Tag Archives: Adventures West

Visiting a Different Whistler

There is a lot to do in Whistler in the summer, even with the restrictions currently in place across British Columbia.  You can go up the mountains to hike and ride the Peak 2 Peak, hike throughout the valley, relax at a lake, or even visit Whistler’s Cultural Connector (which includes the Whistler Museum).  What about, however, if you had visited Whistler during the summer of 1980?

Thanks to Whistler News, a supplement published by The Whistler Question, we can get an idea of what summer visitors to Whistler could have expected forty years ago.

The Whistler Village at the base of Whistler Mountain as visitors would have found it in the summer of 1980. Whistler Question Collection, 1980.

The first step to visiting Whistler was getting here.  Though it’s relatively easy today to find your way to Whistler, in 1980 there were no directional signs in Vancouver pointing the way and Whistler News encouraged drivers to obtain a road map and head north on Highway 99.  The drive up included a 12km section through the Cheakamus Canyon that was set to be realigned and improved by 1981 but was still somewhat treacherous.  This was still an easier route than those from the north.  The route to Whistler through Bralorne was suitable only for 4-wheel drive vehicles and the Duffy Lake Road would not be paved until 1992.

Visitors had a choice of lodgings, both in and near to Whistler.  While some of these lodgings, such as the Highland Lodge and Whistler Creek Lodge, are still standing, others such as the Alpine Lodge (a lodge and cabins located in Garibaldi, which the provincial government declared unsafe in 1980) and the White Gold Inn (more commonly known as the Ski Boot Motel) have since been demolished.  Those looking to camp had quite a few options, including a BC Hydro campground at Daisy Lake and a forestry camp at the Cheakamus and Callaghan Rivers.  Supposedly, the summer of 1980 was also going to see the construction of new camping facilities as part of Lost Lake.

Lost Lake south shore showing where a beach and picnic ground will be built. Whistler Question Collection, 1980.

Whistler also offered a variety of dining options, from Chinese cuisine at the Alta Lake Inn Dining Room to the Keg at Adventures West.  Those looking to provide their own meals, however, were encouraged to plan ahead, as the only grocery shopping in the area was at the Gulf and Husky Mini-Marts.

Visitors could still do many of the things that have brought people to Whistler in recent summers.  They could go hiking around the valley (Lost Lake was recommended as having the “spectacular sight” of the ski jump) and spend time around and on Whistler’s lakes, where windsurfing was becoming increasingly popular.  Those more interested in snow could attend the 15th year of the Toni Sailer Ski Camp, perfecting their skiing under the direction of Toni Sailer, Nancy Greene, Wayne Wong and Bob Dufour.

The group at the Sailer Fischer Ski Camp party catered by the Keg. (L to R) Wayne Wong, Wayne Booth, Schultz, Nancy Greene, Toni Sailer, Rookie, Alan White. Whistler Question Collection, 1980.

The summer of 1980 was also a season of huge changes in the area and would have offered visitors many opportunities to view construction in the valley.  There was not yet a Whistler Village as we know it today.  In the Town Centre the first buildings of Phase I were expected to open that season and construction of Phase II buildings was underway.  Late in the summer Whistler Mountain installed its first lifts that ran from what would become the Whistler Village.  At the same time Blackcomb Mountain was building its first lifts, as well as on-mountain restaurants and utility buildings.

Blackcomb’s President and General Manager Hugh Smythe shows Whistler Mayor Pat Carleton the new ski runs from the base of Lift 2 during a recent tour by the mayor of the Blackcomb facilities. Whistler Question Collection, 1980.

With all this construction, changing businesses and development, it’s no surprise that summer visitors to the museum will often tell us that Whistler is almost unrecognizable as the same place they visited in the 1970s or 1980s.

Fire at The Keg

While cataloguing the Griffith Collection (a collection of roughly 50,000 images donated by photographer Greg Griffith), our Assistant Archivist Stephanie recently came across slides of a fire at The Keg building that we had previously only seen in black and white.

The first Keg in the Whistler valley was opened at Adventures West on Alta Lake in 1974, but when construction of the Whistler Village began in 1979 plans were made to open a new Keg restaurant in the Whistler Village Inn.

When the first Keg building was moved up Lorimer Rd. to become the new Municipal Hall in 1981, the new Keg building was still under construction.  The hotel and restaurant were expected to open by the end of January 1982, in time for the World Cup, and by the beginning of January restaurant staff had already been hired.

The Whistler Volunteer Fire Department works to contain the fire in The Keg and Whistler Village Inn building. Greg Griffith Collection.

Around 3:30 pm on Wednesday, January 13, 1982, a fire broke out in the building, caused by a leaking propane tank.  The fire started in the restaurant section, spread upwards into the roof and, aided by strong winds, spread across the entire building.

