History of Tyax Lodge & Heliskiing
To the aboriginal people of this region, the Bridge River Valley was known as the “Skumakun” or “Land of Plenty”. While they did not settle here, the nomadic Chilcotin from the North and the Lillooet Indians from the Fraser River traveled through to forage for roots, berries, and to hunt game. In the mid-1800s, prospectors left the gold-bearing gravel bars of the Fraser River to explore the banks of the Bridge River.
The area remained virtually undiscovered by tourists until the late 1970s, when an outdoorsman named Gus Abel toured the back roads in search of a suitable place to build a destination resort. His criteria was that the location had to be remote, on a lake, and surrounded by mountains, with dry hot summers and lots of powder snow in the winter. In his search, Gus found a remote lake known to the aboriginal people as “Tyaughton” or “lake of the jumping fish”. On its north shore was a deserted old hunting and fishing camp with the name of Tyax Lodge. This location and its 275 acres of lakeside wilderness had all the ingredients to build the resort.
The lot was purchased by Abel in 1981 and a development plan was worked out. Since all finances were exhausted and the banks wouldn’t even look at “such a crazy idea”, an advertisement was placed in a Swiss newspaper “looking for an investor for a tourism project in BC, Canada”. A Swiss entrepreneur named Urs Villiger, with a passion for bush plane flying, responded and a great vision turned into reality.
In 1985, Scott McKenzie, a local contractor, joined Abel and Villiger in building the resort. That winter, the land was cleared. On May 17, 1986, excavation began and the foundation was laid. In July, eight logging trucks of spruce trees were peeled and put in place. It took seven months and seven days for a crew of twelve men to build the largest freestanding log lodge (34,000 square feet) in Western Canada.
On December 24, 1986 at 4:30 pm, Tyax Resort opened for business.