Saunas of Whistler

Looking through Whistler publications from the 1970s, it’s easy to see that building and design in Whistler has changed a lot over the decades.  It’s rare today to see a newly constructed A-frame, Gothic arch cabin or a condo advertised using wall-to-wall shag carpeting as a selling point.  Like the shag carpeting and A-frames, saunas also seem to be disappearing from town.

Not all saunas built in Whistler necessarily met the criteria of H.J. Viherjurri, one of the founding members of the Suomen Saunaseura (Finnish Sauna Society), to be considered a true sauna.  He and other members defined a sauna as a room or hut built of wood and containing stones heated by some kind of stones.  These stones heat the air to upwards of 160°F and water can be thrown on the stones to produce steam, called löyly.  Viherjuuri explains that, unlike steam rooms, the air in a sauna remains dry as the moisture is instantly absorbed by the wooden walls of the room.

It’s not clear whether the products in this 1980 California Pool & Spa ad from the Whistler Answer would meet the requirements of a sauna.  Whistler Answer, December 1980.

Also important to be considered a true sauna is the multi-round process of alternately heating and cooling, whether by a cold shower, jumping in a lake or even rolling in snow.  The process often also includes light beating with leafy birch branches to clean the skin.  Without known how saunas built in Whistler were used in the 1970s it is impossible to assume they met the requirements of this definition.  The term sauna was, however, used to attract buyers and visitors to various properties.

In advertisements placed in Garibaldi’s Whistler News the Christiana Inn, Highland Lodge, Cheakamus Inn, Ski Boot Lodge and Whistler Inn all featured the word sauna among their various assets.  The Whistler Inn, described as “an ultra modern, yet rustic lodge” listed their sauna first among their attractions “available for your added enjoyment and comfort”.

Many of the condominiums built around Whistler at the time also included saunas, whether private or shared, for the use of guests and residents.  Blackcomb Condominiums, Telemark Townhouses and Alpenforst condos all had saunas available and the “very deluxe units” of Adventures West included “dishawashers, saunas, washing machines and dryers”.

This living room was used to sell Tamarisk units in 1973; see the massive fireplace and wall-to-wall shag. Garibaldi’s Whistler News, Fall 1973.

Perhaps best known is the example of Tamarisk.  The first phase of Tamarisk, built in 1973, included 146 units, each featuring a sunken living area, a “massive stone fireplace”, shag carpet and a private sauna.

Saunas remained a popular part of aprés-ski culture into the 1980s.  For those who didn’t already have their own sauna Wedge Mountain Construction advertised in The Whistler Answer in December 1980 that they could build one for you.  You could also purchase a freestanding sauna kit from California Pool & Spa for $900.

For a price Wedge Mountain Construction would build a sauna for you. Whistler Answer, December 1980.

Though houses may still contain saunas, many of these rooms are now used for purposes other than bathing.  Growing up in 1980s house built with one of these wooden rooms, some small children thought sauna was just another word for storeroom.  Rather than attract buyers with the promise of their own private sauna, house listings today are more likely to advertise a Tamarisk unit with a converted sauna.

While saunas may not be nearly as prevalent as during their 1970s ’80s heyday, they can still be found in Whistler at Meadow Park Sports Centre, various hotels, the Scandinave Spa and even some private residences.

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This Week In Photos: November 15

This week of 1984 includes some photos from Beer League Slo-pitch Banquet.  For more photos of the trophies mentioned, take a look here – some of them are quite interestingly crafted.

1979

The copper pillars of the pub in Package 6 reflect the afternoon sun at Whistler Village.

Three views of the Ski Swap… The crowds of cars outside..

… the crowds of people looking for bargains inside…

… and the RCMP engraving skis as part of their “Ski Watch” program.

Garibaldi Building Supplies’ Franke Desroches proudly displays the winning ticket.

The new town access road that runs past the school property. The new road is about 1.5 metres above the level of the school grounds.

Campbell McGougan and Bob Bates stands beside Alpine Security’s Bronco patrol vehicle.

View of the Rotary Auction as seen from the front of the room. Nandor Pal has just made a bid!

1980

First snow of the season: Sunday Evening, November 9, 1980.

New Guides Carrie Ainsworth, Marisa Gianne, Jodi Rustad and Rya Kirkwood proudly display their badges.

