Category Archives: News & Events

WMAS in the community.

That’s A Wrap on This Year’s Mountain Bike Heritage Week

The past week has been a busy one here at the museum as we made our way through five consecutive days of events celebrating, what else, mountain biking in Whistler, during our second annual Whistler Mountain Bike Heritage Week.

The week started on Tuesday with “Transition: The History & Influence of Crankworx & Gravity Logic Inc.”  This Speaker Series event featured Tom “Pro” Prochazka of Gravity Logic and Nicole Freeman, project manager for Crankworx, talking about the origins of the two institutions in the Whistler Bike Park and how they both came to have international reputations and a global reach.

The Whistler Bike Park, shown here in 2000, has changed a lot in the almost two decades for which it’s been open.

Nicole Freeman, project manager for Crankworx speaks to a crowd at the Whistler Museum.

The museum teamed up with Clint Trahan on Wednesday to offer a free photography class focused on capturing your own mountain biking photos and, so we’ve heard, Clint continued the discussion over drinks after class.

Clint Trahan speaks to room full of budding mountain bike photographers.

Thursday Toonie Race drew over 250 WORCA members for the weekly ride.

The bright pink was an easy choice for best retro gear outfit.

Thursday’s Retro Toonie Ride was a great time with over 250 riders.  Hosted with the Whistler Golf Club, Summit Sport, Whistler.com and the Whistler Bike Park, it didn’t feature quite as many vintage bikes as last year’s (not surprising given the course involved biking up and then down part of the bike park) but those riders that brought out their retro bikes and gear were all the more impressive for their commitment to the theme.

 

A classic Whistler jersey promoting The Cheakamus Challenge, a 70 km race between Squamish and Whistler, that first ran in 1989.

It’s not that often you see bikes like this one in the bike park these days.

Our winner for Best Overall retro ride & outfit.  It might have been the first time a bike with a milk crate has gone down Karate Monkey in the Whistler Bike Park.

On Friday the museum and the amazing team at Forlisë held a screening of The Collective, the 2004 film that continues to influence the ways mountain bike films are made today.  Jamie Houssian was on hand to discuss how and why The Collective was different than other films coming out at the time, as well as the challenges of using actual film (changing the film magazine every 2.5 minutes).

Filmmaker and producer Jamie Houssian.

The screening of The Collective at Forlisë included a discussion of the film with filmmaker Jamie Houssian.

The Whistler Public Library, Bike Co. and the museum offered a free bike maintenance class on Saturday afternoon (which luckily was bright, sunny and dry) which quickly filled up early in the week.  Part of anything you do is taking care of and maintaining your own equipment and mountain biking is no different.

Bike maintenance workshop.

As part of Mountain Bike Heritage week we also installed some temporary exhibits in Whistler Village.

Thanks to everyone who supported the week, by partnering, sponsoring, speaking or attending!  We’re already looking forward to our third Whistler Mountain Bike Heritage Week next year.

Sponsors & Partner Organization:

Resort Municipality of Whistler, GO Fest, WORCA, Whistler Bike Co., the Whistler Public Library, Forlisë, the Whistler Golf Club, Summit Sport, Whistler.com, Arts Whistler, Whistler Bike Park, Pinkbike, Chromag, Vorsprung Suspension, Coast Mountain Brewing, DavidsTea, the Province of British Columbia

 

Mountain Bike Heritage Week 2017

For the second year the Whistler Museum is hosting Mountain Bike Heritage Week, a full series of daily events to celebrate Whistler’s distinct biking scene.  Over the last three decades, mountain biking in Whistler has grown to become not only a large part of Whistler’s business but also a large part of our town’s culture and identity.

Whistler Mountain Bike Heritage Week is produced by the Whistler Museum, with generous support from the RMOW, and in partnership with GO Fest.  Partners and sponsors include: WORCA, Whistler Bike Co., the Whistler Public Library, Forlisë, the Whistler Golf Club, Summit Sport, Whistler.com, Arts Whistler, Whistler Bike Park, Pinkbike, Chromag, Vorsprung Suspension, Coast Mountain Brewing, DavidsTea and the Province of British Columbia.