The Whistler Volunteer Fire Department (WVFD) worked well into the night.  According to the Whistler Question, they poured water on the building for over seven hours.  Luckily there were no injuries from the fire, but one firefighter was taken to hospital with chest pains and several others were treated for smoke inhalation.

The next week the WVFD sent a whole bundle of roses into the Whistler Question’s “Bricks & Roses” section to thank those who had helped.  The Whistler and Pemberton ambulance crews were present all night, Dr. Christine Rodgers spent the night on call, Terry Rodgers manned the radio, Carol Simmie, Kathy Hicks and Katie Rodgers helped coordinate the effort, and the RCMP provided crowd control.  Members of the Surrey Fire Department and Squamish Fire Department who were in Whistler also came out.

Crowds watch the fire from the Village Stroll. Whistler Question Collection, 1982.

As it was January, dry clothing and hot food were greatly appreciated in the -20°C weather.  The Grocery Store opened late to provide food supplies, the Alta Lake Community Club, Stoney’s, the Brass Rail, Tapley’s and The Gourmet all brought coffee and food, and the Blackcomb Lodge offered the use of their dryers.

The fire was contained to the top floor of the hotel section, and most of the building was considered structurally sound on the lower levels, with some damage from water and smoke.  The damage was estimated at $2.5 million.

By mid-February demolition work had already begun.  Smith Brothers & Wilson Construction Ltd. got to work repairing and reconstructing the restaurant and hotel.  Because the Whistler Village Inn was designed in two separate buildings, they were able to open 44 rooms in 1982, but the hotel was missing planned amenities such as a pool, restaurant, and permanent lobby.

Brian Moran, Ken Till, Bob Elliott and John Grills outside the soon-to-be-opened Whistler Keg.  Whistler Question Collection, 1983.

January 1983 was a busy month, as finishing touches were put on the restaurant and over 100 staff were hired from over 500 applicants.

The Keg was finally able to open on Friday, February 4, with some familiar faces.  Herb Capozzi, a founder of the Keg restaurant chain, was one of the first to be served, and some staff members from The Keg at Adventures West came back, such as Scott Paxton.  Over the first three evenings, the restaurant served over 900 meals.

A face from yesteryear – Scott Paxton, who worked at The Keg at the Mountain many years ago when it was located in Whistler Cay has now resurfaced at the new Keg as the official “bunmaster”. Paxton and fellow employees geared up for the opening night at The Keg Friday, February 4 for another era of Keg lovers.  Whistler Question Collection, 1983.

Though the Whistler Village has expanded and prices may have changed (in 1983 an 8 oz sirloin would cost you $8.95 and highballs at Brandy’s were $1.85), The Keg and Brandy’s continue to occupy the space opened in 1983.

How to reuse a Keg

Whistler has a history of re-using buildings.  You may remember that before the museum building was the museum it was the post office and then the library (if not, you can read about it here).  You may knot know that before Municipal Hall was Municipal Hall the building was a popular restaurant.

In the 1970s building began on the Adventures West Village which was to provide reasonably priced recreational homes and facilities for families year-round on the north end of Alta Lake.  The original plans for the development were impressive, including 250 condominiums and many amenities.  The full plans were never realized, but in the summer of 1974 its most notable amenity opened, a Keg ‘N Cleaver restaurant.

The Keg building at its original location in Adventures West.  Photo: Garibaldi’s  Whistler News

The building was designed by William Dunn and Associates and included a cafeteria meant to serve breakfast and lunch.  The Keg menu included prime rib, sirloin and New York steaks, salmon and lobster, all within a price range of $5.25 to $6.75.

The Keg quickly became one of the social centres of Whistler.  The restaurant doubled as a nightclub with a DJ booth in the rafters and a dance floor below.  live entertainment was brought in some nights and rumour has it that the Keg was the birthplace of Doug and The Slugs, a band who would continue to play in Whistler through the 1980s.

When construction began on the Whistler Village plans were made to open a new Keg in the Whistler Village Inn building.  The Keg at Adventures West closed and the building began preparing for its new life.

Before the Keg could move the old municipal hall building had to be moved off the site. Photo: Whistler Question

Over the May long weekend of 1981, the 90 ft long building serving as municipal hall was removed from Blackcomb Way.  According to the Whistler Questiostaff kept working Thursday afternoon despite no longer having any power or telephone services.  They were out by the time Nickel Bros. Moving moved the building off its foundations later that day.  On Tuesday, May 19 the town hall reopened in Function Junction, with power but no water or telephones.

The three sections of the Keg building ready to go. Photo: Whistler Question

Moving the old town hall was only the first step in the much more complicated process of moving the Keg building, which had to be done in three sections, on Thursday, May 21.

