Category Archives: Ski-Town stories

It’s Women’s History Month!

October may be more widely known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but in 1992 the Government of Canada also designated October as Women’s History Month to “celebrate the achievements and contributions of women and girls across the country and throughout our history.”

Though any month could have been selected, October includes two important dates: the International Day of the Girl on October 11 and Persons Day on October 18.

Persons Day commemorates the decision Edwards vs Canada (AG) – also known as the Persons Case.  On October 18, 1929, Canada’s highest court of appeal (which at the time was in England) ruled that women are considered “persons” under the British North America Act of 1867 and should be eligible for appointment to the Canadian Senate.

Countless women have contributed to Whistler’s community over the years.  Some, such as Myrtle Philip and Nancy Greene (whose own appointment to the Senate was made possible by the Persons Case), are well known while others are less acknowledged though no less important. To celebrate Women’s History Month we’ll be sharing the stories of a few of these women, beginning with a group of young women who first came to the valley in the 1950s.

(Left to right) Florence Strachan, Jacquie Pope, June Tidball, Fido, Betty Gray and Eunice “Kelly” Forster at their Witsend cottage in 1955.  Petersen Collection.

Eunice “Kelly” Forster, Better Gray, June Tidball, Jacquie Pope and Florence Strachan were all teachers in the Lower Mainland when they first visited Alta Lake.  Together, the five managed to purchase a lot along the railway from the Massons.  While the asking price was $2,500, the group was able to get a reduced price of $1,500 due to their obvious love of the area and offer to pay in cash.  This price included a furnished summer cottage, dock, rowboat and toolshed.

The cottage, named Witsend after a particularly long and rain-soaked voyage up from Vancouver, became the women’s summer home for the next 10 years.  In 1956, some of them even bought the lot next door.  Sadly, Witsend burned down in November 1965.

June Tidball sold her shares after the fire, but by this time most of the women had ties to Alta Lake and the others remained in the valley, at least part-time.  Kelly Forster had married Dick Fairhurst in 1958 (the same Dick Fairhurst who would later recall Paul Golnick) and moved to Cypress Lodge.  She and Dick were active members of the growing community and Cypress Lodge acted as the base for the Alta Lake Sailing Club.

Cypress Lodge as seen from the lake. Fairhurst Collection.

In 1965, Jacquie bought another lot on Alta Lake and, with help from friends, had a house built in 1965.  She kept this house, nicknamed the Vatican, until 2001 when she moved to Squamish.

This left Witsend and the other shared lot to Betty and Florence.  Betty kept the site of Witsend until 2000.  Next door, Florence had the lot cleared and a house built under the supervision of Andy Petersen.  She and Andy married in 1967.

Even before retiring and moving to the house on the lake permanently in 1983, Florence was active in many of the community groups in first Alta Lake and then later Whistler.

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.  Petersen Collection.

In 1986 she founded the Whistler Museum & Archives Society and, with a group of volunteers, gathered the beginnings of our current collection.  While serving as a marriage commissioner Florence performed over 1,000 services.

In recognition of her volunteer contributions, Florence was made Citizen of the Year in 1986 and awarded the Freedom of the Municipality of Whistler in 2012, the second woman to receive this honour (the first was Myrtle Philip).  Florence passed away in 2012 and is remembered today in Florence Petersen Park.

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This Week In Photos: October 4

You may notice this week’s post is shorter than usual – some weeks have missing negatives while others are missing entirely.  This happens to be one of those weeks, but there was still a lot going on in the years that are covered, from bridge openings to boat building to Brownies meetings.

1978

Mayor Pat Carleton waits for a train to arrive outside the Whistler Station.

Construction crews on Whistler Mountain recently got the feeling that they were being watched…

The most photographed bridge on #99! The bridge over the 19 Mile Creek as it was in a nearly finished state last Saturday.

1980

The Midstation towers on the new Olympic Chair on Whistler North. Picture taken from the top of the Village Chair.