Event Rundown:
Speaker Series – Transition: The History and Influence of Crankworx and Gravity Logic Inc.
Nicole Freeman of Crankworx and Tom Prochazka of Gravity Logic Inc. will be joining us to discuss the origins and growth of two globally recognized mountain bike institutions with Whistler roots.
May 16 at the Whistler Museum
Doors at 6pm; Show at 7pm
Tickets $5

Photography Class – Shoot Like a Pro: MTB Photography with Clint Trahan
Photographer Clint Trahan will be providing techniques and tips to select and compose your own mountain biking photos.  Clint Trahan has been shooting mountain biking and more for over a decade, including events such as Crankworx and Enduro World Series.
May 17 at Maury Young Arts Centre (Arts Whistler)
Starts at 7pm
Free admission

Retro WORCA Toonie Race
Hosted by Summit Sport, the Whistler Golf Course, Whistler.com and the Whistler Museum, this week’s Toonie Ride includes prizes for best retro ride and outfit.
May 18  Sign in: Summit Sport; Après: Whistler Golf Club
Ride starts at 6:30pm
http://www.worca.com/toonie-ride-schedule/

Classic Film Screening – The Collective: A 16mm Mountain Bike Film (2004)
The Whistler Museum and Forlisë are hosting a screening of the influential first film from The Collective with a filmmaker Q&A and door prizes.
May 19 at Forlisë
Doors at 7:30pm
Entry by donation, with all proceeds going to WORCA trail maintenance

Bike Maintenance Workshop
Whistler Bike Co., Whistler Museum and the Whistler Public Library are teaming up to offer a bike maintenance workshop.  In this two-hour session, we’ll be talking techniques to keep your bike in working order and how to know when a trip to the bike shop is required.
May 20 at the Whistler Public Library
Starts at 4 pm Registration is required, opens May 1
Call the Whistler Public Library 604 935 8435 to reserve a spot

MTB History Exhibits
Learn about Whistler’s early mountain bike history through a series of small exhibits in the Whistler Village.
May 18 – 22
Located at Mountain Square, Whistler Village

We’ll see you there!

Exploring Whistler’s Biodiversity: Whistler Nature 101

“When we begin to see how nature works, we are awestruck by the literal beauty of its complexity: a beauty that is more than skin deep.” – Master Naturalist

For the second year the Whistler Museum will be offering our Whistler Nature 101 program.  This three hour training seminar was developed to help elevate the knowledge of Whistler’s natural environment throughout the community.

In short, the goal is to help Whistlerites better understand their home and all of its biodiversity so they can speak knowledgeably about it to other people.

A myriad of amphibians can be found in local wetlands, including the Northwestern salamander. Photo by local naturalist Bob Brett.

 

Without some knowledge about nature, experiencing Whistler is like a walk through a gallery filled with wonderful works of art, nine-tenths of which are turned to the wall.  In this seminar the museum shares valuable knowledge needed to fully experience and appreciate all the “works of art” in our breathtaking valley.

Topics covered in Whistler Nature 101 are wide ranging and include what you need to know about Whistler’s geography, geology, volcanoes and glaciers – and how these physical elements influence the variety of life here.  And Whistler has a ton of biodiversity to cover.

Named for their pungent aroma, skunk cabbage flowers start popping up in damp lowlands soon after the snow recedes, and are a favourite early season snack for the local bears. Photo by local naturalist Bob Brett.

 

Since 2004 the Whistler Biodiversity Project, led by biologist Bob Brett, has added over 3500 species to Whistler’s total list of over 4000 (and growing every year) species.  Biodiversity is the foundation of healthy, functioning ecosystems upon which all life depends.  For anyone who’s curious about the natural world, Whistler is a pretty awesome place to be.

Participants from last year commented: “Whistler is far more interesting (in terms of biodiversity) than I ever imagined,” “There is way more than just a ski hill here” and “Good explanations of biodiversity and geology of Whistler.  Many guests ask about these topics.”

Who said wetlands are ugly? Bog laurel adds a splash of colour along the water’s edge. Photo by local naturalist Bob Brett.

The Whistler Nature 101 seminar is three hours with handouts and other learning materials provided.  Cost is $50 per person, with a special half-price rate for any active nature-based volunteers.

The full outline for the seminar can be found here.  For more information, email Kristina at DiscoverNature@whistlermuseum.org.  To register please call the Whistler Museum 604 932 2019.

The Whistler Museum would like to thank the Community Foundation of Whistler for financial support to develop the seminar.

Kristina is a long-time volunteer with the Whistler Naturalists and is grateful to share information from the knowledgeable naturalists from whom she’s learned over the years during Nature 101.

