Tag Archives: Christiana Inn

Saunas of Whistler

Looking through Whistler publications from the 1970s, it’s easy to see that building and design in Whistler has changed a lot over the decades.  It’s rare today to see a newly constructed A-frame, Gothic arch cabin or a condo advertised using wall-to-wall shag carpeting as a selling point.  Like the shag carpeting and A-frames, saunas also seem to be disappearing from town.

Not all saunas built in Whistler necessarily met the criteria of H.J. Viherjurri, one of the founding members of the Suomen Saunaseura (Finnish Sauna Society), to be considered a true sauna.  He and other members defined a sauna as a room or hut built of wood and containing stones heated by some kind of stones.  These stones heat the air to upwards of 160°F and water can be thrown on the stones to produce steam, called löyly.  Viherjuuri explains that, unlike steam rooms, the air in a sauna remains dry as the moisture is instantly absorbed by the wooden walls of the room.

It’s not clear whether the products in this 1980 California Pool & Spa ad from the Whistler Answer would meet the requirements of a sauna.  Whistler Answer, December 1980.

Also important to be considered a true sauna is the multi-round process of alternately heating and cooling, whether by a cold shower, jumping in a lake or even rolling in snow.  The process often also includes light beating with leafy birch branches to clean the skin.  Without known how saunas built in Whistler were used in the 1970s it is impossible to assume they met the requirements of this definition.  The term sauna was, however, used to attract buyers and visitors to various properties.

In advertisements placed in Garibaldi’s Whistler News the Christiana Inn, Highland Lodge, Cheakamus Inn, Ski Boot Lodge and Whistler Inn all featured the word sauna among their various assets.  The Whistler Inn, described as “an ultra modern, yet rustic lodge” listed their sauna first among their attractions “available for your added enjoyment and comfort”.

Many of the condominiums built around Whistler at the time also included saunas, whether private or shared, for the use of guests and residents.  Blackcomb Condominiums, Telemark Townhouses and Alpenforst condos all had saunas available and the “very deluxe units” of Adventures West included “dishawashers, saunas, washing machines and dryers”.

This living room was used to sell Tamarisk units in 1973; see the massive fireplace and wall-to-wall shag. Garibaldi’s Whistler News, Fall 1973.

Perhaps best known is the example of Tamarisk.  The first phase of Tamarisk, built in 1973, included 146 units, each featuring a sunken living area, a “massive stone fireplace”, shag carpet and a private sauna.

Saunas remained a popular part of aprés-ski culture into the 1980s.  For those who didn’t already have their own sauna Wedge Mountain Construction advertised in The Whistler Answer in December 1980 that they could build one for you.  You could also purchase a freestanding sauna kit from California Pool & Spa for $900.

For a price Wedge Mountain Construction would build a sauna for you. Whistler Answer, December 1980.

Though houses may still contain saunas, many of these rooms are now used for purposes other than bathing.  Growing up in 1980s house built with one of these wooden rooms, some small children thought sauna was just another word for storeroom.  Rather than attract buyers with the promise of their own private sauna, house listings today are more likely to advertise a Tamarisk unit with a converted sauna.

While saunas may not be nearly as prevalent as during their 1970s ’80s heyday, they can still be found in Whistler at Meadow Park Sports Centre, various hotels, the Scandinave Spa and even some private residences.

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This Week In Photos: August 16

1978

Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean aerial practice ends.

Mayor Pat Carleton stands by one of the Municipality’s trucks, complete with the Municipality’s logo. (In a side note, the “City Hall” sign hanging above the trailer’s door has recently been added to our archives.)

The Christiana Inn is currently closed to the public, as this sign makes clear.

1979

Fire Chief Lindsay Wilson puts up one of the many No Campfire signs now appearing in the Whistler area due to the extreme fire hazard rating.

One V.W. easy over! Stewart McQuarrie of North Vancouver escaped uninjured when he lost control of his car near Daisy Lake.

Stevenson workers work on Package 5 while the piledriver works on #6 at the Whistler Town Centre.

