The way she tells it, Squamish Mayor Patricia Heintzman’s arrival in the Sea to Sky almost seems preordained – and she instantly fell in love with the wildlife and natural environment here, especially at Brohm Lake.
“I had just moved to B.C. in fall of 1992 and I took a train from Vancouver to Whistler for a weekend in November. As the train hugged the Cheakamus River just north of Brackendale, hundreds of bald eagles flew just a stone’s throw from my west-looking window. Chum salmon carcasses littered the gravel bars, providing a bounty for all birds that congregated there. Even on the train one could smell their fishy decay. When I took that fateful journey, I had been in B.C. for just a couple weeks, and I was hooked.”
She started work as a reporter at The Squamish Chief newspaper. The town was a different place back then, she says. “Squamish back then had a reputation for being a tough logging town with bad air quality, due to the pulp mill. I saw something completely different. I saw one of the most dynamic landscapes in the world a stone’s throw from Vancouver, not yet appreciated or realized.”
Heintzman enjoys hiking with her dogs. “One of my favourite places is the trail along Tenderfoot Creek and up to Brohm Lake. I have been on that trail network probably three-plus times a week for 20 years. It’s a magical stretch of river and forest.”
About Brohm Lake
At Brohm Lake, appearances can be deceiving. There’s a small parking area off Highway 99, and the marsh that you see from the road certainly doesn’t look like much. But once you begin your navigation around the lake – most of which is hidden from view from the main road – all of the charms that drew Heintzman to Squamish are here in abundance.
Historically, there’s archeological evidence that the Coast Salish people, the ancestors of the Squamish, gathered cedar bark, processed clams and hunted in the area. A trade route to the interior of the province ran up from the Squamish River and very close to where Brohm Lake lies.
The slopes above Brohm Lake are part of a working forest – that is, they’ve been cut and re-planted, and at some point in the future the trees will be likely harvested again. As you walk the lakeside trail, keep an eye out for the Thompson Trail that steeply descends from the high point of the lake shoreline all the way down to the Tenderfoot Fish Hatchery, and watch for bald eagles up in the trees. The path is steep, but the dramatic views of the Tantalus Range will more than make up for any discomfort you might experience going down (or back up).