The new Whistler Mountain lapel pin.

Do-it-yourself! – Whistler United Pharmacy owner Dave Stewart gives his front windows a polish.

LUNCH BREAK! Nello Busdon, Neil Roberts, Pat Greatrex and others enjoy the sunshine in the town centre plaza.

Workers lay interlock brick tiles in the Whistler Village Square.

Chamber of Commerce’s Michael D’Artois shows off the Town Centre to members of the BCIT Hospitality and Tourism Faculty.

Cst. Chuck Klaudt, the new member of the Whistler RCMP detachment.

1982

The winners: The Boot Pub Ladies Golf Classic.

Dryland downhill training – Dave Murray takes Blackcomb and Whistler Ski Club members through some of the exercises that help limber up skiers for the season opening.

The winning team (minus one key player) who put together Whistler’s weekly miracle, the Question, which was judged top in its class by BC and Yukon Community Newspapers Association October 2.

Dennis and Judy Waddingham display the new sign painted by Charlie Doyle, which hangs outside their store in Whistler Village. Opening day will be before the mountains begin their season.

Whistler’s Brownies rekindled the campfire spirit October 4 when they gathered at Myrtle Philip School for the first meeting of the year.

T’is the season to get sawing and chopping. These Alpine residents seem well prepared for winter’s onslaught.

A crew of landlubbers helped hoist the deck onto the sleek craft which Cress Walker and Paul Clark have been building all summer long in the driveway of their Alpine Meadows home.

Members of the Niels Petersen Band. Niels Petersen (lead vocals), Connie Lebeau (bass guitar), Christopher Allen (harp) and Gary Petersen (drums) warm up an act that will be entertaining Whistlerites all winter. The band will be appearing at Tapley’s and at the Brass Rail throughout the ski season.

1983

A cold crisp morning kept most creatures inside early Sunday, but this great blue heron had work to do. It was photographed as it flew over the River of Golden Dreams close to Green Lake looking for fish. Shortly after this photo was taken an industrious beaver swam past carrying wood for its lodge.

A smiling Ted Pryce-Jones proudly snips the ribbon to mark the official opening of the new suspension bridge built across the Callaghan River near the Cheakamus River junction last Thursday. Pryce-Jones designed the army-style bridge and with the help of a host of EBAP workers completed the project in under three months.

Bridge decking is composed of 3.5m long fir planks treated with a special wood preservative designed to make them last more than 20 years. And for those with bridge phobias, 2 1/2cm steel cables stretch across the river to provide for a safe crossing.

Marilyn Manso, one of three employees at the Alta Lake weather station, enters local weather information on a data terminal linked with Toronto. Entries must be made every hour on the hour or more often as changing weather patterns dictate.

Posing for photographs can be an awkward process.

 

50 Years of Green

When the mountains open this winter things will look a bit different.  Over the summer both mountains have undergone some changes.  On Whistler a new six-person Emerald Express will replace the four-person chair.  This will be the fifth chairlift installed along this lift line, with this season marking fifty years since the installation of the Green Chair.

Blizzard! The scene looking down the Green Chair during a snowstorm in February, 1979. Whistler Question Collection.

The first Green Chair, a two-person lift with an uphill capacity of 1000 people per hour, was installed on Whistler Mountain for the 1968/69 season and opened up new terrain for skiing.  Over the summer of 1968 two new beginner-intermediate runs were cut and groomed, known today as Ego Bowl and Jolly Green Giant, and advanced skiers were promised fantastic bowl skiing and powder skiing in the evergreens around the lift.

Once open the Green Chair made it possible for skiers to ski down to the valley on the northeast side of Whistler.  A new intermediate run was cut from the top of the Green Chair to what was then referred to as the “gravel pit”, the future site of Whistler Village.  A bus service provided by Whistler Mountain would then run skiers back to the gondola base at Creekside.

The two Green Chairs can be seen heading up towards the Roundhouse. Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation Collection.

