now able to offer very professional videos for birthdays or any other special occasions. Many talents are rising to the challenge, adapting to this ever-changing coronaverse we are living in.

I look forward to adapting to new normals. Humanity will readjust. We are resilient, we thrive in adversity. One day we will enter a new normal as free as our old normal. I believe that new normal will be one with more compassion, more patience. More love.

Categories: Daily Journal


Jill Smith · May 19, 2020 at 7:50 am

Hi Calvin. Please continue with your blog. Not only does it bring back memories, it makes me present. I worked my first season at Biggie and am now back in Ontario, missing Kelowna and BC. Hopefully, we will be back in November for our second ‘retirement’ season. Thank you for your inspiration and honesty in your daily posts.

    Victor Barr · May 19, 2020 at 8:14 am

    Thank you Jill! It’s nice to know that people are reading and enjoying my insights. I don’t always share with the Big White Comunity page. Check back here to stay connected.

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