Stuart Remple and Steve Kellough of Salomon and Blackcomb Staffers Elizabeth Bennett and Martin Kimble mount bindings on the new Blackcomb rental skis.

Manager Dennis Lamarche stands in the centre of the new unfinished Whistler Liquor Store.

Gourmet’s Ted Nebbeling heads out with a tray of goodies for the Blackcomb Sports store opening.

A happy Blackcombe Sports staff cuts through the ribbon with a pair of skis as scissors at the store opening ceremonies.

Worker puts finishing touches to new dog pound adjacent to Whistler public works building.

1981

Oh happy days – frosted slopes and free season’s passes from each mountain. Roland Kentel (left), president of Whistler Athletic Society, was pleased to present Rod MacLeod with a pass to Whistler and Cheryl Devine with one to Blackcomb for their top efforts in raising money for the Terry Fox Marathon of Hope; Rod raised $1,260 and Cheryl raised $1,134.

Oops – didn’t think that telephone pole looked like that last night. This one took a nose-dive in the early morning hours of Saturday, November 14, knocking out power in the southern part of the municipality for several hours. BC Hydro said that the rain-soaked earth was at the root of the problem.

Al Raine displays his broadjumping skills for sons Charlie and Willie, an unidentified family friend and the family dog.

Department of Highways worker stands on one of the 44,000 lb. concrete beams that will make up the base of the Bridge at River of Golden Dreams.

Treasurer Gary Raymond plays at the keyboard of the municipality’s new $60,000 Basic MAI system 210 computer. The system is capable of printing 150 lines per minute and storing up to 14 million characters. Tax accountant Kathy Hicks and MAI system analyst Gene Wong look on.

1982

New positions and new faces on Blackcomb Mountain this season include (l – r) Lorne Borgal, Administrative Manager; Rick Morten, Operations Manager; Grant Smith, Vehicle Maintenance Supervisor; Ross Nichol, Comptroller.

A quiet moment in memory of the war dead is observed Thursday, November 11 by members of Whistler RCMP and Whistler Ambulance. (L – R) Denver Snider, Gord Simms, Andrea Lloyd and Jim Scribner observe two minutes of silence after laying a wreath. Any war vets who would be interested in holding an Armistice Day service next year are asked to contact Jim Scribner.

Margate Kogler ‘hams it up’ with a submarine sandwich in the kitchen at the Community Club Fall Fair November 13.

Eugene Rickli displays a selection of his hand-carved cedar faces at the Community Club Fall Fair.

First snowman of the season was being created on November 15 with only the help of a small shovel and a metal spoon. Sculptors are (clockwise from the bottom left): Sam Davies, Pam Pocius, Tim Sereda, Anthony Garm and Nina Lewis.

Ian Boyd, an employee of Whistler Mountain Ski Corp., demonstrates the ins and outs of this SMI snow-making machine Thursday. The machine, which may be put to use on Whistler Mountain this winter, is able to produce enough snow to cover one acre one-half inch deep in one hour.

1984

Smith Brothers Wilson employees poured part of the concrete slab for the Conference Centre’s second floor Friday. Construction crews are racing against the clock to get the second floor and roof completed before the end of the month. The 2,100 person capacity Conference Centre is scheduled to open June 1.

About 75 people attended a brief Remembrance Day ceremony in front of the Tri-Services Building Sunday morning. At precisely 11 am a minute of silence was observed to commemorate those Canadian men and women who died in battle and to give thanks for the peace they fought and died for.

About 1,300 people passed through Myrtle Philip School gym and lunchroom Saturday for the 8th annual Fall Fair organized by Heather Gamache and Catherine Wiens from the Alta Lake Community Club. Although final figures haven’t yet been tabulated, Gamache estimates the club raised close to $1,800 from the fair that featured clothing, jewellery, photography and art and other hand-made crafts.

Sonya McCarthy with a selection of South American clothing she was selling at Saturday’s Fall Fair.

150 people showed up for the last week’s beer league’s slo-pitch banquet, despite weather conditions that were definitely not for baseball. Each team in the league made a trophy for presentation to one of the other teams. Trophies included a No Name brand trophy, a softball/sailboat, and a Muppet-like doll with one rather unMuppet-like feature.

