Whistler’s Answers: April 22, 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/occupations/neighbourhoods represent information given to the Question at the time of publishing and do not necessarily reflect the person today.

You may notice that this week is missing some photos for those who provided answers – not all of the Whistler Question negatives that were rescued from a fire in 1991 were able to be repaired and so some photographs are still missing. We are considering ways to include photographs when this happens, such as scanning physical copies of the paper, but for this week at least their words must stand on their own.

Some context for this week’s question: Not all questions asked to the public were Whistler specific. In 1981, the Parliament of Canada requested that the British Parliament remove its ability to amend Canada’s constitution. This power was transferred to Canada through the UK’s Canada Act 1982 in March 1982 and on April 17, 1982, the proclamation was signed to bring the Constitution Act, 1982 into force.

Question: Do you think bringing the constitution home will make any difference to Canadians?

Ann Marie Warren – Sales Clerk – Tamarisk

Not immediately. I think the effects are going to be felt in the future.

As with a change in any rules, people won’t be aware of all the implications and finer points until they see how the Constitution fits into the entire picture.

It’s a good thing, though – another step in the emerging Canadian identity.

Hermel Rioux – Waiter – Gondola Area

Actually, it hasn’t made any difference to me. But I think it’s a good idea to have our own constitution and I think French Canadian people feel much better about it.

There are a lot of Quebecois who are French, but still want to see the country together, although they would like it to be bilingual.

I think having the Constitution here will definitely help the country to stay together. I don’t want to have to cross a border to go home.

Curtis Beckon – Bartender – Brio

No. I think the whole thing is a waste of taxpayer’s money. They should be trying to create more jobs for people or encourage new industry instead of messing around with this.

It’s not going to help people out to have the constitution here. As a matter of fact, I think it’s turning things upside down. It’s almost like starting over again.

Dave Sillmans – Ski Tech – Tamarisk

It makes absolutely no difference to me. And I don’t think it will make much difference to anyone.

It’s not going to make anyone prouder to be Canadian. It’s been over there so long that bringing it back isn’t going to make one bit of difference.

Brent Gilker – Seaman – Alpine Meadows

Of the people who are already mature, none will notice or care, except those who are in trouble with the law or their rights.

But for younger Canadians who are studying the constitution in school, I optimistically believe they will take that information and help make this into a far better country.

Rick Chandler – Liftee – No fixed adress

It’s possible. It depends on how many know what’s in the constitution. And you know what? I’d guarantee that 90 percent of the people have no idea at all.

I don’t, and I read the paper.

Fire in Function Junction

A few weeks ago during our Speaker Series on journalism in Whistler, technical difficulties unfortunately prevented a question being asked about a fire that destroyed the production office of The Whistler Question in Function Junction in 1991. As we weren’t able to learn more about the fire from the knowledgeable people at the speaker event, both presenting and in the audience, we thought we’d start by taking a quick look at what the Question had to say about it.

The fire was actually only one of two large fires in Whistler on Friday, January 18, 1991. At Rainbow the building housing Rainbow Rentals, Rainbow Paint and Supply, Whistler Woodheat, Whistler Welding, Allan May Project Management and the truck division of Budget Rent-A-Car also had a fire. As there were no hydrants in the area and the building contained tanks of propane, oxygen and acetylene as well as cans of oil-based paints and industrial solvents, the decision was made that it was too dangerous for firefighters to go into the building. Instead, the highway was closed and the building was allowed to burn.

The rubble left after the Rainbow fire burned out, including a woodstove. Whistler Question Collection, 1991.

In Function Junction, around 2:30 am, Kevin Swanlund was the only employee in the building that housed Yurrop Trading, Mountain Crests, the kitchen of The Gourmet, Little Mountain Bakery, and the Question production office when he noticed a fire. Swanlund attempted to put out the fire with an extinguisher but it kept coming back stronger. His actions alerted Carrie Waller and her daughter Amanda, who lived in the apartment upstairs, to the fire. The pair found the stairwell blocked but were able to use a ladder to climb down from the balcony.

