Category Archives: News & Events

WMAS in the community.

Remembrance Day in Whistler

This Saturday marks the 34th year of Whistler’s Remembrance Day observances, and the first not to take place at the Whistler Village Fire Hall.

Yesterday (Friday, November 10) Whistler’s cenotaph was revealed at its new home in Olympic Plaza in the monument’s second dedication ceremony.

Remembrance Day Ceremonies at the Fire Hall in the 1980s were small but supported by the Whistler community. Photo: Whistler Question Collection, 1984

The history of Whistler’s cenotaph is surprisingly murky – not much about its installation made it into the Whistler Question; far more has been written about moving the cenotaph than building it.  As part of the campaign to have the cenotaph moved, Anne Townley and GD Maxwell searched for any reference to the origins of the cenotaph but were still left with more questions.

The cenotaph was first installed outside of the fire hall in 1985.  It was commissioned by the Rotary Club of Whistler to “honour the soldiers of World War I, World War II and the Korean War.”

The stone came from a quarry off the Duffey Lake Road and was installed by Art Den Duyf and someone by the name of Wilson.  (If anyone knows more about the commissioning and installation of the cenotaph please don’t hesitate to contact the museum.)  The monument was unveiled on November 11, 1985 by Mayor Terry Rodgers and was originally dedicated by then-Rotary Club president Floyd Leclair.  The ceremony occurred just three days after the cenotaph’s installation was completed.

Before the installation of the cenotaph, wreaths were placed dug into the snow in the same location. Photo: Whistler Question Collection, 1984

Although Whistler’s cenotaph was not installed until 1985 the community had been holding Remembrance Day Services for at least two years previously.  These ceremonies also took place outside of the fire hall and wreaths were laid in the future site of the cenotaph, even if a spot for them had to be dug out of the snow.

Since 1985 Whistler’s Remembrance Day observances have grown to include the Colour Party and Parade, the Service of Remembrance, a helicopter fly over, and coffee and hot chocolate in the fire hall courtesy of the Rotary Club.

The Remembrance Day service starts at 10:30 am today (Saturday, November 11) in Olympic Plaza.

Advertisements

Crevasses & Crags: Tales from the Coast Mountains

Join Glenn Woodsworth and Arnold Shives at the Whistler Museum for a discussion of mountaineering in the Coastal Mountains in the 1960s and 70s and the career of Dick Culbert.  Some of Arnold Shives’ paintings will also be on display at the Audain Art Museum as part of their upcoming exhibit Stone and Sky, opening November 11.

Doors open at 6 pm and the talk begins at 7 pm.  Tickets are $10 ($5 for Museum Members and Club Shred) and are available at the Whistler Museum.

Feeding the Spirit 2017

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 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 sponsors:

  • Creekside Market
  • Purebread Bakery
  • Farfalla Hair & Esthetics
  • Nibz Bandanaz
  • Whistler Roasting Co.
  • Splitz Grill
  • Misty Mountain Pizza
  • Coastal Culture Sports
  • DavidsTea

Building the Gothic Arch Huts

For almost 50 years the Himmelsbach Hut has sat perched near Russet Lake at the head of Singing Pass.  The hut was built by the British Columbia Mountaineering Club (BCMC) and named after carpenter and long-time Whistler local Werner Himmelsbach.

Construction of the hut was scheduled in September 1967.  Dick Chambers, a member of the construction party, remembered being flown to Whistler by Helijet at the time (for more about Dick Chambers, check here).

Materials for the Himmelsbach Hut, as well as workers, were flown in by helicopter. Photo: Chambers Collection

“The stuff was all in the parking lot – the old Whistler parking lot.  Blackcomb wasn’t developed then, it was still a garbage dump… so we land at the parking lot and the Park Ranger was there, waiting to organize this stuff, and so he flew me in, and the next morning I waited and waited and nothing was happening,” Chambers recalled.

The helicopter carrying a load of material to the site had lost it somewhere on the northeastern side of the peak of Whistler, across from Blackcomb.  The load had not been properly attached and triggered the release mechanism.

“Eventually we recovered that load of stuff by looking in the bush and it wound up at Werner Himmelsbach’s hut covering his firewood because it wasn’t good for anything, you know, it was beaten up,” Chambers said.

By the time the Club was able to rebuild the lost materials, snowstorms had started and members of the construction party decided to pack it up and store it until the following year.

The Himmelsbach Hut under construction. Photo: Chambers Collection

In August 1968 the Himmelsbach Hut was was built over a period of three days and began the busiest three-years of hut construction by the BCMC in its history.  Other huts built by the club include Wedgemount Lake Hut loacted north of Blackcomb, Pummer Hut on Claw Ridge near the Tellot Glacier and Mountain Waddington, and Mountain Lake Hut that sits east of Brittania Beach.

