Tag Archives: Binkie

Must Love Dogs

When I moved to Whistler just over half a year ago, one of the first things I noticed was the abundance of dogs. OK, more like the abundance of big and beautiful dogs. It only makes sense with Whistler’s terrain perfectly suited for those long walks and free-running and hunting days.

Sewall Tapley and dogs, 1918. Philip Collection.

Sewall Tapley and dogs, 1918. Philip Collection.

This, of course, is nothing new. Dogs of all textures and sizes have been a huge part of Whistler since our earliest pioneers decided to settle here. Our archive holds a wealth of early photographs of dogs – some identified and others not.

Binkie on Alta Lake, 1941. Philip Collection.

Binkie on Alta Lake, 1941. Philip Collection.

From these early albumen and gelatin silver prints, it is clear that although considered as family pets, these pooches were more than just companions – they were hunters and guard dogs as well. During the early days of Alta Lake, the local dogs would have been efficient hunters and handy companions for shooing away bears for their owners.

Sam and Louise Betts on a snowy railway track, 1942. With them are dogs Tweed and Sparks. Philip Collection.

Sam and Louise Betts on a snowy railway track, 1942. With them are dogs Tweed and Sparks. Philip Collection.

Today in Whistler, dogs have it made. They are free to roam on some of the most gorgeous hiking trails in the country, spend a day at the doggie spa in Function Junction and – for the tourist dog – relax at one of the many pet-friendly hotels in the valley. Our spoiled furry friends even have their own section devoted to them at Rainbow Park.

Apart from the leisurely dog residents here in Whistler, our vast landscape is also home to highly trained rescue dogs. In 1978, professional patroller Bruce Watt trained Whistler’s first rescue dog. Bruce was enticed to do so after being caught and buried in a heavy avalanche that year. Bruce was then encouraged by Chris Stethem, the Safety Supervisor on Whistler Mountain at the time, to pursue an avalanche rescue dog training program. Bruce did just that, researching and perfecting his methods of training along the way. By 1982 the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association (CARDA) had formed. You can learn more about CARDA and the history of rescue dogs here.

Myrtle Philip sitting with dog and puppies, ca. 1930. Philip Collection.

Myrtle Philip sitting with dog and puppies, ca. 1930. Philip Collection.

While it’s easy to admire the beauty of dogs surrounding us Whistlerites, it is important to understand these creatures as affectionate beings, in need of care and protection. With the recent influx of injured and homeless dogs brought into WAG, the local shelter is in need of donations and adoptions more than ever. This recent article in the Whistler Question Newspaper outlines some of the issues surrounding animal abuse and neglect happening around Whistler, bringing awareness to the fact that we need to teach respect for animals to kids from a very young age.

If you would like to help our local hounds by donating to WAG, click here.

Binkie the Yoga Dog

Whistler prides itself on being a pretty dog-friendly community. Our community-run animal shelter is more than three decades old, and dogs even have their own dedicated section of beach at Rainbow Park. Canines have always been prominent citizens in this valley; one could even argue that they were more important during the early days of Alta Lake, when they helped with the essential tasks of hunting and shooing away bears, as well as warming hearts like only dogs can.

Dogs appear in tons of the photos in our archives, so much so that you start to feel like you know some of them personally. You find dogs out on the hunt, hiking high up in the mountains, chasing horses, playing around the lake…

One prominent pooch, a spaniel named Binkie, led an especially unique life.

Growing up on the idyllic shores of Alta Lake, from a young age Binkie led a particularly leisurely lifestyle. In her abundant spare time she developed the habit of standing on her hind legs like a person.

Binkie was clearly quite proud of her bipedalism, and she was always keen to show off for the camera.

Binkie became a minor celebrity thanks to her unique skills, even landing a holiday-card contract with Hallmark…

What started out as an attention-gaining stunt morphed into something much greater as Binkie began to recognize the meditative qualities of prolonged balancing on her hind legs.
Binkie’s devotion increased with time, and she soon came to prefer Rainbow Lodge’s quiet winters, when she could practice in peace. It became a common early-morning ritual to find Binkie in her favourite spot behind the lodge, having stood all through the night.  

Binkie’s focus became the stuff of legends. As remarkable as it was, however, sometimes her dedicated practice interfered with the busy work of running a popular tourist resort. Look how unfazed Binkie was by this fuming-mad horse that clearly had places to be and things to do.

The photographic record gets sparser in Binkie’s later days, but clearly she continued to experiment with balance, meditation, and focus. Many local yoga teachers consider Binkie to be a guru of sorts, a pioneer practitioner of what is today one of Whistler’s most popular and fastest-growing activities.
Whistler’s history is full of visionaries such as Binkie. Uncovering such stories broadens our perspective on this seemingly young community, and opens our eyes to new possibilities. Binkie was truly ahead of her time, and her story can offer inspiration to us all.
[Just in case it wasn’t clear, we might have fabricated certain elements of this story. All of the photographs are actual, unedited images of Binkie from our archives. We promise that all the other stories on our blog are truthful.)