Category Archives: Ski-Town stories

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.

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This Week In Photos: August 2

1978

Pictures taken last week of the unsightly mess left by the receding waters of Alpha Lake.

Mud, water and more mud threaten to engulf this worker at the bottom of the new sewer line. Casano Construction ran into difficulty last week when an old creek hidden underground was unleashed.

The heavy equipment preparing the site for the Whistler Vale Condominium site. Approval for this 36-unit development was given on Monday night, July 31.

Stella and Murray Coates’ party over the weekend produced a fine turnout of locals in the balmy weather.

1979

The largest ballroom in town! – the completed A building of the Town Centre parking structure.

The group at the Sailer Fischer Ski Camp party catered by the Keg. (L to R) Wayne Wong, Wayne Booth, Schultz, Nancy Greene, Toni Sailer, Rookie, Alan White.

Some of the headlines recently appearing in the Vancouver newspapers about Whistler.

Gulf Oil truck pumps gas into the Husky tanks during the gas shortage due to Trimac dispute.

Vicki Vogler and Laura McGuffin with the new Whistler hiking book they produced – now on sale at the Information Centre for 75 cents.

Four excited kids take part in the 3-legged race at the Summer Recreation sports day. P. Hocking photo.

1980

Mountain Inn – as it’s been for two months. New construction should start soon.

Blacktop was laid along the Blackcomb Mountain access road from top to bottom. Reports are that a skateboard contest may be held there.

Pacific Blasting is currently at work carving out the rock in the Bayshores subdivision. Whoever buys this lot will have a magnificent view of the valley all year long.

1981

Alta Lake Beach is crowded with sun-seekers on Sunday, August 2.

Don Wildfong, project manager of Pemberton airport, takes a moment off work to pose in front of sign that welcomes recreational fliers to Pemberton.

The Ham/Murphy residence in Alpine Meadows that was damaged by fire on July 30.

Axes fly at Squamish Logger Days.

Sails flapping, windsurfers in the first heat of the men’s Triangle races skim away from the starting line during the BC Windsurfing Championships.

Ms. Sue Christopher, the new teacher at Myrtle Philip School who will be teaching the primary grades, replacing Mrs. Alexia Turner. Ms. Christopher previously taught for 5 years at Signal Hill Elementary in Pemberton.

Elisa Wilson, Anton Deduluc, Melanie Busdon and Samantha O’Keefe test out the new playground equipment at Myrtle Philip School. Built by Industrial Arts students at Howe Sound Secondary School with lumber donated by Garibaldi Building Supplies, this structure is just the first phase of the facilities. The Whistler Parent/Teacher Group has raised the funds which will raise the equipment.

ON YOUR MARKS… GET SET… and the 90 participants in the Whistler Rotary Fun Run were off. Men and women, boys and girls of all ages took part in the race on a sunny August 2nd, Sunday. The Rotary Club hopes to make it an annual event.

1982

They’re off and running at the Rotary Fun Run which started at Myrtle Philip School Saturday, July 31. Runners registered for a 2.5km or 7.5km run around the Lost Lake area.

Willie Whistler strikes up the band to celebrate their third-place ribbon received in the Squamish Logger’s Sports Parade held Sunday, August 1.

These three answered the question of the week: Jenny Busdon, Housewife, Whistler Cay resident; Larry Gunn, Whistler Courier, Alpine Meadows resident; Dave Kirk, Alta Vista resident.

They were swingin’ in the rain throughout the slow-pitch tourney, but Chris Streatham, with his dry sense of humour, came up with this catchy solution.

Andrew Stoner, owner of Whistler Windsurfing, now has to take a definite step up in the world to jump the gap between his docks on Alta Lake. The two docks, one floating and one stationary, were at equal levels one month ago.

Dave Phillips and Doug Hoy go through one of their routines during the Great West Ski Show in Village Square Saturday, July 31st. Phillips executes a somersault – one of many freestyle manoeuvres he displayed for appreciative audiences.

A grader sets to work levelling roads in the Alpine Meadows subdivision, where paving operations will begin shortly.

1984

Steve Martin? No, this wild and crazy guy is parks worker Ted Pryce-Jones who was out last week painting arrows and yellow lines on Valley Trail curves and bends. The new lines and arrows are designed to give cyclists and pedestrians warning and keep users to one side.