Along with the huts built by the Club, Werner Himmelsbach lent his laminating jig and expertise to the University of British Columbia’s Varsity Outdoor Club.  The VOC, led by Roland Burton, built a gothic-arch hut near the Sphinx Glacier in Garibaldi Provincial Park.  Years later, he assisted the Alpine Club of Canada Whistler Section in the construction of the Wendy Thompson Hut, located in the Marriott Basin.

The Himmelsbach Hut today. Photo: Spencer Jespersen

Over the past several months, I have been tasked with writing, researching and designing a virtual museum exhibit on the Coast Mountain Gothic Arch Alpine Huts for the Whistler Museum (for more on the virtual exhibit click here).  Once the exhibit is complete, the virtual exhibit will be hosted on the Virtual Museum of Canada Community Memories website and will tell the complete story of these iconic structures.  Look for the release of the virtual exhibit in Winter 2018.

Saying Goodbye to Whistler

The Whistler Museum’s Collection Manager Alyssa Bruijns will be saying goodbye to Whistler and the museum (temporarily, we hope) at the end of this month.  In her own words:

People arriving and people leaving – that’s one of the constants in Whistler.

In the past three years I’ve worked at the Whistler Museum, I’ve had countless friends leave, return, leave again and return as again.  As a result, I’ve been to many going-away parties, but I did not expect to be attending my own so soon!

After a successful and enjoyable few years working at the Whistler Museum as the collections manager, I will be stepping down at the end of September.  The time has come for me to adventure around the world a little more and finally visit the homeland of many Whistler residents – Australia.

Collections Manager Alyssa Bruijns at work in the archives.

I’ll admit my departure has been partly fuelled by the common Whistler fairytale – Canadian girl meets Australian boy with a visa ending all too soon.  I can thank the community of Whistler for introducing me to so many friends and a wonderful significant other from across the pond.  I will be back to the amazing town – it’s just a matter of when and for how long.

In the time that I’ve worked for the Whistler Museum, I’ve gotten to take part in many amazing projects.  Just last Thursday, I had lots of fun planning our first “Naming Night” which saw the community come together to name places, people and events from photos lacking information in our catalogue.

Just one of the photographs whose subjects got named. All of the names and dates provided have now been added to our information in the archives. Photo: Whistler Question Collection, 1984

I was also privileged to take part in planning our first and second annual Mountain Bike Heritage Week.  With the help of many student interns, I have overseen the cataloguing of vastly interesting collections – including Petersen, MacLaurin, Griffith and more – and the uploading of many collections to our online gallery.  Completing a mass inventory of the collections was one of the larger tasks, which allowed me to get to know Whistler intimately through the archives and artefacts that have been donated since the museum’s opening year.

Just a few of the photos from the Whistler Question Collection that have been catalogued, scanned and are now on display.

There has been one project that I have been working on for my entire time at the Whistler Museum.  When I was a bright-eyed summer student, just dipping my toes into the museum world, my task was to catalogue The Whistler Question negatives from 1978-1985.

Months later, when I returned as the collections manager, I honed my grant-writing skills in order to obtain funds to digitize those same photos.  Once granted, I oversaw more than a year of scanning and eventual uploading of 35,000 photos to our online gallery (click here to take a look).

One of Alyssa’s favourite photos on display as part of The Whistler Question: A Photographic History, on at the museum through the end of November.

Finally, I co-curated The Whistler Question: A Photographic History, 1978-1985 exhibit, which features just over 200 of these photos.  It was a roller coaster of a journey seeing these negatives go from boxes, to website, to our walls, but that journey has been massively rewarding.

The highlights of my time at the museum will definitely be the magnificent people I have worked with during my time here.  I count my co-workers as friends and have been surrounded by a supportive contingent of board members and locals that always make me feel that my work is worthwhile and important.

A community’s historical collection needs this support and engagement from the community.  I have heard comments from countless visitors to the museum that Whistler is a special place with a unique community, and I wholeheartedly agree.

Whistler’s celebration of its own past is necessary to understand what makes our town different and how we can maintain our uniqueness.  I am confident my co-workers Bradley Nichols, Allyn Pringle and John Alexander will work hard to ensure Whistler’s past is not just remembered by the community, but actively consulted when making the tough decisions for the future of this town.

Museum staff, plus summer students and volunteers – we are few but mighty. Left to right: Lauren Smart, Allyn Pringle, Danielle Winkle, John Alexander, Sierra Wells, Alyssa Bruijns, Bradley Nichols.

I thank everyone who made my time here memorable, especially Bradley Nichols for taking a young archivist on board.  Whistler, I’ll miss you dearly!

Sharing and Naming Whistler’s History

A huge thank you to everyone who came out last Friday evening (September 15) to the opening of The Whistler Question: A Photographic History and to those who came out on Thursday for our first Naming Night!

It was great to see so many familiar (and new) faces at the museum, as well as so many past and present Question staff members.  We would also like to thank our amazing special guest speakers Paul Burrows and Glenda Bartosh for joining us for the evening and for creating the paper.  Without The Question we wouldn’t have these photos that we now get to share with both the community and visitors.

