Category Archives: News & Events

WMAS in the community.

Feeding the Spirit 2019

The Whistler Museum, with the support of Whistler’s Creekside Market and the Whistler Community Services Society, 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 free 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!

The Village that Could Have Been

Over the past few weeks, as we’ve been working on our temporary exhibit Construction of Whistler Village: 1978 – 1984, we’ve also been thinking about Whistler Village could have looked like if earlier proposals had gone forward.  Before development of the village we know today began in earnest in 1978, town centres for the Whistler area were proposed in various different styles and locations.  Three of the earliest of these plans predated the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW), and were proposed by the Garibaldi Olympic Development Association (GODA), purpose designed to host the Olympic Winter Games.

GODA first put forth an Olympic bid in 1963, with hopes of hosting the 1968 Olympic Winter Games.  At the time, they proposed to build a town centre at the base of the lifts planned for Whistler Mountain, today’s Creekside.  This idea of a planned town centre continued to be developed by further bids.

In 1968, GODA submitted a bid to host the 1972 Olympic Winter Games.  The plans from this bid placed the town centre at the same location as today’s Whistler Village.  According to a painting currently on display at the Whistler Museum, this town centre would have included a large plaza area with a view of the proposed ski jumps on Whistler Mountain, an airport, and a landing area for helicopters, as well as lodgings and retail spaces.

The proposed town centre for the 1976 Olympic Winter Games, as they imagined it would have bee seen by skiers. GODA

Neither bid was successful, in part because Whistler Mountain had not yet become firmly established as a ski resort.  By 1970, however, when GODA was putting forth a bid for the 1976 Olympic Winter Games, Whistler Mountain had become better known and the available amenities had increased significantly since 1963.  Garibaldi/Vancouver was selected by the Canadian Olympic Committee as Canada’s official national bid for 1976 and a full IOC bid was developed.  This has left behind lots of official material that gives insight into the Canadian Olympic organizers and their vision of the Whistler areas as an Olympic venue, including architectural drawings for a proposed town centre in the official 1976 Vancouver/Garibaldi bid book.

Some of the elements envisioned in the architectural drawings done for the 1976 Olympic Winter Games. GODA

According to the bid book, a prominent selling point for this proposal was the idea of a single-host area, with all events held within four kilometres of the town centre at the base of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains.

The town centre envisioned in the bid book is not too different from the 1972 bid.  Ski Jump Plaza provided views of the ski jumps on Whistler Mountain and was accessible through a pedestrian concourse.  The concourse was to be lined on either side by tall, angular buildings and lifts beginning at the concourse would carry skiers and spectators up the hill.  Close by would be an ice rink, biathlon course and other Olympic venues.

The ski jump planned for the base of Whistler Museum. GODA

The proposed town site for the 1976 Games was very different from the village that was designed just eight years later, but certain elements, such as a focus on pedestrians and lift access to Whistler Mountain are defining features of the village we know today.

We’ll be learning more about how Whistler Village came to be this Thursday (October 24) during the first of a three-part storytelling event on Whistler’s history.  You can find more information about the Legends of Whistler event here.

Legends of Whistler… tell the stories

We are incredibly excited to announce a three part speaker series cohosted with the Whistler Public Library and the RMOW!

Over three days, twelve very special guests will be sharing their own stories and knowledge of Whistler’s history, including the development of the mountains and the creation of Whistler Village.  Each event is free to attend.

Naming Night is Back!

Everyone is invited to the museum to help us add names to the subjects of our mystery photos!  If you’ve got stories behind the photographs, know where they were taken, or can identify any of the people pictured, we want to know.

At our first Naming Night event we were able to add over 250 names to our photographs.  These names get added to our database, making it easier to search for people and places.  We’ll be featuring more photographs on Wednesday, September 18!

The 2019 Building Competition with LEGO Bricks!

Back by popular demand (and because it’s just so fun!), this year will mark the 23rd Annual Building Competition with LEGO Bricks!

This year’s theme is “What makes Whistler awesome to me?”  Basically, you can build anything that you thinks makes Whistler awesome.  Maybe you think bears are awesome, or marmot, or fishing, hiking, skiing or biking – anything you think is awesome goes!

Every participant will walk away with a treat-filled goody bag and you might even win one of our amazing prizes, generously donated by Whistler businesses!

The competition will be held on Saturday, August 10 from 2-4pm.  In Florence Petersen Park.  Kids ages 3 and up are welcome!

We fill up every year, so register now!  $10 per kid, payable by cash or credit.  Contact us at 604-932-2019 or events [@] whistlermuseum.org.

Crafts in the Park is Back for 2019!

Crafts in the Park is back!  Each week we partner with the Whistler Public Library to present a story and craft in Florence Petersen Park.  This year’s theme is “When I Was In Whistler, I Saw…” and each week will feature a different animal, activity or object that could be seen in Whistler, either in the present or in the past!

Crafts in the Park runs on Wednesdays from 11am-noon.  It is a drop-in program for all children ages 4-12, with a chaperone present.

Week 1: July 10

Have you ever seen a beaver in Whistler?  In making their home in the valley, beavers made dams along waterways and changed the landscape for many years to come.  Many of the rivers and streams in Whistler are still the way they are because of beavers.  For our first craft, we’ll be creating cone beavers and paper bag dams.