The Green Chair and the runs it serviced proved popular and in 1970 the lift was extended.  Loading now took place further down the hill where skiers and boarders were still loading when the mountain closed this spring.  At the same time Ego Bowl and Jolly Green Giant were widened and cleared of trees, stumps and boulders.

The Orange Chair, built in 1972, added more access to the Green Chair area and enabled the building of the Whiskey Jack run, which ran from the top of the Orange to the bottom of the Green Chairs.  By this time the “gravel pit” had been renamed the Olympic parking lot and Olympic Run was a regular ski out for many skiers.

Skiers head up the Green Chair on a sunny day, 1980. Whistler Question Collection.

By 1973, the popularity of the Green Chair and its beginner-intermediate runs already indicated the need for greater uphill capacity.  A second double lift, imaginatively named Green Chair II, was planned for the 1974/75 season.  Running parallel to Green Chair I and transporting 1200 skiers per hour, this new chair promised to eliminate lift lines in the area.

The next few years saw more changes for the Green Chairs.  A new run was cut in 1976 to reduce congestion in the area and the winner of the accompanying contest named the new route Green Acres.  Green Chair I gained a new tower in 1977 to allow the addition of a mid-station loading ramp.  The new loading point was meant to allow for skiing both earlier and late in the season.

Skiers board the Green Express at the bottom of Ego Bowl. Whistler Question Collection.

The two Green Chairs ran side by side until 1989, when both were replaced by the Green Chair Express, Whistler Mountain’s first quad chair.  This Green Chair lasted only eight years before the high-speed Emerald Express, also a quad, replaced it in 1997.

More than 20 years later the old Emerald Express has been disassembled and will reappear on Blackcomb this year, replacing the original Catskinner Chair from 1980.  The new six-person Emerald Express will provide access to the same runs build under the original Green Chair fifty years ago, though it may look a little different today.

This Week In Photos: September 27

1978

Trucks head up Whistler Mountain during the summer construction of the new chairlift.

The top drive station of the new “Little Red” chairlift being built at the top of Whistler Ski area.

1979

Smoke pillars up from the fire behind Garibaldi last week.

The concrete is poured on Wedgewood Properties Package #8 while workers get up to the roof level on the condominiums above Packages #4 and #5.

David Fairhurst proudly shows off the first Pine mushrooms he found last month.

Air West’s new Twin Otter on Alta Lake after bringing the C.O.A. delegates to Whistler.

The students give Dennis Lamarche’s wagon a good wash while the bake sale goes on behind.

The ad for Espresso Express Line, a unique business set up in Whistler.

1980

BC CABINET AT WHISTLER: Mayor Carleton greets Premier Bill Bennett and Labour Minister Allan Williams as they get off the train.

The Mayor shows the Town Centre off to Health Minister McLelland, Premier Bennett, Mrs. Aubrey Bennett, Provincial Secretary Hugh Curtis & Labour Minister Allan Williams.

Bennett poses with some Myrtle Philip students.

Miss Pemberton 1980 Kristi King presents the Premier with a giant potato casserole dish on behalf of the people of the Pemberton Valley.

Work on bridge over Fitzsimmons to bring skiers from Blackcomb into Town Centre.

Franz and Annette Wilhelmsen admire new Whistler pin while Hastings West president Ken Tolmie, Peter Alder and Trudi Salmhofer look on.

Heavy rain caused deep mud near the Town Centre. Golf course practice fairway 1 – Mark Clark truck 0.

Kayak is totally submerged at this portion of the course.

1982

Awarded a winged hat for being the fastest base runner in the beer league. Don Beverley of the 2.5 Rollbacks has all of next season to look forward to. Jan Simpson and M.C. Terry Boston presented him with his memento.

This W5 crew was on location in Whistler last week while covering a story on human rights. Segment of story covered here involved the theory of relocating Garibaldi residents to protect Whistler.

Students from UBC and the infamous University of Whistler braved chilly temperatures over the weekend to compete in the First Annual Intercollegiate Windsurfing Championship.

