Category Archives: Museum News & Events

Whistler Museum in the community.

Images of Blackcomb

If you follow the Whistler Museum on social media, you will probably have noticed more images of Blackcomb Mountain appearing over the past year or so as we’ve been working to digitize the Blackcomb Mountain Collection. We’ve been sharing some of the more eye-catching and informative images that we’ve come across while digitizing. Next week we’ll be sharing even more of the Blackcomb Mountain Collection images in the hope of adding more information to the images.

The Blackcomb Mountain Collection includes over 22,000 promotional and candid images taken by over 30 photographers between 1980s and 1998. This period covers the mountain’s opening and its years in competition with neighbouring Whistler Mountain up until the two merged under Intrawest. Some of the photographers are well known for their photography work in the area, including Greg Griffith, Chris Speedie (of Toad Hall fame), and Paul Morrison, while others are perhaps better known for their work on Blackcomb Mountain, such as Hugh Smythe (then the President of Blackcomb Mountain Ski Enterprise) and David Perry (then in Blackcomb Mountain’s marketing department).

The Suitcase Race of 1988 is just one event pictured in the collection. Blackcomb Mountain Collection, Greg Griffith.

The content included in the Blackcomb Mountain Collection varies widely. There are, of course, a lot of images of people skiing and, in the later years, snowboarding. There are also many images that were created to promote Blackcomb Mountain and so show people (often hired models) happily wearing ski gear in the sun, sharing a meal at one of Blackcomb’s restaurants, or eating giant cookies outside in the snow. There are also images of mountain facilities, retail stores, and a lot of Blackcomb branded clothing.

While we do not yet have a name for the woman pictured, many people shared their fond memories of the giant cookies when this photo was posted online. Blackcomb Mountain Collection, David Stoecklein, 1988.

Not all of the images, however, are quite so obviously stages and instead seem to be promoting Blackcomb Mountain simply by capturing what was happening on and around the mountain. These images include many events that were hosted on Blackcomb Mountain, such as Freestyle World Cups, Kids Kamp events, Can Am bike races, and the well-remembered celebrity Suitcase Races. There are also images of people paragliding with Parawest Paragliding, the company that Janet and Joris Moschard operated off of Blackcomb Mountain in the early 1990s, and street entertainers organized by the Whistler Resort Association drawing crowds both at the base of Blackcomb Mountain and throughout the Whistler Village.

Amongst all of these images, there are also a few series of images of Blackcomb staff and staff events from the early 1990s. These are the images to which we are hoping to add more information (specifically names and possibly job titles) at our next Naming Night at the Museum.

Just one of the photographs whose subjects got named at our first Naming Night back in 2018. Photo: Whistler Question Collection, 1984.

If you haven’t been to a Naming Night before, the format is pretty simply. At 6 pm on Thursday, September 22, we’ll be posting about 100 images around the museum that we need more information about, including the series of Blackcomb staff. Everyone is welcome to come help us fill in the blanks, whether you recognize a face, a place, or an event, by writing the information on a post-it and sticking it to the image (paper and pens will be provided). This information will then be added to the image’s entry in our database, making it much more likely that the image will be included when someone searches for a specific person, place or event in our database or online galleries. We’ve also had hundreds of names added to our images by people across the world since moving Names Night online in 2020, so, if you’re not able to make it the museum, we will also be posting the images on our Facebook page on Friday, September 23. Whether in person or virtually, we hope to see you there!

Wrap Up: The 26th Annual Building Competition with LEGO Bricks

Thank you to everyone who came out for the 26th Annual Building Competition with LEGO Bricks this past weekend! You built incredible representations of your favourite parts of summer and we can’t wait to do it again next year – registration will open in late July/early August, so keep an eye out!

A huge thanks to our judges for this year’s competition: Erik from Arts Whistler, Chris from Whistler Community Services Society, and Jeanette from the Whistler Public Library. They had a very difficult task and were very impressed by the creations they got to evaluate.