Stoney’s accepts its team trophy. The team won the league championship this year.

Over 20 Years of Whistler Welcomes

November has traditionally been a time of arrivals in Whistler: the snow arrives in the valley (we hope) and new faces arrive for the upcoming season.

Over the past week you may have seen some (or been one) of these new residents throughout town getting their scavenger hunt passports stamped, attending classes at Meadow Park Sports Centre or playing board games at the Whistler Public Library.

While many board games can by played at Games Night at the Whistler Public Library, we don’t think the Whistler Challenge will be among those found there.  Does anyone have a copy of this Whistler game? Whistler Question Collection, 1983.

All of these activities are part of Connect Whistler, a weeklong Whistler introduction put on by Whistler Community Services Society (WCSS) and community partners.  Though the name may not sound familiar, the idea behind it should be.  After all, WCSS has been officially welcoming new arrivals to Whistler for over a decade.

The first Whistler Welcome Week was put on in November 2003 by WCSS youth outreach workers Tessa McLoughlin and Greg McDonnell.  The week was designed to resemble “a healthier version of a university frosh week” and offered five alcohol-free events attended by over 1,300 people.

Some events, such as a volunteer fair and scavenger hunt, familiarized attendees with services and businesses available in Whistler.  There was also a snowboard film screening and the Moist Pool Party held at Meadow Park.  The week’s festivities culminated in Saturday’s Community Welcome Dinner.

Community meals have been held in the Whistler valley for decades.  Here the Alta Lake community gathered to ring in the new year.  Philip Collection.

Held at the conference centre, the Community Welcome Dinner sat new residents and old at a table together to share a meal provided by some of the town’s top chefs.  Whistler’s then-Mayor Hugh O’Reilly and his wife got to know eight young Australians the first year, discussing travel and the upcoming season.

The following year, the dinner was renamed in honour of Jill Ackhurst, a long-time community member and chair of the WCSS board of directors who died in 2003.

With the support of community partners such as LUNA, Whistler Blackcomb, Tourism Whistler and the RMOW, most of these events would remain Welcome Week staples over the next 12 years.

Other events were also added, ranging from a community rummage sale to workshops on tenants’ rights.

In 2016, WCSS announced a rebranding of Welcome Week.  The scavenger hunt, which used to be a single afternoon’s activity, has been reformed as a week-long opportunity to find and get familiar with local businesses and services, including the new WCSS building, the Re-Use-It Centre, the Whistler Library and even the Whistler Museum, with the incentive of some pretty great prizes.

Participants are also offered a chance to try out classes at Meadow Park, devour Rotary pancakes and ensure a good winter season by taking a plunge in Lost Lake.

With a few variations in dress, this photo easily could have been taken at the Whistler Museum last night. Whistler Question Collection, 1978.

Last night the Whistler Museum hosted Feeding the Spirit, the last in a long list of Connect Whistler events.  Thank you to everyone who joined up and we hope you learned something about Whistler’s history (if not, we’re open daily!).

A huge thank you to Creekside Market for their ongoing support of Feeding the Spirit, as well as all the local businesses that generously provide prizes.

This Week In Photos: November 8

Halloween may be over but there are still a few more costumes this week, mostly courtesy of the National Men’s Downhill Team Benefit held at Dusty’s.

1978

Brian “Sherlock Holmes” checks out Ron’s plastic torso at the Halloween dance.

Hold it! Members of the Volunteer Ski Patrol lower a “patient” from the Olive Chair during an evacuation practice.

Jerry Blan and Hugh Smythe from Fortress Mountain Resorts present the Blackcomb development to the public.

1979

A study in roof structures – the new Public Service Building awaits its roof.

Geopac’s 20-ton weight crashes down to compact the ground for the foundations of the Mountain Inn – the new 6-storey concrete hotel to be built at the Town Centre…

… while this week the top layer of gravel is placed on the new parking lot adjacent to the Public Service Building to be used by day skiers in the winter.

The Whistler Skiers Chapel at its new location beside the Whistler Mountain Ski Club cabin.

A crane sets the new steel in place for the base terminal of the Olive Chair while the excavation for the staging area proceeds.

The interior of the newly-remodelled L’Apres Dining Room showing the raised dining area and the tiffany lamps.

1980

Misguided truck – the accident occurred on Tuesday when Hydro crews were fixing some downed lines.