No one was hibernating on Whistler Mountain this summer. Renovations are nearly complete on the Roundhouse, including this new sundeck and snack stand on the east side of the building.

As the new Director of Ski Racing for Whistler Mountain, Dave Murray will be coordinating downhill race clinics, ski promotions and special events. Murray, 29, retired from the Canadian National Ski Team last year after the World Cup held at Whistler.

Parks Planner Tom Barratt and plant specialist Karen Edwards bone up on some of the plant species indigenous to this area.

1983

Brownies Karen Kogler, Sonja Richli, Madeleine Domries, Sara Jennings, Marika Richoz, Jessica Wilson, Adrienne Richters, Joanne DenDuyf, Jessica Humphrey, Melanie Busdon, Leah Wuolle and Heather Paul listened attentively to leader Brown Owl (alias Bettina Weidermann) at the first meeting of the season at Myrtle Philip School Wednesday. Brown Owl says that Brownies meet once a week, from 6:30 to 8 pm at the school, and are open to girls aged six through nine.

John Hunter Trucking goalie Steve Brunn misses a shot that grazes the post in Saturday’s Howe Sound Hockey League game opener against Tapley’s Winterhawks. Brunn was pestered with shots from Winterhawk forwards and defencemen all game long. A porous John Hunter defence coupled with fast skating Winterhawks players proved too much for the Squamish team as they went down to defeat 6-3.

Getting down is the way to get in shape at Bodyworks. Workouts will be moving to Myrtle Philip School starting Monday.

The skiing never stops for Philippe Lavoie and Brent Wood, seen here atop Whistler Mountain Sunday before boot-skiing on remaining snow.

Alpine Paving workmen roll along Mountain Lane and put the finishing touches to the route. With Village Stroll paving now complete, all that remains is completing Whistler Way from Tantalus Lodge to the underground parking entrance.

Greg Lee, new head skiing coach at Blackcomb, gets a head start working out with local girls and boys Sunday morning. Lee, a former World Pro Skiing Circuit skier, also does colour commentary for CBC Sports. Before Sunday’s soccer game Lee showed kids how to take their heart rate for better fitness.

Out for a postprandial training ride, cyclist Todd McPhalen coasts down Village Gate Boulevard. Not seen are Dave MacPhail, Don Barr and Murray Sudden, nuclei of the soon-to-be Team Whistler.

1984

An unidentified dog finds refuge from the rain beneath a Wedgemount Blasting truck parked in village parking lot “A”.

Chilly temperatures kept crowds to a minimum Saturday, but sunny skies brought throngs out Sunday for the fourth year of Whistler’s Fall Festival.

Pat Earley was one of six Vancouver-based artists who demonstrated their creative talents during the Sept. 22-23 Fall Festival. Earley specializes in oil pastel portraits which are exquisitely detailed and warm. Although the displays were moved indoors to the Delta Mountain Inn because of chilly weather, it was the first time artists were allowed to demonstrate and sell their wares in the streets of Whistler.

Playland set up an instant amusement park…

… but some youngsters weren’t too sure if they enjoyed the pony rides or not.

Television and movie producers seem to have developed a taste for Whistler. Actor Sean Connery, best known as James Bond, agent 007, starred Tuesday in a Japanese TV commercial for Biogur yogurt. Production coordinator Martin Yokata said they needed a “strong, healthy, clean” image, and 007 fit the part. In the ad, Connery is seen doing calisthenics and running alongside a golf green at the Whistler Golf Club with a Doberman Pinscher.

This Week In Photos: September 20

While we have information for the photos we share here, we have many more photos that we have questions about.  That’s why tonight we’ll be hosting Naming Night at the Museum – we provide 100 photos (tonight’s edition focuses on the 1990s and ’80s) and ask community members to help add names and stories to the images.

1978

Bridge girders in place over 19 Mile Creek. The main highway has been closed since August 21 for this and residents of Alpine Meadows are concerned that the detour should not last more than a month.