Swimmer Shelley Warne was one of 36 swimmers who participated in the Sixth Annual Molson’s Fun Swim on Alta Lake Sunday. Warne swam from Wayside Park to Alta Lake Inn and back under the watchful eye of Marilyn Moore, who dusted off her bathtub derby craft for the occasion. Fun swim organizers report the event went off without a hitch. Other competitors in the swim included Sharon Daly, Joan Parnell, Mike McCroden, Leslie Bruse, Molly Boyd, Shawn Hughes and Daryl Stone. Men’s and women’s winners were John Puddicombe and Shirley Fay, who completed the three-mile course in times of just over a half-hour.

George Kelly of Seattle was the 10,000th golfer to tee off at the Whistler Gold Course this year. Kelly, a food service distributor, played his round July 24. Bookings on the course are at 100 per cent most weekends and 80 per cent weekdays. Numbers are up considerably from last year when the 10,000th player came through in the second week of September. The only problem the course is having now is that players are having a hard time getting tee times.

Members from the Alta Lake Community Club officially opened one of its five benches last Wednesday that it recently donated to the municipality. The club donated $1000 and parks planner Tom Barratt used the money to build the benches located along the Valley Trail. Trudy Gruetzke cut the ribbon opening the benches with other ALCC members, Heather Gamache, Nancy Treiber, Louise Zinsli, Evelyn Cullen, Marg Fox and Suzanne Wilson.

Working in the Archives

The Whistler Museum houses a permanent exhibition chronicling the growth of Whistler, the journey to the 2010 Olympic and Paralympics Games, and the history of the ski resort.  A majestic wolf nestles in the corner of the natural history section, while in the back there is occasionally a temporary exhibit.

Most recently the temporary exhibit focused on Isobel and Don MacLaurin, two important figures to the Whistler scene.  Items displayed ranged from a painting Isobel had done of a black bear and cubs, which was displayed in the original Roundhouse on Whistler Mountain, to Don’s 1977 award for Innovation in Education.

However, there is more to this museum as it also houses the Whistler archives.  But what exactly does that entail?

As a masters student in Archival Studios, I often get asked: “But what are archives?” or “So what does an archivist do?”  Answering these questions is not so easy.  Archives, and the archivist’s role, are nuanced and complicated, and they play an important function in society, including Whistler’s.

The archives room within the Whistler Museum is full of the stories of the resort town and those who have called it home.

What are archives?  In the Whistler Museum, the archives are held in a  room, a basement and a few storage containers filled with documents, photographs, artifacts, and, for the remainder of the summer, two hard-working students.

Working in an archive can include many things.  Appraisal, for example, is an important function that involves deciding which records to keep and which ones don’t fit within the archive’s mandate.

Th Whistler Museum and Archive’s mandate is to collect, preserve and interpret the natural and human history of mountain life, emphasizing Whistler.  This mandate gives us a broad scope around what to acquire or keep to accurately represent the town’s rich heritage.

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.

There is also arrangement and description – this consists of arranging records in structures that represent them best and makes it easy for researchers to review them.

A third function is preservation, which is an important part of archival work.  It consists of activities like putting records in protective files, being aware of temperature and humidity levels, and hoping that the shadow you just saw scurrying under the shelf wasn’t a silverfish!  (Museum collections are very susceptible to pest damage.)

Artifacts are photographed from all angles and described in detail before being prepared for storage or display.

We also digitize materials, both to preserve them and to make them available to a wider audience.  In addition, we help researchers find the records they need.

The archives are open to the public by appointment; staff will have materials available to you when you arrive and be happy to assist with your research needs.

In a society, archives preserve history and aim to be as accurate and representative as possible about the community they represent.  In a town like Whistler, archives contribute to building a solid foundation of civic pride in our shared heritage.  They show us how far we have come from the Rainbow Lodge days, the monumental effort that brought the Olympic and Paralympic Games to Whistler in 2010, and generally instill a sense of pride in the tireless individuals who brought to life the Whistler we all know and love.

Sasha Duranseaud is one of two summer collections assistants at the Whistler Museum.  She will be returning to the University of British Columbia in the fall to continue her Masters in Archival Studies.

This Week In Photos: July 26

This week, like last week, we’ve got photos from every year of the Question Collection!  From windsurfing to dentists, Doug and the Slugs to puppet shows, these photos represent what was going on in Whistler (and Pemberton) this week, many years ago.

1979

Windsurfers and sunbathers enjoy the Alta Vista dock.

