Tag Archives: bears

This Week In Photos: October 4

You may notice this week’s post is shorter than usual – some weeks have missing negatives while others are missing entirely.  This happens to be one of those weeks, but there was still a lot going on in the years that are covered, from bridge openings to boat building to Brownies meetings.

1978

Mayor Pat Carleton waits for a train to arrive outside the Whistler Station.

Construction crews on Whistler Mountain recently got the feeling that they were being watched…

The most photographed bridge on #99! The bridge over the 19 Mile Creek as it was in a nearly finished state last Saturday.

1980

The Midstation towers on the new Olympic Chair on Whistler North. Picture taken from the top of the Village Chair.

The new Whistler Mountain lapel pin.

Do-it-yourself! – Whistler United Pharmacy owner Dave Stewart gives his front windows a polish.

LUNCH BREAK! Nello Busdon, Neil Roberts, Pat Greatrex and others enjoy the sunshine in the town centre plaza.

Workers lay interlock brick tiles in the Whistler Village Square.

Chamber of Commerce’s Michael D’Artois shows off the Town Centre to members of the BCIT Hospitality and Tourism Faculty.

Cst. Chuck Klaudt, the new member of the Whistler RCMP detachment.

1982

The winners: The Boot Pub Ladies Golf Classic.

Dryland downhill training – Dave Murray takes Blackcomb and Whistler Ski Club members through some of the exercises that help limber up skiers for the season opening.

The winning team (minus one key player) who put together Whistler’s weekly miracle, the Question, which was judged top in its class by BC and Yukon Community Newspapers Association October 2.

Dennis and Judy Waddingham display the new sign painted by Charlie Doyle, which hangs outside their store in Whistler Village. Opening day will be before the mountains begin their season.

Whistler’s Brownies rekindled the campfire spirit October 4 when they gathered at Myrtle Philip School for the first meeting of the year.

T’is the season to get sawing and chopping. These Alpine residents seem well prepared for winter’s onslaught.

A crew of landlubbers helped hoist the deck onto the sleek craft which Cress Walker and Paul Clark have been building all summer long in the driveway of their Alpine Meadows home.

Members of the Niels Petersen Band. Niels Petersen (lead vocals), Connie Lebeau (bass guitar), Christopher Allen (harp) and Gary Petersen (drums) warm up an act that will be entertaining Whistlerites all winter. The band will be appearing at Tapley’s and at the Brass Rail throughout the ski season.

1983

A cold crisp morning kept most creatures inside early Sunday, but this great blue heron had work to do. It was photographed as it flew over the River of Golden Dreams close to Green Lake looking for fish. Shortly after this photo was taken an industrious beaver swam past carrying wood for its lodge.

A smiling Ted Pryce-Jones proudly snips the ribbon to mark the official opening of the new suspension bridge built across the Callaghan River near the Cheakamus River junction last Thursday. Pryce-Jones designed the army-style bridge and with the help of a host of EBAP workers completed the project in under three months.

Bridge decking is composed of 3.5m long fir planks treated with a special wood preservative designed to make them last more than 20 years. And for those with bridge phobias, 2 1/2cm steel cables stretch across the river to provide for a safe crossing.

Marilyn Manso, one of three employees at the Alta Lake weather station, enters local weather information on a data terminal linked with Toronto. Entries must be made every hour on the hour or more often as changing weather patterns dictate.

Posing for photographs can be an awkward process.

 

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This Week In Photos: September 6

1979

The hydrant stands alone! The clearing adjacent to the school where the new access road will run.

Haus Heidi, one of the honourable mentions in the Garden Contest.

Ester Wunderly models the latest fashions…

… while Dave Murray, sawing through a ski, is helped by Casey Niewerth at the Skyline Sports’ new 6,000 sq. ft store opening in Kerrisdale, Vancouver.

Joanne stands behind the counter of the new Spud Valley Sporting Goods Store.

1980

Town Centre site stands virtually deserted due to work stoppage which began Thursday, August 28.

As in many cases, you’ve got to start at the bottom to get to the top. In this picture we have the crew putting the cable on the Garibaldi Lifts’ chairlift that rises from the Town Centre. Also shown is the pit that the two-mountain daylodge will rise from. It won’t be completed this year but the substructure will and portable trailers will be used on site to sell lift tickets to Whistler and Blackcomb.

A jumper unfolds their flip into Lost Lake.