At the National Team Benefit Dave Murray draws the door prize while a rather hoarse Paul Burrows gets ready to continue the auction.

TIMBER! This is the end of the tree that fell on several cars outside the Keg on Saturday evening.

T.W.U. members picket the Whistler Village site on Tuesday.

1981

A new bridge and culvert is in place by November 10 after last week’s flooding.

Artist Roy Tomlinson demonstrates his technique on a litho stone at the showing at Inge Neilsen’s.

Lexi Ross and Craig Tomlinson look over the selection of skis at the ski swap.

Ross Morben, the new manager of Beau’s, lends a helping hand to the new renovations which include a live entertainment lounge.

1982

It was a mad, mad, mad crowd at the Whistler Mountain Ski Club annual ski swap Sunday, November 7. Bargain hunters were not disappointed with the tremendous selection of ski equipment at real recession prices.

It was a quieter scene at the Burrows garage sale held on Matterhorn Drive.

Butcher John MacLeod carves a few slices for the new meat and seafood market at The Grocery Store.

Charlie Doyle (right) wailed it out with Foot in the Door Saturday, November 6 – a packed Stumps lounge like it’s never been packed before. Accompanying on guitar is Mark Schnaidt.

Davey Blaylock tries his hand at running the show, with a little help from Mayor Pat Carleton. Witnessing the change in who holds the gavel are (L to R) Mark Jennings, Jake Humphrey and Justin Adams. The Kindergarten class visited the Mayor in his chambers, which he has occupied for seven years before deciding to step down on November 20.

1984

Grocery Store staff spent most of Saturday mopping up water that covered the floor. The damage was caused by a burst pipe in the Hearthstone Lodge. Both the Grocery Store and the liquor store were closed for more than half the day. Water damage was also sustained by some suites in the Hearthstone.

Jack Bright and Toulouse dressed in their finest for last Wednesday’s National Men’s Downhill Team Benefit at Dusty’s. The event raised about $7,500 for the team.

The real Whistler came out of the closet, so to speak, Halloween night to help support the National Ski Team Benefit. Mr. & Mrs. Halfenhalf walked away from Dusty’s with the top prize for best costume.

The Whistler Mountain Ski Club held its annual ski swap Saturday and Sunday as hundreds of local and Vancouver residents flocked to Myrtle Philip School gym to take advantage of the many bargains available.

At precisely 11 am on Sunday, November 11 a moment of silence followed by a brief ceremony will take place in front of the Public Safety Building. Among the group gathered there to remember the 114,000 Canadian men and women who died in a battle this century will be Rolly Horsey, a retired Major in the Canadian infantry who fought in World War II. Mr. Horsey, a resident of Whistler for 17 years with his wife Anne, started with Canadian Scottish in Victoria in 1939 shortly after war was declared and headed overseas to Great Britain on a three-ship convoy in 1941. For his commitment toward fighting against the Axis powers he received the DSO in an all-Canadian investiture at Buckingham Palace with Lt. Co. Lord Tweedsmuir. He returned to Europe in 1967 with his wife and visited a Canadian cemetery and was struck by the futility and sadness of all the young men who gave their life for their country during World War II. Mr. Horsey will be on hand Sunday to remember not only all those who died but also his own involvement fighting in Europe to defeat Adolf Hitler and the Axis powers.

Feeding the Spirit 2018

The Whistler Museum, with the support of Whistler’s Creekside Market, will again be hosting Feeding the Spirit as part of Connect Whistler!

Each year we invite newcomers to town (as well as anyone who wishes to join us) for some free food and to explore our exhibits.  Feeding the Spirit aims to provide a sense of place and community, as well as a general knowledge of Whistler’s past.  With free admission, Whistler trivia and prizes donated by local businesses, everyone is encouraged to learn about our town’s unique history!

Special thanks to all of our amazing sponsors:

  • Creekside Market
  • Purebread Bakery
  • Farfalla Hair & Esthetics
  • Whistler Roasting Co.
  • Splitz Grill
  • Misty Mountain Pizza
  • DavidsTea
  • Cranked Espresso Bar
  • Prior Snowboards and Skis
  • Escape! Whistler
  • The Velvet Underground
  • Whistler Community Services Society

Childhood Days at Parkhurst

When we post images on social media it’s hard to predict which will be particularly popular and start conversations.  Recently we posted a few photos of Parkhurst on Instagram and the response we received showed that while many people find the history of the area interesting, many are also surprised to learn the stories behind the ghost town.  (If you aren’t already following the museum, you can find us @whistlermuseum.)

