Category Archives: Uncategorized

Kids Après: Family Day

Our popular Kids Après is back for Family Day Weekend, February 7th to 9th from 3-6pm. This is a great chance to bring your youngsters by the museum to experience a bit of culture, colouring, button-making, LEGO, and more. Entry is always by donation. Children must be accompanied by an adult.

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The Early Days of Creekside

The community of Alta Lake, which attracted visitors and families with cabins in the summer for hiking, hunting and fishing along the lakefront, was forever changed in 1960.

That year, the Garibaldi Olympic Development Agency, led by Franz Wilhelmsen, chose the valley as the site to bring the 1968 Winter Olympics to Canada and British Columbia.  The failure of this first Olympic bid, while discouraging, did not dissuade the group from deciding to build a world-class ski resort.

A very optimistic sign at the base of Whistler Mountain. Photo: Whistler Mountain Collection

The Garibladi Lift Company installed the first gondola-accessed ski area in North America and opened the ski resort in January 1966.

With the ski resort in operation, the newly formed Chamber of Commerce operated as the local government overseeing the sporadic development surrounding the gondola base. The Garibaldi Lift Company did not have the financial resources to purchase the property around the gondola base allowing others to purchase the land.

With the lack of an official community plan or recognized local government, development went unchecked.  Ski cabins were scattered around the base along with a gas station/grocery store and a telephone exchange.  The Garibaldi Lift Company built an interdenominational skier’s chapel, complete with bells and a memorial stain glass window.

The Cheakamus Inn, the Highland Lodge, Rainbow Lodge and other Alta Lake lodges housed visitors in what had normally been the off-season for the Alta Lake community.  A large development was planned near the shores of Nita and Alpha Lakes.  The development would have included residential and commercial properties as well as more recreational areas such as a curling/skating rink, swimming pool and tennis courts.  A condominium development called Alpine Village sat above the gondola area on the slopes of Whistler Mountain.  The UBC Varsity Outdoor Club began constructing their new club cabin near the gondola base.

Alpine 68 newly constructed in 1968. Condos such as these sprung up around Creekside and Nordic.  Photo: Whistler Mountain Collection

The popularity of skiing also brought long waits to ride the gondola up to the mid-station.  The wait times would sometimes exceed three hours just to get on the gondola, prompting the Garibaldi Lift Company to offer free skiing to those willing to hike to the mid-station.

The parking lots at the base of the gondola were consistently full.  Highway 99 was finally blacktopped between Squamish and Whistler, but the drive was still full of hairpin turns and single lane bridges.  This didn’t stop skiers from driving up from the city.

A full (and colourful) parking lot in Creekside. Photo: Whistler Mountain Collection

The popularity of the ski resort also attracted another group of people to the valley: “hippies” and those involved in the counterculture movement.  Those unable to afford to purchase land or build their own ski cabin would squat on Crown land.

With the RMOW established on September 6, 1975 the chaotic nature of development in Whistler’s early years was over the focus on bringing about the well-planned Whistler Village began.

Powering Whistler

If you’ve been in Whistler over the past couple of months you probably experienced or heard about power outages around town, most notably on October 18 when most neighbourhoods experienced a loss of power.

The most common reason Whistler residents lose electricity seems to be from trees coming down on the lines due to rain, wind and snow storms.  The recent outages remind us how dependent we are on electricity today but only 52 years ago using electricity in the Whistler valley was luxury and something of a rarity.

Residents of Alta Lake made do without connecting to the grid for decades.  Ice blocks cut from Alta Lake and covered in sawdust provided refrigeration through the summer months.  Wood stoves and fireplaces, as well as a few oil or coal furnaces, provided heat through the winter.

Hillcrest Lodge was one of the buildings which had its own generators, though the lights went out at 10pm.

Individual properties used generators to provide their own power, though some were more reliable than others.  Bob Williamson installed a wind-powered turbine at the south end of Alta Lake.  As he recalled, “I thought there’d be a lot of wind there, but there was only enough to charge the batteries of the radio, but when the wind was blowing we had lights.”

At Rainbow and Hillcrest Lodges the Philips and Mansells installed generators that ran until 10 pm when the lights went off.  Cypress Lodge, as well as a few neighbours, was powered by a water wheel and generator installed on Scotia Creek by Dick Fairhurst.  Having a generator meant you could charge a battery-operated lamp to use after the generator was turned off for the night.

Even the Alta Lake School had a gas-powered generator for community use.  It ran the weekly movies and played the records for dances, though dances always ended when the gas ran out.

Amenities such as gas-powered washing machines and propane fridges also appeared in the valley, though as Bob remembered, “In those days there was a lot of red tape to put these sort of things in, you had to get a permit, and in these days there was no one to do the inspecting so it was left to this Walter Giel to do the inspecting and he says to me, ‘I don’t known a damn thing about it, just you inspect it yourself.'”

