Tag Archives: Fishing

Crafts in the Park is starting up again!

We’re super excited to announce that Crafts in the Park are starting up again! Every  Thursday starting July 5th, the Whistler Museum and the Whistler Library will be hosting fun and free craft activities in Florence Petersen Park from 11 to 12 am. Kids of all ages can learn about Whistler’s history, enjoy a story, and get creative with one of our amazing crafts.

Our theme this year is “Whistler Through the Ages”. People have been coming to Whistler for over one hundred years in the pursuit of seasonal fun- from the first visitors to Rainbow Lodge in 1914, who came out to ride, fish, and sail, or the crowds that gathered in 2010 to cheer on the Olympic athletes. Our crafts this year are based on activities enjoyed in Whistler past and present.

July 5th

The first settlers in Whistler came here to hunt and trap animals for food, and for their furs. We’ll  be making multimedia animal collages, using foam, felt, paper, magazines, tissue paper, fake fur, and more.  Whistler has an amazing variety of wildlife (bears, squirrels, and everything in between) so what animal will you make?

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July 12th

Alta Lake became a popular fishing destination in 1914. People caught fish of all kinds.  Just like those early tourists, we’ll be making our own mini fishing rods and fish. You’ll even be able to catch these fish with your rod. Design these fish however you want – rainbows are never a bad idea!

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July 19th

For this craft, we’re collaborating with the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre. We’ll learn about the relationships between animals and people in Pacific Northwest First Nations culture, and the ways we can identify with animals to understand the world around us. The children will make their own animal headdresses, and participate in a drumming song.

July 26th

Sailing has been popular in Whistler since its early days and Alta Lake residents enjoyed taking all kinds of boats out in the summer. We’ll be making our own sailboats out of sponges, corks, and paper. Just like real boats, these really float, and you’ll even get a chance to try them out on the water.

Boat Craft.jpg

August 2nd

Rainbow Lodge at one time had a stable of 20 horses, and many visitors enjoyed trail rides and trail picnics during their stays. We’ll be making cut-out paper horses with moveable joints. Though you can’t take these horses out for a ride, they’re a fun, poseable homemade toy. And although Whistler’s never been home to any unicorns (as far as we know) you can go ahead and make one of those too.

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August 9th

Whistler boasts several beautiful golf courses and this craft is a fun spin on one of Whistler’s favourite sports. We’ll be making kinetic golf ball paintings, using golf balls to roll the paint across the paper. These painting are fun to do and look even cooler.

Golf Ball Craft.jpg

August 16th

Skiing began in Whistler in the early 1960s and has been wildly popular ever since. We’ll be making paper doll skiers and snowboarders, and using paper and fabric to dress them up warmly against Whistler’s freezing winters.

Ski People Craft2.jpg

August 23rd

Whistler was proud to host the Olympics in 2010 when Canada won gold on home turf for the first time. We will be making our own personalized Olympic medals using foam stamp printing and metallic glitter. Win gold in your favourite sport, or even make up your own!

So come out and join us at Crafts in the Park, every Thursday from 11 to 12 in Florence Petersen Park!

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Fall getaways

Even paradise can get stale. Here in Whistler, locals often speak of the “Whistler Bubble” and their desire to escape this bubble from time to time. Fall is traditionally a time when many locals take extended holidays out of town, as the tourist trade quiets down substantially and, if ski bums get their wish, Whistler weather can get quite gloomy this time of year.

Sun-drenched surf retreats to Latin America or Indonesia are probably the current favourite Whistler escape, but Whistlerites are well-travelled people by nature. Come October you can find our locals scattered across the far corners of the globe.

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Myrtle hunting near Mahood Lake, circa 1950s, perhaps searching for a big stag deer like the one depicted on her rather fashionable hunting vest. 

This tradition of Whistler residents turning the tables and becoming tourists in the Fall is older than many might think. Our valley’s original vacation hosts, Myrtle and Alex Philip of Rainbow Lodge fame, were always keen to pack their bags and get out of town once their busy summer season wound down.

The Phillip’s were avid anglers, and thus many of their getaways focused on fishing. They made several autumn excursions to visit their friends Baldwin & Grace Naismith, who had a cabin on Mahood Lake in the Cariboo region of central British Columbia.

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Myrtle casting out into Bridge Creek, southwest of Mahood Lake, 1929.