The photos we shared, some of the first colour images of the mill site we have received, were brought to the museum by Ronald Clausen who lived at Parkhurst with his parents in the 1950s.  Along with the photos Ronald also provided an account of his childhood memories from Parkhurst.

Ronald and his father pose above the Parkhurst mill site. Clausen Collection.

John (Aage) and Birthe Clausen emigrated to Canada from Denmark in 1950 and, after some time in Vancouver, arrived at Parkhurst in 1954.  The family lived there seasonally for two years, returning to Vancouver over the winters when the mill was closed.

When they arrived the first spring the family found a house infested with vermin, quickly dealt with using a “disinfectant bomb”.  After a thorough cleaning and some repairs the home appeared neat and tidy and even had a small garden added in the front.

John Clausen stands in the garden outside the family’s home. Clausen Collection.

The Clausen’s home, like the other houses in the small settlement, was located on an embankment above the train tracks along Green Lake.  Ronald remembers playing outside as a small child and accidentally rolling down the embankment to the tracks below.  As he recalls, “Getting up after the fall, dirty and frightening, and looking up from the tracks, along with my mother and my home out of sight, the world at that moment felt immensely big.”

A small collection of houses stand in a clearing above the Parkhurst mill site. Clausen Collection.

As a child Ronald experienced life at Parkhurst from a different perspective than seen in other accounts of Parkhurst.  His memories include items and events that a child would remember, such as the Sugar Crisp cereal his parents sometimes included in their weekly grocery orders delivered by train, and many of the photos are images of childhood milestones such as birthday parties, Halloween costumes and community picnics.

Ronald and his mother would pick fresh flowers on many of their walks. Clausen Collection.

Ronald and his mother spent a lot of time exploring the area while his father was at work.  They would walk by the shore of Green Lake (where there was sometimes the added excitement of the tugboat at work) or walk out to Lost Lake or the sandbank.  Often they would walk over to visit Lloyd, a friend the family had met in Vancouver who did administrative work at Parkhurst.

For Ronald these visits are remembered fondly.  It was exciting to walk along the trail under the huge trees, and even more exciting to get one of the cellophane wrapped chocolates that Lloyd kept in a jar.  These made a lasting impression, as Ronald claims “Even today, when I open and eat a small wrapped candy, I think of having done the same thing under the fir trees of Parkhurst on my way home from Lloyd’s more than sixty years ago.”

A Parkhurst community picnic on the shore of Green Lake. Clausen Collection.

Though his parents lived there for only two years and later moved back to Denmark in 1971, their memories of the area were cherished and shared with friends through their stories and slides.

Ronald revisited the remains of Parkhurst during his last visit to Whistler and he closed his remembrances with this wish: “Today the buzz of saws at the sawmill and the laughter and conversation of Parkhurst people gathered at picnics, Halloween celebrations, birthday parties and dances sound no more, but hopefully the recollection of the little town will live on.”

You can take a look at the rest of the Clausen Collection here.

This Week In Photos: November 1

If you’re looking for photos of Halloweens past, look no further than the Whistler Question Collection!

1978

This large pile of building material debris collecting under the power line at Function Junction.

Package #7 – The new Post Office site is identified at the Town Centre with the school in the background.

The western pine log home nearing completion in Alpine Meadows – construction by Canadiana Homes Corp.

1980

Whistler Daycare Hallowe’en Party!

Jack Davey (far right) talks to one of his first customers in his new hardware store in the Town Centre. Only open a week, the store boasts a huge inventory of dry goods from kitchen ware to backyard tools.

Blue Northern belted out the dancin’ tunes to the delight of the 250+ customers that attended the Country Hoedown and Trucker’s Ball in the Blackcomb Maintenance garage. It was the third annual for the Cookhouse Organization.

Member of the fitness awareness squad that visited the school over the weekend chats with Joan Gross as she pedals the specially adapted exercise bike that measures how the body’s cardiovascular system is working.

