Tag Archives: Cheakamus River

Rafting Through Whistler

Rafting has long been a favourite summer leisure activity throughout the Whistler Valley. In 1913, Alex and Myrtle Philip bought their 10-acre property on Alta Lake for $700 (where Rainbow Park is today). Rainbow Lodge and the Pacific Great Eastern (PGE) Railway were both completed the next year in 1914, and together they started offering Fisherman’s Excursions. The $6 package deal included train passage and a fully catered weekend of fishing at Rainbow Lodge. When the first group of 24 anglers disembarked the train for the Fishermen’s Excursion, Rainbow Lodge had multiple wooden rafts and one boat that visitors would fish from. The first excursion was a huge success with everyone catching fish. News of the fishing on Alta Lake spread rapidly throughout Vancouver, bringing a continual stream of visitors to Rainbow Lodge in the summer.

Rafting at Rainbow Lodge. Philip Collection.

When Hillcrest Lodge opened in 1946, rafting also played a role in entertaining guests. When new guests arrived at the train station, they would be greeted by current guests in costume and then transported across the lake in a convoy of rafts. During the stay, Hillcrest Lodge offered many organised activities for guests. One of their favourite activities were the musical raft rides around Alta Lake, not unlike those that float around on warm summer days today. Raft rides would also be used to transport locals and guests to and from the Saturday night community hall dances. The community would look forward to these dances and come out in force, with Rainbow Lodge and Hillcrest Lodge sharing the catering for these popular events.

Guests were escorted to Hillcrest Lodge via raft. Mansell Collection.

70 years after Myrtle and Alex bought their land on Alta Lake, the first commercial white water rafting venture in Whistler started. Whistler was still developing as a summer destination when Whistler River Adventures opened in 1983. Asked about how things changed in the rafting business over his 27 years as owner/manager, Brian Leighton was quick to say, “Competition.”

In the early to mid 1980s, anyone could start a rafting company and many more white water rafting companies popped up after Whistler River Adventures. Following some bad rafting accidents in 1987, including 5 people who drowned after their raft overturned on a log jam in the Elaho, the BC provincial government introduced stricter regulations. The regulations introduced mandates for each river, including rules on raft size and guide experience. Although many companies already chose to follow recommended safety guidelines, strict regulations had only been in place for five BC rivers prior to 1987. River-specific tenure for raft companies was also later introduced.

An identified rafting adventure near Whistler, July 1 1984. Helmets and wetsuits are worn today during commercial rafting tours, however the expressions of exhilaration remain unchanged! Whistler Question Collection.

Remembering a trip that would not happen today, Brian recounted a staff tour along the Cheakamus River below Daisy Lake Dam. This area is now closed to commercial groups due to concerns about The Barrier breaking, which could result in massive downstream flooding and landslides from Garibaldi Lake. During the staff trip the raft became stuck on a rock in the middle of the river. A staff member living in the now-gone Garibaldi Township saw a sandal float past on the river downstream of the stranded raft and went to see if everything was okay. Everyone was rescued, although the raft remained stuck. Whistler River Adventures knew the engineer working on Daisy Lake Dam and the following day BC Hydro shut off the dam so that the raft could be retrieved from the rock. It was the eighties after all!

To help us collect and share stories become a Whistler Museum Member today.  Annual membership is $25 for an individual or $40 for a family and can be purchased in the museum or by visiting our website whistlermuseum.org.

A Glimpse into the Don MacLaurin Collection

As with many newcomers, I only know the basics of Whistler’s history when I moved here, and I hadn’t even though about the influence forestry has had – and still has – on the community, development, and economy of the area.  I have been working on the Don MacLaurin archival collection for the past few months, and it has shown me an important side of Whistler that I may not have discovered otherwise.  I know more now about forestry and sustainable ecology than I ever could have imagined, and it’s becoming very clear to me just how much MacLaurin and the rest of Whistler’s fantastic long-term residents have shaped the way the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) has developed.

For those of you who don’t know, MacLaurin was instrumental in the promotion of sustainable forestry and recreation within the RMOW and the Sea to Sky corridor.  He spent many years – decades, in fact – working on the development and maintenance of the Whistler Interpretive Forest, from creating interpretive signs and self-guided tour pamphlets, to organizing the installation of a suspension bridge over the Cheakamus River.  That suspension bridge is now known as MacLaurin’s Crossing in his honour.

Members of the Whistler Rotary Club working to fill remaining orders are, left to right: Bill Wallace, Don MacLaurin, Bob Brown, Paul Burrows, Richard Heine, Brian Brown, Sid Young and a visiting Rotarian from New Zealand. Whistler Question Collection.

MacLaurin also acted as a consultant for many other projects in the region, and was very involved in the Whistler Arbour Day Committee during the 1990s, which was responsible for organizing tree planting events and other environmental awareness activities during National Forest Week.

I could go on listing MacLaurin’s many accomplishments, but there’s not enough room for that in this article.  These are only a few of the many roles he took on (the entirety of his résumé could fill a very interesting book, I’m sure) and the documents in his archival collection are a brilliant, detailed illustration of his extensive involvement.

Among the donations from the MacLaurins over the years are a series of photos of the “highway” between Squamish and Whistler around 1959. MacLaurin Collection.