Week 2: July 17

Traveling to Whistler became a lot easier in 1914 with the arrival of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway.  Instead of 3 days, the trek from Vancouver now took about 9 hours (still a lot longer than we’re used to today).   The railway had a major influence on making Whistler a popular resort destination, and we’ll be making our very own train engines in any colours you want.

Week 3: July 24

For this week, we’ll be collaborating with the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre to make animal headbands!

Week 4: July 31

Alta Lake became a popular fishing destination in 1914 and people caught many different kinds of fish.  Just like those early visitors, we’ll be making our own mini fishing rods and fish.  You’ll even be able to catch these fish with your rod, and fish can be designed however you want!

Week 5: August 7

Before the train came to Whistler, it took 3 days to reach Alta lake.  The first day was spent on a steamboat from Vancouver to Squamish, and from there you would have to walk all the to Whistler, accompanied by a pack horse.  When fishing lodges began opening on Alta Lake, some lodges kept stables and would take guests on rides around the valley.  This week we’ll be making our very own horse, who can stand all by itself!  For ambitious crafters, we’ll also be making clothespin riders.

Week 6: August 14

Sailing has been popular in Whistler for over 100 years and Alta Lake residents enjoyed taking all kids of boats out in the summer.  We’ll be making our own sailboats out of sponges, corks and paper.  Just like real boats, these really do float!

Week 7: August 21

While Whistler is very well known for its winter sports, in the summer mountain biking takes over the town.  This week we’ll be making pipe-cleaner bikes and bikers!

Week 8: August 28

Downhill skiing came to Whistler in the 1960s and has been wildly popular ever since.  Snowboarding was introduced to the hills in the 1980s, and now both sports are found on the mountains each winter.  We’ll be making our very own skiers and snowboarders this week, as we look forward to another snowy winter!

We look forward to seeing you on Wednesdays!

Talking Shop: Whistler’s Early Mountain Bike Shops

Not only do we have a trail-rich valley to call home in Whistler, but we are also spoiled with choice when it comes to bike shops.  This wasn’t always the case.

When mountain bikes first hit the logging roads in the valley in the early 1980s, most riders had to head to Vancouver for any mountain-bike-specific parts and maintenance, according to one or our oral history interviews with local mountain bike pioneer Steve Anderson.

Mountain biking steadily became more popular in Whistler from the 1980s but at the beginning there were few shops dedicated to the sport.  Whistler Question Collection.

A couple of shops were starting to pop up around that time.  In the newly constructed village Jim McConkey’s shop sold bikes in the summer months and Doris Burma operated a small bike shop, Summit Cycles, out of a trailer right above the commercial loading zone at the Delta Mountain Inn (today known as the Hilton).  Doris was passionate about mountain bikes and famed for her Cheakamus Challenge precursor race called “See Colours & Puke,” a wild mountain bike race reportedly meant to be completed on mushrooms.

In the autumn of 1985 Backroads Whistler owner Eric Wight opened a bike shop  in the basement of Creekside’s Southside Diner.  A short time later, the shop moved to the first floor of a house in Mons.

The new location was in the centre of the local mountain bike scene at the time, not far from new trails in Emerald and Lost Lake.  The shop sold, fixed, and rented mountain bikes, even building a small trials track outside their door.  Eric admits the shops didn’t make much money in the early days, as most of the clientele were locals who could only afford parts using “local deals.”  Big things were to come, however.

Whistler began hosting bike races in the early 1980s, creating even more demand for maintenance and shops.  Whistler Question Collection.

In 1989 Eric’s shop moved to Whistler Village, finding a spot in the base of the Delta.  The location was off the radar for visitors, however, and the clientele was still all locals.  The shop finally surfaced on the Village Stroll in the spot where Jim McConkey had sold bikes (currently Showcase Snowboards) around the time Backroads began working with Whistler Mountain to begin mountain bike tours down the mountain.  According to Eric, the new shop had a Santa Fe theme, a mechanic shop in the back, rentals and tours, and plenty of snazzy lycra on sale out front.

As mountain biking continued gaining traction the 1990s saw bike shops that are still kicking it today start up shop.

In 1994 John Inglis and Peter Colapinto opened the Whistler Bike Co., also in the underground portion of the Delta, for the summer months.  In 1995 they brought onboard Giant Bicycles and they eventually expanded to Pemberton, the Village Gate location, and, most recently, their Marketplace location to accommodate a growing population of bikers in town.

Molson’s Whistler Bike Race passes through the Whistler Village, where some of the earlier bike shops in town can still be found today.  Whistler Question Collection.

Bike Co. is currently the oldest independent bike shop in town, followed closely by Evolution, which was opened by Jenine Bourbonnais in 1995.  Many more mountain bike shops have opened up as Whistler has become the mountain bike mecca it is today: Summit Sports, Fanatyk Co., Garbanzo Bike & Bean, Coastal Culture Sports, Arbutus Routes, Whistler Village Sports, The Fix, Comor Sports, Fineline, Gateway Bikes – the list is long and continues to grow.  Needless to say, Whistler’s mountain bikers (and their bikes) are now very well serviced.

This week we’ve been celebrating Whistler’s mountain biking history with the museum’s 4th annual Mountain Bike Heritage Week.  You can find a full list of events here and join us for our final event on Wednesday featuring Chris Allen of North Shore Billet and Steve Mathews of Vorsprung.