Speaker Series: 30 Years of Flying Over Whistler

If the idea of soaring above Whistler held aloft by a polyester or nylon canopy and a harness appeals to you, paragliding might be just the sport for you.

Described as a cross between hang gliding and parachuting, paragliding evolved through the 2950s and 60s before first being marketed as a sport and recreational activity in 1965 and gaining popularity through the 70s and 80s.  Unlike hang gliders, paragliders have no rigid structure, using instead a wing or canopy made of fabric and forming cells which are inflated by the incoming air.  Suspension lines from the wing are attached to the harness in which the pilot sits and the pilot steer using brakes attached to each side of the wing.

A paraglider flies over Whistler Village.

Though invented by an American, the sport of paragliding was quickly adopted by Europeans while gaining far fewer early converts in North America.  Like most sports, however, it was only a matter of time before paragliding was introduced in Whistler.

A paraglider with Blackcomb Mountain in the background.

Janet and Joris Moschard, already accomplished paragliders, moved to Whistler in 1987 and began flying in the valley.  A year later Janet and Joris opened Parawest Paragliding and in December of 1988 they began teaching the sport on Blackcomb Mountain, the only mountain resort in North America to offer lessons on this “exciting new aeronautical sport”.  If you skied Blackcomb in the late 1980s and 90s, you may have seen the brightly coloured paragliders spread out on a run and watched as beginners and experienced pilots took off on their skis and soared down the mountain above you.

Operating in both the summer and winter months, Parawest Paragliding offered tandem flights for those wishing to simply experience flight and one-day beginner courses for those looking to fly themselves.  Students began at base-camp with an introduction to the harness, described by one as sitting in a Jolly Jumper®, before gradually learning the steps to flying on the hill and ending the day having taken two or three short flights.

Janet and Joris recently donated several videotapes of media coverage of Parawest Paragliding and local paragliding events to our archives.  Including media interviews with Whistler locals, stunning views of the Whistler valley in the 80s and 90s and coverage of Parawest’s Annual meet and Costume Events, these tapes are currently being digitized and will provide a great visual aid when discussing paragliding in Whistler.

A paraglider comes down to land near Whistler Village.

Wednesday, April 19 the Museum will be welcoming Janet and Joris Moschard, as well as other paragliding pioneers in the area, to share tales, knowledge and footage from their thirty years of flying over Whistler as part of our Speaker Series.  Doors will open for the event at 6 pm and their talk will begin at 7 pm.  Tickets are available at the Whistler Museum.

The Whistler Answer Has Turned 40!

“For those tired of questions… the Whistler Answer.”

If you heard bursts of laughter and rad tunes echoing over Alta Lake on Saturday night, it wasn’t some high school house party – it was the sound of those early Whistler hippies and ski-bums partying the night away at The Point for the 40th anniversary party of the Whistler Answer.

Partygoers at The Point last Saturday, April 1 for the Answer anniversary party.

Marketing itself as the satirical flipside of the Whistler Question, the Answer was a local alternative newspaper dreamed up by Charlie Doyle, Robin Blechman and Tim Smith as a comedic response to the more serious Question.  The winter of 1977 was cold but desperately lacking in snow, causing many residents to head for warmer climates.  The Answer acted as a kind of letter from to travelling Whistlerites and catered to the town’s hippie ski-bum culture with a tongue-in-cheek style attributed by many to editor Robert “Bosco” Poitras (then Colebrook).  The early issues were created completely by hand at a local squat – hand-written, hand-drawn and hand-pasted with Scotch tape and white glue.

Publication began in 1977 and ended in 1982, although it was revived from 1992 – 1993.  Flipping through the Answer provides a window to the “Old Whistler”, an idyllic era that pre-dates our valley’s current hyper-development and insane visitor numbers.

In the same way, Saturday night’s Whistler Answer 40th Anniversary party at The Point was a wormhole to a Whistler in the days of the Answer, with all its lively local characters and a reunion performance by Foot in the Door, the band of Answer publisher Charlie Doyle, Mark Schnaidt and Rocco Bonito.

Charlie Doyle and band members perform at the Whistler Answer Benefit at the Mountain House Cabaret in 1981, during the Answer’s first run.

