Tag Archives: artefact

Snowboarding’s History Needs Your Help!

People generally think of archives as big collections of dusty old stuff, but that’s only partially true. For starters, they’re generally kept impeccably clean so that their collections can be preserved in perpetuity. But what I was getting at is that we forget about the constant passing of time. Archives (ours included) are constantly on the hunt for artifacts and documents that will be of historical significance for future generations. Such considerations generally are not front of mind with all you non-archivists out there who are too busy living in the present.

Snowboarding is the perfect example. The profound influence that snowboarding has had on skiing (and beyond) over the last few decades is indisputable. But until recently, there were only a handful of individuals that were concerned with preserving the sport’s heritage for future generations. Thankfully, more and more individuals are showing interest in the snowboarding’s roots.

One way we are working to increase our snowboarding  content here at the Whistler Museum  is Monday’s Whistler Debates event “Has the Snowboard Industry Sold Out?” (full details available here). We’re pretty excited to hear what everyone has to say. 

Obviously it’s a pretty contentious question, even the concept of “selling out” is pretty hard to define for most. One thing that’s for sure, the debaters will have to draw on the history of snowboarding, it’s origins and where it came from, to effectively argue whether or not the industry has “sold out” and given up on its core values (however defined). Regardless of what side ends up winning the argument, we’re sure to get an entertaining and informative discussion that sheds light on the past, present and future of snowboarding.

When we were preparing for the event it became strikingly clear just how absent snowboarding is from our archives. We have an old Prior snowboard, some 2010 Olympic memorabilia (gear, uniforms, etc) donated by Sea-to-Sky athletes like Maelle Ricker, Justin Lamoureux & Tyler Mosher, and a few dozen aesthetic but non-descript photos in our archives.

Right now, according to our archives, this is the history of snowboarding. Help us fix this. Photo: Greg Griffith/WMAS

Right now, according to our archives, this is the history of snowboarding. Help us fix this. Photo: Greg Griffith/WMAS

This is clearly unsatisfactory. Even moreso because this fall we will be completely revamping out permanent exhibits here at the museum, with almost half our space being dedicated to new displays portraying the history of skiing (and snowboarding) here in Whistler.

We don’t want snowboarding to get short shrift, so here it is: Snowboarders, we want your stuff! If we want to properly represent the history of snowboarding in Whistler–and there’s no denying that snowboarding has been hugely influential on Whistler’s development, and vice versa–we need historic gear, photos, clothing, race bibs, and any other artifacts and documents that shine light on this story. Check your closets, attics, crawl spaces, or mom’s basement. We know this stuff is out there. And we promise to take better care of it than you do!

If you’ve got stuff to donate, get in touch with our Collections Manager Brad: archives[at]whistlermuseum[dot]org

For those who are interested in brushing up on their snowboarding history, thankfully there’s been a ton of great online video content produced in the last few years. Good starting points include Vice Magazine’s “Powder & Rails” series, Push.ca’s “Living Legends” series, and this video produced by Whistler-Blackcomb a few years ago, featuring local shred legends including Graham Turner, one of Monday’s debaters:

Hope to see you all on Monday, and for those of you in Whistler, have fun at the rest of the WSSF events as well!

Ghosts of Olympic Bids Past.

1 year from today the seaside resort of Sochi Village will be a rocking celebration of winter sport on a scale the world has not seen since, well, n3 years ago, right here. Since we’re feeling the Olympic spirit we feel it’s apt to look back into Whistler’s Olympic past.

The initial bid for the 1968 Olympics that started this whole thing called Whistler is fairly well known, but fewer are aware that a total of 5 unsuccessful bids for the Olympics had already been made before the IOC finally announced on July 2nd 2003 that the joint Vancouver-Whistler 2010 bid had been chosen. All of these prior bids, despite their failure, played an integral role in the continued development of Whistler until it was finally ready to host the 2010 Games.

The 1976 was an especially strong bid, receiving endorsement from the Canadian Olympic Committee as our official national bid. By 1970, when the bid was being put forth, Whistler Mountain had become an established, high profile ski resort, and Vancouver was an increasingly cosmopolitan city with growing international appeal. One of the most important boosters of the West Coast, and Whistler in particular, was none other than then-Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau–a frequent visitor to Whistler who even took his honeymoon here with Margaret Sinclair in 1971.

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Pierre Trudeau and Franz Wilhelmsen meet to discuss Olympic bids on Whistler Mountain, 1969.

Although the 1976 games ended up in Innsbruck, Austria, the fact that a full IOC bid was made has left behind a lot of official material that gives insight into the Canadian Olympic organizers and their vision of Whistler as a future Olympic venue. The official 1976 Vancouver/Garibaldi bid book, printed in 1970 and on display in the Olympic section of our permanent exhibit is a perfect example of this.

The Bid Book' which has a beautiful cloth-bound hardcover, and is about the size of a vinyl LP cover.

The Bid Book, which has a beautiful cloth-bound hardcover and is about the size of a vinyl LP cover.

The book is a very polished looking production, meant to showcase the bid and everything the Vancouver-Garibaldi region had to offer. A prominent selling point for this bid was the compact, single host area. All of the events would be held in what is today Whistler, they even advertised that all facilities would be within a 2.5 mile radius of where the village is today.

The master plan, 1/2.

The master plan, 1/2.

The master plan, 2/2.

The master plan, 2/2.

Probably the coolest element from the bid book are the architectural drawings, which offers an alternate-universe version of Whistler Village from the one designed by Eldon Beck and constructed nearly a decade later. Notably, although there was still very little there at the time, and there were no plans to develop Blackcomb yet, the village was still located more or less where it is today.

