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The Linder Family – Cabin owners at Chestermere Lake 1957 to 1968 and Calgary Yacht Club Members

As told by Arnie Linder

My father, Bert was an avid sailor growing up in England. During the war he enlisted with the RAF in 1939. After meeting and marrying Lillian (a Canadian) they moved back to Calgary. Lillian, was born in Traverse, Alberta in December 1920. She was one of four children raised in Vulcan, Alberta by my grandparents who farmed in the local area.

Bert was born in Torquay, Devon England in June 1921. He was raised on the Torquay inner harbor where my grandparents owned a hotel called the Beacon Mount Hotel. The hotel was located right across from the water. At one time the restaurant (The Handsome Cab) was rated one of the top ten eating establishments in England.  This is where he was introduced to sailing as a young boy. 

He met Lillian during World War II while on a training a mission in Canada with the RAF. They were married. They went back to England and after the war moved to Calgary in early 1948 (I was two years old).   Phil was born later that year in Calgary.

Bert’s interest in sailing as a young boy carried over to adulthood and led him to Chestermere Lake in 1957. He leased two lots from Western Irrigation, four lots South of the Calgary Yacht Club. The Hodgson farm was almost directly across the lake from us. In those days there were very few cabins on the East side.

During the summer of 1957 (I was 11 years old) Bert set up a tent and parachute on the property. We cooked out under the parachute, and it provided shelter on those rainy days. My brother Philip and I slept in our 1957 Nash Rambler. Other than the great experience of camping at the lake and being out of the city that summer, I remember how bad the mosquitoes were. In 1958 construction started on the pier and boathouse. That year (1958) we lived in the boathouse while construction started on the cabin. We now had sailboat and a small, motorized boat affectionately named the ‘Put Put’. 

Summers at the lake were fantastic. Fishing, and riding our bikes to the store located at the north end and all around the gravel roads in the area.  My first paid job (at 14 years old) was cutting the lawn at the “club” (The Calgary Yacht Club) for $35 a month.

As we grew older sailing became competitive for our family. My brother Phil became the Canadian Jr. sailing campion in around 1963. His crew was our neighbor Alan Strain. This was a big accomplishment for a prairie boy. I crewed for Alf Lea (see the Lea story on the CYC webpage  winning an Alberta Championship at Pigeon Lake. Phil and I traveled to Vancouver to race our ‘Flying Dutchman’ in the Canadian Olympic trials but rigging problems did us in. While I was crewing with Alf one time, I listened to my brother Phil and my father Bert argue during a race. It was quite comical. Phil was the skipper and dad was crew. They never saw eye to eye during a race and you could hear their discussion on the water. One race it got so bad (they were sailing close to the club) Bert jumped off the boat and swam ashore.  But a serious and important side of Dad’s commitment was that over the years he was responsible for starting sailing schools at Glenmore Reservoir, Nicola Lake (just outside Merritt, BC) and in Comox, BC. 

My parents along with many of our Chestermere neighbours enjoyed a good party.   Most of these took

place at the Yacht Club. Bert was Commodore of the Calgary Yacht Club in 1962.

 In the late 50’s and early 60’s the CYC Clubhouse was party central for the many sailors of that era. Bert was one of the ring leaders, along with Alf Lea and Jack Hooper. There were many others who knew how to have a ‘good’ time.  The three of them invented the most potent drink I ever tasted. They called it the ‘Hoolinlea,’ a concoction of a bottle each of gin, clear rum, and vodka—mix added if you wanted. It was dangerous and many a hang over was experienced. This was the feature drink when I married my wife Val Thomson in 1969.  Dad and Jack Hooper (neighbour to the north) were at each other all the time in a fun way. One day he and Jack were yakking at each other while dad was walking on the pier heading to his boat.  The pier was L shaped and Bert walked right off the end into the lake. We all thought Jack was going to have a heart attack from laughing so hard.  Bert was also an entertainer, he played the banjo, and the ukulele. He never missed a chance to entertain family and friends. Lillian was always there by his side trying to keep him in line, not an easy task.

He loved being on the water and over the years had many boats used for both racing and touring the Islands around Vancouver Island. Right up to his mid 80’s he was front row and center and enjoying life. Looking back over the years he and our mother provided us with some of the greatest experiences of our lives.

Bert’s work career in Calgary included working at Canadian Pacific Airlines, then going out on his own doing airplane maintenance and finally working for the City of Calgary Parks Department.  ( this last position was where he was involved in getting sailing started at Glenmore Reservoir.) Bert flew a private plane, and often flew over Chestermere taking photos.  He also took a lot of Super 8 movies, and a program was made from these by the Chestermere Historical Foundation, and can be found in the recorded program ‘The Lazy Crazy Days of Summer at Chestermere Lake.’

Bert passed away at the age of 87 and his ashes scattered in Discovery Passage at a place called ‘Picnic Beach,’ a view from our front window in Campbell River overlooking the Passage. Lillian passed away at the age of 98 years old in October 2018.

A personal memory.  One evening during the summer of 1963 when (I was 16 or 17) I was driving out to the lake. I stopped to help three kids my age who had experienced a flat tire on the Highway to Chestermere. I took them back to the city to get the tire fixed. Once fixed they asked me where I was going. I mentioned to our cabin on the lake. They informed me that they were a band and asked if they could follow me to the cabin and play their music. They seemed nice and I said sure why not. They set up their band and much to my surprise they were extremely good musicians (rock and roll). It was about 9pm on a warm summer’s night and we were alone at the cabin. A party was going on at the CYC and was in full swing. I started a big fire in front of our cabin and the boys started playing their music. Their music was like a magnet. The next thing I knew boats were coming from all over the lake and cruising in front of the cabin. The party at the club slowly moved to our property and before long everyone was dancing on our lawn. It was a great summer night and a memory I will never forget. The dancing ended in the wee hours of the morning.

Chestermere Lake one of the greatest experiences/memories I have.

Arnie Linder
Campbell River, BC

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