Category Archives: Ski-Town stories

This Week in Photos: February 15

These photos from the Whistler Question show a much smaller Whistler, where everything from a visit by the Governor General, to a snowblower surviving an encounter with a train, to a visiting Rotary exchange student, to a mysterious explosion in a Longhorn toilet are recorded together in the paper.

1979

Whistler as it should be – Doug Read gets into it on “Upper Insanity” on Friday.

An RCMP under-ice diving training school was held on Alta Lake during the past week. Scott Alpen photo.

A view of the Whistler Vale complex with the old Cheakamus Inn in front and the new units to the left and behind.

1980

Squaw Valley Crescent takes some of the overflow parking from Lake Placid Road.

Bob Matheson works on the new Superior Muffler pipe bending machine.

Sunshine and good skiing – the way it has been on the top of Whistler for the past week.

CKVU’s Ralph (Raccoon) Carney interviews Tom Jarvis, Beau Jarvis and Peaches Grant at Beau’s on Sunday evening.

Nicholas Busdon heads across the finish line in the Elementary Boys race.

1981

Chef/owner of the Black Bear Geoffrey Howes and Patty Harvey at work in the kitchen.

The vehicle Steve Podborski was driving and the Toyota driven by Kathy Rollo after the February 14 accident.

Rotarian Frank Satre and Whistler’s exchange student, Teresa Delgado from Chihuahua, Mexico.

Franz and Annette Wilhelmsen (front) and Debbie and Hugh Smythe (rear) enjoy dinner at the opening of Stoney’s restaurant last week.

1982

With the reddest of heart and the fleetest of foot, a be-winged Cindy Woods turned into cupid for a day (guess which one) to deliver flowers throughout the valley for Valley Vines & Petals.

All bagged up and ready to go – Sue Spurrell, Dave Barnes and Leslie Christmas, all from Newfoundland, try out the x-country skiing at Whistler Village wearing Blackcomb bags for protection.

Kermit joins the happy gang at Stoney’s who celebrated their first birthday Monday, February 15. Ball team members are (l to r) Bruce Fox, manager; Jack Cram and Lance Fletched who co-own the restaurant with Dick Gibbons; and Fetah Benali, chef.

Fire in Alpine! It was nearly one month to the day since fire raged through the Whistler Village Inn, when Whistler’s Volunteer Fire Depart. was called out to a blazing cabin in Alpine Meadows. The fire fighters subdued the blaze at 8340 Needles Drive in about 35 minutes.

Testimony to the durability of the Toro snowblower. One wheel points to the sky but the machine is still in one piece after being struck and dragged 200 metres by a BCR train.

1983

The Japanese version of Johnny Carson was being filmed at Blackcomb Mountain Monday, February 14. Akiko Kobayashi, a TV personality, and Sachiko Sakulay, an actress, are on Willie Whistler’s right and Miss Ski Japan Yukali Yamada and host Tommy Yakota stand on his left.

Shovelling snow outside the Hearthstone Lodge (before the advent of heated steps).

Let’s get Springfit! Adult Education classes in fitness continue with instructors (l to r) Debi Mitchell, Jan Alsop and Shelley Cerasaro. These ladies will take you through a vigorous program of warm-ups, aerobic workouts, calisthenics and stretching.

Canada’s Governor General Ed Schreyer (second from right) hit the slopes of Whistler Mountain Tuesday. Both he and Mrs. Schreyer received some tips from Bob Dufour and Dave Murray while enjoying their five-day vacation.

A sound “like someone dropping a huge sheet of metal” turned out to be an explosion which destroyed cubicle number three in the women’s washroom of the Longhorn Pub Thursday, February 10. A similar explosive device was used to blow up a garbage can in the Longhorn Saturday, February 12 and a 31-year-old New Westminster man, Clifford Michael Balkwill, has been charged with use of a dangerous explosive in connection with the second incident. The explosives, known as “fish salutes”, are manufactured for anglers to scare seals away from their prey.

1985

Firemen and residents were able to rescue some possessions from burning condos at Alpine Village Saturday, but losses were heavy and by the next day insurance investigators were already on the scene.

Whistler Mountain celebrated 20 years with some familiar faces (as well as cake, clowns and more).

Whistler Mountain created a new sport Saturday: Gondola stuffing!

The kids’ team stuffed the most bodies into the gondola with 27, while the counterweights (a minimum of 200 lbs each) could only manage nine.