Bob Williamson at work on the transmission lines, well before Alta Lake was able to access the electricity they carried.

Though Alta Lake had no hydro service, transmission lines did run through the valley as early as the 1930s.  Bob Williamson even worked on the power lines in the 1940s, despite having no home access to the electricity they carried.  More transmission lines were put in by BC Electric in the 1950s, connecting Seton Portage (about 25 km west of Lillooet) to Squamish.  It was this project that first brought long-time resident Peter Alder to Alta Lake in 1956 as part of the construction crew.

It was almost 10 years later, just months before Whistler Mountain opened for skiing, that the Rainbow Substation (near Nesters) was completed and Alta Lake was able to utilize the power running through the valley.

Alex and Myrtle Philip were invited to open the Rainbow Substation in November, 1965, even getting to flip the switch.

Alex and Myrtle Philip were invited to officially open the substation on November 18, 1965, and Ale even got to flip the switch.  Today it has become hard to imagine Whistler operating without power throughout the valley.

Don’t forget, this Tuesday (December 5) is our annual Big Kids LEGO Building Competition!  We’ll provide the LEGO and electricity – you bring you ideas and skills.

The Saga of the Brew Hut Part I

A couple weeks ago we took a look at how the UBC Varsity Outdoor Club built their cabin in Whistler before it was taken over by the AMS.  We’re continuing our look at the VOC this week with the construction of the Brew Huts.

Following the student referendum in 1980 that awarded the UBC-VOC $30,000 for the materials used to construct the Club Cabin, the VOC decided to purchase two pre-fabricated Gothic arch huts built by a construction company in Richmond.

After two years of negotiations with the Provincial Government, the VOC was granted permission to build a hut on Mount Brew.  The Club decided to use the first of the pre-fabricated huts they had purchased on this site.  The hut was built over two weekends in September 1982.

Flying in materials by helicopter for Brew Hut Construction, September 1982. Photo: Alan Dibb; UBC-VOC Archives.

Jay Page, a former president of the VOC, wrote, “Up on the mountain a lean-to shelter is nailed together as it begins to rain and storm.  The cabin site is picked out by flashlight that night amid the piles of lumber.”

After the fanfare of the construction of the Brew Hut, Club members neglected to visit the hut for a few months.  Upon a visit in late February 1983, Club members noted that the hut was located in a high snow accumulation zone.  This raised alarm bells within the VOC as the last hut they had built on the Garibaldi Neve Traverse (named the Neve Hilton) had been completely destroyed by snow creep and accumulation.

The Brew Hut under construction, 1982. Photo: Jay Page; UBC-VOC Archives.

Over the next few months and into May 1983, members of the Club returned almost weekly to keep the Brew Hut structure free of the heavy wet snow customarily found in the Coast Mountains.  Each time they returned they found more snow had fallen than in the months previous.  The hut structure had sustained damage and the wood was beginning to crack.

Members of the VOC decided the solution would be to move the hut to a new location via a large helicopter.  By the time this solution had been arranged, however, snow had begun to fall.  The Club decided to dismantle the hut and build it in a new location the following year.

Brew Hut II under construction, 1984 (it would seem the Brew Hut was always under construction). Photo: UBC-VOC Archives.

In the fall of 1984 a new site was chosen for the hut on a ridgeline to the west of the old Brew Hut location.  The hut was rebuilt with a few modifications.  One of the changes was to make the hut smaller as some of the arches had been damaged by the weight of the snow the previous year.  This helped the hut retain more heat.  Snow fell again, disrupting the completion of the hut until the following year.  The Brew Hut in its new location opened in 1985 and was renamed Brew Hut II.

Stay tuned next week for more on the challenges face by Brew Hut II.

The End of Crafts in the Park for 2017

Today marked the end of “Crafts in the Park” for the summer of 2017. Every Friday for the last seven weeks, the Whistler museum got together with the Whistler Public Library to host a fun story time and craft activity. This was the fourth year running the event, which will be sure to continue in summers to come.

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The Whistler Museum and Public Library team up in Florence Petersen Park for fun Friday crafts.

Each year has a new theme, and this year’s theme was, “A Journey Through Whistler’s History”. Our crafts travelled from hundreds of years ago with the First Nations, all the way to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, with crafts to match each point in history. The first week was extra fun, as we joined up with the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre, to make traditional First Nation’s dreamcatchers. For week 3 we built our very own Rainbow Lodges, just like Myrtle and Alex Philip back in 1914. Although, ours were built from rainbow coloured popsicle sticks, and weren’t big enough to live in.

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This girl made the roof of her lodge extra special. We never ceased to be proud of how each child’s unique craft turned out.

Week 5 was “Fun with Fishing”, which had to be held inside due to the dense smoke in Whistler. However, the craft was still one of the favourites as the magnetic rods actually stuck to the metal mouths of the fish! Some of the other favourites included, “Beaver Builders”, “Giddy Up Horsey”, and “Travel by Train”.