The driver of this truck ended up straddling a 24″ log after having driven past four warning signs, two flashing lights and a barricade on Friday evening.

Just a sampling of what the local forests have to offer those who know what to look for.

1979

The view from the top! Looking down on the Town Centre from the air, September 14, 1979.

The Town Centre two-level parking structure under construction.

The Roundhouse expansion under construction by Quadra.

The view from the Roundhouse showing the new washroom building.

Looking down the “Toilet Bowl” while the drill rig heads down to blast some more rock.

The Blackcomb runs as seen from the air.

Constable Tom Hansen stands beside the new RCMP machine.

1980

Two big coolers are fully stocked with all types of fine meats and cheeses you’d expect to find in a delicatessen. Hilda’s is now open in the Town Centre.

Just one of the many houses that were raised for basement work this summer.

A tree over wires at the south end of Mons overpass was one reason for Whistler losing power.

Increased line tension snapped this pole in half just down the line.

Hugh Naylor takes a closer look at one of the displays at the Pemberton fair.

1982

These enterprising young vendors had a refreshing pause for participants in the Terry Fox Run on Sunday.

All shapes and sizes of cars, from go-carts to the formula cars took part in Whistler’s first hillclimb competition held September 18 – 19 on Blackcomb Way.

A tribute to the joys of earlier days and ways, Renaissance Night at Delta Mountain Inn Tuesday proved to be a hit with visiting travel agents.

Dave Roberts and Curtis Beckon join the merry throng at a medieval dinner thrown for P. Lawson Travel and Bon Voyage Tours at Delta Mountain Inn.

Taisto Heinonen and co-driver Lynn Nixon buy some airtime on the Callaghan Lake leg of the Pacific Forest Rally. They went on to win the event in Heinonen’s Toyota Celica.

This kayaker is swept away in competition excitement during the Cheakamus Indian Summer Race.

1983

Amateur race driver Dan Pantages sits at the helm of his Lotus Super 7, a four-cylinder exposed wheel racer capable of about 160 km/h. Pantages joined about 35 other car enthusiasts over the weekend for a hillclimb race of the steep, winding road to Blackcomb Daylodge. Slightly modified cares races as well as exotic speedsters, but out of all the cars the fastest time was turned in by a dune buggy. Drivers competed in a slalom course in Blackcomb parking lot as well. The hillclimb and rally were sponsored by the Burnaby-Coquitlam Motorsport Association. Competitors came from as far away as Prince George.

An improved road leading into the Club Cabin area from Highway 99 needs a stop sign, having been without one since roadwork was completed in the early summer. The intersection is located about 1 km north of the Gondola area on a streak of highway with poor visibility in either direction. Ministry of Highways District Manager for the area, Ron Winbow, said Tuesday, “We’ll take care of it.”

Chris Carson and friends performed Scandinavian folk dancing during Whistler’s Class of ’83 arts and crafts show Friday.

Workmen from Alpine Paving completed paving on Village Stroll Monday. Coastal Mountain Excavations also placed three drainage basins ten days ago, ensuring that last year’s puddle problems aren’t repeated next spring. Curbs have also been placed along Whistler Way and Mountain Lane. Paving of those roads should occur next week.

When Peter Brown throws a party, money is not the biggest concern. Brown, head of Canarim Investments, treated employees to a weekend of baseball and assorted fun activities. The company limousine, complete with telephone, spent Saturday in the shade of Whistler Resort Association’s Arabesque tent, along with a weekend supply of appropriate refreshments.

Sydney Humphries, Philippe Etter, Bryan King and Ian Hampton return for the second encore at Sunday’s performance of the Purcell String Quartet at Brackendale Art Gallery.

Whistler’s newest and only board game features a mock Highway 99 plus ski runs and apres-ski challenges.