Mike Davidson of the Alta Lake Sports Club will even spend time in the brig if it means hanging onto his hobby cannons. The one-pounder above was made by Great West Cannon Co. of Granville Island and is authentic in size and workmanship to the original, Davidson says. It was often hoisted into a ship’s rigging and used to fire nails and other shrapnel at the enemy. Davidson uses the cannon to proclaim open the various sporting events but two years ago found himself in RCMP lock-up for four hours when a policeman arrested him for discharging a firearm in the municipality. But it’s all in good fun, and the only thing fired is paper.

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GODA’s Many Olympic Bids

With the 2018 Winter Olympics going on in PyeongChang we’re taking a look back at Whistler’s own Olympic past.

There’s no doubt that over the past six decades this town has been greatly influenced by the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.  If the Garibaldi Olympic Development Association (GODA) had had their way, this month would mark the 50th anniversary of Whistler’s Olympic Games instead of the 8th.

In 1960 a group of Vancouver businessmen and Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) members formed GODA with the aim of bringing the Olympic Winter Games to BC.  In the introduction to their bid for the 1968 Olympics, GODA wrote: “In the northwestern part of Garibaldi Park, only 75 road miles from Vancouver, and part of a picture-post card panorama of mountains, snow and forest is Whistler Mountain, proposed site of the 1968 Olympic Winter Games.  It is this mountain and this area that offers the ideal physical location for the Games.”

Driving to Whistler, 1959. Not quite as easy as they made it sound.  MacLaurin Collection.

What their introduction didn’t mention was that the 75 road miles were mostly logging roads and a difficult drive at the best of times, or that the site had no power, water or sewer and all venues and facilities would have to be constructed form scratch.

Not surprisingly, GODA’s first bid was not successful and Banff, Alberta was put forward as Canada’s nomination.  In the end the 1968 Games were held in Grenoble, France.

GODA looked to the future and formed Garibaldi Lifts Ltd. to develop Whistler Mountain.  Five years later, with lifts now installed and paved highway linking the site to Vancouver, they put forward another bid for the 1972 Games.  Again the COC chose Banff to represent Canada (Banff then lost to Sapporo, Japan) and again GODA went back to work on another bid.

Three separate combined Vancouver/Whistler bids were put forward through the 1970s.  By 1970, when the bid for the 1976 Games was put forth, Whistler Mountain had become an established ski resort and was continuing to grow.  This bid received endorsement from the COC and was put forward as an official national bid.  Because of this, we are fortunate today to have many records of the vision for the 1976 Games.

The 1976 bid even had federal support from Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau who often skied at Whistler.  Whistler Mountain Collection.

The official Vancouver/Garibaldi bid book included designs for a purpose-built Olympic Town Site located at the site of today’s Whistler Village, including a grand pedestrian concourse to the bottom of the mountain, sloping angular buildings, and a large plaza with a view of the ski jumps.  The bid promised that all Olympic facilities would be within a 4 km radius of the town site.

Despite a strong bid for Whistler, Montreal’s successful bid the 1976 Summer Games mean the Winter Games could not be awarded to Canada.  Denver, Colorado was chosen but, due to public outcry over environmental impacts and rising costs, Denver declined.  The Games were then offered to Whistler, but a newly elected Social Credit government in BC turned them down and the Games returned to Innsbruck, Austria.

In 1974, the COC approved a bid for the 1980 Games but this was rejected by the provincial government.  In 1979 Whistler and Vancouver put forward a proposal to host the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, but the COC decided on the ultimately successful bid from Calgary.  It was not until 2003, over 40 years after the first bid was put forth, that Whistler learned it would host the Olympics.

Village Square during the 2003 Olympic Bid Announcement – Whistler finally got to host the Olympics.

Over the next two months, as the Games take place in PyeongChang, we’ll all be reminded of the 2010 Games and the experience of playing host to such a massive event.  If you’ve ever wondered how the planning and details that went into that experience all came together in Whistler, you might just get some answers at our next Speaker Series.  Thursday, February 15, the Whistler Museum is delighted to welcome John Rae, Mo Douglas and Kristen Robinson for Behind the Games: Creating the 2010 Olympic Experience.  For more information check here.

February Speaker Series

The Whistler Museum’s 2018 Speaker Series is back this month with Behind the Games: Creating the 2010 Olympic Experience.

Hosting the Olympic Games involves a lot more than organizing and holding sporting competitions (though that is a huge undertaking for any organization).  Host cities also host performances, cultural exhibitions and more to engage visitors and residents throughout the two months and create a memorable experience of a place.  It’s been 8 years since Whistler and Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympic Games and John Rae, Maureen “Mo” Douglas and Kristen Robinson will be sharing the planning and stories that went on behind the scenes.  From planning at the beginning to presenting the Games on the frontline in Whistler, these three speakers have just about seen it all.

