Tag Archives: 1970s

Opening this Friday: A Photographic History of Whistler!

Our scanner can finally breathe a sigh of relief (if that were possible), after over a year of hard work digitizing 35,000 photographs from The Whistler Question’s collection of negatives spanning 1978-1985 (made possible by funding from the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre).

Over the last year and a half we have scanned many photos of construction sites as the Village was built. Photo: Whistler Question Collection

With most of the images already uploaded to our online gallery, we have now set our sights on an opening night for the exhibit.  We have planned to feature the cream of the crop of all the scanned Whistler Question photos.

Photos were chosen for the exhibit based on how well they encapsulate the people, places and events in the community during Whistler’s transitional years, as well as on their pure aesthetic qualities that showcase the artistic side of The Whistler Question’s early photographers.

Whistler on a snowy night in December, 1979. Photo: Whistler Question Collection

Founded in 1976, The Whistler Question is Whistler’s longest-running newspaper and these early photographs document significant milestones in Whistler’s development, such as the construction of Whistler Village, the opening of Blackcomb Mountain and the Molson World Cup Downhill.

Everyday events experienced by the growing community also feature strongly, including sporting events, school plays, weddings, local government meetings and rowdy parties that express the spirit of the people living in our mountain town.  The Whistler Museum’s temporary exhibit room will showcase many of these week-by-week photos on the walls and will also host a slideshow screen that displays over 100 other photos from the collection.

Many of The Whistler Question’s original captions form the newspaper will accompany the photographs, demonstrating how these photos were framed in print.

Myrtle Philip, aged 93, with the Grade 5 class from Myrtle Philip Elementary School at her home on Alta Lake Road, May 1984. Photo: Whistler Question Collection

We will be celebrating opening night of The Whistler Question: A Photographic History 1978-1985 and the completion of the digitization project on Friday, September 15 from 6 to 9pm.  We hope you’ll join us for a night of admiring these beautiful photos, reminiscing and mingling as we welcome special guests Paul Burrows, the found of The Whistler Question, and Glenda Bartosh, the second publisher and owner of the paper.

Paul and Glenda will share their experiences and stories of the early years of The Whistler Question and Whistler itself, providing context for the visual exhibit that will add even more to the already vivid photos on display.

The Whistler Museum will host refreshments, including snacks and complimentary tea provided by DavidsTea, as well as a cash bar to fuel the good times.

Admission for the evening will be free, so we hope that the community can join us to wander the exhibit and celebrate the archives of our local paper!  If you aren’t able to join us for opening night, please come view the exhibit during our normal opening hours (11am to 5pm daily, open late on Thursdays) until the exhibit ends on November 30, 2017, or browse the digitized Whistler Question photos online here.

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The Whistler Question: A Photographic History

We are very excited to announce that The Whistler Question: A Photographic History 1978 – 1985 will open Friday, September 15!  To celebrate the opening of our latest exhibit and the completion of the Whistler Question Digitization Project (you can read more about that here) we would like to invite everyone to join us and special guests Paul Burrows and Glenda Bartosh for appetizers and drinks at the Whistler Museum.

Featuring photographs from the Whistler Question Collection, this new exhibit captures the town of Whistler during a time of transition and rapid change.  Come and view the development of the resort and the growth of the community through nearly seven years worth of photos!

The Whistler Question’s Archive Photos Bring New Exhibit

Just over a year ago we announced that we had begun digitizing negatives from The Whistler Question’s archival collection (read more here).  Since then, the staff at the Whistler Museum has been busy cataloguing and scanning nearly 35,000 photographs from 1978 to 1985.  As of today, we have reached the final stretch and are nearing the completion of this digitization project!

Just a few of the photos from the Whistler Question Collection.

The photographs were originally donated to the museum in 1991 and have gone through an extensive cataloguing and preservation process before they could be scanned and shared with the public.  This digitization project has also been generously funded by the UBC Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.

As this project comes to a close, we want to celebrate these photos by sharing them with everyone, both online as they are uploaded to our photo-hosting website, SmugMug, as well as on display in the museum.  We will be opening a new exhibit, The Whistler Question: A Photographic History 1978-1985, featuring a selection of some of our favourite photographs from the collection.

Every photo tells a story, though sometimes what that story is is not quite clear.

Speaking as the Collections Coordinator at the museum, assisting in the creation of this exhibit has been one of the highlights for me this summer.  Coming to Whistler as a visual arts student from UBC, I have always had a strong interest in photographs and the stories that they tell.  Being able to go through these pictures has given me the chance to get a glimpse of the unique culture Whistler had during the late 70s and 80s.

These snapshots of various people and happenings document Whistler during a time of rapid change.  Events such as the construction of the Whistler Village and the opening of Blackcomb show Whistler growing into the world class resort that it is today.  But there are also photos of the local community, bar events, school plays and road accidents, which express the vibrant and unique vitality of the people living in this mountain town.

In the exhibit itself, I wanted to display these images in a way that would convey a sense of the overwhelming number of photographs whilst respecting the integrity of the photographs themselves.

