What happened to Altadore's one-of-a-kind 'ski fence'?

Though it's now the site of a redevelopment, for years the corner of 16th Street and 42nd Avenue S.W. was home to one of the more notable oddities in the community of Altadore — what residents referred to as the "ski fence house."The house, which was owned by a man named Dirk Van der Vorst, was surrounded by dozens and dozens of skis of varying brand and colour.Van der Vorst built that fence over the course of five years, adding to it slowly as passersby left their used skis at his doorstep, well aware of the project at hand."[Van der Vorst] was always the 'crazy' uncle," said Van der Vorst's nephew, Rob VanderLee, in an email to CBC. "The house was [stuffed] top to bottom with 'things' gathered throughout his life. He was quite a collector of things."I miss him. He was such an amazing guy."Van der Vorst died a few years ago, Rob said, which brought about a sad time for the family. It fell to the family to sort through all of the collectibles gathered by Van der Vorst throughout his life."He had hundreds of floats he collected from the beaches of the west coast. They'd come off of fishermans' nets and float across the Pacific and he'd find them and bring them back," Rob said. "I happen to have managed to collect a couple of skis before everything was torn down."But after Van der Vorst's items were sorted through, his house was demolished as a new development prepared to move onto the site. It became clear to Andrea Joyce with the Marda Loop Communities Association that the ski fence would soon be demolished, too."I knew that the house had been sold. The owner had passed away. So I thought, how am I going to get part of this ski fence to make some really interesting public art?" Joyce told the Calgary Eyeopener. "I went to the developer at the time, there were some deliberations, but I wasn't able to secure the fence."The fence had been lost. But Joyce remembered that Van der Vorst had also created a bench — also constructed out of skis."If I can't have this fence, I'm wondering if we could have the bench. So I left that with him," she said. "Just recently, I got a call from the developer and he said, 'Andrea, you can have the bench.'"The bench secured, Joyce said the community association is now looking for a permanent home for the "quirky and colourful" item — maybe in front of Van der Vorst's old home, or as a bus stop bench.But for now, residents can see it parked outside the Marda Loop Communities Association building, located on 16th Street S.W.Joyce said that bench serves as a legacy to Van der Vorst, a man she said was committed to and involved with his community."From all the stories I've heard, he was such a wonderful person. Caring for people, looking after them," Joyce said. "He helped a lot of people. So I think it's really important to carry on that spirit, the spirit of Dirk."

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