Whistler Après: 1968

In February of 1968 entertainment options for locals and visitors were limited.  Alta Lake, as the area was still called, had a very small full-time population and comparatively little infrastructure.  The Village was still serving as a town dump site and development in Creekside had really only just begun.

The development of Creekside and the surrounding areas as of 1970. Whistler Mountain Collection.

The February edition of Garibaldi’s Whistler News included the “Whistler Mountain Weekly Schedule of Entertainment”, a listing of weekly events that were open to the public.  While not a lengthy list (especially when compared to the five pages of listings found under PiqueCal and Nightlife in this publication just last week) every evening provided something different.

The week began on Sunday with a General Information Night where “ski-weekers” were invited to the Cheakamus Inn to view slides of the area and ask any questions they might have about Whistler Mountain.

On Monday a day of skiing could be followed by hot drinks in the Cheakamus Inn lounge and a “Get-Acquainted Party” at the Highland Lodge to meet instructors and others on vacation.

Shown here with his children, Dick Fairhurst was the owner of Cypress Lodge and a ski-doo enthusiast. Fairhurst Collection.

Cypress Lodge (the current site of the Point and Sailing Club) offered Ski-Doo parties every Tuesday, including a ski-doo trip to Cypress Lodge, hot drinks, light refreshments and the option to dance or rent a ski-too to take around Alta Lake.

Wednesdays were Movie Night when a film would be shown in the Day Lodge at the foot of Whistler Mountain.  In 1968 a ticket to the movies was a reasonable $1 for adults and $0.50 for children.

On Thursday the entertainment moved to the Mount Whistler Lodge, a location of fond memories for many Whistler residents and visitors.  Guests were encouraged to come “any time after 9 pm and see the local people in action” with a Jug Band on hand and records for dancing, as well as refreshments and pizza.  According to an advertisement placed by the Mount Whistler Lodge, in which it was described as a “rustic waterfront lodge with rooms and cabins in one of the finest settings in the world,” this was also the place to be every Friday and Saturday for dancing and pizza.

Hillcrest Lodge, originally built and run by the Mansell family, was renamed the Mount Whistler Lodge under new management soon after Whistler Mountain opened.  Mansell Collection.

The February of 1968 offered extra entertainment with two dances scheduled in Whistler Mountain’s main lodge for February 3 and 17, alternating Saturdays with the Mount Whistler Lodge for the month.  Admission to these dances was $1.50 and music was provided by the newly formed Poppy Family.  An added attraction was a “psychedelic lighting show”.

Today there is no shortage of evening entertainment opportunities for visitors to Whistler, including outdoor activities, restaurants, bars and theatres (movie and otherwise), not to mention the events, classes and presentations put on by many local organizations.

This Week in Photos: February 1

All of the photos used for This Week in Photos (as well as many more) can be found in the Whistler Question Collection here.

1979

Just one of the winter safety signs visible along Highway 99.

RCMP and Mountain Hostesses working at the “Ski Watch” programme during Tuesday’s snowstorm. The sign reads: THIS SKI AREA IS NOW PROTECTED BY ANTI-SKI THEFT CRIME PREVENTION PROGRAM Participants in this program have all ski equipment identified, marked and registered with the authorities. For information on how to participate in this program, contact manager of this ski area.

The Whistler Municipal broomball team exhibits the fine form that won it the Winterfest Broomball Trophy on Sunday.

Elmer Hellevang plays the “pipes” as he leads the parade from the haggis at the Burns Night celebrations.

The Spring is Sprung (in January) – skiers sunning themselves on Thursday beside the Gondola Barn.

1980

The Question didn’t just cover Whistler – here they are on the scene at Big White.

Photographer Chris Speedie tries to fix a frozen camera.

A ski-out to the parking lot, today underneath Blueshore Financial and the Village Stroll.

1981

Ron Andrews skies the powder on January 28.

The fresh produce selection at the Whistler Grocery Store shortly after it was put out on display last week. Both the grocery store and Tapley’s Pub recently opened their doors.

Tapley’s Pub during its first week of operations.

Community Club members dig in to the numerous dishes at the Burns Night Pot Luck Dinner.

1982

The official opening of the Village Chair. In 1988 the Village Chair was replaced with a 10 person gondola.

The brass plaque commemorating the opening of the North Side lifts will be displayed at the base of the Village Chair.

