Kids Summer Fun in Whistler

Summer in Whistler brings out the youngins, as most of them are out of school and looking for interesting and exciting ways to spend their time. Thankfully, there seems to be endless activities for kids all summer long in Whistler.

The Whistler Museum has been joining in on the fun, hosting crafts at Whistler Children’s Festival and starting our own pilot program, Crafts in the Park: Whistler Through the Decades. Crafts in the Park is held every Tuesday in July and August, in Florence Petersen Park. This unique program blends a bit of history with stories and crafts. Each week our theme focuses on a new decade in Whistler’s history. The crafts and stories are best suited for ages 3-12, and children must be accompanied by an adult.

This week for Crafts in the Park, we’re focusing on the 1930s and 1940s, so we’ll be getting back to our photographic roots and hand-painting images from those decades. We love this craft because, well, kids love it, and because it incorporates a whole lot of history!

Before colour film, colour was sometimes applied to monochrome (often referred to as black and white) images by hand-painting. Hand-coloured photographs were most popular from the nineteenth to mid-twentieth century, and the Whistler Museum is lucky to hold some great examples of the process in our collection. To learn more about the process and to see some of those examples, check out our blog post Pioneers in Colour.

Not only does this craft entail a somewhat lost art of early photography, it also gives kids a chance to work with historical images of Whistler. We’ll have a variety of subject matter to choose from, broadening the appeal to just about everyone. Hope to see you there!

Canada Day Parade and the 100th Anniversary of the PGE

Canada Day was an absolute blast in the village and at the museum!

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Andy Petersen and Sarah Drewery enjoying a rest.

This year, the theme for the parade was Earth, Wind Fire and Water.  In true museum style, we decided to attack the parade theme by blending it with a little bit of history. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the PGE Railway to Whistler; thus, we decided to build a cardboard train as our float. Oh sure, no problem, a cardboard train to fit five humans, no big deal! Not quite. Original design flaws and general limitations made for an intensive week of construction. Alas, we prevailed and our tireless efforts certainly paid off after seeing the enthusiasm from children and adults alike.

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The museum crew in full attire.

The Canada Day parade was also a great opportunity for us to talk about the actual PGE (Pacific Great Eastern) Railway, which is a remarkable piece of Whistler’s history.  As you could imagine, it was no easy feat traveling to Whistler over 100 years ago before the train.  In fact, before the railway laid its tracks to Whistler, it would take three days–two of which on foot–to make the trip from Vancouver.

This three-day journey consisted of taking a steamship from Vancouver to Squamish, followed by a horse-drawn buggy a few miles north to Brackendale, until finally renting packhorses and walking the rest of the way along the Pemberton Trail.  Let’s just say the population of Whistler (known as Alta Lake at the time) was much, much smaller then.

Grace Woollard traverses the Pemberton Trail to Whistler in 1912.

Grace Woollard traverses the Pemberton Trail to Whistler in 1912.

Cue the PGE Railway in triumph! Backed by the provincial government, the PGE was underway in 1912. Contractors Foley, Welsh & Stewart were hired to build the track from Squamish to Prince George. A ribbon of land 100 feet wide plus 15 feet for sidetrack was cleared. The PGE was open and running by October 11, 1914, making Whistler much more accessible.

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Speeder on the PGE Railway.

A very interesting thing to note about the PGE is its inapt acronym. The railway could not really be considered pacific, great, or eastern. This baffling cipher allowed the company to acquire many unofficial names, such as Please Go Easy, Past God’s Endurance and Prince George Eventually.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the PGE Railway to Whistler, Sarah Drewery (Executive Director) will continue featuring stories of the train in her weekly Question Newspaper article throughout the year. Stay tuned!

Yesterday’s Events at the Whistler Multicultural Festival

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We had an amazing day yesterday at the Multicultural Festival! The festival included crafts, games, entertainment, and cultural food and product stands. We had the pleasure of hearing some phenomenal vocals from a few young performers and watching gorgeous ethnic dancers—all while enjoying exotic food from the various tents set up in Florence Petersen Park. There is no doubt that the festival was a huge success and a great time for people of all ages. Until next year!

For moment-to-moment photos and event info, follow us on Instagram.

Multicultural Festival June 2014

On Friday June 13th the Multicultural Festival will be held in the Florence Petersen Park between the Whistler Library and the Whistler Museum. This event is a delightful way to learn about the many corners of the world the people of Whistler have originated.

The festival is free and open to the public. There will be performances, food, music, games, and arts and crafts all happening between 4 and 8pm.

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A group from the SLCC perform during the opening of the 2013 Multicultural Festival. Photo courtesy of the Whistler Multicultural Network.

Whistler has always been a place for people from all over the world. It has developed into what we see today through the multicultural influences of not only its first settlers – such as Myrtle and Alex Philip, who were Americans from Maine, and Polish John Millar – but also everyone who has followed in their footsteps.

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Myrtle hunting at Mahood Lake.

This includes individuals such as Billy Bailiff a trapper from Cumberland, England who wrote about the importance of preserving Whistler’s environment in the local newsletter.

And then in later years, skiing was brought to the valley by a variety of people, many of which came from European countries where skiing was a popular sport – such as Switzerland and Austria. A great example of this is Franz Wilhelmsen, a Norwegian who became the first President of Whistler Mountain.

The Whistler Museum will be open by donation for the duration of the Multicultural Festival.

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Franz Wilhelmsen (left) at the top of Whistler looking toward the peak.

Museum Gapers

A couple of the museum's own (super tough) gapers.

A couple of the museum’s own (super tough) gapers.

The ski season wouldn’t be complete without an excess of vividly dressed–though sometimes undressed–snow-seekers zipping down Blackcomb Mountain. The final day of the season is of course known as Gaper Day; a glorious day filled with retro ski gear, animal costumes and slushy events.

