Personal Histories: David Holdener

David Holdener provides a link to Revelstoke’s long history of skiing and brewing.

David Holdener

There’s not many people who can say they’ve been skiing in Revelstoke for as long as David Holdener. When he first strapped on skis, there wasn’t even a rope tow in town. Instead, they would hike up the Hickory Run, which was across the railway tracks from where Save-On Foods is now, and then ski down.

“We’d spend 25 minutes packing up,” he said. “Then you’re down in two minutes and you’d go back up.”

That was when Holdener was eight, when ski jumping was a big deal in Revelstoke and the idea of putting a ski resort on Mount Mackenzie hadn’t even been contemplated.

Instead, the kids would race out after school, grab their skis and head either to the Hickory Run or the Big Bend ski jump. Because it got dark so early, they’d only have time for one or two runs or jumps.

“All the young kids I knew skied,” Holdener told me.

Holdener still skis. At 77, he’s one of the oldest season pass holders at Revelstoke Mountain Resort and he enjoys going up the mountain on weekends with his wife Roberta.

Not only is he part of Revelstoke’s skiing history, he’s also closely tied to it’s brewing history. His family owned the town’s brewery, Enterprise Brewing, for close to 30 years and he worked there as a kid growing up, from when he was 11 to when the brewery shut down when he was 18.

Yes, back in the 1950s minors could work in breweries.

Enterprise Brewing opened in 1897 and David’s grandfather Xavier, an immigrant from Switzerland, purchased it in 1920, David said. It was a bustling business that, much like Mt. Begbie Brewery today, supplied the town and beyond.

Xavier died in 1939 and David’s father Arnold and uncle Harold inherited the business. David started working there in 1950, making boxes, washing bottles, inspecting beers as they came off the line (usually for dirt, but sometimes mice), and boxing the bottles and loading them into trucks.

He enjoyed his job and worked after school from 7–11 p.m. “Maybe that’s why I didn’t so good in school,” he said.

Beer was cheap back then and, according to Holdener, people drank a lot. He says they would fill up 120 kegs every weekend for the King Edward hotel alone.

They also handled bottling and local distribution for other breweries and soft drink companies.

Sadly, the brewery was forced to close in 1957 when a union drive raised wages and made it unprofitable.

Photo: David Holdener still has a few of the Enterprise Brewing beer cozies at home.

The distribution side of the business remained and they picked up contracts delivering beer for major breweries and Pepsi throughout town. They also got into collecting empties.

In 1977, Holdener opened up what is now the bottle depot. It was the second business to go into the industrial park and it was both a collection facility and distribution warehouse. He ran it until a decade ago, when he sold it to Tony Scarcella and retired.

Unlike many from his era, Holdener didn’t get married until he was 35, when he and Roberta got hitched. He waited because he enjoyed the free, partying lifestyle of his 20s. He worked six days a week at the family business, then spent Friday and Saturday evenings bartending. The beer didn’t stop flowing.

“The guy at the bar would open the tap and fill glasses up until the tray was filled,” he said. The beer would get taken around the bar and another tray would be filled up until the night was over. “There was a lot of drinking, a lot of fights,” he said. “People drank beer like you wouldn’t believe.”

Meanwhile, Holdener skied on Mount Revelstoke, either on the runs lower down or out of the Heather Lodge at the summit; and later on Mount Mackenzie.

He gave up the sport for 20 years until three years ago, when someone told him he was old enough for a free season pass. He loves getting out to RMR with his wife. “When you go up there, everyone’s happy,” he said. “It makes you feel younger, so I’m all for our ski hill.”

Holdener is a big supporter and promoter of Revelstoke. He has an active Twitter account and comments frequently on local affairs. He’s lived through the booms and busts and loves to hear newcomers talk about how much they love his hometown.

“It’s nice to see people want to come here,” he said. “I love to talk to them. I say 95 per cent or more love Revelstoke.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The city has launched a community well-being survey. (Submitted)
City launches community well-being survey

Everyone residing in Revelstoke aged 12 and over is invited to complete it

NDP candidate Nicole Cherlet on the campaign trail in Revelstoke. (Liam Harrap- Revelstoke Review)
BC VOTES: Q&A with BC NDP candidate Nicole Cherlet

Cherlet talks highways, housing, childcare and the environment

A health-care worker prepares to swab a man at a walk-in COVID-19 test clinic in Montreal North, Sunday, May 10, 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes)
Interior Health records 21 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend

Thirty-six cases remain active; two people are in the hospital, one of whom is in intensive care

Columbia River-Revelstoke Green Party candidate Samson Boyer. (Contributed)
BC VOTES: Q&A with BC Green Party candidate Samson Boyer

Boyer talks highways, housing, childcare and the environment

The Revelstoke Ski Club’s annual Ski Swap has been cancelled this year. (Marissa Tiel/ Revelstoke Review)
Revelstoke ski club fundraisers moving online

Snowflake Wine Fest and the ski swap have been cancelled

FILE – Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry answers questions during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. sees record-breaking daily COVID infections with 499 new cases over weekend

Two people, both in the Lower Mainland, died due to the virus over the weekend

Vernon Fire Rescue Services and Vernon-North Okanagan RCMP were called to a report of an electrical fire at the emergency response centre operated by Turning Points Collaborative Society on 37th Street Sunday, Oct. 18, just before 5:30 p.m. The fire displaced shelter residents who have been set up with services at the Vernon Recreation Complex. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)
Vernon shelter residents find refuge in hotels, motels, recreation complex after fire

Electrical fire at Turning Points Collaborative Society’s emergency response centre on 37th Street

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
Kelowna man charged after allegedly stealing senior’s car

Elderly woman’s car was stolen while she was shopping

Salmon Arm RCMP say residents have been receiving calls from fraudster claiming to be with Publishers Clearing House. (File photo)
Salmon Arm RCMP warn of Publishers Clearing House telephone scam

Police say scammer requests fee to claim sweepstakes prizes

Osoyoos Fire Department responded to reports of a vehicle engulfed in flames Sunday (Oct. 18) evening at a Lambert Court residence. (Osoyoos Fire Department)
Osoyoos Fire Department knock down car fire near home

Blaze was ‘really close’ to becoming a structure fire

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Colin James put on a great show at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds as part of the 2019 Vancouver Island MusicFest. But his Okanagan tour for 2020 has been postponed until 2021. (Photo by Terry Farrell)
COVID-19 cancels more Okanagan concerts

The Contenders and Colin James postponed until 2021

A passer-by walks past a COVID-19 testing clinic in Montreal, Friday, Oct. 16, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada ‘yet to see’ deaths due to recent COVID surge as cases hit 200,000

Much of the increase in case numbers can be attributed to Ontario and Quebec

Most Read