John Lavin and Gary Koliger know what they like – cold beer and good music. Lavin and Koliger were playing at the Creek House but will be sitting in with Doc Fingers at the Brass Rail for the rest of the week.

An Alta Vista residence under a heavy blanket of snow.

Al Raine receives the ‘Freeman of Whistler’ scroll from Pat Carleton.

Four-year-old Justin Adams will be trying to beat the municipal sign bylaw by keeping on the move. Justin says he’ll use his earnings to buy a toboggan.

Roland Kentel, John Reynolds and Jeff Fisher toast Tapley’s first anniversary with glasses of bubbly.

1983

Like a bridge over troubled waters the Culliton Creek span begins to edge its way towards the south bank. Scheduled for completion this spring, the bridge will take a big kink out of Highway 99 when it is finished.

A competitor in the women’s 7.5 km cross-country race in the inter-collegiate competition held at Whistler January 28, 29 and 30.

CKVU talk show host Laurier LaPierre rolled into Whistler Friday, January 28 with his TV crew to compile an updated report on the crown corporation takeover at Whistler. At Beau’s Restaurant, LaPierre interviewed Roy Ferris, Mike Widger, Geoff Power and Glenda Bartosh for their opinions on Whistler and it’s future. The segment will be aired on the Vancouver Show Friday, February 4.

Brian Moran, Ken Till, Bob Elliott and John Grills outside the soon-to-be-opened Whistler Keg.

1985

Fans turned out to PWA’s Pro Tour race Saturday and Sunday on Blackcomb to see Sean Murphy win his first race on the circuit.

Some fans even made their own banjo music at the race.

Education Minister Jack Heinrich explains a funding formula to his audience at Howe Sound School District offices in Squamish Monday night. They suggested he go easy on the chalk – there isn’t much money for that sort of thing, apparently.

Helicopters were used to airlift in tons of cement to re-stabilize Tower 12 after Thursday’s malfunction.

Whistler’s Past Institutions

The Rainbow Ski Hill in 1980. Today this slope is the sight of Whistler’s Rainbow neighbourhood. Photo: Whistler Question

Yesterday (Friday, January 26) we opened our 2018 Speaker Series season with an evening dedicated to the Rainbow Ski Village, presented by Tom Jarvis, John Lee and Tommy Thompson.  The three told stories of Rainbow from three different perspectives: the owner trying to make the small ski hill a going concern, the former liftee in his first kitchen job, and the teenage ski jumper who got his start jumping on the BC circuit.  We’d like to thank all of our speakers as well as everyone who came out!

As we’ve been preparing for this event over the past few months we’ve gotten the chance to talk to some of the people, like our speakers, who worked, skied, owned and jumped at the Rainbow Ski Village, as well as Beau’s Restaurant, and have been gathering their stories.

Recently the museum was fortunate to speak with Andy Clausen, whose family managed the Rainbow Ski Village when it first opened and whose memories include not just Rainbow but also life in the Whistler valley in the 1960s and 70s.  Along with an article from the fall 1970 edition of Garibaldi’s Whistler News, Andy’s memories five us a much clearer picture of the early years of the Rainbow Ski Area.

The sign for Beau’s Restaurant. After the ski hill closed the restaurant continued to be a popular gathering place. Photo: Whistler Question

Andy’s stepfather, Vic Christiansen, worked for Jim McConkey at Whistler Mountain and had an impressive reputation as a skier.  In the late 1960s Vic was approached by Norm Paterson of Capilano Highlands Ltd. to operate a small ski area at Rainbow.

Vic Christiansen and his family ran the Rainbow Ski Hill until 1978. Photo: Whistler Mountain Collection

The Rainbow Ski Area first opened in the winter of 1969/70 with one 400-foot tow lift servicing a beginners’ slope.  After that first winter Capilano Highlands added a new 1,200-foot towrope and cleared four beginner/practice slopes leading off the lifts.  They also began construction of a day lodge and a parking area.

In the 1970s many people had their first skiing experience on Rainbow before moving onto the bigger Whistler Mountain. Photo: Cliff Jennings

In 1970 Rainbow opened five days a week (Wednesday – Sunday) under the management of Vic and his family.  Night skiing and reasonable rates (an adult pass for day and evening was $3, a child’s was $1.50) made Rainbow a popular place to learn to ski.

Over the next few years another towrope was added and the Rainbow Mountain Ski Club was formed.  Vic and Andy built Whistler’s first ski jump and Rainbow became a stop on the BC ski jump circuit.  The café was a popular stop for coffee and before he became Whistler’s first mayor Pat Carleton, a Nabob rep, could be found there frequently.