Dr. Ann Crowley, the new Pemberton Dentist.

The chow line at the Ski Camp barbecue.

Doug and the Slugs perform at the Ski Camp barbecue.

The roads around Whistler Vale got paved this week.

Terry Minger shows the Resort Association chart to the Whistler Rotary Club.

1980

The Husky gas station in Creekside sees steady business no matter the season.

Arnold Palmer, former PGA Champion, explains some of the ideas intended for the course at Whistler, with diagram posted behind him.

The Resort Centre doesn’t look like much but it will eventually have an Olympic-size ice rink. Something to look forward to during the late hot weather.

1981

Flag footballers take advantage of a sunny Sunday to show off some of their moves.

Former Mayor Wendell Watson and Mayor Shirley Henry cut the Pemberton Village 25th Anniversary Cake.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s super skier!

Rain Coast Puppet Theatre group captivates an audience of young and old in Whistler Village Square on July 24.

A sunny summer day and lush new landscaping – Mayor Pat Carleton and his wife Kay take advantage of Whistler at its finest to enjoy a stroll through Town Centre.

One innovative sunbather found a unique way to beat the heat of Saturday, July 25 at the Rotary Wharf on Alta Lake.

Bob Daly, recently of Surrey, has been appointed the new principal for Myrtle Philip Elementary School. Daly has 12 years teaching experience as well as experience as the head of a science department. In addition to his administrative functions, he will be teaching Grades 6 and 7 at MPES.

1982

One of the first customers makes an inquiry at the reception desk of the newly opened Delta Mountain Inn last Friday.

Mayor Pat Carleton pushing lawn mower.

“Surviving A Personal Financial Crisis” – a handbook.

Competitors take aim during the First Annual International Dart Tournament held at the Longhorn July 23 – 25.

1983

Terry Booth, an electrician with Whistler Mountain (left), graduated at the top of his class at Pacific Vocational Institute and is presented a certificate by Peter Alder, vice president and general manager of Whistler Mountain. Booth studied electrical work at PVI in four two-month sessions over two and a half years. He is one of eight EMSC employees being sponsored for an apprenticeship program.

Spanking new span over Culliton Creek is due to open by July 29 according to Vern Dancy, structural co-ordinator for Goodbrand Construction.

Al Davis heads out for a sail on what he described as a “classic day” for windsurfing on Alta Lake. The weekend sun gave way to rain by Monday.

Diane Eby, of Inge’s Hole in the Wall Gallery, has a wide selection of limited edition prints, reprints and posters for sale. The present collection, which includes pieces from $18 to $600 include works of Markgraf, Bateman and Lansdowne. The works on display will change at least once a month, Eby said.

After the lesson on infant nutrition during the Mother-Infant Program, this group of mums headed over to the Sundial Restaurant to see to their own nutrition. (top row, l – r) Public Health Nurse Marilyn McIvor, Sheila Peters and Colin, Annie Sanderson and Patrick, Lezlie Lock and Jessica, Sandy Epplett and Patricia; (bottom row, l – r) Merrilyn Hoffmann and Christina and Karen Martin and Robyn.

1984

Master of Ceremonies Tom Thomson talks to Glenn Carlsen, the winner of Saturday’s 57 km Molson Lite Whistler Triathlon organized by the Alta Lake Sports Club.

For thirsty triathletes competing in 27+ weather Saturday, watermelons in Village Square were a needed source of water for dehydrated competitors.

Yes, the water was a bit cool Sunday morning for the first leg of the Junior Triathlon in Lost Lake.

If the hydro’s going in to the new municipal hall, can the staff by far behind? Construction is advancing quickly as the staff at Function Junction tidy their desks in anticipation of the move back to the village scheduled for mid August.

This Week In Photos: July 19

We’ve got quite a few photos for this week – that’s because we happen to have this week represented in almost every year of the Whistler Question Collection!

1978

Kayakers are dwarfed by the Daisy Lake Dam.

Werner Furrer (third place K1) explodes over waves, heading for gate 28.

The finished product – a distinctive Zurbrugg chalet.

First the chasm over the river…

… then the stringers.

Asphalt oil heater is lifted off a lowbed at Malloch & Mosley on Friday as Doug Muir looks on.

1979

The new municipal waterworks tank above the Town Centre.

FIRE on Blackcomb! The scene from Alpine Meadows at 11:30 pm on Sunday.