Paul Burrows speaks to a packed house at the opening of The Whistler Question: A Photographic History.

Paul and Glenda both let those present in on a few secrets about the early days at The Question and the years when the survival of the paper and of the town seemed questionable at best.

The Burrows’ A-frame on Matterhorn, where the first editions of the Whistler Question were created.

The Whistler Question was started by Paul and Jane Burrows in 1976 in their A-frame home on Matterhorn Drive.  After an unsuccessful run to be Whistler’s first mayor, Paul had to decide whether to start a bus company or a printing company.  At the time the Burrows couldn’t afford to buy the buses needed for a bus company and so The Whistler Question was born.  The first issue was given out for free; the second issue cost buyers 15¢ and, as Paul Burrows explained, the paper’s readership dropped dramatically.  He continued publishing, however, and today The Question continues to be printed and distributed each week.

If you weren’t able to see the exhibit on opening night or are planning to come again to take your time and leisurely peruse the photographs (to view all of the images takes over 20 minutes), The Whistler Question: A Photographic History will be on display through the end of November.

As you may have read last week, community members have been identifying the subjects of some of our photographs on social media and here on our blog.  To continue this important work, we recently hosted our first Naming Night.

Community members came out to help us identify many of the people and places in 100 photographs.

As the title suggests, we invited everyone to the museum to help us add names to the subjects of our mystery photos.  We also wanted to know the stories behind the photographs and the memories these photographs brought to mind.  We had a great time listening as those who came out debated various names, locations and dates for the photographs on display.  In one evening we were able to add over 250 names to our photographs!  We can now tag all of these people and places in the photographs so that when you’re searching for something or someone in our database it is more likely that these photographs will come up.

Just one of the photographs on display. Photo: Whistler Question Collection, 1984

We’ve got a lot more photographs we need information for so keep an eye out for our next Naming Night!

Naming Night: Finding the Stories Behind the Photos

You might have heard that the museum opened a new exhibit on the photographs of The Whistler Question yesterday (if you haven’t, The Whistler Question: A Photographic History 1978-1985 opens at 6 pm on Friday and will run through November 30).  Thanks to everyone who came to celebrate the opening with us, especially our guests Paul Burrows and Glenda Bartosh!

While many of the photographs appeared in the newspaper with context provided by their respective captions and articles, there are many more that we don’t know a whole lot about.

While we know that this photo was taken at an Alta Lake Community Club Fall Fair, we have not yet been able to identify any of the people pictured.

The amount of information we have on photographs in our collection varies depending upon the photograph.  Often the person donating the photograph is able to tell us exactly who is in it, where it was taken and what was going on at the time; other times the photograph has a caption written on its back that provides some information.

Some photographs, however, are donated to the museum without any names or dates given other than those that can be identified by museum staff.

When this happens we rely on the community for help identifying people, places, dates and events.  If we are able to identify one or two people in a photograph then often we will ask them if they are able to identify anything else about the image.  Social media is also very useful, as those who follow the museum on Facebook, Instagram and our blog are able to comment and add what they know, whether they took the photo, are in the photo or recognize something about the photo.

When this photograph was posted on Facebook Greg Griffith, the photographer, was able to name every person on the chair: Cheryl Morningstar, Eric Griffith, Pat Griffith & Dean Stone.

A (somewhat) recent article about Worlebury Lodge and the Burge family included a photo of a group hike to Rainbow Falls in the 1950s or ’60s.  Of the 15 people pictured only two had been identified.  Luckily for us, one of the members of the group read the article and was able to provide 10 more names, including his own (top, second from left).  He was also able to narrow the date of the photo to around 1959.  Being able to add information like this to the photograph’s entry in our database makes it much more likely that the photograph will be included when someone searches for a specific person, place or event in our database or online gallerie

A hike to Rainbow Falls: (top left to right): Jean Dove, John Burge, Joyce Gow, Tim Burge, Maurice Burge, Don Gow; middle: Florence Petersen, Jane Dove, unknown; bottom: unknown, Connie Gow, unknown, Stephen Dove, Karen Gow, Muriel Burge. From his absence it is possible Ray Dove took the photo. Photo: Dove

While recognizing and identifying subjects of a photograph on social media is incredibly useful to the museum, reminiscing is much more fun when you’re with other who share some of the same memories.

Whether you’ve recently arrived in town, have visited over the years or have lived here for decades, everyone is invited to Naming Night at the Whistler Museum at 7 pm on Thursday, September 21, to help us find out more about the photographs in our collection (there will be free admission for the evening and a cash bar).

We’ll provide the photographs, ranging from the 1950s through the 2000s (with perhaps an emphasis on the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s due to the overwhelming number of photographs in The Whistler Question collection), and we’ll be relying on you to provide names, places, events and stories of the photographs and their contents.