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The architecture is very grand, especially with all the elements considered as a whole. The buildings are angular, almost modular looking (the athlete’s village, not shown here, resembles very closely the Whiskey Jack neighbourhood in Nordic/Highlands).

Overall, this Olympic Village would have had a more purpose-built feel than today’s actual village; you’d never be more than a stone’s throw from the ski-jumping arena, the the ice rink, or the biathlon course. Despite such differences,  you can still see the influential role it played in leading to the Whistler we have today: the village location, elements of architectural design, perhaps more.

Whether you prefer the designs or today’s village,  and whether the reality would have actually matched these preliminary sketches, are matters for debate. Regardless, these drawings offer endless opportunity for pondering what could have been.

A Sticker For Your Thoughts.

Stickers have become widely used in today’s world, from brand stickers on the Chiquita banana you ate for breakfast, to the “At Least its Paid For!” bumper sticker on that rusted 1990 VW Golf you saw on the way to work. Stickers are here, and are a prevalent part of our cultural landscape.

People often find value in stickers. This can be documented in all the well-placed stickers adorning bikes, skis, and boards (many people’s most prized
possessions) found throughout the village. Many companies and organizations have used stickers as very effective marketing tools to promote their products or events.

Some examples of classic Whister Stickers we have in our collection.The Museum has a small collection of vintage Whistler stickers in our collection ranging from stickers promoting Whistler’s bid for the 1976 winter Olympics, to heartwarming advertising campaigns such as “Whistler Mountain the Big Old softie” of years gone by.


Vintage screen-printed Garibaldi lifts sticker.

One of the more interesting artifacts in the Museum exhibit is a fridge donated by Gord Harder. Covered in stickers from Whistler’s early days in the 1960s until 1998, it stands as a tribute to the spirit of the early ski bum, a chronological monument documenting whistler life from the beginnings of our ski town to the famous destination resort it is today.


Come check out Gord Harder’s Fridge at the Whistler Museum.

The Philips’ Fly Fishing Tackle

Although contemporary fly fishing gear is full of high-tech advancements like graphite rods and synthetic fly materials, the sport also has a strong traditionalist bent. For many anglers, the romance of bamboo rods, hand-tied flies, and other vintage tackle has almost as much allure as the fish themselves.

Fly fishing at Myrtle and Alex Philip’s renowned Rainbow Lodge was the Whistler Valley’s first tourist attraction, so the Museum naturally has a lot of fishing gear in our archives, not to mention hundreds of photographs.

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To better understand these artifacts we recently had Brian Niska and Scott Baker-McGarva from Whistler Fly Fishing give us their take on some of the fly-fishing gear in the Philip collection. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that both Brian and Scott are true historians of the sport, providing tons of  insight into our collection drawing from their impressive knowledge of the evolution of fishing tackle design.

2 of the Philips fishing rods, and Myrtle’s beatiful leather carrying case. The case still contains a travel tag dating to the Fall of 1961, likely the last time she used it.

We have several old cane and bamboo rods, some for fly fishing, some for casting and trolling.

The handle of one of the Philip’s fly rods.

They mostly demonstrate design features from the 1920s and 30s, the heyday of Rainbow Lodge, but the most obvious feature is the amount of use they have all seen. They appear to have been re-varnished multiple times and have many replaced eyes. This makes sense considering that the Philips and their guests were out on the water almost every summer day (and some winter days as well) for decades on end.

Considering most rods had to be shipped from the U.K. or the eastern U.S., the rods were irreplaceable workhorses whose lives needed such prolongment.

The tag on Myrtle’s leather fishing rod travel case.

Alex Philip’s fishing hat

Here we have Alex Philip’s stylish felt fishing hat, a Fedora made by Adam Hats of New York with a special water-repellency treatment for rainy day fishing.  Note how the crown is full of an array of traditional wet flies suited to trout fishing in small lakes like Alta.

Brass P.D. Malloch fly fishing reel.

Made by P.D. Malloch of Perth, Scotland, Scott thinks this particular reel could predate World War One because it is made of brass, and most reels were made of alloys after the war. It resembles some of the reels we see in early photos of Alex Philip, and could potentially be one of the earliest fishing reels used at Rainbow Lodge. We contacted the manufacturer for more information but unfortunately their records were destroyed in a fire in 1986.

Other interesting odds and ends include the large reel in the top right of this photo, an Ocean City brand fortescue-style reel. Scott described it as a “multiplying salmon reel” best suited for larger fish than we typically find around Whistler. The Philips were dedicated anglers that took annual trips every autumn to Canim and Mahood lakes, northeast of 100 Mile House in  the Cariboo region. This reel, which was appears to date from the 1930s or 40s, was likely used on these trips.

Mucillin and Lineflote (in the small red and yellow tins, both still half full) were grease-like substances used to give silk lines and/or flies buoyancy. Although synthetic lines are much more common now, Mucillin is  actually still sold today in packaging nearly identical to our examples from the 1930s.

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Although the lakes don’t provide our valley’s main draw anymore, there is still great fishing to be had. When I was bringing some of our artifacts  over to the museum from our off-site storage I actually encountered several people who were on their way to the lake, rod in hand. They were naturally curious about my odd-looking gear, and I’m certain Alex and Myrtle Philip would be equally excited to see their life’s passion alive and well in the Whistler Valley, more than a century after there fateful first casts in Alta Lake.

Whistler Backroads is putting on their 12th annual Fishing Derby this Sunday, June 17th at Lakeside Park. All are welcome, registration is free, and they even have some complimentary gear to use on a first-come, first-serve basis. Happy fishing!