The Whistler Volunteer Firemen practice – John Howells up a ladder.

Architect’s drawing of the new Whistler Tri-Service Building.

1980

Parcel 16 will have a clock tower rising from the right hand side and will feature retail outlets on the first floor and residential on the second.

Most work in town centre is construction but some is destruction. These two workers pound away at steel-reinforced concrete. A day long job for sure.

The giant twin-propellor Canadian Forces Rescue helicopter used to help rescue crews get to the crash site of a small plane on Whistler Mountain.

Roof gone and the rest going, this old mill is deteriorating along the Green River north of Whistler. Only ghosts and rodents inhabit it now.

1981

Whistler Village parking! Wagon misses the parking lot on Wednesday evening, ending up in the newly landscaped garden.

Herb and Jean Hepburn of Okanagan Produce, Vernon, managed to get in a few fruit sales before being asked to leave by municipal authorities.

Bob Dawson and Neil Mawdsley unsuccessfully try to get a fly ball.

Chris Green, Laura d’Artois and J.G. Luckhurst at the Fireplace Inn opening party.

And here he is! The mysterious Mr B.A. Bell of Whistler slowly unpeels his talent – much to the giggles and appreciation of his audience at the first Jock Contest held at Mountain House, July 20. With competition from Fast Eddie and Schultz, things looked mighty tough – but then Peter Lamare took the floor and the $100 first prize.

Annette Ducharma, accompanied by Jamie Boyd, strummed out many a fine tune at JB’s July 16 – 20 while Betsy Chaba took a temporary leave to entertain folks at the Folk Festival in Vancouver.

Crews replace railroad crossing on the highway by the Whistler Industrial Park.

1982

Workers repair damage done to the Lillooet bridge, which received unwanted alterations Tuesday from a truck too tall for a bridge too small.

Hanging high, window washers polish up the Delta Mountain Inn for its July 23rd opening.

Rotarians enjoy their Bravery Luncheon July 16. They were guests of Delta Mountain Inn, which was giving its Twigs Restaurant staff a taste of the dining room in action.

Virginia Meachin enjoys an early morning cup of java with two hikers who joined her Saturday hike down Whistler Mountain.

Whistlerites enjoy some of the gourmet treats served by the Gourmet, which recently completed its patio eating area outside of the Rainbow building in Sunshine Place.

Halt! A barrier blocks the drive of an Alpine Meadows residence after the ditching crew passed by.

Fresh off the assembly line is the Municipality’s 4×4 multi-purpose truck. Among other chores the vehicle will tackle the job of plowing Whistler streets this winter.

1983

Sunny skies and the colourful show put on by the Estonian Folk Dancers of Vancouver brightened up the Whistler Village Sunday, July 17.

Paul Gibson of Selkirk Cable Vision turns a final screw to get Alpine Meadows booked into Whistler Cable Television’s system. Besides six channels, subscribers can now enjoy a host of FM radio stations.

When weekend temperatures soared to the mid-20s, sun worshippers who had been denied their pleasure for nearly six weeks flocked to Lost Lake like the swallows to Capistrano. The new forecast, after four days of sun? Get out the ark, and don’t ask again.

Isobel MacLaurin.

Thuy Read admires a shirt from Whistler Tops in her role asa shopper in “Getaway to Whistler”, a promotional film being made by Curtis Petersen of Petersen Productions.

1984

You put your knees up and you toss the cool drinks down when the sun comes out at Whistler. Temperatures climbed as high as 30.4 C in the past week. Even at the Toni Sailer Ski Camp there were hot times. On Monday at noon the temperature at Midstation on Whistler Mountain was 21 C.

Despite their best efforts, Stoney’s lost 14-1 to the Suds squad.

It was the annual Rotary Installment last Wednesday at Sid Young’s house in Alpine Meadows overlooking 19 Mile Creek. Rotarians and guests were feted with steak prepared by Rudi Hoffmann and lobster, flown in from Nova Scotia, boiled by Ted Nebbeling. District Governor Ralph Crawford also installed Sid Young as the service organization’s new president, taking over from Geoff Pearce. As well, Floyd Eclair becomes vice-president, Doug Fox secretary, Nick DiLalla sergeant-at-arms, Walter Zebrowski treasurer, Arv Pellegrin club service director, Brian Brown youth and international service director and Jon Paine vocation service director.