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This little girl come almost every Friday, and loved how the cute little beaver could actually fit into his beaver dam.

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Three kids proudly showed off their horse crafts. They could stand on their own!

Each hour began with a couple interactive stories read by Julie Burrows from the Whistler Public Library. This was followed by a short history related to the theme, and an explanation of the craft by Sierra from the Whistler Museum. The kids would then get to try out the craft for themselves.

Besides week 5, we were lucky to have nice weather almost every Friday. We usually had about 21 kids, and they all seemed to enjoy both the outdoors and fun activity. Sometimes the kids would add their own touches to the crafts and make them even better and more exciting than we planned for. We even had some kids who showed up every week, always excited for another craft.

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Parents were always keen to help their child out, sometimes doing much of the craft themselves. (Many of them seemed to enjoy it more than they might admit).

See you in 2018 for another summer of Crafts in the Park!

 

LEGO Competition 2017 Recap

Last Saturday the Whistler Museum was happy to welcome 41 children for our 21st annual LEGO Building Competition. Because of the smoke in the valley, we had to bring the kids inside to build their creations. This didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s sprits or creativity!

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The kids in the 9-11 age group begin to build their LEGO transportation creations.

After a short presentation and introduction, the kids were given 45 minutes to build their best interpretation of the theme. This year’s theme was “Imagination Transportation”, to showcase how much transportation has changed in the past 100 years of Whistler. The children were asked to build anything to represent their ideal form of transportation, real or imaginary. We had some really inventive interpretations of the theme, including spaceships, a hover-board, and an impressive black submarine from a talented 8 year old.

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A colourful flying car built by a 6 year old named Peter.

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Gregory’s jet engine and Marie’s hover-board powered by rockets, both from the 9-11 age category.

 

We would really like to thank our judges Alison Hunter, Marie Holland from the Audain Museum, Julie Burrows from the Whistler Public Library, and Alyssa Bruijns from the Whistler Museum and Archives. We wouldn’t be able to hold the competition without your support! The winners they decided on this year were as follows:

Ages 5 and under:

  1. Michael M.
  2. Asher
  3. Cam H.

Ages 6-8:

  1. Isaac P.
  2. Ethan A.
  3. Joey J.

Ages 9-11:

  1. William O.
  2. Zachary D.
  3. Bronwyn D.

Ages 12 and up:

  1. Samuel L.
  2. Linus K.
  3. Dylan P.
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A little boy from the under five age group with his impressive DUPLO train adorned with a polar bear!

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The kids in the 12 and up table share their LEGO with a boy from a younger group.

 

 

Even if a child didn’t win a prize, they still went home with a loot bag fun of fun goodies.

This event wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for the support we receive every year from our generous local businesses. This year we received donations from Armchair Books, Cows Ice Cream, Escape! Whistler, IGA, Meadow Park Sports Centre, PureBread, The Great Glass Elevator, Avalanche Pizza, The Old Spaghetti Factory, and Whoola Toys.

We would also like to give a huge thank you to every child and parent or caretaker that was involved in the LEGO Competition. We love to see everyone come out to have fun, and despite the relocation it was a success. See you next year!

 

2017 LEGO Building Competition

The competition is sold out for this year! This year marks the 21st annual Building Competition with LEGO bricks. It is open for children under 15 and there are many great prizes to be won! Children are given 45 minutes to create something in their best interpretation of the theme. This year’s theme is “Imagination Transportation”, to showcase how much transportation has changed in the 150 years since Canada’s Confederation. After the time is up, our judges will choose the top three children from each age group to win special prizes. You don’t worry about winning, because every child will walk away with a goody bag full of fun stuff!

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Transportation has always been a crucial factor in history, affecting who visits a place, who stays, and how people live. Every major period in Whistler’s history developed alongside changes to Whistler’s links with the outside world. 150 years ago, the only way to get to Whistler was through the Pemberton Trail, which was winding and dangerous. When pioneers first began making the trek to the valley, about 100 years ago, it took three days. The first day would be spend on a steamboat from Vancouver to Squamish, followed by a three day journey on foot to get to Whistler. After that came the train, and since then cars, bikes, water-planes and many other methods of transportation have made their way into the valley. This year’s theme, therefore, is going to showcase transportation! Old or new, real or imaginary, show us what you think would be the best way to get around. Maybe you think everyone should do as they did back in 1914 and take the train everywhere they go. Otherwise, maybe in your fantasy world, the streets are filled with snow and everyone gets along with skis and snowboards. From horses to spaceships, or even to riding lions, let your imagination run wild!

This year the event will be taking place on August 5th in Florence Petersen Park from 2pm-4pm. 

It is $10 per child, to register please call us at 604-932-2019 or email our Program Coordinator at programcoord@whistlermuseum.org.

We have great prizes from Armchair books, Cows, Escape!, The Great Glass Elevator, and Meadow Park Sports Centre, just to name a few.