Dance competitors took to the floor for the University of Whistler dance contest. The winners were Chris Speedie and June Everett.

Linda Satre accepts another donation to the Terry Fox fund from a patron outside the Husky Station while Ruth Howells looks on.

1982

It was a tough weekend of close plays, but when all the dust settled in this weekend’s slow pitch tourney Tapley’s were the winners.

He flies through the air with the greatest of ease… Oh the joys of being airborne… especially when you’ve just hurtled down the aerial ramp at Lost Lake. But oh, the chill of it all once you hit that water. Eleven competitors took part in this year’s aerial acrobatic competition.

Cris Simpson and Duncan Maxwell sharpen their pencils for the first lesson of the term at Myrtle Philip Elementary School.

Busy little bees and industrious beavers welcome students to Miss Christopher’s classroom.

It was no easy task, but for the second year in a row Stoney’s team walked away with first-place honours in the Great Waters Race. (L to R) Dave Murray, Jinny Ladner, Ken Hardy, Lisa Nicholson and Brian Allen.

Bears have been a problem for businesses located in Whistler’s Industrial Park. Provincial wildlife traps are catching more than the normal number of ornery critters.

1983

Caller Ken Crisp led members of the Swinging Singles Square Dance Club in Village Square Saturday and Sunday. Garters were prominently on view as women twirled in their colourful square dancing dresses. The club has more than 300 members and is based in the Burnaby Lake Pavilion.

Relief map of proposed Powder Mountain ski area. Number areas are townsites, white lines are ski runs, and dark lines are ski lifts. Photo was taken at the Vancouver office of Powder Mountain Resort Ltd., where the relief map is stored.

Some kids got right back into the swing as Myrtle Philip School re-opened Tuesday, September 6 but Michael Hoffmann seems to be thinking of other things as Yann Omnes looks on. Sandy Pauliuk-Epplett, meanwhile, starts the rest of the Grade 2 and 3 class off on the right foot by explaining first day back-to-school rules and suggesting school supplies. Motorists, take extra caution now as the little ones head back to school.

Ross Smith, General Manager, Stoney’s, White Gold.

1984

The Fraser Valley Round and Square Dance Association entertained village visitors all weekend long. The dancers even convinced spectators in Village Square to take part in their traditional dance routines. Hundreds of visitors flocked to Whistler for the Labour Day weekend and the village came in with an occupancy rate of 62 per cent in August.

The Conference Centre is expected to be finished by May 1985 and will be one of only two facilities built for conferences in BC.

Angus Maxwell, 10 years old, was the lucky winner of a Red Baron BMX bicycle, presented here by Barb Stewart of the Pharmasave. The drugstore received dozens of entries for the contest.

Tuesday was the first day of classes for local students. Myrtle Philip School opened its doors to 111 students and the Grade 2 and 3 class, taught by Sandy Pauliuk-Epplett, saw classes end at 11:30 am rather than 3 pm.

Vandals hit the former Mountain House Cabaret Friday night, kicking apart a fence and tearing down a wooden sign. Although about $100 worth of damage was done, the vandals apparently saved the new owner the task of removing the Mountain House sign.

Paul and Jane Burrows returned to Whistler last Tuesday after spending more than a year travelling around the globe. The couple’s dog Simba hardly even noticed that the trekkers, who travelled by horse, train, bus, helicopter and even car to South Africa, France, New Zealand and Tahiti (to name but a few stops) were gone. Late summer also saw the return of Al and Nancy Raine after spending the last two years in Crans Montana, Switzerland.

VIDEO: Bear viewing at the old dump

Among the many autumn rituals in Whistler are watching the changing colours in our surrounding forests, watching the snow line slowly move down the mountainsides, enjoying some relatively quiet time here in the village, and perhaps skipping town altogether with a fall getaway.

For many residents, Fall is a crucial time of year when they eat non-stop and try to put on weight in preparation for the long winter. No, we’re not talking about depressed mountain bikers at Thanksgiving dinner, but our local black bears of course!

Every autumn, black bears enter a physiological state called hyperphagia, which essentially means increased appetite. After having climbing up the mountainsides through the summer they often come back down to lower elevations in search of any calorie-rich foods that might be left, like mountain ash berries, or roots and greens in marshy lowlands.

In a place like Whistler, it also means a time of heightened bear-human interactions, as they are more commonly looking for food in human-occupied places. Increased diligence in securing your garbage, being aware of your surroundings when hiking or biking in the forests, and giving bears plenty of space when you do encounter them is especially important this time of year.