The night started out with a dinner of Bushwoman’s Chinese Cuisine followed by some hilarious tales from Doyle and others about the publication.  Several readers stepped up to share their favourite Answer passages – including an insightful book review of the local BC-Tel phonebook.  In the midst of these retellings, the party was crashed by three nude-suited hippies covered in bush and branch – supposedly the three individuals pictured canoeing in the Answer’s first issue front-page article: “Missing on Alta Lake”.  An auction was also held for original copies of the Whistler Answer and Whistler’s superhero comic “Localman” with proceeds going to the organizers of the event.

The first issue of the Answer featured a photo of three canoeing individuals “lost” on Alta Lake.  Find the full issue online at the link below.

Foot in the Door then took to the stage to bring back some choice tunes from the days of the Answer, to the joy of the dancing crowd.  The show also included improv acts by Get to the Point Improv and more great music by Some Assembly Required and the Skunk Cabbage Revue.

Foot in the Door reunited to perform at The Point for the Answer’s 40th Anniversary.

The packed heritage lodge was full of hugs, laughter and old friends meeting again in what can only be called the closest we’ll ever get to reigniting the spirit of the infamous Toad Hall parties we at the Museum hear so much about.

To browse all issues of the Whistler Answer in full, check out the Whistler Museum’s digitized versions of the colourful local paper: http://www.whistlermuseum.org/whistleranswer

Whistler’s Weasel Workers

Behind every major race held on Whistler Mountain is a pack of Weasels.  The volunteer organization began in the 1970s when Bob Parsons and a crew of six prepped the course for the first World Cup Downhill races in Whistler.

The term “weasel” was bestowed upon the crew due to their work on the Weasel, a section of Dave Murray Downhill that was too steep for the older snow cats to make it up.  Instead, race workers would flatten the section by treading up and down the Weasel on foot.  Though the organization was formally registered as the Coast Alpine Event Club in 1984, the name is rarely used.

Weasel Workers working on the downhill course for the Olympics. Photo courtesy of 2010 Olympic Ski Patroller Lance.

In the early years of the Weasel Workers, most of the volunteers were parents of members of the Whistler Mountain Ski Club but as the races they worked on grew so too did membership in the organization.  Since the 1970s, as well as working on World Cups and other races in Whistler, the Weasels have sent volunteers to help build courses for World Cup races in Lake Louise, Alberta, and Beaver Creek, Colorado, World Championships in Europe and the Winter Olympics in Calgary and Salt Lake City.

Weasels on the course with no sign of the sun. Photo courtesy of 2010 Olympic Ski Patroller Lance.

When the Winter Olympics were awarded to Whistler and Vancouver in 2003 the Weasel Workers began recruiting and building their team in preparation of the alpine events to be held on Whistler Mountain.  Working as a Weasel has always required dedication and the willingness to work hard despite the sometimes challenging conditions Whistler winters can create; hosting the Olympics in Whistler was no different, though perhaps on a slightly more tiring scale.  Weasel Workers were routinely called to be ready and up the mountain for 3 am and the long days of shoveling sometimes lasted until 10 pm after which race workers would often walk over to the Weasel House that offered beer, wine and Weasel Wear.  As a 1993 article in the Whistler Answer stated “How do you spot a Weasel Worker?  They’re the ones on race day who look like they could use a good sleep.”

Weasel Workers continue to work on races in Whistler and send volunteers to events around the world.  Most recently a group of Weasels went to Korea in advance of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics next winter.  Three long-serving members of the Weasels joined us this past Wednesday as part of our Speaker Series.

Dennis Waddingham, one of the original Weasel Workers under Bob Parsons, and Owen Carney provided an interesting history of the Weasels (aided as well by Weasels in the audience) and Colin Pitt-Taylor’s photos and stories from their trip to PyeongChang earlier in March provided a preview of some of the venues and events to come in 2018.  Thanks to all three, as well as Pat Taylor for operating the photos and keeping it all moving, and to everyone who joined us for a great evening – we’ll be announcing more details of our next Speaker Series in April soon!

Speaker Series: Weasel Workers

Our next Speaker Series will take place Wednesday, March 22.  Join long-serving Weasel Workers Owen Carney, Colin Pitt-Taylor and Dennis Waddingham for a presentation on the origin and history of Whistler’s Weasel Workers, stories of the many courses they have built, and a discussion of their (very) recent trip to Korea in advance of the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics next winter.

Tickets are $10 each ($5 for Museum and/or Club Shred members) and can be purchased at the Museum or by calling as at 604-932-2019.