Category Archives: Museum News & Events

Whistler Museum in the community.

The 23rd Annual Building Competition with LEGO Bricks

Our annual Building Competition with LEGO Bricks is back, this year virtually!

Though this years competition will be online, not everything will be different.   Like in past years, there will be 50 spots to register for beginning on Sunday, August 9th.  The Whistler Museum will announce a theme and it will be your challenge to interpret that theme using LEGO bricks (or DUPLO for the younger ones)!  When you submit the photo of your creation, you’ll include a description of what you’ve built and how you have interpreted the theme.

The Whistler Museum will be accepting LEGO creation submissions by email from Sunday, August 23rd to Saturday, August 29th.  To make sure the competition is as fair as possible, we will be announcing the theme on Saturday, August 22nd and each child will have a week to send in their submission.

Like past years, we will have goody bags available for all participants and prizes for category winners.  These will be be available for pick up only at the Whistler Museum from Sunday, August 30th through Sunday, September 6th.  Prize winners will be announced Sunday, August 30th.

Winners will be judged on their LEGO creations as well as the description on how it relates to the theme.  We recognize that since families will be using their own LEGO and not all families will have the same amounts, winners will not be judged on how big or extravagant their creations are, but on their creativity, originality and how well they relate what they’ve made with the theme.

Learn more about the competition here.

Canoeing through Whistler’s Past

This evening (Tuesday, July 7) the museum will be hosting our first virtual Speaker Series, an adapted version of the talk and film screening with Mike Stein that we were originally planning to present in March.  Though Whistler is known internationally as a ski resort, the film features a different form of recreation and transportation that is commonly found in the valley: canoeing.

In the 1980s there was even a Whistler Canoe Club, which held races on Alta Lake.  Whistler Question Collection.

Canoeing has a much longer history in the area than snowsports, as canoes are important to both the Lil’wat and Squamish Nations.  The Great Hall of the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre features a 40 foot long Salish hunting canoe carved from a single cedar tree which at times is removed from the exhibition and taken on an ocean journey.  Learn more about this canoe and others by visiting the Squmaish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, which reopened last month.

The Whistler Museum also has records of canoes being used to transport people and products around the valley for over a century.

In the early 1900s the Barnfield family established a dairy farm on their property at the northeast end of Alta Lake.  As summer tourism became more popular in the area following the arrival of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway in 1914, the Barnfield’s dairy began supplying the lodges and visitors with fresh supplies.  They used a dugout canoe to deliver milk, cream, eggs, news and gossip to the different lodges on Alta Lake.  By 1920 their largest customer was Rainbow Lodge, which had a daily order of 80 quarts of milk, 4 quarts of cream, and 2 quarts of table cream.

This dugout canoe is similar to the one Alfred and Fred would have used. It may in fact be the one they used, but we have no records to confirm or deny that.

Rainbow Lodge itself had a number of boats, including canoes, for guests and staff to use for fishing or paddling down the River of Golden Dreams, one of which now resides in the museum’s collection.  In 2011 the museum, with the generous support of the Province of British Columbia, was able to purchase a cedar canoe bought by Alex and Myrtle Philip in 1916 for Rainbow Lodge.  After the Philips sold the lodge in 1948, Myrtle kept the canoe for her own personal use for the next 25 years.  The canoe and aged and, before coming back to Alta Lake, was restored by Dave Lanthier, an expert vintage canoe restorer and member of the Wooden Canoe Heritage Association.  The canoe is currently displayed in the Whistler Public Library, as the museum does not have the space to exhibit such a large item.

Myrtle’s canoe, pre-restoration.  The canoe now hangs on the wall of the Whistler Public Library, until such a time as we have space to display it at the museum.

The popularity of canoeing continued even after skiing came to Whistler.  In 1975 canoes represented the water part of the first Great Snow Earth Water Race, with cyclists passing the baton to canoeists who worked their way up Alta Lake to the first weir on the River of Golden Dreams, where they handed off to the runners.  From all reports, the canoeing was the most fun for the spectators.  According to Dave Steers, “Most of the teams had members who could tell the front of a canoe from the back.  A few teams didn’t even have that.”  As you can imagine, quite a few canoes tipped and those watching got to see a lot of splashing.

The canoe portion of the Great Snow, Earth, Water Race heads out on Alta Lake.  Whistler Question Collection.

Three years before that inaugural race, Mike Stein, Adolf Teufele, Wink Bradford, Ferdi Wenger, and Jim McConkey set out on their own journey by canoe on the Liard River.  Teufele captured their adventures in the Grand Canyon, a 20 km stretch of the Liard, on 16mm film and the film has now been digitized, edited, and narrated by Stein.  This evening we’ll be hearing from Stein about the film and the journey, as well as screening Highways of the Past: Canoeing the Grand Canyon of the Liard, via Zoom.  Visit here to learn more about the event and register.