The new temporary addition trailer to the Whistler Municipal Hall.

Neal Davidge shows Rotary President Doug Read the location of Nanisivik in the Arctic.

1980

Cover this turret with copper, fix up the other finishing touches, and put it on top of Parcel 16 and you’ve got Whistler’s very own clock tower. The clock is visible as skiers head down the chairlifts of either mountain.

Two members of the party unload skis off the sea plane at Garibaldi Lake before heading up the route.

A lone skier descends down the glacier to Garibaldi Lake.

Peter Chrzanowski stands in one of the warm mini-lakes at the foot of the glacier. Camera’s lens is 1/2 submerged causing a strange distortion below the water’s surface.

Like toothpaste from the tube, cement oozes from a hose handled by a construction worker as he balances along the top of the “dressing room walls” of the Resort Centre.

1981

Whistler Question publisher Paul Burrows loads one of the 40 bags of mail that left the Post Office on August 12 after the mail strike was over.

FIRE! Lightning strike sets fire to Rainbow Mountain Ridge. Sunday afternoon cocktail sippers got this view from Stoney’s terrace.

Hilda Davey and daughter-in-law Nancy smilingly await the arrival of the new soft ice cream machine at Hilda’s Deli which recently re-opened in the Village centre.

L&A Contracting CAT 225 loader sits in the waters of Green Lake after road widening ledge collapsed on August 11.

Dave Cathers exhibits fine form during the mixed double finals at the Inside Out Tennis Tournament.

The swimmers and sunbathers on the beach and the new dock.

1982

Bon Voyage! The Raine family – Al, Nancy and twin boys Charley and Willy – gather on their front porch for a parting shot shortly before leaving for Switzerland Sunday, August 22.

Petanque player shows his form while President of the Whistler Petanque Club, Jean Jacques Aaron, looks on.

Thieves were determined to get into the office of Whistler’s Husky station as this battered door evidences.

Whistler’s original sluggers, Doc A’s, took part in the Pemberton Ladies’ Invitational Softball Tourney August 14 – 15. (L – R, top row) Brillo, Jan Simpson, Kathy Hicks, Linda Henderson, Cathy Dickinson. (L – R, bottom row) Barb Simpson, Valerie Lang and Laura Nedelak. Missing – Ann Chaisson, Katie Rodgers, Jan Haldimand and Wendy Meredith.

New owners of The Going Nuts Shop (l – r) Brenda and Doug Horton and Chuck and Claire Kingzett take a break from busy preparations.

1983

Jerome Rozitis, right, took first place and Andrew O’Keefe second in the Children’s Triathlon Saturday.

The Whistler Community Arts Council sits with collection boxes for a Book Drive and Auction, while also advertising the Class of ’83’s Arts & Crafts Show.

It was a hot time in the old town of Whistler August 12 – 14 as jazz musicians and their fans poured into the valley for Jazz on the Mountain. Skies stayed sunny and spirits soared, including Larry Coryell’s. A pioneer jazz fusion and one of the most innovative performers featured at the three-day event, Coryell cranked it out with saxophonist Richie Cole and blues belter Ernestine Anderson for a real show-stopper Sunday afternoon. J. Bartosik photo.

Whistler’s new $15,000 tent had its inauguration during the August 12 – 14 jazz festival, much to the pleasure of 4000 jazz buffs who turned out for the event held at the base of Whistler Mountain. Friday night’s concert, offered at no charge, featured the stylings of West Coast Jazz Orchestra and Vancouver Ensemble of Jazz Improvisation in Village Square. At press time, no official report had been released on the financial outcome of the festival.

1984

Cyclists in Friday evening’s White Gold criterium race averaged about 37 km/h in the 50 km event. Ninety-three racers from the Lower Mainland, the rest of Canada and other parts of the world took part in the criterium, which was part of a five-event series that ended Sunday in Gastown.

Whistler windsurfer Sue Cameron picked up four medals at the Western Hemisphere Championships (District 11) on Chestier Lake in Calgary over the weekend. Cameron, who plans to enter professional competition, placed high in three separate events to pick up the overall crown. The championships will be aired on September 8 on CTV.

