Awkward Archival Photos

We have tens of thousands of photos in the museum archives. Amongst the plethora of photos of our pioneers, the community, and the ski hill is the occasional image that really defies explanation, and to be honest, these photos sometimes seem better without knowing the stories behind them. We thought it was high time we shared some with the public. In the hopes of making you laugh a little, here are a selection of photos we’ve dubbed ‘Awkward Archival Photos’.

A personal favourite (and the photo that inspired this blog post) is the following photo of a baby in a tree. This baby is Doreen Tapley, and apparently the boughs were shoved in the tree to give it “a more festive look”. Unfortunately, little Doreen’s facial expression is not so festive.

She looks cold – throw some more cedar boughs in there to keep her warm!


Apparently the problem of parents trying to capture their teenagers’ awkward coming of age has persisted through the ages. The young man below looks like he’s dressed in his Sunday best, ready for a photo shoot, when someone suggested he curl up in fetal position and perch on top of a stump.

Time to put on your Sunday best and pose on a tree stump.


Some of our photos have red pen markings on them, but I like the way that in this photo, two women appear to have been specifically crossed out (one of them is Myrtle Philip).

These two women were next on the list…


When I first saw this photo, I thought this man was rescuing this woman. Then I realized that no, unless he’s wearing that bandana to prevent infection, this is a bizarrely posed mountain shot.

When trying to protect yourself from the sun, tie a bandana over your face. To complete the bandito look, grab a helpless maiden.


The following photo really grabbed me because the gentleman reading his newspaper on a frozen lake looks incredibly casual. Perhaps this family visited from the southern hemisphere, forgetting that the seasons are reversed, and had hoped for a lovely lakeside summer vacation. Being a stubborn fellow, this man insisted on adhering to his plan.

Dad is a bit seasonally confused.


This is one of those accidental optical illusions that worked out to comic ends. The photo is actually labeled ‘See the length of that cow!’, so it appears that the photographer may have been in on the joke.

When two become one.


When I first saw this photo, I thought it was a member of the KKK. Thankfully, I was wrong, but I have no idea what this costume is about. A wizard? Moses? A scarecrow?

It’s Halloween every day in Whistler!


We have a surprising number of photos of men in drag. This was apparently a popular costume for Whistler’s pioneers. This photo stands out because the drag is incredible, and the pose just tops it off.

We’ll never forget the year Dad put on a one man show of Swan Lake.


One question stands out for me from this photo: Do you think her parents specifically chose this outfit because it matched the two dead birds she’s holding?

Mommy mommy! Look what I shot!


Our collection of photos of squatters and ski bums has a few gems. In the days when people partied hard and threw caution to the wind, bizarre photos were fairly common place. I like the facial expression of the child in the background, which seems to say, “Shame on you.”

Getting naked at a family event is sure to attract the attention of law enforcement.


We hope you’ve enjoyed this glimpse into the often inexplicable humour of history. For more giggles check out Awkward Family Photos.

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