We’ve Reopened

Over the past few weeks museum and other cultural organizations have begun to re-open around the province, many with new procedures in place and some with reduced hours and services.  Locally the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre and the Audain Art Museum both reopened with reduced hours on Friday, June 26.  Over here at the Whistler Museum, we’re taking things a little more slowly and officially reopened to the public on Wednesday, July 1.

We didn’t have any balloons but we have reopened! Whistler Museum Collection

Our reopening comes with a few changes, beginning with our operating hours.  The museum will be open only six days a week and will be closed on Wednesdays (apart from July 1) for the foreseeable future, though we will continue to be open until 9pm on Thursdays.  Visitors to the museum will also notice some physical changes to the space, with a barrier at the front desk and designated pathways through the exhibit area (we have also repainted some areas, which eagle-eyed visitors will notice are a slightly different shade of gray).  You can find more information about changes in our protocols and procedures here.

Our summer programming will also be starting up in July.  Walking tour season will begin July 1, with our Valley of Dreams Walking Tour, a historical tour through the Village, accepting up to ten participants at 11 am and the launch of a digital version of our guided nature walking tour.  This online tour includes videos and images related to Whistler’s rich natural history that correspond to numbered locations along the Nature Trail starting at Lost Lake PassivHaus (more information can be found at whistlermuseum.org/naturewalk).

Discover Nature will look different this year, with “no touch” tables and much more distance between our interpreters and visitors.

This summer our popular Discover Nature program will rotate through different parks around town, bringing visual displays, “no touch” tables, and on-site interpreters to feature different themes and aspects of Whistler’s natural history Mondays through Fridays.

Crafts in the Park, a joint program with the Whistler Public Library, is going virtual this summer, with seven weeks of crafts brought to you from Florence Petersen Park.  Each Saturday, beginning July 11, we will share a video filmed in the park to share a little about Whistler’s history and lead you through a craft project.  Families can sign up with the Whistler Library to receive weekly craft supply packages and craft supply lists for each week will be shared online so everyone can participate.

We are also very excited to be able to announce that we will be presenting a virtual screening of Mike Stein’s film Highways of the Past:Canoeing the Grand Canyon of the Liard, with a Q&A session with Mike, on Tuesday, July 7.  Participants must register for the event, as space is limited.  Go to the Events page on our website to find out how to register.

Though the season will be different than we initially planned, we’re looking forward to a busy summer at the museum, both online and in person, and we are especially excited to welcome our members and friends again (a few at a time and from a safe distance)!

A Virtual AGM: A First for the Whistler Museum

This Thursday (June 11) the Whistler Museum & Archives Society will be hosting our 2020 AGM online beginning at 5 pm using Zoom, one of the many online platforms that have become increasingly popular over the past few months.  Though this will be the first time in over thirty years of operations that we will not be able to welcome our members in person, we’re looking forward to connecting with all who attend using the means currently available.

Most years our AGM includes dinner and a chance for members to catch up, but this year members will all be responsible for providing their own refreshments.

The Whistler Museum & Archives Society became an official non-profit organization in February 1987, but work to start a museum had begun well before that.  In the late 1970s Myrtle Philip and Dick Fairhurst, both early Alta Lake residents, had expressed their concerns to Florence Petersen that the history of the small community would be lost as skiing became more and more popular in the area.  In the summer of 1986 Florence and a group of dedicated volunteers began gathering items and archival records to tell their stories.  Sadly, both Myrtle and Dick passed away before the first museum opened as a temporary showcase in the back room of the Whistler Library in the basement of Municipal Hall.

The first museum displays in the Whistler Library, then located in the basement of Municipal Hall.  Whistler Museum Collection.

The Whistler Museum moved into its own space in January 1988 when it took over the old municipal hall building in Function Junction.  Thanks to the generosity of the Whistler Rotary Club, who helped renovate the space, the museum was able to open to the public in June 1989 with exhibits on skiing and natural history and even a replica of Myrtle Philip’s sitting room.  Over its first season of operations, the Whistler Museum attracted over 2,000 visitors.  The following summer that number increased to over 3,800 visitors.

Florence poses at the Function Junction location with the new Museum sign in 1988 – this same sign adorns the side of the Museum today.  Whistler Museum Collection.