In Whistler we do quite a good job of co-existing with our ursine friends, and are one of only seven officially recognized “Bear Smart” communities in British Columbia. We still have our challenges, but to demonstrate how far we’ve come, here’s a video of black bears feeding at our local dump in the early 1970s.

The dump, located right in the middle of the valley where Whistler Village now stands, was open air, unfenced, and got routinely overrun with bears back then. Many long-time residents recall that it was the preferred bear-viewing spot in the valley, and it’s not hard to see why!

Today, our “dump” (actually called a Waste Transfer Station) is well-fenced in and we manage our garbage far more responsibly. Please do your part to help ensure that our local bears have a smooth transition to winter during this crucial time of year!

For more information on black bears, and how to live, work, and play responsibly in bear country, please visit the Get Bear Smart Society.

 

A Bear, a Cougar and a Boisterous Myrtle Philip

Every now and then a long term and frequent visitor of Whistler will grace us with their stories of this valley’s past. Gordon Cameron is one such character. As a young man, Gordon (also known as G.D.) would spend summers at Alta Lake with his family. A few years ago, Gordon wrote two letters to the museum outlining some fascinating stories from his childhood here in Whistler. One story he recalls involves a cougar, a bear, and a boisterous Myrtle Philip.

Alta Lake from Rainbow Lodge, 1944. Photograph by G.D. Cameron. Philip Collection.

Alta Lake from Rainbow Lodge, 1944. Photograph by G.D. Cameron. Philip Collection.

Firstly, to paint a better picture of Gordon and Myrtle’s relationship, Gordon explains Myrtle’s unorthodox method of teaching a young G.D. how to ride a horse. Basically, Myrtle tied Gordon’s feet together underneath the horse’s belly and let boy and animal be! The horse reluctantly traipsed around Alta Lake with the boy strapped firmly astride for most of the day, until it finally managed to shake loose the ties and buck the young Gordon into the River of Golden Dreams.

Myrtle with saddle horse and workhorse, ca. 1915. Philip Collection.

Myrtle with saddle horse and workhorse, ca. 1915. Philip Collection.

In 1934, a few years after Gordon’s unconventional horseback riding lesson, Gordon and some other boys in the area were recruited by Myrtle to fix a trail that often flooded in high run-off years. The crew got to work slashing the bushes to make the trail wider, while one of the boys held the horses. All of a sudden, one horse bolted; everyone stopped to see what was happening only to observe that just down the trail was a mean looking black bear sniffing the wind. The crew turned to their escape route and had the unpleasant sight of a large tawny cougar stalking towards them. Whilst the boys were scrambling their thoughts into some sort of action, a “whoop and a holler” was heard coming up the trail “in a slightly off-key feminine voice that would have curdled the milk.” Faced with such a vision, the bear took off straight up the mountain and the cougar took one look at the apparition coming charging down the trail and disappeared. Myrtle was so mad, she let off steam in a language that was certainly not “ladies chit-chat.”

Myrtle on a white horse, ca. 1940. Philip Collection.

Myrtle on a white horse, ca. 1940. Philip Collection.

As if we didn’t have reason enough to adore Myrtle and her courageous ways!

The Bears are Up!

Over the past two weeks, my social media newsfeeds and photo streams have been blowing up with posts and images of bear sightings here in Whistler. Ah, it is that time again, isn’t it? With the first signs of post-hibernation being on the very last day of March when a few Instagram posts of paw prints in stale snow surfaced.

Pioneer Myrtle Philip holding Teddy the bear, 1926. Philip Collection.

Myrtle Philip holding Teddy the bear, ca. 1925. Philip Collection.

With each new bear sighting comes varying emotions: some people feel fear, others joy, and for many uncertainty. Whistler locals love sharing their bear stories, often suggesting that black bears are generally quite harmless to humans. One local, Colin Pitt-Taylor, claims he accidentally cycled into a black bear; Colin leaving the scene unharmed, and the bear leaving seemingly unfazed. Another local and avid golfer, Colin Gower, claims to have come rather close to numerous bears along the Nicklaus North golf course. This is no surprise, as black bears have settled into our golf courses, ski hills and parks (even though they’ve inhabited Whistler long before us humans decided to move in).