The Rainbow Ski Jump was a 30-40 metre Nordic ski jump and hosted competitions as part of a BC circuit. Photo: Clausen Collection

Being able to draw from both personal recollections and published articles helps to create a more colourful and complete picture of any given time and place.  Memories provide detail and a personal experience while publications, such as Garibaldi’s Whistler News, often record specific dates, names and even lift rates that an individual may not recall.  We are lucky to be able to refer to Whistler’s many publications, including Whistler News, the Alta Lake Echo and The Whistler Answer, when looking for information about this area’s past.

Paul Burrows, the founder of The Whistler Question, teaches a ski class on Rainbow Mountain. Photo: Cliff Jennings

For the past 41 The Whistler Question has provided a record of life in and around Whistler, chronicling a rapidly changing community and growing mountain resort.  From covering the opening of Blackcomb Mountain on its front page in 1980 to announcing the marriage of Bob Daniels and Kashi Richardson in “Notes From All” in 1985, The Question has been an important source of local news in our town.

This past week we wrote our last article for The Question as it published its last edition on January 23 (Museum Musings will be appearing in the Pique beginning next week).  We would like to thank The Question for providing the Whistler Museum with a space to share Whistler’s stories, as well as an archive from to gather them.

This Week in Photos: January 25

1979

New signs recently put up in the area of the new Whistler Village by the Whistler Village Land Company.

Powder snow and sunshine – the way it was at Whistler several times during the past week.

1980

Work continues on the town centre buildings despite the snow and cold temperatures.

The new ski shop located in the Roundhouse addition at the top of Whistler.

All that remained of the BC Hydro Ski Club cabin at 7:30 on Saturday morning. Not only was the large cabin reduced to a heap of burning rubble, but the trees in the area caught fire also. Lack of access prevented the Whistler Fire trucks from getting close to the fire.

A group of happy skiers zips down one of the new Blackcomb runs. (Blackcomb did not officially open until the beginning of Winter 1980/81.)

1981

Bob Ainsworth, Whistler Mountain area manager (left), and Peter Alder, Whistler Mountain Vice-President (right), celebrate the first new snow at base level in over a month with the photographer as a target for some hefty snowballs.

Two of many skiers that made use of BCR (BC Rail) passenger service last week.

Volunteers transport federal mail after BCR dropped it at Whistler Station.

An aerial view of the winding Highway 99.

1982

Dogs have been sprouting up all over the place – including this planter at Tapley’s.

Get Lucky! Take a chance like Vicki Larson-Rodgers and Susan Gestrin are! Get your Lot-tery ticket from Rita Knudson who will be selling them in front of the Grocery Store Fridays and Saturdays 2-6 pm and Sundays 1-4 pm. All proceeds go to the Whistler Health Care Society – and you might win a $100,000 lot in Whistler Cay Heights.

Looking as though he is kneeling on his skis, a racer heads through a gate during the recent telemark dual slalom on Blackcomb. For every gate that the racers pass through when not in the telemark position, they are assessed a penalty point.

Jan Holmberg and Ted Nebbeling keep the dough moving at the new Chef & Baker.

1983

A podium finish at the Fleischmann Cup held on Whistler Mountain.

Sue Worden of Body Works puts a group of Corporate Cup die-hards through the paces in Village Square Saturday.

Ah, for the delectable treat of glaced salmon, especially when it’s been served up through two hours of hard work by the Envirocon team during Saturday’s Corporate Cup. This jaunty fellow was the first-place finisher out of 27 entries in the ice sculpture contest.

Here’s a race we can get behind! Inner tube pullers are put to the test in another fun contest – Sliding Inflation.

Does anyone remember the rules for this race? If so, can they please explain?

A more easily recognized competition – a game of volleyball in the Myrtle Philip School gym.

1985

First you pick it up… “Now how do I put this thing on?” wonders five-year-old Troy Hansen-Wight of Vancouver. Young Troy was seen Sunday at Whistler Mountain’s Ski Scamps program trying to figure out just how to fit on a racing helmet – it’s not easy.

Construction continues on the Conference Centre in Whistler Village.

Belly up to the bar, for 2400 shooters at The Longhorn’s Silverstreak party Saturday, compliments of the one and only Silverstreak himself. The lively host picked up the tab, while Longhorn bartenders Delmar Page (left) and Gerry Heiter poured the honours.

Staff at Pemberton Secondary played against the Senior Girls team last Friday and the lunch hour game ended in a 12-12 tie. School board officials expect to replace the gym floor sometime this summer at an estimated cost of between $30,000 and $40,000.