Fire Chief Tony Evans described the fire as “a tough one to fight,” though the fire department responded promptly and were able to control the fire. A fire hydrant on the property was not connected to the municipal water system and had reportedly frozen, though luckily there were municipal hydrants nearby. The fire department did not confirm a cause of the fire, but were able to say that it appeared to have started near the building’s electrical panel.

The Whistler Question production office after the fire. Whistler Question Collection, 1991.

By the time the Question came out the next Thursday, most of the businesses affected already had plans to reopen. Jan Holmberg, who owned the building and co-owned Yurrop Trading and Mountain Crests, told the Question that Mountain Crests had already located an embroidery machine in Seattle and rented space in another building and would soon be at half their usual production. Rick and Doris Matthews, the co-owners of The Gourmet, had begun cooking at home and in another kitchen while setting up in another Function Junction building, though they expected that for the next month they would be able to produce only about half of their “signature products.” Luckily for The Gourmet, most of their kitchen equipment was saved.

The co-owners of Little Mountain Bakery, Pierre LePage and Andy Schoni, both decided to use the fire as an opportunity for short vacations before beginning operations at 1212 Alpha Lake Road in February. Like The Gourmet, most of Little Mountain Bakery’s equipment was saved but the bakery lost all of their supplies.

Patrick Sarrazin helps baker Andy Schoni clean up trays after the fire at Little Mountain Bakery. Whistler Question Collection, 1991.

The Question production office was not burned but was heavily damaged by smoke and water. The Question lost computers, a laser printer, a photocopier, darkroom equipment, and five years worth of irreplaceable photographs. The paper was able to set up a temporary office in the Blackcomb Ski Club cabin and, thanks to the help of Rick Clare, Whistler Printing and Blackcomb Lodge, were able to stick to their normal publishing schedule.

The fires of January 18, 1991, affected eleven businesses in Whistler in Rainbow and Function Junction, though most were able to reopen. Firefighters were able to save a collection of negatives from 1978 to 1985 from the fire. Thanks to Question photographer Brian Smith, these negatives were restored and are now housed in the archives where the Whistler Question Collection is an invaluable resource that is used almost daily at the Whistler Museum. The Whistler Question Collection now includes photographs of different facets of life in the Whistler area from 1978 to 1986 and from 1991 to 1996. Unfortunately, due to the photographs lost in the fire the years between 1986 and 1991 are not as well represented.

Whistler’s Answers: April 15, 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/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: A major recession hit North America in late 1981, with interest rates reaching up to 20%. While some buildings in the Whistler Village were completed, much of the first phase was still under construction. Work on some properties stalled but other businesses, such as the Delta Mountain Inn, moved forward with their plans to open. At the time the Whistler Village Land Corporation (WVLC) was left with debts of almost $8 million, liabilities around $30 million, and land assets that nobody would buy. In 1983 the provincial government stepped in and formed Whistler Land Co. Developments, a Crown corporation, to take over the liabilities and assets of the WVLC, but in early 1982 Whistler’s economic future was still unsure.

Question: How has the current economic situation affected you?

Pat Kelly – Real Estate Agent – Whistler Cay

It would be safe to say that given the current real estate market, my income has been quite affected.

The real estate market, which my income is tied to is inactive right now. My guess is that the volume is at least half of what it was last year.

But I’m going to hang in there. I can see certain potential here that others may not be able to.

Diane Robb – Waitress – Gondola Area

Actually, it hasn’t really affected me. But then it’s hard to tell as I haven’t worked all winter because I’ve been travelling.

At the restaurant, people are still tipping at least 15 per-cent. And with the turn out there is for skiing, you know people must have money.

Things can’t be too rough – Whistler had a record day Friday.

Denver Snider – Mons Towing – Emerald Estates

Well, it hasn’t affected me yet. I feel the economic conditions in this valley will depend not on the ability to work, but on the willingness to go out and work.

