Bruce Harvey always believed in the power of community.
“In the back of his mind, he always thought the community could come together and make something to better the community,” said Gordon Harvey, Bruce’s nephew.
“He was born in Saskatchewan and they used to have these things called barn raisings. If your barn burned down, the whole community would come and help put it up.”
It’s fitting, then, that within days of the original Harvey’s Hut burning down on Sept. 29, 2016, efforts were already underway to rebuild.
Dermot Flynn, president of the Whitehorse Cross-Country Ski Club, said the response was immediate.
“Within a matter of days of the fire, people were raising money, people were offering their services and our supporters were offering cash donations to help us out,” said Flynn.
“On the one hand we had Brittany Pearson Smith starting a GoFundMe campaign within a day or two and some of our long-standing members had a bake sale. Each were very successful in their own way.”
All that hard work and “the great effort and speed with which people jumped in to make things happens” was recognized on Jan. 21 with a ribbon-cutting outside the new hut and an unveiling of two new signs recognizing the history of the building and the efforts to rebuild.
The original Harvey’s Hut, installed during the preparation for the 1981 World Cup race held at the club, had a rather interesting journey to its final location nearly three kilometres from the clubhouse.
Peter Steele explained to the crowd at the event the story of how he and Bruce first installed the hut.
“We noticed that in the compound of the old liquor store there was this hut that had been sitting there for a long time,” said Steele. “I talked to Bruce and we decided that we would see if we could purloin it to bring it to the ski club.”
After getting permission to move the hut, a hired truck dragged it through the woods to its pedestal.
Harvey’s Hut is a fixture in the ski community, with the original hut serving as the site of two weddings and countless children’s birthday parties.
The new hut is already proving to be a popular space for get-togethers. A group of skiers even celebrated New Year’s Eve in the cozy interior.
Gordon said Bruce was always good at getting volunteers involved in community service.
“His idea of a good time was enjoying the great outdoors and helping everybody participate in that,” said Gordon, adding the hut was meant to serve as a place to warm up and make the club more appealing for bigger events.
“I remember Bruce saying ‘good, clean family entertainment’ where you can bring the kids along, grandma along and everybody gets to participate. That is what he was all about.”
Another of Bruce’s projects — the DC-3 weather vane at the Yukon Transportation Museum — perfectly encapsulated that sentiment.
“He wanted to include everybody, including the jailbirds,” said Gordon. “For one whole summer he took the jailbirds every weekend and we gutted that whole airplane.”
Built using a hollow airplane and bearings from a bulldozer, the weather vane was entirely volunteer work.
“What a good way to get people to be included back into the community,” said Gordon. “Then the community would be looking at those jailbirds in a better light.”
Asked if Bruce would have approved of the way the community responded to the fire, Gordon said without a doubt.
“Just like the barn building — that’s what came to mind when it burned down.”
Contact John Hopkins-Hill at email@example.com