The Melloyds, an a cappella group, grabbed the spotlight as one of the most entertaining acts during the weekend Music Festival.

A wide variety of musical acts took part in the festival, including Olatunjia (a band featuring African drums and dancing), Mojo and Vancouver’s Jim Byrnes, who created a local following after just one show.

Halloween Inspiration from Whistler’s Past

So, if you were somehow unaware, tomorrow is Halloween. If you didn’t know that, then chances are you don’t have your costume sorted yet. Fret not! The Whistler Museum is here to help.

Just because you’re thinking up your costume last minute doesn’t mean you need to resort to some cliché pop culture reference like Game of Thrones or Matt Damon from the Martian. Whistler’s past is full of great ideas for timeless costumes to impress your friends. As a bonus, your costume can spark intriguing discussions about Whistler’s history at your Halloween party, something we fully endorse.

It’s no secret that Whistlerites love to party, especially when dressing up is involved. Let’s examine some examples of party dress from Whistler’s past.

First off we have the Freaker’s Ball, a party of legendary proportions that occurred in the 1970s in the Christiania Inn, in Alta Vista. Based on a rather freaky song by Dr. Hook, people liked to dress, well, freaky. This could mean anything, basically, which isn’t a bad place to start when trying to come up with up with unique costume ideas.

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Mozart, anyone? He was like the classical Taylor Swift.

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Is this guy having a good time, or what? Buccaneer baby!

Not into the whole hippie thing? OK, let’s go further back in time for some pioneer-era inspiration.

Unfortunately, this next photo from our archives doesn’t have any real explanation. One could even assume that it’s not a costume, but historically appropriate farming attire from the period. We’re not going to dwell on this for too long. It’s a sweet costume idea.

It's Halloween every day in Whistler! (When I first saw this I thought it was a KKK thing, but I think maybe this person is dressed as a wizard).

Know a member of the opposite sex? Well you can always borrow their clothes and dress in drag! These guests at Hillcrest Lodge donned some feminine attire to great effect, freaking out passersby on the PGE railway.

Hillcrest Lodge guests dressed to meet the train

We'll never forget the year Dad put on a one man show of Swan Lake.

Admittedly, cross-dressing is a more interesting costume idea for men, generally. It’s hard for a woman in men’s clothing to look this stunning. I’m sure some creative ladies out there could pull it off though!

Of course, Myrtle and Alex Philip, Whistler’s founding couple, had a distinct sense of style. A quick check through your wardrobe, your tickle-trunk, or trip to the Re-Use-It centre might be enough to pull one of these off. Bonus points for couples who pull of the historic pair.

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Myrtle Philip in riding garb. She designed and tailored most of her outfits herself.

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The all-white safari ensemble was an Alex Philip staple. This elegant get-up is sure to impress the ladies.

A little Myrtle & Alex dress-up inspiration. Photo: Joern Rohde/wpnn.org

A little Myrtle & Alex dress-up inspiration.
Photo: Joern Rohde/wpnn.org

To be fair, these costumes rely on some pretty unique clothing items that you may not have lying around the house. Fair, I guess. Have a bunch of cardboard and some metallic spray paint? Well you can go as the original Creekside Gondola!

You can be the hottest aluminum box at the party!

One bonus with this costume is that the original gondola had a four-person capacity, so you can host your own mini party within the party!

If an inanimate metal structure isn’t your thing, that’s cool. How about a marmot? These fuzzy little creatures are the reason Whistler Mountain got it’s name.

Not feeling energetic? Wear all brown and chill out on a couch. Just like a marmot.

All it takes is some furry brown clothing, buck teeth, and an ability to whistle. You might be dressed as a marmot already, and not even realize it! With the proliferation of animal onesies, this should be easy.

Why stop there. There are plenty of other icons from Whistler’s past that could become killer costumes with a little creativity: Willy Whistler, the Roundhouse Lodge, Black Tusk… BLACK TUSK!!!