It’s true. I just bought another dump truck.

Don Willoughby – Businessman – Alpine Meadows

Well, the price of golf balls has gone up.

“Fast” Eddy – Union Construction Worker – Alta Vista

It hasn’t affected me at all because I wasn’t one of the morons who balked at the business agent from the union hall who came up here to give us jobs.

Now I’m still working, but I know of a lot of other contractors who are sucking wind.

Susan Nielsen – Bookkeeper – Whistler Cay

I haven’t felt any negative effects of the economic situation because there is a good demand for my type of work in Whistler.

However, if I had to move to Vancouver and find a job there things would probably be much different.

The Woods at Alta Lake

The Woods family moved to Alta Lake around 1926 and worked in the area, both for the railway and in the logging industry, until the 1940s. Fred Woods was born in the Isle of Man and immigrated to Canada after a time in the army. He worked on the railroad in Broadview, Saskatchewan where he met and married Elizabeth. Their first child, Helen, was born in Broadview in 1921 and a couple of years later the family moved to Port Coquiltam, where Fred continued to work on the railroad. While there Fred and Elizabeth had two sons, Jack and Pat. Fred then took a job as a section foreman for the PGE Railway and the entire family moved to Alta Lake.

Fred and Elizabeth Woods on the train tracks at Alta Lake. Jardine/Betts/Smith Collection

After a few years, Fred lost his job with the PGE and the family moved out of the company house. After living for a time in a much smaller house, the family was able to rent a property from Jack Findlay, who charged them only the cost of the property taxes. The property included a house, barn, hayfield, and garden and was located across the creek from the Tapley’s farm. Fred began working for the logging operation of B.C. Keeley of Parkhurst during the summers and clearing trails and bridges as relief work in the winters.

The family kept a cow, horse, chickens, and, at times, a pig and grew their own vegetables. In the summer the children would pick berries that Elizabeth would use to make jam. She also canned meat from their animals. When the logging camp closed at the end of the summer Fred would order groceries such as flour and sugar wholesale through the cookhouse to last through the winter. Vegetables were stored in the roothouse and the children would keep the path from the house clear of snow.

Pat Woods, Bob Jardine, Tom Neiland and Jack Woods skating at Alta Lake. Jardine/Betts/Smith Collection

Helen, Pat, Jack and later their younger brother Kenneth went to the Alta Lake School, though Pat remembered some days when snow prevented them from attending. As they got older they also began working outside of their home. When Jack was fifteen and Pat fourteen they spent a summer working in the sawmill at Lost Lost (after a fire at Parkhurst in 1938, logging operations were temporarily moved to Lost Lake before returning to Green Lake). Their employment ended abruptly when Jack lost all the fingers on his right hand in a workplace accident. According to Pat, it took years for Jack to receive compensation, as he was supposed to be sixteen before working in the mill.

The Woods family band played at community events, such as dances and fundraisers, held in the school.

Though the family worked hard during their years at Alta Lake, both Pat and Helen had fond memories of living in the area. Elizabeth loved music and taught her children to play violin and guitar. She played accordion and the family would perform at community dances. They also remembered the kindness of various “bachelors” who lived at Alta Lake, such as Bill Bailiff and Ed Droll, who would visit with their father and sometimes give the children carrots from their gardens on their way to school.

In the early 1940s Fred Woods joined the Canadian army and the family, apart from Helen who had left home and lived in Squamish, moved to North Vancouver. In later years, members of the Woods family returned as visitors to Alta Lake and then Whistler, though they never forgot the years they spent living and working in the area.

Whistler’s Answers: April 8, 1982

We’re starting something new on the Whistorical blog!  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/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 front page of the April 1, 1982 issue of the Question featured a story about Drew Meredith, a local real estate agent, winning $2 million and donating it to the Whistler municipality. As the paper was published on April 1, many readers recognized the story as an April Fool’s prank. A major recession hit North America in late 1981, with interest rates reaching up to 20%, and Whistler’s economic future was still unsure in early 1982.

