Tag Archives: 1970s

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.

Advertisements

This Week in Photos: January 11

We’re starting something new on our blog for this year!  Every week we’ll be sharing our own version of #tbt (Throwback Thursday) using photos from the Whistler Question from 1978 to 1985 and, wherever possible, the original captions.  When the collection was donated the negatives were very helpfully organized by week, which means we actually know when the photos were taken or published!  Some years do have some missing weeks, but what we’ve got we’ll share with you.  So, if you’ve ever wondered what this week in Whistler used to look like, read on.

1979

An airplane takes off on the snow from the Mons’ airstrip.

Bartender Rosarie Gauthier and manager Per Christiansen behind the bar in the Christiana’s remodelled Bavarian Lounge.

The White Gold Inn.

1980

The Status Board at the top of the lifts on Whistler Mountain.

The view from the lineup at the Blue Chair, today the location of the Harmony Chair.

Photos of Havana, Cuba were provided by Paul & Jane Burrows after their recent trip to warmer climes.

1981

Ted Pryce-Jones, manager, poses near the pop in the new grocery store soon to open in the Village.

The Mad Trapper was put up for sale recently.  Volkswagen not included.

Clock Tower sports a new Omega clock face installed during the past week.

Blackcomb’s new triple chair in operation. Though you can’t see it in this photo, below the treeline there was barely any snow yet.

Meg Watt and Chris Leighton take time out to smile for the camera while working behind the cafeteria counter at the top of Blackcomb.

1982

And they’re off… into a tangle of skis and poles at the start of the ALSC half marathon Sunday, January 10.

Laurel Gibbard and Louise Edwards provide some smiling service for the first customers in the Hofbrau Haus on Saturday, January 9. The 85-seat bar, located in the old Boot premises, was open 4 pm – 1 am six days a week and Sundays from 4 pm to 11 pm.

Don Ross and Hugh Smythe of Blackcomb stand with Willie Whistler and Pierre and Justin Trudeau in the Whistler Village Square.

Hot stuff – the Pemberton Red Devils came up with this beautiful downhiller to walk away with $300 and a shared first place victory. Shot glasses of fuel rested on the skier’s back.

1983

Skiers braved high winds, blinding snow and dampening rains to spend some time on the slopes Sunday. Despite bad weather Whistler Mountain had 6,200 skiers from Friday to Sunday, while Blackcomb drew 4,100 over the weekend.

Whistler Council in its first formal portrait. (l to r) Alderman Bill Peterson, Alderman David O’Keefe, Administrator Geoff Pearce, Mayor Mark Angus, Municipal Clerk Kris Shoup Robinson, Alderman Bernie Hauschka and Alderman Terry Rodgers.

A 15 foot high boulder crashed down onto the northbound lane of Highway 99 in Cheakamus Canyon Friday night. Crews blasted the rock away Monday morning as the Pacific storm which caused the slide continued with torrential rainfall in the Whistler area.

1985

Rod Grange and crew from Skiing Video Productions are filming a winter movie for Whistler Mountain during the next seven weeks.

Blowing wind creates sand-like ripples on Green Lake.

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.

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.