For some, the collection is sure to bring back some memories of their own time in Whistler during the 1970s and 80s.

For some, these photos will spark a sense of nostalgia of the memories that were captured; for others, these photos act as a window to the past of what this town once was.

With these documentary photographs of our town during a pivotal time, this September The Whistler Question: A Photographic History 1978-1985 invites the public to experience a Whistler that is long gone, but not forgotten.

By Lauren Smart.  Lauren is the Whistler Museum’s Collections Coordinator this summer.  She is a visual arts student at UBC and will be returning in the fall to continue her studies.

Whistler Characters – Frank “Garage Sale” Salter

In April 2011, we had the chance to sit down with well-known Whistler local Frank “Garage Sale” Salter and talk all things ski. As we head into our next Speaker Series evening featuring Frank, it’s the perfect time to share a post on this avid ski collector.

Frank shows off one of the split tail skis in his collection, photo courtesy of Frank Salter.

Most of his ski collection is stored in a Creekside basement (he has recently taken over the adjoining space as well), although one can find a few pairs adorning the home he shares with his wife and two sons in the form of coat racks. When he started collecting in earnest in 1991, Frank set his upper limit at four dollars, although he admits to spending a bit more at times.

His work in medical research fed his habit, as he travelled for a job that saw him finishing work by around four or five pm. Local thrift shops remained open for an hour or two after that- plenty of time to grab a few new pairs of skis for the collection (a collection which today sits around 500 pairs).

In the 1990s, you could travel with your skis for free, and so bringing multiple pairs of skis back across the border on your flight wasn’t a prohibitively expensive prospect.  Of course, had they known that Frank was significantly exceeding a single pair of skis, it may have been a different story. Armed with a screwdriver, he would remove the bindings and then stack multiple pairs of skis in a ski bag. Today, Salter’s collecting has slowed somewhat. According to him, in spite of Vancouver’s proximity to good skiing, collectible skis are rarely to be had in local thrift shops.

Some pieces from the more obscure corners of ski-gear world can be found in Frank’s collection, including the Nava and the Burt binding. The Navas are immediately jarring to the eye- in his words they look like, “some sort of bizarre device, almost a torture device.” You may not immediately notice the Nava from the front, but if get behind someone on a t-bar skiing on them and the wrap-around arm will be visible. A combination of a soft boot, much like a Sorel boot, and this arm made for a skiing experience that was much like sitting back in a reclining chair.

Some of the obscure retro bindings in Salter’s collection – those would be the Navas at the bottom, photo courtesy of Frank Salter

The Burt binding was less noticeable, unless you were to fall, and then a cable would initially allow the ski to separate from your foot, and then sharply recoil, snapping the ski back against the base of your boot. Sound questionable? Urban legends point to these bindings as the stuff of some gruesome injuries. While that may or may not be true, there is something to be said for keeping these tucked away in storage.

That being said, some pieces of ski history still make it out onto the snow. When we spoke, Frank was having some of his 70s freestyle skis tuned for the notorious “Hot-Doggin’ Party” thrown by Ace MacKay-Smith at the end of each April. Ballet skiing competitions are a part of the fun, and Salter provides the skis as well as some eye-catching one-piece ski suits to those who approach him. One white suit features a particularly stunning large Elvis-style buckle at the waist.

His collection isn’t limited solely to skis, but includes all kinds of ski paraphernalia: goggles, the aforementioned one-pieces, boots, posters, and a few snowboards. Much of Frank’s collection focuses on the 1970s/freestyle period. Asked what drew him to that particular era, he explains, “It was a big era of experimentation. It was everything- a different way of skiing, the clothing, ski graphics. The skis were a little different- shorter and softer. It wasn’t racing, that was the big thing.”

Three well-known hot dog skiers show off their style in 1973 at the Tony Sailer Summer Ski Camp. Left to right: George Oskwold, Wayne Wong and Floyd Wilkie

That’s not to say that experimentation didn’t happen prior to the 1970s- some of Salter’s favorite skis in the collection are aluminum skis from the 1940s and 1950s. Aircraft-industry grade aluminum was used to craft the edges, bindings bases- the whole ski. According to Frank, “They didn’t work, and they were stiff as a two-by-four, but they were still expensive at the time, and they were a good prototype.” Once he started collecting in earnest, he quickly hunted down a few pairs of his first good skis. He suggests that it is those skis that people really feel attached to- not their very first pair, but their first good pair, the pair that made them truly fall in love with skiing.

So where did Frank get his nickname from? While the nickname “Garage Sale” immediately conjures up images of Frank buying skis for the collection, the nickname actually stems from the telemark skis he made for himself and his friends in the early 1990s as he transitioned to a life in the mountains. Telemark skis weren’t readily available at that point, but in Frank’s hands, five-dollar garage-sale skis morphed into ripping tele skis. An article written by Leslie Anthony gave him the nickname, which quickly stuck.

Join us on March 21st from 7-9pm for Frank’s Speaker Series presentation. All the details can be found here.