Whistler’s Answers: September 2, 1982

In the 1980s the Whistler Question began posing a question to three to six people and publishing their responses under “Whistler’s Answers” (not to be confused with the Whistler Answer).  Each week, we’ll be sharing one question and the answers given back in 1982.  Please note, all names/answers/occupations/neighbourhoods represent information given to the Question at the time of publishing and do not necessarily reflect the person today.

Some context for this week’s question: On Sunday, August 29, Whistler held its first marathon. 131 participants (113 in the half marathon and 18 in the full marathon) circled the Whistler valley and, from all reports, the community played a huge role in sponsoring the event, volunteering, and cheering on the runners.

Question: What did you think of Whistler’s first marathon?

Nancy Power – Volunteer – Alpine Meadows

I thought the race organizers did a terrific job. The comments I heard from runners about marshalling and the aid stations were very positive.

One friend of mine who entered the marathon said he was almost ready to give up after the first lap, but when he came through the village and heard the music and all the audience cheering him on, he just couldn’t quit.

The only negative criticism I heard was that all the runners didn’t get T-shirts.

Murray Coates – Marathon runner – Emerald Estates

To say it was good would be an understatement. Everybody – the spectators, organizers, volunteers and runners – put all they had into it. It was mind-boggling how great it was.

It may be one of the most difficult courses in the world. The back stretch on Westside Road was really tough. Any runner that finished it was a winner.

Two things stand out in my mind – it was great to be able to run on home turf and I really liked the idea of increasing participation by holding a half marathon.

Bob Goulet – Spectator – White Gold Estates

I thought it was really great. The endurance and strength the athletes displayed was amazing. To run from the village, along Westside Road and then back again in about an hour is amazing – and that’s what the first three or four runners did.

It would be really good to see another race next year – it’s a good think to get some of the locals in shape.

Uphill Both Ways: Getting to School in Whistler

It is hard to imagine a time in Whistler when the only school in the area (a single room schoolhouse heated by a wood stove) struggled to remain open because it could not keep 10 students enrolled. But for many years, the community struggled to reach this threshold. Up until the 1970s, getting an education in the valley was far from easy, and getting to school required determination and a knack for ignoring the cold.

The first Alta Lake School. Philip Collection.

The first school opened in the 1930s. Prior to that, students could bring their correspondence work to the Alta Lake Hotel to be supervised, and also to see their peers. Once the Alta Lake School opened, attendance fluctuated from year to year (and was occasionally inflated), and it opened and closed accordingly. When the school was closed, children either returned to correspondence courses, or lived elsewhere in the province.

Students at the Alta Lake School, 1933. Jardine Collection.

For the children of Alta Lake, school provided most of their social interactions. Families were scattered throughout the valley, and before proper roads and cars came to the valley, traveling on foot was often the only option. In order to get to school, children sometimes had to walk for miles, mostly unattended, along operational railroad tracks. For some, the journey was shorter in the winter when it was possible to walk across the lakes. At times, the snow made it impossible to reach the school at all.

Bob Jardine, who was responsible for getting himself and his younger brother Tom Neiland to school, recalled that “Tom was four years younger than I was, so I was fourteen and he was ten… it used to terrify me to take him through the railway cuts, especially when the snow plow was galloping around there.”

After Whistler Mountain opened in 1966, the year-round population began to grow and the days of struggling to pull together 10 students were soon replaced with a constantly growing student population. The Alta Lake School closed permanently in 1970, and in 1976 Myrtle Philip Elementary School opened with 57 students.

Until the 1960s, students had to take correspondence courses once they reached grade 8 because the teacher was unqualified to teach past grade 7. But by 1966, the road to Whistler had been paved, and it was possible to bus highschool students to Squamish. At first, about ten students were bussed down the highway. The bus ride took over an hour, though for many the commute was significantly longer than that. The bus picked up students from the gas station in Creekside, but they had to make their own way there.