Above we have Collections Manager Brad Nichols and our new Collections Summer Student Alyssa Bruijns after enjoying their final runs of the season. We hope everyone had as much fun as these two did!

Find us on Instagram @WhistlerMuseum for more snazzy snaps!

Remembering Don MacLaurin

On May 7th, a dear friend to the museum and an influential figure in Whistler, Don MacLaurin, died peacefully with his family by his side. Our Executive Director Sarah Drewery had the pleasure of knowing him well, and in this week’s Whistler Question Newspaper she shares a commemorative piece:

On May 7, Don MacLaurin passed away peacefully.

Don made substantial contributions to the development of Whistler for over 50 years and was truly part of the fabric of this town. His loss will be felt deeply by so many in our community.

Don first came to Whistler in 1951 and visited several more times while working for the BC Forest Service before deciding to buy land here for a summer cabin. He and his wife Isobel walked all over this valley to find their perfect location. In 1961 they finally settled on a beautiful spot overlooking Alpha Lake, where their original (albeit, extended) A-frame cabin still sits today.

Don, who later worked in education, teaching courses in forestry, recreation and parks management at the British Columbia Institute of Technology (BCIT), was a passionate outdoorsman. He strongly believed in the value of getting out into the mountains and was one of the first people to champion summer enjoyment of our alpine, creating trails on Whistler Mountain, Rainbow Mountain and all around the region.

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In 1973, he organized a volunteer group to build cairns on Singing Pass. He was the instigator behind building the Russet Lake and Wedgemount Huts, and drew probably the first hiking trail map for Whistler Mountain in 1973.

He was also the driving force behind preserving Lost Lake as a park. The area was under timber licenses that were due to expire and a slew of developers were standing by, ready to build on the premiere lakeside property.  Don saw the value of this area and with the help of his contacts in BC Parks, was instrumental in ensuring it was preserved as the park that we all enjoy today.

He also initiated and designed the Whistler Interpretive Forest; the suspension bridge over Cheakamus River is named “MacLaurin’s Crossing” after him.

All this activity earned him the nickname “Parks Planner,” which seems more than apt.

Alongside all the work he did for our community Don knew how to enjoy himself. He and Isobel got up to countless adventures together. In their youth they would spend their weekends touring B.C. in Don’s red 1951 MGTD. They travelled the world together and got in many amusing situations over the years.

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In an interview in 2007 Don recalled a time when he and Isobel got stranded up on Whistler Mountain in the dark. When their flashlight fell in the creek they had to cut their losses and wait it out till dawn. Isobel’s mother was looking after the children that night, so the two made their way back down the mountain at first light and at 4 a.m. snuck into bed like naughty teenagers. Isobel’s mother never knew!

This is just one of many hilarious tales that Don would tell. There are many, many more — anyone who knew Don could not doubt that he lived life to the fullest. He did so much for Whistler and he was a wonderful, knowledgeable, intelligent man. He will be greatly missed.

Tales of Mountain Biking from the Whistler Answer

There seems to be a brilliant zest soaring around Whistler lately as riders gear up and head to the freshly opened bike park. The park opened for the season on Friday, May 16th, and the joy is palpable; I swear I can almost taste the sweat and feel the dirt hitting the calves of each eager rider all the way from inside the museum. With this current excitement, I decided to have a look through a mountain bike specific issue of the Whistler Answer from 1992. What a treat!

Along with the so-90s cover shot and its slightly dated articles, this issue provides a slew of hilarious and relatable experiences with mountain biking in Whistler. With so many interesting facts and stories to choose from I settled on two to highlight below.

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In his article “Biking for Pleasure and Pain,” Bob Colebrook takes us on his bike buying journey, discussing his gear ignorance and honest desire to ride–something many of us can relate to. He tells of his past relationships, his learned vocabulary and his truly amazing connections made with numerous fat-tired friends.

Keeping it literal and not without an impressive knack for visual, Colebrook begins by describing the pleasure and pain of mountain biking, while ultimately focusing on the sport’s essence — fun. He continues by discussing his costly, sometimes torturous journey with gear, from the chafing and pinching of bike seats to finally understanding the word “treadle.”

I let out an audible laugh while reading of Bob’s financial struggles with his one hundred and fifty dollar bike turning into a six hundred dollar bike: “…I started thinking that maybe I could get a lot of taxi rides for six hundred dollars, and if I really needed to go to Lost Lake I could hire a few Sherpas to carry me up.” But of course, he assures us that it was all worth it. Without splurging on the bike, he never would have realized his great love that is Margaret (his two-wheeled beauty).

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Entangled in the article is also a list of the “Ten Crucial Things To Know About Mountain Biking.” I’m sure most of you seasoned bikers can get behind a lot of these, such as “Bike mechanics are like doctors, always seek a second opinion,” “Pedestrians should be banned from the Valley Trail” and of course “Don’t ride the Valley Trail drunk on a moonless night in the rain.” All very listWA-The Second Coming_Vol 2_Issue 6 _Page 23standard facts and practical tips, I’m sure.

Colebrook ends his article with an elegant and encapsulating statement: 
“Mountain biking is more than just recreation, more than just a way to spend unwanted dollars—it’s a hobby that makes masochism acceptable, if not desirable.”

 

The second piece from this issue that I’ve decided to include is very short and sweet. It concerns the reasoning behind bikers shaving their legs!

In “Bikers May Shave Their Legs, But Panty Hose Still Remain a Fantasy,” Grant Lamont discusses one of the “strange customs and bizarre practices that seem ridiculous to the normal person.” Need I say more?

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For the full issue (and many more issues), visit our digital archive of the Whistler Answer.