1984

Bartending course student Sandy Vallender practices the fine art of making a layered liqueur drink. Ross Smith, instructor of the three week course offered through Capilano College, teaches the 12 students everything they need to know about tending a bar professionally – including the recipe for a perfect Martini.

About 45 modified competition cars gathered here again this year for the Burnaby/Coquitlam Motorsport Association hillclimb and rally over the weekend. Entrants ranged from formula cars to souped-up Datsuns.

Whistler Fire Department members Craig Barker (left) and Dave Steers were among the 22 firemen who rushed to the burning house at 9516 Emerald Drive early Sunday afternoon. Although the blaze appeared to be extinguished, it re-ignited early Monday morning.

Kin Lalat, a quintet of exiled Guatemalan musicians, entertained a sympathetic audience Sunday at the Pemberton Legion. The group uses traditional instruments including marimbas, maracas, drums and guitar, and gives a strong voice to freedom-fighting Guatemalans.

Mark Angus, Pascal Tiphine and Umberto Menghi were jointly asked Whistler’s Answers this week. Although they all agreed that yes, we need more cultural events here, they disagreed on the type of house wine village restaurants should use.

The Raines: Willy, Charley, Nancy and Al, returned to Whistler just before school started after two years in Crans, Montana, Switzerland. Al and Nancy were ski instructors in the 1,500-person resort while the 14-year-old twins went to school in the French speaking community.

School Days in Whistler

The community of Whistler has undergone many changes in the last hundred or so years, and nowhere is this more evident than in our elementary schools.

When the first non-indigenous settlers began to make their homes around Alta Lake in the early twentieth century, there was no school- no infrastructure at all, in fact. The first school was built in 1931 as a community effort. Over $300 was raised from the small collection of residents- impressive at a time when a litre of milk cost ten cents! The Alta Lake School was fairly bare-bones.  It was warmed by an iron stove and had a nearby creek as a water source and gas lamps for light.

ARTICLE ALTA LAKE SCHOOL ACCESS WMA_P88_001 R JARDINE

Whistler’s first class photo, at Alta Lake School in 1933. Photo: Jardine Collection.

Ten students had to attend in order for the school to be funded by the government.  Only nine were then available at the time, so one boy, Jack Jardine, was persuaded to come for a half-day every week. Teachers today dream of small class sizes but this lack of students became the Alta Lake School’s curse. The school would close in 1946, reopen in 1951, close in 1962, reopen in 1964 and close for good in 1970 as families moved in and out and the number of children fluctuated. One teacher, Mel Carrico, was even hired on the condition that his four children attend the school.

As the permanent population grew following the opening of Whistler Mountain, the school was able to stop it’s constant reopening and closing. In 1976 a new school named Myrtle Philip School was built at today’s location of the Delta Village Suites. Though it opened with only 57 students, the students soon began to outgrow the school and an addition and then eight portables were added.  In 1992 the students were moved to the new Myrtle Philip Community School at its current location on Lorimer Road.

The first Myrtle Philip School at the beginning of the school year, 1978. Photo: Whistler Question Collection.

Whistler was now faced with a constantly growing student population. In 1999, Myrtle Philip had 10 portables, housing half the school’s population. Anyone who’s had class in a portable can tell you that while fine on paper, they’re not ideal – they’re small, are often too hot or too cold, and have no water supply (especially noticeable when walking out to the washroom in a blizzard). Grade 7s  had been moved to Whistler Secondary when it opened in 1996 and soon the high school was in need of portables too. It was decided that a second elementary school was needed, and in 2001 the Howe Sound School Board began to draw boundaries for catchments of the two schools.

This resulted in some conflict – the new school needed half the youth of Whistler to attend, but not everyone lived with easy access to Spring Creek and there were worries about longer commutes and more cars on the road. Boundaries were eventually decided on and building could commence.

This wasn’t as simple as it sounded. The school was initially slated to open September 2001, but this was pushed back multiple times- first to September 2002,  then January 2003, then again to November 2003, then finally January 2004, as funding was secured and construction completed.