Unfortunately, we were having so much fun that we weren’t able to get photographs of all of the creations before the wind started to take them down. If any parents have photographs of their child’s entry, we would love to see them! (Photos can be emailed to events @ whistlermuseum.org or tag us on social media)

A special thanks to the local businesses who donated amazing prizes for competition winners and for goody bags:

  • Purebread
  • Lucia Gelato
  • The Adventure Group
  • Armchair Books
  • The Old Spaghetti Factory
  • Cows
  • Escape! Whistler

We couldn’t do this event without the help of the community, from donors to judges to volunteers!

See you next year!

What do you love about summer vacation?

The months of July and August are highly anticipated by many children throughout the year as the time of summer vacation, when daily routines change (or are entirely discarded) and opportunities for adventures can be plentiful. Whistler can be a great place to spend summers as a child, whether as a visitor or a resident. This was also true 95 years ago, when the Matheson family from Vancouver began spending their two months of summer vacation at Alta Lake. These visits were still fondly remembered by Betty Jane Warner (the youngest of the three Matheson children) in 2011.

Alta Lake was an amazing summer retreat for the Matheson children, who spent a good part of the time in and on the lake. Philip Collection.

Beginning in 1927, Violet Matheson, her three children (Jack, Claudia, and Betty Jane), and often a maid, would board the Union Steamship in downtown Vancouver at the end of June. After the trip by boat to Squamish, the family would travel to Alta Lake aboard the Pacific Great Eastern Railway. Once there, they would stay at a cabin they referred to as their “summer cottage,” owned by William “Mac” MacDermott, who became a good family friend.

The months spent at Alta Lake by the Mathesons were very different from their daily lives in Vancouver. The cabin had a “cranky” wood stove, coal oil lamps, a copper tub, and an outhouse. The children would go swimming, go hiking with Mac, pick ripe blueberries, row around the lake among the waterlilies, spend hot afternoons reading in the shade, and visit Rainbow Lodge to pick up the mail and sometimes make purchases from the store. Claudia and Betty Jane had to get dressed up only once over the summer for their annual visit to Mrs. Harrop’s tearoom. They also looked forward to their annual picnic excursion with the Ford family, who lived at Alta Lake.

The Matheson family stopped coming to Alta Lake in 1935 after the death of Betty Jane’s father Robert, who had spent the summers working in Vancouver and visiting Alta Lake occasionally. Looking back on the summers spent there as a child, however, Betty Jane fondly recalled their “happy summers.”

Showing that summer fun continued well past the 1920s, four excited kids take part in the 3-legged race at the Summer Recreation sports day. P. Hocking photo. Whistler Question Collection, 1979.

There are still a lot of things to enjoy about summer vacations in Whistler today, which is why the theme for the 26th Annual Building Competition with LEGO Bricks is “What do you love about summer vacation?”

We are very excited to be hosting our annual building competition in person this summer on Saturday, August 27. While the past couple of years have seen the competition transition to building at home, this year we will be returning to our previous format where all competitors build their creations in Florence Petersen Park using the LEGO bricks provided. After the building time, our judges will evaluate the creations and then prizes donated by incredible local businesses will be awarded for the different age categories.

To register for this year’s competition and share your creations of your favourite parts of summer, contact us at the Whistler Museum. Ages 3 and up are welcome. Learn more here.

The Annual Building Competition is Back (and full)!

The 26th Annual Building Competition with LEGO Bricks is back this month!

*Registration for the Building Competition is full, but we’ll be back again next year!

Like in previous years, we’ll be gathering in Florence Petersen Park to build and share some incredible creations. All LEGO bricks will be provided and contestants will get 40 minutes to build something that they think represents this year’s theme: What do you love about summer vacation?

Before visitors started to come to Whistler to ski in the winters, Alta Lake was a popular place for visitors to come in the summer to go fishing. These days there are a lot of different things you can do during the summer in Whistler, including fishing, swimming, biking, hiking, coming to the museum, or even going on trips to other places – what is your favourite part of summer?

This year’s competition will be held on Saturday, August 27 from 2 – 4 pm in Florence Petersen Park. Kids ages 3 and up are welcome! Every participant will walk away with a treat-filled goody bag and might even win one of our amazing prizes, generously donated by Whistler businesses!

Contact us to register by phone (604-932-2019), email (events @ whistlermuseum.org) or by dropping in during our open hours.