Joe Aschwanden

Joe Aschwanden

Joe Aschwanden was born in 1931 and grew up in the Kanton of Uri Switzerland.

Joe, a fourth generation sawyer, was the last living sawyer to have worked on his uncle’s water powered sawmill in nearby Unterschachen.

In 1990 the mill was restored under a heritage program and is now run by his good friend Hans Herger, on request for tourists in the summer months.

His great-great-grandfather owned Rutli, the place where Switzerland is considered by many to have been founded.

Although Rutli is now owned by the Swiss school children and is a famous stopping place along the Lake of Lucerne, members of his mother’s family still manage it.

Joe immigrated to Canada in search of adventure in 1953 and eventually worked on Tod Mountain (now Sun Peaks Resort) on the ski patrol during the winter and as a hand faller and sawyer in the Williams Lake area in the summer.

Joe taught many people in the Williams Lake area how to ski, and he met his future wife, Shirley, when he was in Bella Coola to give skiing lessons to members of Tweedsmuir Ski Club.

After they married, they lived on Mountain House Road for over 30 years where they raised their two children, Kristina and Sepp.

Joe was a popular and gregarious person who always had time for his many friends and was always ready to make new ones.

The Aschwanden home had an open door policy which many people, especially friends from “home,” took advantage of, often visiting four months at a time. Joe worked, and played hard all his life, and had built up a successful business as a contract logger for Jacobson Bros. Sawmill when he sold out in 1986.

He then built a house and shop with lumber he cut on his own sawmill, and proceeded to finish the interior of the house with beautiful woodwork, including an incredible coffered ceiling he made in his shop in his spare time.

In his later years Joe spent almost every winter weekend at Troll Ski Resort, usually accompanied by his friend Hans, enjoying the fresh powder and the sunshine of the south facing slopes, and of course the apres-ski as well.

He leaves to mourn him, his loving family, wife Shirley, and children, Kristina (John) Coulson, Sepp (Debbie) Aschwanden, and grandchildren Wyatt and Logan Coulson and in Switzerland, his four sisters, Kathi Planzer, Mariette Furrer, Lisa (Rudi) Scherer and Monica Wyrsch, and brother Othmar (Evi) as well as many nieces and nephews, their children and grandchildren. Joe was predeceased by his beloved first grandchild, Cody, 7, in 1998.


Your condolences will be approved within one business day. You will need a valid Facebook account. Please email us if you have any questions.