 

Not only did the Mahood Lake area offer much larger fish than Alta Lake, lake trout in particular, it must have been a pleasure for the Philip’s to switch roles and be guests rather than hosts in this beautiful setting.

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Myrtle with her close friend Grace Naismith and the day’s catch, 1949.

The images span the decades and include a wonderful colour photo from 1961 of a smiling Myrtle (now 70 years young) piloting a small boat across Mahood Lake’s glass-calm waters with vivid fall colours framing the shoreline.

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Myrtle on Mahood Lake, 1961.

But just like today’s Whistlerites, Myrtle & Alex also pined for tropical shores to relax and rejuvenate. Here’s a photo from a month-long vacation they took to Tahiti in 1930-31:

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The annotation on the back reads: “Mr & Mrs Philip with their catch of Barracuda, Bonita and Miare.”

Just like Myrtle’s hunting vest shown above, in this picture the Philip’s once again demonstrate their fashion sense with their striking white outfits, Alex even wearing his trademark pith helmet.

Do you have plans to skip town this fall? Which would you prefer, fishing in Northern BC, or fishing in the South Pacific?

The Philips’ Fly Fishing Tackle

Although contemporary fly fishing gear is full of high-tech advancements like graphite rods and synthetic fly materials, the sport also has a strong traditionalist bent. For many anglers, the romance of bamboo rods, hand-tied flies, and other vintage tackle has almost as much allure as the fish themselves.

Fly fishing at Myrtle and Alex Philip’s renowned Rainbow Lodge was the Whistler Valley’s first tourist attraction, so the Museum naturally has a lot of fishing gear in our archives, not to mention hundreds of photographs.

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To better understand these artifacts we recently had Brian Niska and Scott Baker-McGarva from Whistler Fly Fishing give us their take on some of the fly-fishing gear in the Philip collection. We were pleasantly surprised to discover that both Brian and Scott are true historians of the sport, providing tons of  insight into our collection drawing from their impressive knowledge of the evolution of fishing tackle design.

2 of the Philips fishing rods, and Myrtle’s beatiful leather carrying case. The case still contains a travel tag dating to the Fall of 1961, likely the last time she used it.

We have several old cane and bamboo rods, some for fly fishing, some for casting and trolling.

The handle of one of the Philip’s fly rods.

They mostly demonstrate design features from the 1920s and 30s, the heyday of Rainbow Lodge, but the most obvious feature is the amount of use they have all seen. They appear to have been re-varnished multiple times and have many replaced eyes. This makes sense considering that the Philips and their guests were out on the water almost every summer day (and some winter days as well) for decades on end.

Considering most rods had to be shipped from the U.K. or the eastern U.S., the rods were irreplaceable workhorses whose lives needed such prolongment.

The tag on Myrtle’s leather fishing rod travel case.

Alex Philip’s fishing hat

Here we have Alex Philip’s stylish felt fishing hat, a Fedora made by Adam Hats of New York with a special water-repellency treatment for rainy day fishing.  Note how the crown is full of an array of traditional wet flies suited to trout fishing in small lakes like Alta.

Brass P.D. Malloch fly fishing reel.

Made by P.D. Malloch of Perth, Scotland, Scott thinks this particular reel could predate World War One because it is made of brass, and most reels were made of alloys after the war. It resembles some of the reels we see in early photos of Alex Philip, and could potentially be one of the earliest fishing reels used at Rainbow Lodge. We contacted the manufacturer for more information but unfortunately their records were destroyed in a fire in 1986.

Other interesting odds and ends include the large reel in the top right of this photo, an Ocean City brand fortescue-style reel. Scott described it as a “multiplying salmon reel” best suited for larger fish than we typically find around Whistler. The Philips were dedicated anglers that took annual trips every autumn to Canim and Mahood lakes, northeast of 100 Mile House in  the Cariboo region. This reel, which was appears to date from the 1930s or 40s, was likely used on these trips.

Mucillin and Lineflote (in the small red and yellow tins, both still half full) were grease-like substances used to give silk lines and/or flies buoyancy. Although synthetic lines are much more common now, Mucillin is  actually still sold today in packaging nearly identical to our examples from the 1930s.

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Although the lakes don’t provide our valley’s main draw anymore, there is still great fishing to be had. When I was bringing some of our artifacts  over to the museum from our off-site storage I actually encountered several people who were on their way to the lake, rod in hand. They were naturally curious about my odd-looking gear, and I’m certain Alex and Myrtle Philip would be equally excited to see their life’s passion alive and well in the Whistler Valley, more than a century after there fateful first casts in Alta Lake.

