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.

 

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.

 

Grizzly Details

The recent sighting of a grizzly bear family near Whistler, along with the ongoing scientific, political, and public awareness efforts of the Coast to Cascades Grizzly Initiative has brought the larger variety of our ursine friends back into the public eye.

We’ve written about the history of grizzlies around Whistler before, and even contemplated their return. This remains a poorly understood topic among the general public, so we recently had a chat with Claire Ruddy, Communications & Outreach Coordinator for Coast to Cascades to get the inside scoop.

A family of grizzlies on Chilco Lake, In the South Chilcotin region to the north of Whistler. Photo: Jeremy William C2C Griizzly Initiative

A family of grizzlies on Chilco Lake, In the South Chilcotin region to the north of Whistler. Photo: Jeremy William/C2C Grizzly Initiative

First off, Coast to Cascades is a regional coalition of scientists and conservation experts working towards the successful coexistence of humans and grizzly bears in southwestern BC. What makes their work so crucial is the fact that our region currently rests along the southern line of extinction of grizzly bears in North America, a population which used to extend all the way to central Mexico.

The task of stopping the further retreat of grizzly habitat now firmly rests in our hands. It helps to understand our region’s grizzlies in terms of distinct population units:

A map of the grizzly population of southwestern BC, divided into the distinct population units using 2012 provincial government data.

A map of the grizzly population of southwestern BC, divided into the distinct population units, using 2012 provincial government data.

When you see the numbers on the map and understand how vast the territories occupied by each of these population units, you start to appreciate how imperilled these grizzlies are. Unfortunately for the Garibaldi-Pitt group, an estimated population of 2 means that the sub-population to our immediate south has very little long-term viability, though there is some hope.

Like the neighbouring North Cascades sub-population, one key to long-term sustainability for critically endangered grizzlies is growing the population in neighbouring districts with more robust populations. Once this is accomplished, preserving key habitat corridors that enable migration between sub-populations can bring much-needed genetic diversity to the more isolated groups.

An encouraging example comes from the Squamish-Lillooet sub-population where the population seems to be stabilizing in large part due to decreasing industrial activity in the Toba-Bute region which has proven a boon to local grizzlies.

Grizzlies on the shores of Toba Inlet, part of the growing Toba-Bute sub-population, August 2015. Photo: Jeff Slack

Mother grizzly with cub (a second cub is off-screen) on the shores of Toba Inlet, part of the growing Toba-Bute sub-population, August 2015. Photo: Jeff Slack

Another positive development has been the growing support from Sea-to Sky local governments to encourage higher levels of government into implementing and acting upon a regional grizzly recovery plan. If all goes well, grizzly sightings in our surrounding wilderness could become more frequent in the near future.

The return of these large apex carnivores will not be without controversy, and the success of such efforts will greatly rely on cooperation and support from the general public. Avoiding grizzlies altogether is best, but Claire also emphasized how the single most important step one can take to ensure potential grizzly-human interactions remain mutually beneficial is to carry bear spray. Studies repeatedly indicate that bear spray is a more effective deterrent than firearms, and of course a non-lethal solution is always preferable.

For more info on best practices during bear encounters, check out this page from  the Get Bear Smart Society.

Hunters with two trophy grizzly bears in the Singing Pass/Musical Bumps area, ca. 1916.

Hunters with two trophy grizzly bears in the Singing Pass/Musical Bumps area, near Whistler Mountain ca. 1916.

A Bear Named Slumber

2015 07 Slumber (1)

Come out to Florence Petersen Park this Wednesday night to experience a slideshow and presentation by local bear expert Michael Allen about one of his favourite Whistler bears, Slumber.

Photograph by Michael Allen

Photograph by Michael Allen

The event starts at 9pm, and is free to attend. Be sure to bring a chair/blanket to sit on, and enjoy this journey into the world of Slumber.

Get Bear Smart

By Alexandra Gilliss, Program Coordinator/Summer Student

Having lived in Whistler for just about a month now, I was amazed to experience my first close-up sighting of a black bear during an initial outing in the bike park. The even better part is that this was just the first of several bears I would encounter. Whistler is indeed bear country, but with humans and bears living together in such close proximity, several precautions must be taken for a harmonious co-existence between the two species.

Bear

With about 900,000, the most common bear in North America is the black bear. They can be found in all Canadian provinces and territories except for P.E.I.

Problematic interactions between bears and residents have occurred since tourists first began arriving in Alta Lake in 1913. It wasn’t until 1995 that the Bear Smart Society was registered as a non-profit charity, with the mission to minimize the number of bears killed as a result of human-caused problems. Since then, the group has strived to educate the public on bear safety, and encouraged businesses to ensure all garbage and food waste is in secured containers out of reach of bears and to keep all doors closed at all times.

Bear-2

Bears are not mean or malicious, but mothers with their cubs can become quite aggressive when they feel threatened. It is important to always give them lots of space during an encounter.

Bear-4

Bears tend to avoid contact with humans, and often, hikers are not even aware when they come close to bears in the wild.

One particular story that tugged on my heart strings is that of Jeanie, Whistler’s famous black bear. With her distinct white triangle on her chest, Jeanie had been spotted in and around the Whistler village for approximately 20 years beginning in 1991, even becoming the star of her own Facebook page. In 2007, worries surrounding the bear began to arise as she had made a habit of coming into the village with her cubs in search of readily available garbage. Jeanie had become so accustomed to human activity that she even began charging conservation officers that attempted to direct her out of the village, leading many to believe she had become a public safety threat. Despite the Bear Smart Society and others’ pleas for businesses and residents to lock up food waste and garbage, the situation came to a head on October 20, 2011 when Jeanie was destroyed by conservation officers after numerous weeks of aggressive behaviour. In addressing the incident, the Bear Smart Society states, “less berries in 2011 and more competition for berry patches in the ski area, which is where Jeanie’s home range was, likely drove her to seek food in peopled areas.”

Bear-3

This bear, named “Twix” by a grade 5 student, was tagged in his left ear because of his habit of breaking into garbage bins and getting too comfortable with people.

While Whistlerites mourned the death of the local bear, the event came as a wake up call and efforts to create a community that was safe for both bears and humans increased. You’ve probably seen many of the locked garbage and recycling bins throughout the village. These systems are just one way in which Whistler has become more bear conscious. Today, Whistler is recognized as a Bear Smart Community by the province of British Columbia, meaning that the region has gone above and beyond in terms of discouraging bears from coming into the area. This makes Whistler the 4th municipality in B.C. to receive this status (the other communities being Lions Bay, Kamloops, and Squamish).

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!