With Labour Day upon us and in a bid to keep the thoughts of summer alive, it seems a good time to post about Browning Lake. However even locals reading this might think "where's that?".
"Murrin Provincial Park" or "Murrin" as most locals call it, is a small park and lake on Highway 99 just north of Britannia Beach. Some think of it as Murrin Lake, but it is actually Browning Lake, and I'm here to tell you why.
Murrin Provincial Park was created in 1962. The land was donated by the BC Power Corporation and named after their president. Originally the lake was called Phantom Lake but in the 1920's Carlton Perkins Browning, the beloved General Manager of the Britannia Mine built a cabin there. From then on, it became known as Browning (or Browning's) Lake.
Their cabin sat on the southwest shore. Built long before the road to Squamish was carved out in 1949, what a beautiful, secluded spot it must have been in summer. C.P. Browning spent many a day and night there, relaxing on the cabin deck, fishing or swimming in the lake with family and friends.
Before the Squamish road, they would go by boat from 'the Beach' and anchor close by, then climb up to the cabin. The lake sits atop Watt's Point, a steep 240 metre high volcanic mound. In other words, not an easy climb up from the shore. We've been told that apparently Mrs Browning would be carried up to the cabin on a type of sedan chair.
It was not just the family that spent time there. The lake was popular with the locals who would hike up. There were a few smaller cabins as well as the Browning's for those that stayed. In summer, a small walkway out into the lake made it easier for diving and fishing. The shores of the lake were great for berry picking, relaxing and - for the kids - endless exploring. As former resident Dave Buthge says "wondering if the immense skunk cabbages would suddenly open up and devour you to the tales of it being mysteriously bottomless...and catching the differently coloured salamanders.....wonderful adventures for a young teen...". In winter it was a popular spot for ice skating.
The lake meant a lot to the locals. In the words of Dolores Odendahl who lived at the mine during the 1940s and 1950s...
"Browning's Lake was the world to me when I was a CGIT (Canadian Girl in Training). Mrs Browning took us up there by motorboat from Britannia where we hiked up from the ocean...We stayed overnight had wonderful time playing games and a wiener roast. When I was older we used to walk up there when the road was pushed through to Squamish. We swam in the summer. The lake was very cold and deep. We sunbathed on the huge boulders which were close to where the road is now."
Browning Lake has been in the hearts of locals for generations. Here's looking to many more!
The Browning family took a lot of film footage. Here is a clip from the early 1930s.