One section of the Keg makes its way slowly up Lorimer Road. Note the rocks blasted off the corner. Photo: Whistler Question

Lorimer Road was closed from 9 am to 3 pm and BC Hydro shut off the power in the neighbourhood.  Crews had blasted off some of the rock on the side of the road but it was still a tight fit.  Telephone lines were taken down and a BC Hydro employee perched on the roof of each section to move the overhead wires as needed.  As the sections moved slowly up the road throughout the day municipal crews stood by to cut down trees if necessary.

Still moving up Lorimer, a BC Hydro employee moves the overhead wires to allow the section to pass below. Photo: Whistler Question

The three sections were left at the entrance to Lorimer Road until 4 am when, just before the sun would be rising, the Keg was moved across the highway and down Village Gate Boulevard to be installed next to the Public Safety building.  More work would be done before the old Keg reopened as our current Municipal Hall.

Another section is moved slowly to Blackcomb Way. Photo: Whistler Question

The new Keg was expected to open in 1982 but was delayed when the building caught fire.  It would be another two years before it was rebuilt and the Keg finally opened in its current location in February 1984.

To see more photos of the Keg building on the move, check the weeks of May 21 & 28 here.

This Week in Photos: April 26

1980

Jim McConkey displays the McConkey Cup Trophy.

Kris Shoup instructs John Garnet in the school mini-course knitting class while Serap Graf and Monica Niederlich concentrate on the task at hand.

Recently engaged couple Deanna Chan & Graeme O’Neill.

On the Coast Mountain Outdoor School farm site – (L to R) Outdoor Education Coordinator Rick Price, W.L.B. Hawkes of the Ministry of Education, and Pemberton School Trustee T.B.M. (Slim) Fougberg.

A class visiting the Coast Mountain Outdoor School farm learns about chickens.

Johnson’s Trucking gravel crushing plant at work in the Alpha Lake Aggregate pit.

1981

And the winners are: (L to R) Tom Simister, Richard Juryn, Perry Rousseau & Debbie Wood – with the Whistler Cup.

Architect Barclay McLeod and developer Brian Moran indicate to council and concerned Adventures West owners the proposed plans for the ‘Keg property’.

May the Force be with you. Ezekial and His Force rock and reggae it up at the Mountain House until May 2.

Constable Klaudt of Whistler RCMP and Ron Mallinson of Ike’s Towing try to figure out how this Plymouth Horizon ended up in the ditch by the Alta Lake Inn turnoff late on Saturday, April 25!

1982

Survivors of the April blizzards, these crocuses stand proudly in Whistler Village.

Youngsters give it their best during an end-of-season match of Snowball (created by Doug Calder) held at Myrtle Philip School grounds.

Skiers on Whistler enjoyed the sun as much as the runs Sunday.

After a day on the mountain, a little recovery is in order. A siesta helps revive tired muscles.

Sowing so he’ll reap, Resort Municipality of Whistler maintenance man Brian Sandercock prepares the turf for summer.

Two contestants go under the pole during Friday’s Caribbean Night held at L’Apres. Michael Chidley limboed his way to Mexico taking first place in the competition. Val Wong’s style won her first prize in the women’s competition and a heli-skiing trip.

1983

A top-notch mogul basher takes one of the two required air times in his run down Whistler’s Raven run in the Schloss Laderheim Dual Mogul Classic on Sunday, April 24.

A march protesting nuclear weapons makes its way through Vancouver towards Stanley Park.

Anti-nuclear weapons protestors congregate at the rally.

Bill Runge of Whistler Mountain Ski Corp. fastens down the village’s newest signs on Monday reminding ski enthusiasts to keep heading south to the Gondola side of the mountain.

Got the summertime blues of what to wear this season? Not if you were at The Keg’s Fashion Show Sunday, April 24.

1984

The Whistler Question staff pose for a sunny photo in the Whistler Village.

Dr. Peter Oberlander of Vancouver is the lucky winner of a lifetime Whistler/Blackcomb ski pass. The final draw of the Whistler Rotary Club lottery was held Friday afternoon, and proceeds from the sale of tickets go towards the Whistler Health Planning Society. Rotary Club President Geoff Pearce drew the winning ticket.

Picnickers and powder skiers flew to Powder Moutnain Friday for the annual Powder Mountain Heli-Skiing picnic.

While most people brought along only skis and sunglasses, Pascal Tiphine thought to import a little champagne, which he literally splashed into anyone who didn’t ming a few bubbles up their nose.

The surprised look on Drew Meredith’s face was no surprise, considering that 100 people were gathered at the Carleton Lodge Wednesday night to pay tribute to him. Meredith, who thought he was coming to attend a meeting, listened to roasts and toasts throughout the evening, which paid tribute to his work as Interim Director during the toughest year in the history of Whistler Resort Association.

It was an Easter sunrise service without sunshine, but that didn’t stop approximately 80 people from attending the special 7 am service Sunday morning on the shores of Lost Lake. Molly Boyd, playing the organ, led the Whistler Singers who also turned out in full force.