Tag Archives: Bc Hydro

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.

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This Week In Photos: May 10

Not every week of photos provides much information.  The photos from this week in 1978 are one example.  We can identify some of the people and places but we’re hoping you can fill us in with more details for this year!

1978

A kayaker heads down a river.

Long-time Whistler resident and developer Walter Zebrowski, Chairman of the Board.

A man stands proudly beside his machine.

Some kind of casino night was held at the Myrtle Philip School, but why we’re not sure.

1980

Stefan Ples, long-time resident of Whistler, receives a lifetime pass from Garibaldi Lifts President Franz Wilhelmsen in recognition of his long involvement with Whistler.

B.J. Cooper and Pauline LePatourel of the Whistler Question staff kick-off the Pitch-In clean-up campaign for Whistler.

Construction City 1980. A piledriver towers over Resort Centre at town centre site as spring-summer construction picks up pace. Workers began flooding into the Valley this week as new town centre packages began.

Lonely toilet stands ready to serve Parcel 16 in the Town Centre.

1982

Viva Las Margar-Ritas! Cinco de Mayo is traditionally a day for celebrating the independence of Mexico and JB’s celebrations did not break with tradition. (L to R) Lisa Riser and Cindy Grierson, the original Dos Senoritas, join Holly Collinson and Kay Povarchook for one final toast to the joys of Mexico. (While this was the caption that originally appeared in the Whistler Question in 1982, Cinco de Mayo is actually a celebration of the Mexican Army’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.  The independence of Mexico is celebrated on September 16.)

Back to Basics… Sun, wind and water. Once the summer basics return to Whistler, you can’t keep a good windsurfer down. Chris Jacobs, Andrew Stoner and Bruce Cook were among the first to catch the wind after the ice broke off the surface of Alta Lake.

Lift off!

Students at Myrtle Philip School watch another rocket leap off the launching pad.

Dancing inspiration. Janice LeBlond of Pacific Motion Dance Company brought some inspiration to Whistler May 5, 6 and 7 when she conducted a three-day workshop on dancing, body alignment and anatomy. After the final workshop, LeBlond and fellow dancers Tara Twigg and Mary Craig demonstrated some of the style they have become renowned for.

1983

Jesse Fletcher tries out a new set of wheels (actually a very antiquated set of wheels) in Village Square. in case you don’t recognize the historic wheelchair, you can see it in its normal resting place at Stoney’s.

Once again the ace-in-the-hole team swept away Whistler’s frisbee golf championship, despite the chilling overtones of Saturday. (L to R) Al Pomeroy, Bob Noldner, Barry McClure and Hugh Wallace celebrated their win after a rigorous 18-round match, which included a hole in the back of a truck.

Said hole in the back of a truck.

Winners in BC Hydro’s poster contest “Be Electrically Alert” were Myrtle Philip students (clockwise from left) Patrick Crewman (grade 4), Cris Simpson (grade 5) and Brandi Robinson (grade 5). The students received a framed certificate for their effort in the contest held in March.

1984

The Nesters Golf Course was the scene as about 40 Whistlerites flung their frisbees around Craig Barker’s 12-hole cross-country frisbee golf tourney. It wasn’t a traditional course as the first hole was an abandoned pick-up truck. This is the fourth year Barker has held the tourney and already he’s looking forward to the next summer invitational match.

Rotarian Richard Heine helps Kyla Paine master the techniques of safe biking.

The age-class winners at Saturday’s Rotary Bike Rodeo. (Top left has been identified as Jeff Lacombe.  If you recognize anyone else please let us know!)

These three answered the week’s question: What do you think of Whistler’s parks and trail systems? (L to R) Charlie Doyle, Commercial Artist, Alta Vista; Peter Xhingnesse, Ski Patroller, Tapley’s Farm; Joan Richoz, Homemaker, Alpine Meadows.

Power Up!

Throughout BC we are blessed with an abundance of mighty rivers from which we get almost 90% of our electricity. Here in Whistler we’re surrounded by hydro-generating stations of all sizes, notably the IPP on Fitzsimmons Creek which provides for all of Whistler-Blackcomb’s electricity needs. [Correction – it produces the equivalent of all W-B’s electricity needs, but the power is sent to the province’s main power grid.]