The wait was worth it. The new school boasted new science and art rooms, a computer lab, a well-stocked library, and, after a few years, a French Immersion program.

Spring Creek Elementary, Whistler’s newest school.  Photo: Olivia Brocklehurst.

Finding ten children to attend school in Whistler is no longer a problem. Whistler’s students now attend four elementary schools – Myrtle Philip, Spring Creek, École la passerelle and the Whistler Waldorf School. Even now discussions are beginning again about the possibility of a new school as Spring Creek. From the days of one-room schoolhouses to multiple school buildings, education in Whistler has certainly changed, though it remans an important part of community life.

Remembering an Iconic Whistler Venue: The Boot Pub

With all the bands, concerts and events going on in Whistler in the summer, it’s easy to forget about the Boot Pub and all its past glory in laying the groundwork for the entertainment scene we know today.

The Ski Boot Motel and Bus, still under construction. WMSC Collection

For those who haven’t heard about it, the Boot Pub opened its doors in 1970 as part of the Ski Boot Lodge Motel at the corner of Highway 99 and Nancy Greene Way and soon became legendary.  It was a place where ski bums could lay their heads for just $5 a night, where travellers on a shoestring budget could find a relatively cheap place to stay in an increasingly expensive resort.

Sadly, the Boot served its last customers in 2006, but to this day nearly every longtime resident of Whistler has a story to tell about the bar and live-music venue – it even hosted the Tragically Hip along with other performers such as She Stole My Beer, The Watchmen, Michael Franti & Spearhead, D.O.A. and SNFU.

The Boot Pub hosted some incredible bands in its day, including The Watchmen pictured here (date unknown). Evans Collection

The Hip, one of the most popular bands in Canada, played a surprise concert at the Boot in 2003 – they had booked the venue under the band name The Fighting Fighters and their performance was top secret until they came out on stage to raucous applause.

While the design of the building and the weathered, cedar-shingle siding didn’t have any particular appeal to the eye, it became a place that captured the local lore of Whistler in its over three decades of operation.

Nicknamed the locals’ living room, it was comfortable and lively, a place where you could drink cheap beer and listen to great live music.

Brothers Peter and Stephen Vogler playing at Whistler’s famous Boot Pub in the late 90s. Photo: Chris Woodall, published in Stephen Vogler’s book “Only in Whistler. Tales of a Mountain Town”

It soon became one of the main social and cultural attractions of the growing town, helped by a few rowdy stories to lock in its notable reputation.  Many of these stories seem to include unique entrances, such as an Aussie bartender who rode into the pub on his horse (rather than hitching it to the post outside like others did), an ex-coach of the Crazy Canucks ski team riding his motorcycle in, and even someone arriving by snowcat.

While the Boot Pub operated mainly as a pub and a venue for live music, it was also notorious for hosting a different kind of live entertainment: the infamous Boot Ballet.  Yes, it was for many years Whistler’s exotic dance venue.

After over 25 years in business and a few ownership changes, the Boot closed just a few years after it was purchased by Cressey Development Limited, a Vancouver-based company.

The Boot Pub hosted a variety of acts, including Rainbow Butt Monkeys, today known as Finger Eleven. Evans Collection

It may have been inevitable that the Boot Pub would be subjected to redevelopment given its location within walking distance of the village, but there is little doubt that places like the Boot Pub were vital in helping to nurture Whistler’s famed ski culture, which attracted skiers and travellers from all over the world.

Whistler is a dynamic and compelling place and comparing the Whistler of today to the Whistler of the ’70s is almost impossible.  The resort is constantly undergoing changes to meet the demands and investments of an international destination resort, but looking back, it is clear that during the resort’s early days, the Boot Pub was more than just a local watering hole – it was where Whistler came to relax and share the stories that have become our history.

Angela Leong is one of two summer Collections Assistants at the Whistler Museum.  She will be returning to Simon Fraser University in the fall to continue her degree in Health Sciences.