In an interview with the museum, Renate Bareham, who was part of the first group to attend highschool in Squamish, described it as “quite the trek.” It took her an hour to walk to the gas station and the drive to Squamish, especially during the first week, was harrowing. She recalled that “the road was very windy and for the first week of school I just about threw up everyday because we were in this little minivan… and we had to sit side-bench so I was not facing the road…” She added that “eventually I got over it and now I never get carsick.” She attended highschool in Squamish until she graduated in 1970. That was the last year they bussed students to Squamish. In 1969, buses went to both Squamish and Pemberton, and then highschool students were sent to Pemberton, continuing until Whistler Secondary School opened in 1996

Upgrade! Bob Walker, the first bus driver, stands next to the new and improved school bus in the late 1960s. Philip Collection.
Whistler’s first school bus, circa late 1960s. Philip Collection.

Annual Building Competition – That’s a Wrap!

Thank you to everyone who participated in the 25th Annual Building Competition with LEGO Bricks this weekend! All of the creations were amazing!

A special thanks to our judges, who had the difficult task of scoring all of the entries:

We would also like to give a huge thank you to our sponsors for the event, who provided prizes and goody bag items:

Results

3 – 5

  1. Thomas Esnouf
  2. Ruardih Arris
  3. Ethan Kester

6 – 7

  1. Ollie Ford
  2. Miles Kobilinski
  3. Leah Carsen

8 – 12

  1. Rambo Nunez
  2. Noah + Micah Carsen
  3. Jude Winterbottom

If you didn’t pick up your goody bag at the competition, please come by the Whistler Museum any day. We can’t wait to see what everyone creates next year!

Whistler’s Answers: August 26, 1982

In the 1980s the Whistler Question began posing a question to three to six people and publishing their responses under “Whistler’s Answers” (not to be confused with the Whistler Answer).  Each week, we’ll be sharing one question and the answers given back in 1982.  Please note, all names/answers/occupations/neighbourhoods represent information given to the Question at the time of publishing and do not necessarily reflect the person today.

Some context for this week’s question: The idea of a municipal airport was under discussion for much of the early 1980s, with various locations proposed. These locations included the Callaghan Valley and, most prominently in 1982, an area at the south end of Green Lake just west of the Mons overpass. As of today, Whistler does not have a tri-service airport facility; float planes are able to take off and land on Green Lake, and the nearest airport is in Pemberton.

Question: Do you think it’s necessary to have a tri-service airport facility at Whistler? If so, where should it be located?

Diane Eby – Airplane owner and former president of Whistler Ratepayers Association – Emerald Estates

Personally, I don’t see the absolute need for a tri-service facility, but then I’m not living down in the Gondola area with helicopters taking off all the time.

As for the location, I can’t see it at the Mons site the airport committee is now discussing. It’s very close to a residential area and there’s three big Hydro lines right there.

Eighty percent of the time the weather in Whistler isn’t suitable for flying anyways. It seems like we’re wasting a lot of taxpayer’s money when there’s already a facility 18 miles down the road in Pemberton.

Mike Jakobbson – Electrical contractor – Alpine Meadows

Sure, it would be handy to have a facility like that here. The point is, where are you going to put it?

I can’t see anywhere in Whistler where you could have it. The closest place is Pemberton.

It would be a definite asset to be able to bring in direct flights from Vancouver, but something like that is definitely in the future.

Are taxpayers going to pay for this? That’s another point. There’s enough burden on taxpayers right now without spending more money.

Mark Angus – Alderman, Chairman of the Airport Committee – Gondola Area

Yes, for safety reasons. We need to try and keep float planes off Alta Lake, which is more heavily used (than Green Lake) by windsurfers and swimmers.

We need to try and keep choppers out of populated areas, like the Gondola area and the Blackcomb benchlands which someday will be a residential/commercial area.

The Mons area is one site where we can put all three services in one spot.

If we were to build a small landing spot here – I hate to call it an airport – the spinoff in money would be good for the valley as a whole.