Question: What did you think when you read the story last week about Drew Meredith giving away $2 million?

Sharon Berry – Head Cashier – Alpine Meadows

Actually, I did believe it while I was reading the article, and kept on believing it until the next day when I heard other people talking about it and realized it was a joke.

My first impression, though, was that he was a fool. I couldn’t imagine how anyone would be that stupid to give all that money away.

Jack Cram – Restaurateur – Village

I believed it for about two hours, mainly because I thought Drew is the kind of person to do something like that. But with the economy the way it is, especially the real estate market, I wondered why he would do it.

I was busy when I read it so it took a while to sink in.

Ross Tocher – Office Manager Mountainside Lodge – Nester’s

Basically, I thought if it was true, then (a) he was nuts, (b) he wanted a mountain named after him or (c) he wanted to be Mayor.*

Only someone like Mother Theresa would do something like that.

Lisa Knight – Manager of Calberg’s – Brio

I thought it was a lot of fun. When I first read it, I believed it. Then as I read more, it became more obvious.

A $2 million giveaway – I sure wouldn’t have done it. But a lot of people believed it.

Brian Fitzpatrick – Logger – Emerald Estates

I was disgusted. I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to throw away $2 million.

I believed it, but it didn’t seem to make any sense. Those real estate b——- are either robbing us blind or throwing it away.

Bob Currie – Contractor – Alpine Meadows

Well, I immediately had grave doubts about the whole story. I laughed a lot the minute I saw a $2 million giveaway.

It was just too much of a coincidence to have a story like that April 1.

*Drew Meredith did, in fact, serve as Mayor from 1986 – 1990.

The Inn on the Lake

At the Whistler Museum we often hear stories about the lodges that used to be plentiful around Alta Lake (as well as Nita Lake) from people who worked, stayed, partied or even lived at one sometime between the 1930s and 1980s. Some of the lodges, like the Mount Whistler Lodge, began as summer resorts before skiing was really thought of in the area, while others, such as the Christiana Inn, were part of the increase in development that started with the building of lifts on Whistler Mountain.

Sandy and Puddy Martin, who developed much of the Alta Vista neighbourhood, opened the Christiana Inn on the eastern shore of Alta Lake in 1967. They reportedly named their new venture after a similarly named lodge in Sun Valley, ID. The Christiana facilities included a heated outdoor swimming pool, a beauty salon, gift shop, lounge area, and dining room. Located only five minutes from the lifts on Whistler Mountain and offering many activities around the lake, the Christiana catered to both winter and summer guests.

Though it says the Christiana Inn is closed to the public, this is one of the few images in our collections that shows the building from the front. Whistler Question Collection, 1979.

In the late 1960s, the Martins added on to the Christiana with a tennis court, a poolside dining and dancing area, and even a second dining room. The Christiana hosted fashion shows, dances, public meetings, apres ski entertainment, and films, and even offered a free bus service for guests in the ski season. Over time, the pool was covered with a fiberglass roof in the winter and was opened to guests not staying at the Christiana for a nominal fee (in 1973, this fee was $1 for adults and 50 cents for children).

Sandy and Puddy sold the Christiana Inn in the mid 1970s. In 1979 the management of the lodge was taken over by brothers Ole and Per Christiansen, who hoped to “gradually alter the Inn to a Bavarian atmosphere” and began offering traditional German fare in the restaurant (prepared by Swiss chef Pascal Tiphine) and advertising the Christiana alongside the “newly decorated” Side Door Disco.

Bartender Rosarie Gauthier and manager Per Christiansen behind the bar in the Christiana’s remodelled Bavarian Lounge. Whistler Question Collection, 1979.

It would seem that it was during the mid-to-late 1970s that the Christiana Inn pool began to be known for belly flop and wet t-shirt contests. In May 1978 Brad Cooper wrote in The Whistler Question that “May 22 at the Christiana Inn will be well-remembered as the day over 20 people attempted to splash the most water out of a pool and live to tell about it.” He described hundreds of spectators crowding the pool area and watching from the roof and gave credit to the Christiana and organizers for a “wild but harmless event.”