The museum remained in its Function Junction location until 1995, when it and the library both moved into temporary spaces on Main Street.  Though the new location was actually quite a bit smaller than the old one, this was more than made up for by its increased visibility and prime location.  In the first month of operation in the Village the museum attracted 2,168 visitors to is new exhibits.  The museum began to offer programs, such as walking tours and school trips, participated in community events such as the Canada Day Parade, and even published cookbooks sharing recipes from local restaurants and community members.

The Whistler Museum and Archives cookbook committee, April 1997: Janet Love-Morrison, Florence Petersen (founder of the Whistler Museum and Archives Society), Darlyne Christian and Caroline Cluer.

In 2009 the Whistler Museum reopened in its current location (conveniently right next door to its previous building) with a new interior and new permanent exhibits with support from the RMOW, the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, the Community Foundation of Whistler, the American Friends of Whistler and, of course, many community members.  From this space the museum has continued to offer programs and events, participate in community events, and offer temporary exhibits on different topics (though there have been no cookbooks published recently, First Tracks, Florence Petersen’s book on the history of Alta Lake, is now in its third printing and is available at the museum by request).

We hope that all of our members will be able to join us next Thursday to look back on the past year of museum operations (our busiest on record!).  For information on how to attend or to check on the status of your membership, please call the museum at 604-932-2019 or email us at events@whistlermuseum.org.

Whistler Museum’s First Virtual AGM

The 2020 Annual General Meeting of the Whistler Museum & Archives Society will be held online Thursday, June 11, 2020 beginning at 5 pm.

As the Whistler Museum remains closed, we will be hosting our AGM on Zoom this year.  If you are planning to attend the AGM, please RSVP by 4 pm on Wednesday, June 10 so we can be sure to send you the link to join us.  Simply email us at events @ whistlermuseum.org.

If you are looking to renew your membership or are unsure about the status of your membership, you can email us at events @ whistlermuseum.org or give us a call at 604-932-2019.

We hope to see you there (virtually)!

COVID-19 Archival Donation Drive

The Whistler Museum & Archives is conducting a donation drive in order to collect posters, signs, photographs, videos, records, and objects documenting the COVID-19 pandemic and related restrictions.

All who spent the past few months of the pandemic in Whistler are encouraged to donate any materials relating to COVID-19 and changes made during this time to the Whistler Museum & Archives in an effort to document this time in Whistler’s history.  This donation drive is an effort to collect items such as signs and posters listing restrictions or closures placed in local businesses and public spaces, photographs and videos of the effects of COVID-19 measures, written or visual accounts of individual pandemic experiences, or other items related to social distancing, self-isolation, and quarantine.  The Whistler Museum’s goal is to piece together an accurate representation of Whistler’s experience during the pandemic for the sake of the community’s historical record.

The Whistler Museum & Archives Society has been collecting artefacts and archival materials related to the history of the Alta Lake and Whistler area since it was first formed in 1988.  Whistler Museum Collection.

While the Whistler Museum & Archives has always encouraged donations of historical items local to Whistler or demonstrating mountain culture, this COVID-19 donation drive will be larger in scale and specific to pandemic-related items.  Items donated will be added to the artefact and archival collections and preserved at the Whistler Museum & Archives.  Access to items donated will be maintained through museum exhibits, reference services, and digitization projects.

“This COVID-19 donation drive is important – the Whistler Museum & Archives is collecting these items so we can share the legacy of these historic times in Whistler with each other and with future generations,” says Alyssa Bruijns, Head Archivist & Collections Manager at the Whistler Museum & Archives.

The COVID-19 Donation Drive will bring in pandemic-related items and stories is order to preserve Whistler’s unique experience with COVID-19.  Items for donation can be dropped off at the Whistler Museum & Archives between 11am and 5pm from Monday to Friday.  All donations will be quarantined for 9 days before handling by museum staff.

For any questions or to learn more about the COVID-19 Donation Drive, please email Head Archivist & Collections Manager, Alyssa Bruijns, at archives @ whistlermuseum.org.

Whistorical Photo Challenge

It’s time to re-imagine some of Whistler’s historical photographs!

Each week we’ll be posting a selection of photos and we want to see how you recreate them (in a safe, physical distance maintaining way).  Up this week, we have:

Two colourful skiers examine their skis on Whistler Mountain in the 1980s. Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation Collection.

Myrtle Philip in her iconic hand-sewn pants in the 1930s. Philip Collection.

Katie McGregor, Jean Tapley, and a gentleman friend pose in their fashionable swimwear of 1925. Philip Collection.

John Hetherington poses with an axe while installing the water system at Tokum Corners in 1973. George Benjamin Collection.

You can share your images on social media by tagging @whistlermuseum on Instagram or Facebook, or email us at events @ whistlermusem.org.

We can’t wait to see your interpretations!