Tag Archives: 2010 Olympics

It Started With an Ark

As Whistler enters the (somewhat) slower season of autumn, Arts Whistler is presenting Fall for Arts, a collection of exhibitions, classes, performances and more highlighting the diverse arts and artists this town has to offer.  In this spirit, we offer a brief look back at one of the older (or younger, depending on how you look at it) performing groups in Whistler: the Whistler Children’s Chorus.

The Whistler Children's Chorus performing Hakuna Matata, 1995

The Whistler Children’s Chorus performing Hakuna Matata, 1995.  Photo: Whistler Children’s Chorus.

The Chorus began in 1991 when Molly Boyd, already the director of the Whistler Singers, was asked to put together a group of children to perform with a Vancouver orchestra putting on Noye’s Fludde (an opera based on Noah’s Ark) in Whistler.  Under the direction of Boyd this group would become known as the Whistler Children’s Chorus in 1992, accepting members 6 and up with the mandate to “provide opportunities for all children in our community to sing and enjoy making music”.

The first performances of the newly formed Chorus included carolling through the Village with the Whistler Singers and joining the Singers at the Christmas Eve Carol Service (a Christmas tradition now entering its 34th year).  The community of Whistler and its variety of events (ie. ski races) soon offered the Chorus many opportunities to perform.  The Chorus participated in the community’s Canada Day Parade and Remembrance Day Ceremony and annually held holiday concerts in support of the Whistler Food Bank.

The Whistler Children's Chorus in the Canada Day Parade, 1997

The Whistler Children’s Chorus in the Canada Day Parade, 1997.  Photo: Whistler Children’s Chorus.

Most notably, in 2002 the Chorus was chosen to represent British Columbia in the Canada Day celebrations on Parliament Hill as part of Unisong, a 500-voice choir made up of choirs from across the country.  During this visit to Ottawa the Chorus performed in the National Arts Centre, Christ Church Cathedral and at then Governor General Adrienne Clarkson’s garden party.  This trip also taught the valuable lesson that red shirts, white pants and fire hoses do not mix, as adult chaperones sat up late trying to scrub the pink out of once white materials.

Unisong mass choir performing in the National Arts Centre, July 2001

Unisong mass choir performing in the National Arts Centre, July 2001.  Photo: Whistler Children’s Chorus

During the lead up to the 2010 Olympics the Chorus built on their early experiences at parades and races to become veritable pros at performing “O Canada”, as well as the catchy official song of the Torch Relay (complete with choreography).  Beginning well before the Olympics at “A Celebration of Canada” for the IOC in 2003, the Chorus performed for the Bid Announcement on July 2, 2003, the “100 Day Countdown Celebration” in November, 2009, the arrival of the Olympic Torch in February 2010, with Norman Foote during the Olympics, and at the opening and closing ceremonies of the Paralympic Games.

Whistler, BC, February 5th 2010 Olympic Torch Relay in Whistler. The Whistler Children's Choir and the Whistler Singers will sing, "There's a Light/ Cette Flamme," Photo: Ian Robertson / coastphoto.com

Whistler, BC, February 5th 2010 Olympic Torch Relay in Whistler. The Whistler Children’s Choir and the Whistler Singers sing, “There’s a Light/ Cette Flamme,” Photo: Ian Robertson / coastphoto.com

Now in its 24th season, the Whistler Children’s Chorus continues to provide opportunities for children to sing and make music.  They can next be seen performing a spooky selection of songs October 30th at Our Lady of the Mountains Catholic Church.  For more information check out their website or find the choir on Facebook.

If you fancy singing yourself, consider joining the Whistler Singers (Wednesdays at Maury Young Arts Centre) or Barbed Choir (Sundays at the Point).  All are welcome.


By Allyn Pringle

Olympic Reflections

As the 2012 Olympics kicks off in London, we at the Museum have been reflecting on the last Olympic games. It feels so much longer than two and a half years ago that the games were here in Whistler. As I write, the torch relay is underway- the Olympic flame is on its way to London.

The actual transition of the Olympic flame is something that until now, I’d never given much thought to.  As it turns out, the history of the Olympic flame and torch relay is pretty fascinating.

The origins of the flame are in ancient Greece, where the flame was lit to commemorate Prometheus’ theft of fire from Zeus. The flame was lit throughout the ancient Olympics, but the tradition was not reborn in the modern Olympic games until 1928 in Amsterdam.

The torch relay is more modern in its origins. The relay was devised as part of the Berlin Olympics in 1936 by a man named Carl Diem, and supervised by none other than infamous Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. Since the controversial Berlin Olympics, the torch relay has been an important part of the build up to the games.

The relay begins in Olympia, Greece, where eleven women representing the Vestal Virgins, light a flame using a reflection of the sun’s rays by a parabolic mirror.

The Museum staff were debating how the torch could travel across the ocean, and whether it traveled by boat or plane. Apparently these days it’s pretty common to put the flame in a special container in order to take it on a plane, but for the Montreal 1976 Olympics, the flame was beamed by satellite. The flame from Greece was deflected, the signal was sent to Ottawa and the flame was lit by a laser. Talk about high tech!

When the Olympic flame traveled across Canada, it had a number of interesting ways of being transported. When it was taken to Tofino, BC, it traveled via logging truck and canoe, where it was handed off to Raph Bruhwiler on a surfboard! When the flame traveled to Haida Gwaii, it traveled via a traditional Haida canoe carved by Bill Reid.

While London isn’t literally taking up the torch from the Vancouver/Whistler Olympics, it feels like we’re passing off the Olympic spirit.It’s a great time to reflect on the Olympics and the celebratory, convivial atmosphere that the Games brought to Whistler.

Good luck London and all the athletes competing in the 2012 summer Olympics!

The Olympic flame in Whistler.

If you’d like to see one of the 2010 Olympic Torches, drop by the Museum where we have one you can pose with!