Whistler Backroads is putting on their 12th annual Fishing Derby this Sunday, June 17th at Lakeside Park. All are welcome, registration is free, and they even have some complimentary gear to use on a first-come, first-serve basis. Happy fishing!

Frontier Fish

When  Vancouver-based mountaineers first began exploring around and beyond Mount Garibaldi in the early 1900s, they encountered vast mountainscapes that soon became the focal point of their clubs’ activities. Beyond the allure of the regions countless mountaineering challenges, these early visitors were equally enthralled with the overwhelming beauty of what they took to be a pristine wilderness.

In some regards the Garibaldi landscape was too pure. For example, despite providing some quality habitat, Garibaldi Lake was completely devoid of fish. Garibaldi Lake was formed relatively recently (geologically speaking) when a massive lava flow from Mount Garibaldi slammed into a glacier and was frozen in its tracks, leaving behind what is now known simply as The Barrier.

This vertical wall blocked off an ancient valley that subsequently filled with water to form Garibaldi Lake. Since the lake’s outlet flows underground through The Barrier to become Rubble Creek (named after the frequent landslides falling from the Barrier’s unstable volcanic rock), no fish population was ever able to colonize Garibaldi’s glacial-fed waters.

And so, despite the celebrated “purity” of Garibaldi’s pristine alpine expanses, its earliest proponents foresaw the district’s potential as a tourism destination and hoped to develop the landscape in that manner. From the beginning they set about building trails and identifying the best  sites to hold summer camps (Paul Ridge, Black Tusk Meadows, Singing Pass, etc). A few years later when these mountaineers began advocating for the creation for a provincial park to preserve the Garibaldi wilderness (mainly from logging and other industrial activities), plans for the development of alpine hotels and a road through the park were key elements of their campaigning.

While the Great Depression and Provincial-Federal government squabbling prevented these more ambitious developments from coming to pass (thankfully, most would argue today), other more modest environmental modifications were pursued.

In 1928, for example, 2 years after Garibaldi Provincial Park was established, 5,000 Kamloops Trout eggs from the federal hatchery at Pemberton were planted in a promising tributary stream of  Garibaldi Lake (Mimulus Creek), and an additional 12,500 were placed there again the next year.

“Kamloops Trout” were a popular game-stocking fish because of its size and strong fight that was believed at the time to be a distinct species. It is now considered a sub-species of Rainbow whose excessive size was probably caused at least as much by environmental factors as it was genetics. The widespread stocking of the Kamloops Trout throughout BC has, according to some fish researchers, led to a substantial decrease in the genetic diversity of the province’s rainbow trout population.

According to the BC Ministry of Environment’s fish stocking database, there has been no further stocking at Garibaldi Lake since 1929. And none further was needed.

When some recreational anglers reported the successful catch of 3 mature trout in 1933, 4 years after the last stocking, the Vancouver Province was ready to deem Garibaldi Lake the second successful stocking of a barren lake in British Columbia. (Does anyone know the first? We don’t.)

Even by 1930, the fish seem to have flourished. In that year the Vancouver Province (a zealous booster of Garibaldi Park throughout this period), joked that the fish should be renamed “Pontoon Trout” since they resembled the pontoons of a  float-plane which had ushered one of their journalists to the lake to write a feature article.

Scientifically, the Garibaldi experiment was a resounding success. The trout population continues to thrive in Garibaldi without further support through stocking.

Garibaldi continues to offer decent, if not outstanding fishing, but angling has never become one of the park’s major attractions. However, a friend of mine did catch what he claims was the “skinniest trout ever”: 17 inches long but “thin as a broom-handle.” A product of the marginal alpine environment, isolated genetic population, or simply an aberration? (Any icthyologists in the house?) In any case, freak fish or not, for enduring and thriving amongst Garibaldi’s once-barren waters, these trout deserve recognition as some of our region’s hardiest and most successful pioneers.

Fishing on Garibaldi Lake, opposite The Table. Circa 1960s. Photo by Cliff Fenner.

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Earlier this summer Pique Newsmagazine published an interesting feature on the history of fish and fishing in the Whistler region entitled “The Ultimate Whistler Fish Story”. Check it here .