Today, most Whisterlites have a high level of respect for bears, and in fact, bears have been held in such high regard as far back as we can trace. Archaeological evidence suggests that bear worship (also known as Bear Cult or Arctolary) may have been a common practice among Neanderthals in the Palaeolithic periods. Bear worship did not stop there. To name a few examples: Celts believed bears to be incarnations of the goddess Artio, the Ainu people of northern Japan considered the bear to be the head of the gods, and First Nations throughout North America honour the bear with costumes, masks and images carved on totems.

Photograph by Michael Allen.

Photograph by Michael Allen.

It is clear that bears have been admired by humans throughout history, but even still, when pioneers came to settle here they began hunting and slaughtering bears, exploring new territory and clearing land for their homes. Grizzlies were virtually exterminated from the Canadian Plains and the western United States, and at this time, bears were generally regarded as human-eating monsters – a much different take on bears than our archaic predecessors might have reasoned.

Thankfully by the twentieth century, public perceptions of bears began to shift. Laws limiting hunting were enacted and residents of national parks realized the importance of coexistence. However, at this time, bears were often used as amusement; tourists would feed them and gather around the centrally located garbage dump to watch as bears fed on our waste.

Bears in the garbage dump (future site of Whistler Village), ca. 1965. Petersen Collection.

Bears in the garbage dump (future site of Whistler Village), ca. 1965. Petersen Collection.

Jump to the present day and we seem to have greatly improved on this coexistence thing. Laws and regulations have been enforced to protect bears, further limiting hunting and keeping our food and waste secured in bear-proof bins and depots. Most Whisterites and visitors have adopted a deep level of respect for our approximate 100 black bear residents, understanding these ursine beauties as independent beings, crucial to our ecosystem.

Alex Philip holds Teddy the bear, 1926. Philip Collection.

Alex Philip holds Teddy the bear, 1926. Philip Collection.

So, should we be frightened by our thick-furred residents as they appear from their long, winter slumbers? Statistically speaking, you’re more likely to be killed by a domestic dog, bees or lightning than killed by a bear. In fact, no one has ever been killed by a bear in Whistler. Furthermore, one in 35,000 grizzly bears and only one in 100,000 black bears will kill a human. As Sylvia Dolson and Katherine Fawcett describe in their book A Whistler Bear Story, bears are “gentle, with the capacity to be fierce,” “entertaining and playful, yet capable of killing,” and “your favourite cuddly stuffed animal, morphed into a massive body with sharp teeth and long claws.”

While it is true that most run-ins with bears have proven harmless, it is important to stay safe and know proper bear safety. Visit http://www.bearsmart.com/ for a great resource on how to be bear-smart!

An Unlikely Pair: The Story of Molly the Bear and McGee the Pig

Have you ever found yourself in an unlikely relationship? Perhaps a friendship with someone you thought you’d despise, a romance working against all odds or an interspecies partnership with your pet that you never expected to grow so strong. Most of us at some point in our lives have been pleasantly surprised by an unexpected yet beautiful relationship.  Conceivably, the most unlikely duo in Whistler’s history is Molly the bear and McGee the pig.

So how did a pig and a bear come to be such great friends? Well, McGee the piglet was bought by a young girl named Betsy (DeBeck) Henderson at a farmer’s market in New Westminster, while Molly the bear cub was adopted by Betsy’s father. Molly was originally from Bella Coola – where Mr. Henderson worked – and went by the name, Crisco (because she loved to break into cookhouses and eat shortening).

Betsy spent two summers at Green Lake in 1936 and 1937. During this time, Betsy’s brothers worked in the logging industry, also at Green Lake. Determined to keep the family close, Betsy’s mother insisted the family rent a cabin on Green Lake. They did just that, and with them came the whole family – including a cow, McGee the pig, Molly the bear and a Springer Spaniel named Freckles.

So began the unwavering bond between pig and bear. Neither of them took to the other animals the same way they did to each other. The two would play, eat and nap together. It’s safe to say that they rarely left each other’s sites. Even when the family would play a game of baseball, McGee would watch Molly as she’d try to grab the players and stop them from running from base to base.

After spending two summers at Green Lake, the DeBeck family continued their journey and moved to Victoria. What we know of Molly and McGee ends here. However, in the spirit of Valentine’s Day, perhaps this strange and dynamic duo will inspire all of us to be especially appreciative of those unexplainable relationships in our lives, approaching them with nothing but warmth and love.