The Town Centre as it is this last week of October from the north looking south. Parking is now available on the large football field-looking structure to the right. The structures at the bottom left are the employee trailers, the circle in the middle is for dropping passengers at Blackcomb Lodge and Phase Two projects are shown in various states of construction in the middle left.

1981

Auctioneer Paul Burrows offers the giant collage by Chris Speedie for sale at the Ski Team Benefit. The picture fetched a tidy $1,100.

Discussing the benefits of the benefit (l to r): Dennis Waddingham, Steve Podborski, Dave Murray, Toulouse and Deedee Haight of the Alpine Ski Team.

There were bewildering moments for many Whistler residents upon awakening Saturday, October 31 to the sounds of raging creeks. This resident of Panorama Drive in Brio says it all with a shrug – after all, what can you say when there’s a river where there once was none?

Norm Dedeluk (centre) gets more than a helping hand from two fellow volunteer firemen in dislodging debris from raging Brio Creek.

Half of the Myrtle Philip Kindergarten Class – from the left: Kris Jones, Kelly Hamilton, Michael Hoffmann, Simon Beller, Christopher Systad, Aaron Gross, Alexander Fordham and Karen Kogler.

Principal Bob Daly is surrounded by teachers Sue Christopher (left) and Sandra Pauliuk-Epplett all dressed in their Halloween finery.

1982

Smokey Batzer demonstrates artificial resuscitation techniques to employees of the Delta Mountain Inn.

And the winner is… Steve Podborski draws the lucky number of the grand prize winner at the Canadian National Ski Team Benefit as Dennis Waddingham looks on. The benefit was held October 29 at L’Apres.

His Honour Dave Murray passes royal judgement on the winning costume at Araxi’s first birthday party Sunday, October 31. Lucky Andre walked away with $100 for his light and airy costume, which just may give the mountains some bright ideas for transporting skiers.

Halloween brought all kinds in all sorts of outfits into Whistler Village October 30 and 31. Revellers whooped it up at Nasty Jack’s Halloween Party and Bullets Cabaret.

What better way to end an evening of trick or treating than being treated to Whistler’s third annual Halloween fireworks display, put on by the Whistler Volunteer Fire Department.

Provincial crews began taking apart the Bailey bridge which spans the River of Golden Dreams at Highway 99. Work on the dismantling job began November 1.

1983

Members of the Canadian Olympic Soccer Team gathered in Myrtle Philip playing field Tuesday after training on top of Whistler Mountain Monday. Twenty-one players and coaching staff head to Mexico City Saturday to battle against the Mexican national team which they defeated 1-0 in Victoria. The Canadian team must draw or win against Mexico to advance to the next round in the Olympic qualifying matches. Good luck lads!

Gruesome monster Davey Blaylock tricked and treated with timid lion Jake Humphrey and hideous Swamp Thing Aaron Gross. Students of Myrtle Philip School paraded before parents in the gym before going off to Halloween parties in their classrooms.

One of the, ah, more penetrating costumes worn by a reveller in the Mountain House.

It was a Monday full of goblins, ghouls and costumes as Whistlerites celebrated Halloween around the village. Kids and parents watch fireworks in front of the Tri-Services Building put on by the Volunteer Fire Department. Coffee and a huge log fire kept everyone warm as they oohed and aahed the well-organized fireworks display.

The first crests and embroidered garments will soon be rolling off a computerized embroidery machine at Function Junction. Owners Jan Holmberg and Ted Nebbeling paid $80,000 for the Japanese-made machine that has twelve sewing heads.

1984

Antonio Pellin from Custom Paving takes a 16 tonne compacting machine to Highway 99 at Village Gate Boulevard in preparation for the final paving and installation of a traffic light at the intersection. Once the work is completed this month, Whistler will have its first traffic light and the intersection will have an extra lane for turning into the village from both north and south.

About 12 cm of powdery snow covered the valley Tuesday in the first major snowfall of the season. A group of local women decided to herald the unofficial beginning of winter by building a ‘snow-woman’ in Village Square Tuesday. The ‘snow-woman’ featured brussel sprouts for a mouth, potatoes for eyes and a carrot for the nose.

Youngsters at Myrtle Philip School had their first frolic in the snow Tuesday morning, arriving at the school to fine their friends as well as about 12 cm of fresh new powder.