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.

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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.

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.

This Week in Photos: January 18

1980

Whistler base from the Gondola Run, as it looked on January 14, 1980.

Paul & Jane Burrows added a bit of warmth to the paper with more travel photos, this time from New Orleans.

Cars got buried in snow in Alpine Meadows.

1981

Paul Burrows holds a copy of the winter edition of Whistler Magazine. The magazine is still published today.

Fuel-soaked cardboard ignites as Bentham (far right) readies to run. (If anyone knows why this stunt took place or has any further details, please let us know at the Museum.)

Bursting through the blaze as crewmen with fire extinguishers head towards Bentham.

Getting the treatment from four extinguishers including brother Harry Bentham (wearing the ski toque).

In the aftermath, Bentham is bandaged by his brother Harry.

1982

A weekend snow storm effectively buried many cars and had many people heading out with shovels.

“Through the hoops” – a Myrtle Philip Kindergarten student shows their form during the school ski program at Blackcomb. The students go skiing once a week for four weeks.

Dennis Waddingham, North Side Ski Shop Manager for Whistler Mountain, Resident of Whistler Cay.

Dogs enjoy playing in the snow in Village Square.

1983

Cross-country skiers kick out over the new trail system around Lost Lake on a sunny Sunday afternoon. The same trail was the scene of a 20 km race earlier in the day.

Have you cleaned your chimney lately? If not, these fellows may pay you a visit shortly. Fire Inspector Gerry Fosty reports there have been four chimney fires at Whistler since the New Year – all of them preventable.

Over 200 applicants turned out at the Keg Monday, January 17 for a variety of jobs being offered by the restaurant. The Keg is scheduled to open its doors sometime in early February.

All hands were on deck for the first series in the third annual Boat Race between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains Wednesday at the Longhorn Pub. Crowds cheered the Blackcomb team on to victory in the Women’s and All-Star (mixed team) events. Whistler Mountain personnel were the top tipplers in the men’s division and will have a chance to regain the All-Star title Wednesday, March 2 at the Bavarian Inn.

1985

Divers prepare for a plunge into Nita Lake.

An RCMP E-division diving trainee prepares to climb out of the frigid water of Nita Lake at last week’s training session held in Whistler. The divers combed the lake bottom in pairs learning how to recover lost objects such as vehicles, weapons and bodies.

The shaken occupant of a van that was struck at the Lorimer and Nesters intersection last Thursday morning leaves the upturned vehicle. About $4000 damage was done to the two vehicles, but there were no serious injuries. The accident occurred when a car turning off Nesters Road collided with a second vehicle, which was travelling on Lorimer Road. The driver of the first car was charged with driving without due care and attention.

Ski Rainbow: Whistler’s Other Ski Hill

Did you know Whistler once had another ski hill? Ever wondered why you live on Ski Jump Rise? Join John Lee and Tom and Beau Jarvis to learn about the Rainbow Ski Hill, a beginner slope where many skiers took their first runs.

Doors open at 6 pm; talk begins at 7 pm.
Tickets: $10 ($5 for Museum & Club Shred members)
Cash bar.

 

Paul Burrows’ Early Years in Whistler

This past September we were lucky enough to welcome Paul Burrows, founder of the Whistler Question in 1976, to the museum to talk about the early days of the paper.

The stories he told of The Question then are amazing, but while looking through our collection of oral histories we came across an interview Paul did with Whistler Cable nearly 20 years ago in which he described his early days in Whistler, back when it was still known as Alta Lake.

Paul first arrived in Canada in 1960 on a flight that hopped from London to Scotland to Iceland to Greenland to Newfoundland to Toronto.  He came west because “that was the place to be” and he and his friends started skiing.  It was thanks to some bumps and twists on the mountains that he first met and became friends with members of ski patrol in Vancouver.  They soon heard about a new ski area in Alta Lake and in 1965 Paul came up by train to take a look.

When Paul Burrows first came to the area Whistler Mountain was still under construction. Whistler Mountain Collection.

The second time he came up he was with a group in a Volkswagen and they brought their skis.  It was August.  As Paul recalled, “we put our skis on our back and walked up through the trees and we walked right up the west ridge of Whistler and we peered over the edge of Whistler Bowl and then we got to see them building the chairlifts on the Red Chair and cutting the ski runs.  So then we skied down and we got mixed up and ended up on a cliff and we got stuck there for a while.”  The group did eventually make it down the mountain.

Bill Southcott and Paul Burrows sport snow beards after a few run on Whistler in the 1970s. Whistler Question Collection.

In 1966 Paul returned as a member of the brown-jacketed ski patrol for the season before leaving to work for the ski patrol in Aspen for a year.  When he returned he got a job working on the pro patrol alongside Murray Coates and Hugh Smythe.  In his words, “It was pretty hairy.  We got buried a lot.  The safety procedures we used to knock avalanches down and everything else would not be tolerated today.  We didn’t even talk about the WCB.”

During this time Paul, like quite a few other “residents” at the time, was squatting.  He rented a 15-foot trailer from a place in Richmond for the season for $550 and parked in a lot at the bottom of the mountain.  The trailer was put up on bricks, insulation was installed beneath it and plywood was put around it and the trailer became home to six or seven people.

Parking lot and gondola at Creekside base, ca. 1980, a decade after the trailer took up residence.. Whistler Mountain Collection.

With no electricity or water the wash facilities in the day lodge came in very useful, as did a trusty oil lamp.  According to Paul, “I would shut all the doors and windows and you’re in there but the trouble is you keep running out of air.  So when you had a party in there in the winter and there were guys in there you kept running out of air.  So if you had this little oil lamp cranked up, it was a bit like the miner’s lamp, when the light started to flicker and go out you knew you had to open the door and let some more air in.”  Condensation was also an issue in the trailer.  Condensation build up could freeze the doors and windows shut and the lamp would then be used to melt one’s way out of the trailer in the morning.

After that season Paul again left Whistler, this time for Grouse and then work in the printing business.

The Burrows’ A-frame on Matterhorn, where the first editions of the Whistler Question were created.

In 1971 Paul married Jane and when she was offered a job teaching in Pemberton the pair moved back to Whistler, staying in their Alpine A-frame until 2000.