Walking Tour Season 2018

Ever found yourself lost in Whistler Village?  The unique flow of Whistler Village was actually one man’s specific intention!  On our one hour tour you can learn more about him and many others who have helped to shape Whistler as it is today.  As we wander through Whistler Village you’ll uncover Whistler’s start as a fishing lodge, tales behind the mountain development, and our long journey to the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The tour is approximately one hour long.  Each tour is led by a long-time local, each with their own personal knowledge to add to Whistler’s story.  Whether you’re visiting us, here to work for the season or have lived here for years we guarantee you’ll be sure to learn something new.  Do you know how Whistler and Blackcomb mountains got their names?  Or when the first Olympic bid was placed?  This is your chance to find out the answers to these questions and so many more!

Valley of Dreams Walking Tours occur every day at 11 am in June, July and August.  Meeting outside the Whistler Visitor Centre on Gateway Loop, these daily tours are offered by donation.

We are more than happy to provide private tours outside of these times or for groups.  Simply contact the museum to book a private tour, preferably at least a week in advance.  With sufficient notice we can also customize content and routes to meet your group’s specific interests and needs.
For all tour-related inquires please call the Whistler Museum at 604-932-2019 or visit us behind the library.

Whistler Before the Sea-to-Sky

Whistler’s steep, mountainous terrain is what makes it so attractive as a tourist destination. It’s perfect for skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, and hiking. However, those same rocky hills have been one of it’s greatest challenges, providing a frustrating barrier for tourists and residents alike.  For the first non-indigenous settlers, the area was only accessible by a narrow path known as the Pemberton Trail, constructed in 1877. This trail, which ran from Burrard Inlet, around the far side of Alta Lake, and up to Lillooet, was intended to provide access to the Gold Rush.

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The Pemberton Trail would have ran around Alta Lake’s far shores. Photo: Philip Collection

Unfortunately, by the time the trail was constructed the rush was basically over. An attempt was made to take cattle down it, but most of them died, due to the lack of grazing and the difficult terrain. With no other use for it, the Pemberton Trail functioned as an occasional route for travelers. The trail took three days, by steamship and by foot, assisted by a packhorse. In those days, horses were an important asset. Travelers carried supplies on packhorses, as did Myrtle and Alex Philip, founders of the area’s first resort. They also used a series of workhorses to construct Rainbow Lodge- to simplify things, all the horses were called “Bob”.

The train tracks also provided a ready-made sidewalk for Alta Lake and Parkhurst residents. Photo: Philip Collection

Many of the area’s inhabitants hoped the construction of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway would make access easier. The PGE had multiple false starts- a company was incorporated to build it in 1891, and by 1909 twelve miles of track were completed, when they ran short of funds and had to stop.

By the time construction began in earnest in 1912 the railway had acquired a number of despairing nicknames, among them  “Province’s Great Expense”, “Past God’s Endurance”, and “Prince George Eventually”.  Finally, in 1914, the railway was up and running from Squamish to Quesnel, and soon resorts, logging, and other industries began to spring up in the area. Transit was still anything but easy. The journey involved four to six hours on steamship from Vancouver to Squamish, and a further three to four hours to Alta Lake, as the train only went from 25 to 40 km/h and often had to stop to refuel. The train ride was upgraded through the years, including the addition of open-topped observation cars and a dinner service. Though the journey was long, it wasn’t unpleasant- travelers often enjoyed ice cream, or beer if they were older, as they waited in Squamish. There were also stops for afternoon tea at Rainbow Lodge, costing 35 cents.

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The creation of the PGE made it easy to travel in style. Photo; Philip Collection

Despite these improvements, the journey was still a long one. In the sixties, the Garibaldi Lift Company, hoping to set up skiing in the area, realized that something more convenient would be necessary in order to draw in tourists. A “road” was built from Whistler to Squamish in 1962, although it was. Initially the track was mostly fist-sized rocks and dirt, and driving across streams was sometimes required. 

The trail was plowed infrequently, making winter journeys treacherous. Tire punctures were common, and the first trips from Vancouver took five hours. Thankfully, the road was paved in 1966, and improvement has continued up to the present. The most recent upgrades were for the 2010 Olympics, cutting the travel time down to the two hours we enjoy today.  Although travel time has ranged from multiple days to a matter of hours, people have always felt Whistler was worth the trip.

Highway 99, shortly after it’s creation- still not paved! Photo: Gord Leidal