A helpful little diagram of W-B’s Fitzsimmons Creek hydro-electricity plant.

Considering this natural bounty, it’s hard to believe that a mere 50 years ago Alta Lake residents had still not entered the modern electric era.

As Whistlerites have always been wont to do, a few residents took matters into their own hands. Bob Williamson installed a small wind-powered turbine at the south end of Alta Lake but it could only power a few lights when the wind picked up. Dick Fairhurst was more successful with the water-wheel and generator he installed on Scotia Creek in 1954, providing steady, reliable power for his Cypress Lodge (the old hostel building next to Rainbow Park). In later years the Philips had also purchased a gas-powered generator for Rainbow Lodge. But aside from these few enterprising DIY-ers, Alta Lake residents continued on with pre-electric living.

Alta Lake resident Bob Williamson working on a power line, circa 1940s.

Heating was mostly from firewood (some residents had oil or coal-burning furnaces) and bed-time reading was done by candlelight or gas lantern. Refrigeration was accomplished in sheds full of thick ice blocks cut from Alta Lake in winter and insulated through the summer with sawdust from local mills.

This lack of hydro service must have been especially frustrating since high-voltage transmission lines ran through the valley as early as the 1930s, linking the Bridge River Hydro dam to Vancouver. At the same time there were plenty of plans for more hydro-development closer to home, including dams at Garibaldi Lake, Cheakamus Lake, on the Soo River and elsewhere, but that’s another story altogether.

Then in the late 1950s, BC Hydro built the Cheakamus Dam at Daisy Lake and another set of transmission lines linking Seton Portage to Squamish was constructed. Ironically, work crews for the power lines (which included a young Peter Alder, the influential ski area manager/developer who continues to call Whistler home) were even housed at the still-unserviced Rainbow Lodge for some time. Still, no infrastructure was provided to convert the 230,000 volts running through the valley into something a little more manageable for the residents of Alta Lake.

It wasn’t until November 1965, a few months before ski operations on Whistler Mountain began, that the Rainbow Substation was finally completed. It was only fitting that Alex and Myrtle Philip were the honourary guests at the opening ceremonies. In typically stylish fashion the Philips were a little late for the event, but as Alex noted, “after 54 years without hydro, what’s five minutes?”

The Philips attend the Rainbow Substation opening ceremony in typically stylish fashion, 18 November, 1965. Left to right: unidentified, Alex Philip, long-time Whistler resident and BC Hydro employe Rolley Horsey, Myrtle Philip.

Alex was granted the honour of actually flipping the switch that finally energized the valley. Unable to conceal the thrill of the moment, Alex let out an excited “I did it!” and a new era dawned upon the Whistler Valley. For the now-retired Philips this meant they could spend the winter at Alta Lake, instead of with friends in the city as they had in previous years.

The Philips tour the new Rainbow substation with an unidentified BC Hydro employee, November 18, 1965.

And so a new era dawned for the Whistler Valley, albeit a little late. According to Wladek “Walter” Zebrowski‘s biography In Search of Freedom, the arrival of electricity almost prevented Whistler’s development into the massive resort it is today. While clearing his land near what would soon become Creekside in July 1964, Zebrowski was suddenly drawn from his work by the deafening roar of a helicopter setting down nearby:

A man got out–it was Bob Brown, a surveyor for the B.C. Hydro Corporation–and he informed Wladek that a power line was going to be put through his land.The forty meter wide line with transmission towers… was to cut through the whole valley (today the centre of town with the town and and four large residential areas). The plans had been already made, the land had been prepared and many tress had been cut out. He was here just to take the last measurements as the construction was to start very soon.

The book continues to recount how Zebrowski immediately halted working and drove to Vancouver to inform Franz Wilhelmson at the GLC offices. The next day they met with B.C. Hydro Chairman Dr. Gordon Shrum and convinced them to relocate the transmission line so as not to interfere with the planned ski area and adjoining residential developments. Instead, the high transmission lines run along the west side of the valley–the more populated side during the Alta Lake era–leaving room for Whistler to develop into its current state.