Archival collections (and donations to the archives, of course) are extremely important in the preservation of a community’s history, especially in a place as flowing and dynamic as Whistler.  Collections like MacLaurin’s are an invaluable resource for researching the industries, events, and programs that have influenced Whistler, even in recent history.

As of 2017, 23 per cent of British Columbia’s exports were forestry-related, so the documents in this particular collection are not only invaluable to the history of Whistler, but they also provide an important insight into the history of the province.  MacLaurin’s collection is a wealth of information on sustainable forest management that will aid forestry researchers for decades to come, and this is only one of the many magnificent collections housed within the Whistler Museum and Archives.

Don MacLaurin, Isobel MacLaurin and friends hiking in the mountains. Photo: MacLaurin Collection

If you’re interested in learning more about MacLaurin and his dazzling wife, Isobel, I would highly recommend checking out Pique’s online articles, as well as articles on this blog and the Arts Whistler website.  They are easily accessible through a search on each organization’s website, and paint a beautiful picture of these lovely Whistler locals.

Hailey Schmitke is the current Collections Coordinator summer student at the Whistler Museum and Archives.  She recently received a Bachelor of Arts from Memorial University of Newfoundland, majoring in Archaeology and Religious Studies.

This Week In Photos: October 11

This week had some major events in the 1980s, some of which resemble things happening in Whistler today.  For more photos of the construction of Lift No. 6 (Jersey Cream) on Blackcomb take a look here.  For more photos of the 1984 floods, check here.

1978

A quiet day at Garibaldi Building Supplies Ltd.

Dancing was a must at the recent Quonset hut party, and few people were left off the dance floor.

Diners fill their plates at the Community Club dinner this past weekend.

1979

The game is on! Students from Signal Hill play the Myrtle Philip School soccer team on Wednesday.

Construction of the town centre continues as this building stands alone.

Builder and artist, Trudy Salmhofer decorates one of her new chalets in Blackcomb Estates.

Lorne O’Connor (left) from the Vancouver Olympic Committee and Whistler alderman Rolly Harsey lead the visiting C.O.A. delegates from the plane on Saturday. Following behind are Frank Shaugnessy and Cliff Powell, both from Montreal.

1980

The dinner part of the Community Club dinner & dance hosted in the Myrtle Philip School gym.

Paul and Jane Burrows take a turn around the the floor.

Kelly and Max Maxwell with their new daughter Fiona at the Community Club dinner.

Whose legs were on display at the dinner?

The Whistler Liquor Store has a curb outside but there still remains some paving to be done.

RCMP & wrecker crews remove the van from the fast flowing Lillooet River.

1982

Whistler’s future firefighters examine the tools of the trade at Myrtle Philip School.

Crowds swarmed to Whistler Village over the Thanksgiving weekend to enjoy some sun and relaxation.

Chop-chop! Dozens of Whistlerites took advantage of a stockpile of free timber left on the slopes of Blackcomb Mountain after trail clearing operations. The mountain was open to the public Saturday and Sunday.

Sikorski S61 chopper lifts cement for the tower pads of Blackcomb’s new Lift No. 6.

Worker welds part onto tower head assembly due to be installed on Lift No. 6, under construction on Blackcomb Mountain.

It’s a dog’s life at the pound when your master hasn’t shown up yet to pay the fine and bring you home again.

Sergeant Jim Hogarth settles into his new duties as head of the Whistler RCMP detachment. With 17 years on police forces, Hogarth brings a good deal of experience to the position. He resides in Emerald Estates with his wife and two daughters.

1983

It was a case of a bridge too high and a house too wide last Thursday at the Fitzsimmons Creek Bridge in White Gold. Although the house owned by Len and Patty Richie was eventually moved from Garibaldi Estates to Lot 30 on Ambassador Crescent, it couldn’t go by the bridge for more than six hours.

House mover Bob Malaughney takes a chainsaw to one of three bridge-posts (one had already been ripped off) that have to be removed.

And resting behind it all on a beam supporting the house was the fragile bird’s nest.

John Robinson puts final touches on his MDC home with help of wife Diane and daughter Kristal.

1984

Pat Carleton, ex-mayor of Whistler, came out of the closet Sunday to join aldermanic candidates Paul Burrows and Nancy Wilhelm-Morden in celebrating the official opening of Whistler’s new municipal hall. The building, which was opened six weeks ago, was formerly used by Keg Restaurants, relocated and later renovated at a cost of $492,000.

Passersby saw the Soo River leap its banks on Highway 99 close to Pemberton Monday, but highway crews soon had the river under control.

Fifteen loaded freight cars were forced off the B.C. Rail track just north of Pemberton after the Lillooet River eroded material supporting ties and tracks. The railcars were part of a 96-car freight train southbound when the accident occurred early Monday morning. Elsewhere in Pemberton, houses, farmland and roads were flooded badly, but by Tuesday afternoon the flood was on the wane, although more rain was forecast.

Pemberton fire chief Milt Fernandez, who supervised rescue and flood control operations in the besieged town, takes a moment out at the rescue centre for victims of the Meager Creek disaster. Fernandez and other rescue workers laboured around the clock Monday and Tuesday before outside help arrived to push back the rising waters. But Pemberton wasn’t the only victim of torrential rains.

In Whistler, two log jams developed on the Cheakamus River and by Tuesday had reached a precarious point. Mailoch and Moseley logging company employees survey a major buildup at the garbage dump bridge six miles south of Whistler. Clean up operations began Tuesday night.

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.