The belly flop contest of 1978. Whistler Question Collection, 1978.

Others did not find these contests quite as entertaining. In a letter to the editor of the Question in June 1979, T. Wood described the awards ceremony of the Great Snow Earth Water Race as “a fiasco at sleazy Christiana with wet T-shirts and belly flops, which require no talent.” They claimed one contestant from the race was even “pushed into the filthy Christiana pool.”

The pool at the Christiana also hosted other events, such as log rolling. Photo courtesy of David Lalik.

In March 1980 rumours claimed that the Christiana Inn had unexpectedly ceased operations, causing the Whistler Rotary Club to lunch at the Filling Station instead. The then-owners of the Christiana, Travelscope Hotels Ltd., reported that the lodge was still operating but that the management company that had been in charge was no longer operating the hotel (it appears that the management had left town while still owing money to their employees). The hotel and bar were still open, though the kitchen was temporarily closed due to a fire in the deep fryer.

The Christiana Inn also hosted the Freakers’ Ball after the first couple of years at the Mount Whistler Lodge. Bramfield Collection.

In May 1980 the Christiana reopened for the summer as the Alta Lake Inn, well-remembered for their restaurant which offered Chinese food and take-out. Later in the 1980s, the Alta Lake Inn closed as a resort and the property was converted into private condos, known today as Whistler on the Lake. Stories of the Christiana Inn, however, continue to be told throughout Whistler. If you have stories you would like to add to our records, let us know at the Whistler Museum.

The staff of the restaurant at the Alta Lake Inn, including Edmond Wong, Law, Tse, Kwang, Gilbert, Peni, Edmon, and Jeannie. Whistler Question Collection, 1981.

Whistler’s Answers: April 1, 1982

We’re starting something new on the Whistorical blog!  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/occupations/neighbourhoods represent information given to the Question at the time of publishing and do not necessarily reflect the person today.

Question: What type of activities would you like to see in Whistler this summer? Why?

Mike Culwell – Logger – Alpine Meadows

I’d really like to see them get a baseball field together.  We’ve got a team now, but there’s no place to play.

Outdoor concerts on the mountaintop would be a great idea. It might be a bit of a hassle to figure out how to do it, but it definitely would be worth it.

I’d also like to see organized outdoor barbeques.

Heather MacLeod – Deli Clerk – Alta Vista

I would like to see a sailing regatta, 10-speed cycling races, and a few organized ‘fun runs’. Something that would be really popular would be local outdoor dances.

We need the type of activities that gets the whole community involved together and gives everyone something to do besides handing around in bars.

Min Carter – Waitress – Alta Vista

Horseback riding, definitely, because there’s nothing nicer than riding horses through the mountains. I’d like to see organized overnight rides up into the hills complete with tents and packs.

The biggest thing we lack here is getting things organized. We’ve got almost everything else.

Frank Switzer – Bartender – Gondola Area

We need more support from the whole town for existing athletes in the form of providing both enthusiasm and facilities. People know that sports exist here – why don’t they push a little harder to develop them?

I think the Town Centre should support the fastball league a little better. Who knows? Someday this town could compete on a national or international level in a variety of sports.

Harry Carman – Unemployed – Adventures West

It’s an outdoor area, so I want to see fishing and baseball. One thing we definitely need is horseback riding, which I hear they’re going to be starting soon.

They also need to build more hiking trails because it’s such a beautiful area, people should be able to explore and enjoy it more.

Also, we need more access to the lakes around here.

Paul Roche – Unemployed – Alpine Meadows

We need some community organization. I’d like to see organized hikes and outings into the back country, and tournaments for baseball or soccer – any activities which generate a community feeling and allow people to get to know each other in ways other than working together.

We need more in the way of public facilities like tennis and racquet ball courts.

One good project would be the restoration of the rec centre.