Valley Lives - Edgar Quipp

The following article first appeared in "The Low Down to Hull and Back News" in the February 15, 2012 issue. Reprinted with permission.

Innovation hallmark of Quipp's initiative

by Lucy Scholey

If you were a child in Kingsmere in the 1950s, then you likely learned to parallel ski with a car engine part of the instruction.

The old Mountain Lodge ski hill was novel in its day. But so was the man who owned the Gatineau Hill's first overnight resort. Edgar Quipp ran the towlines with car engines parked inside a little homemade shed. It was noisy and hot inside, but the innovation did the trick; the parking lot was full every weekend.

Valley Lives
Edgar Quipp in 1969. He would have been 49- or 50-years-old. Photo courtesy Gerry Quipp.

When the hill closed 14 years later, Quipp brought his creative streak to municipal council, cobuilt the Gatineau River Yacht Club, started his own crane equipment company and flew helicopters.

Mayor and ski-hill owner were among his temporary titles, but Quipp's community building efforts were on-going. On Jan. 25, he passed away at 92 years of age.

When Quipp and his girlfriend, Genevieve Barrett, moved to Kingsmere in 1945, they were fresh naval veterans from the Second World War. Nearly a year later, they purchased the Mountain Lodge and spent every day grooming the hills on snowmobiles, trucking fuel to the tow houses on toboggans and feeding their overnight and day guests on checkered table cloths inside.

Marg Tardiff, who grew up in Kingsmere and still resides there, remembers learning how to parallel ski - as opposed to snowplowing, which was the de facto ski method - at the age of three at Mountain Lodge. She remembers drinking hot chocolate by the big fireplace inside and, during later years, walking with Quipp through their neighbourhood.

"He's one of the last of that generation in Kingsmere," said Tardiff. "A lot of history goes down when somebody like that dies."

When the hill shut down in 1960, Quipp already had other projects in the works. By then, he had served two terms as mayor of Chelsea, known then as West Hull, from 1951 to 1957, and started his own crane equipment company, E. Quipp & Co.

He was never home for supper, always grabbing a plate later than his family. He was not a nine-to-five work guy, but was always building something in his basement. Community work was all volunteer back then - even down to the mayor

"It wasn't that he had his hands in so many pots," said his daughter, Heather Quipp. "It's that his hands were building the pots."

Valley Lives
Ninety-year-old Quipp with daughter Heather, son Gerry and granddaughter Rosemary. Photo courtesy Gerry Quipp.

Sitting on the floor of her Kingsmere home - on the same plot of land where she grew up - Quipp sifts through a box of old letters her parents wrote her when she was studying in Nelson, B.C.

In a letter dated Feb. 5, 1965, her mom writes that "daddy" is building a fish hatchery. Nearly a month later - March 24, 1965 - she writes that he's building a lighthouse for the Gatineau River Yacht Club and raising money for charity.

Perhaps it was little surprise when, in 1961, he installed the original radio tower atop Camp Fortune - or that he used a helicopter for the job. His son, Gerry, was 15 when his dad pulled him out of school for the day. With stones flying under the pressure of the hovering helicopter, a handful of men below the chopper fastened the wires from the 107-foot-tall tower to the ground. They could have built a road to truck the tower up the mountain, but that would have taken time. Quipp had a different idea.

Once, when Quipp was visiting the Arctic with longtime friend, Dave Wright, he convinced a helicopter pilot to charter the duo across a fjord where they wanted to fish for Arctic char. The hour-long canoe trip took just 10 minutes by air.

Wright, 81, said it's hard to pinpoint exactly what Quipp will be remembered for

"He was involved in so many different things," he said. "It would be different for (everybody)."

There will be a memorial service for Quipp on Feb. 18 at Beechwood Cemetery (280 Beechwood Ave. Ottawa) from noon until 2 p.m.

Quipp leaves behind his grandchildren Rosemary and Sven and his partner, Doreen Kelly

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