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Family Trees at Silver Star: The Hindles
When you’re talking about the early days at Silver Star, there’s one family name that’s sure to come up: The Hindles.
From fixing lifts in the middle of the night in the 1960’s to welcoming hostel guests for the first time in 2000 to serving après ski drinks at a cosy pub in 2023—the Hindle family has played a big part in making the mountain the special place that it is today. To hear all about it, we caught up with Keira Hindle. Her grandfather, John Hindle, was one of the founders and now she’s a third-generation Hindle contributing to the spirit of Silver Star.
A Hindle Christmas at Silver Star
There it is: a flash of one of her fondest girlhood memories of Silver Star. Keira Hindle is seven or eight years old. She and her Nana are on the backside of the mountain and they have just sailed toward Gypsy Queen, a beloved blue run. Beyond are the untouched, snow-laden Monashee Mountains. Just here, at the tips of their skis, is the promise of fresh snow and this curvy slope with three gleeful dips.
“Gypsy Queen is still, hands-down, my favourite run on the mountain,” says Keira. “It was my Nana’s favourite too. It was one of the first runs we could do on the back. If we could do the rollers on Whiskey Jack, which used to be a lot steeper, we were allowed to go to the back to Gypsy Queen.”
That day would have taken place over Christmas break, when Keira’s family always packed the car and drove from Vancouver to Vernon, and then that last thrilling stretch up Silver Star Road. Aunts and uncles and cousins came from all over, as far as Alaska. In the days before home rentals were a choice for Silver Star accommodation, the Hindles often took up an entire floor at hotels in the village.
“We were there to ski,” says Keira, who first hit the bunny hill by one of the old T-bars at age three.
She remembers how the hill was then: the backside lift with a mid-station by Paradise Camp; the ‘green chair’ where the gondola is now; the Comet chair a ‘four-pack;’ and beside that, a yellow two-seater lift that took skiers to a giant barn with the ‘bullwheel.’
“You got to ski out of a barn, which was cool,” says Keira.
It was all part of the grander vision for the ski resort, of which Keira’s grandfather, John Hindle, was a founding partner.
From Manitoba to Silver Star Road
John Hindle, Keira’s grandfather, came of age in Winnipeg. Naturally, he fell in love with skiing. After moving west in the 1950’s, he saw the potential for BC’s ski resort industry. There are stories—many stories—of how John Hindle and the resort’s other founding fathers (John Kassa, Joe Peters, Eldon Seymour, Bill Attridge and Russ Postill) made it all happen in those early years: getting the site surveyed in ’56, punching out the last stretch of the road themselves in ’58, working through the night, even as the sun rose, to get broken lifts back up and running for the busy Christmas week in the early 60’s.
“I’m just so thankful that my grandfather saw all that potential for this place back then.”
It was not long after the opening of 1958 that John had gone to England and met his future bride, Jenny, who was swept off her feet and convinced to join him on this “crazy adventure.”
In time, John and his son, Dan, both nicknamed ‘Hinky,’ and daughters Sarah and Joanna, would make their mark and leave a special legacy. There’s Hindle Lane, near the village. Hinky Heights is a black run on the backside, just off Sunny Ridge, with a vertical drop of 159 metres. And there’s the bell above the old ski school.
“That was liberated by my grandfather from the Mount Todd Community Church near Kamloops. It wasn’t in use anymore and he thought it would do good service as the starting bell for the ski school.”
That bell is now in the heart of the village above Guest Services.
John also had an early influence on the Lake Louise ski area and would go on to serve two terms as the Mayor of Kelowna. Later in life, he suffered from Alzheimer’s, and in an article about the Walk for Memories being held in John’s honour in 2006, Jenny said: “When he was around, the sun was shining…He was just like a breath of fresh air.”
‘It’s the magic of this place’
Something—or everything—about Silver Star must’ve got into Dan Hindle’s blood too. In 2000, when Keira was 12, her father jumped on the chance to run the first hostel at Silver Star. The family moved from the coast and spent the first year living at the hostel alongside budget-minded young skiers from across Canada and around the world.
“We went from me and my sister fighting over the sink in our own bathroom to suddenly sharing absolutely everything with everyone,” she laughs.
In 2001, the resort’s four partners, including John Hindle, began talks to sell the resort. It was also the year Long John’s Pub opened. Thirteen years ago, Keira began serving there to fund her dream twenty-something lifestyle of skiing and working all winter, then traveling all spring and summer.
“I get to meet so many people,” says Keira, who still serves there part-time today. “It’s such a cosy place. It feels like it’s your living room.”
In 2016, the hostel sold and it’s now used for staff accommodation. While other Hindles have come and gone, Keira has stayed and lives on the mountain year-round today.
“It’s the magic of this place,” she says. “I also have a retail shop in Lake Country (Valley Lifestyle) and I drive back and forth six times a week, and I still get butterflies every time I hit Sovereign Lake.”
“My favourite is coming home. You go for a hike or a snowshoe to the top of the hill and you see the whole valley. All around are these giant trees covered in snow, and everything is still and calm.”
Photo Credits: Hindle family