Tag Archives: Franz Wilhelmsen

Whistler Mountain’s Early Operations

As we approach another opening day for Whistler Blackcomb, we’ve been looking back at the early days of operations on Whistler Mountain.  Much of the information we have on these early years comes from oral history interviews, some lift company records, and Garibaldi’s Whistler News (GWN).

Earlier this year, a volunteer for the museum conducted a series of interviews with none other than Lynn Mathews.  Lynn was the editor, and so much more, of GWN, and she shared a wealth of knowledge about both the paper and her experiences at Whistler.

The Skiers Chapel was still under construction when the Mathews first came to town. Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation Collection.

Mathews was born on Staten Island, New York.  She is a journalist and writer by profession, and before moving to Whistler worked for magazines and at Harshe-Rotman & Druck, one of the leading PR firms in New York City.  In the early 1960s, Lynn spent a winter in Quebec, teaching skiing at Gray Rocks Inn.  It was there she met Dave Mathews, who was involved in resort business in the area, and the two were married the following year.  The couple soon moved west to Vancouver, and Dave planned to leave the ski business to work full-time for an irrigation company where he had previously worked summers.  The ski industry, however, would prove hard for the pair to leave behind.

During their first winter in BC, Lynn taught skiing at Grouse Mountain, while also working for various magazines and publications.  The irrigation business was slow in the winter, and so for the season of 1966/67, Dave and Lynn planned to spend their weekends teaching at a new ski area north of Vancouver that was just opening for its first season of full-time operation.

Even by 1970, the Creekside area was a little empty. Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation Collection.

Lynn’s first trip to the Whistler Valley in August 1966 didn’t necessarily impress her.  As she put it, “There was nothing here.  There was the gondola, that was there, the daylodge had been built, there were two A-frames on the hillside,” and not too much else.  Due to extensive logging and burning, Lynn said that without snow, the Creekside area “looked like a war zone.  It wasn’t a pretty alpine village at all.”

For about $125, Lynn and Dave rented one of the log cabins at Jordan’s Lodge for the season.  Lynn chose the cabin “that tilted the least,” and the self-described “city girl” prepared for a winter with no electricity, no plumbing, and a wood cookstove.

In the 1970s, this was more likely to be the scene at Jordan’s Lodge. Benjamin Collection.

Lynn recalled that in December, Franz Wilhelmsen, who was acting as a combination of general manager, CEO, and chairman of the board, got very sick with pneumonia, right when Whistler Mountain was heading into its first full season.  Two managers were brought on board, Dave Mathews as operations manager and Jack Bright as mountain manager.  According to Lynn, Dave was responsible for “anything that moved,” and Jack was in charge of ticket sales, administration, image, publicity, and much more.

Lynn worked in the mountain’s office as well.  Though some ski passes were sold at the Garibaldi Lifts Ltd. offices in Vancouver, others were sold at Whistler Mountain and Lynn was in charge of making those passes.  Without any computer systems, she used a polaroid camera and a hand-cranked laminating machine.  Each person got two photos, one for their pass and one for the files, and a lift ticket to go skiing.  At the end of the day they could pick up their pass at the office.

Over the next few months, we’ll be sharing more tales from Lynn and others who have told their stories to the museum.  Have a story about Whistler to contribute to the Museum’s collection?  Please come see us!

This Week In Photos: September 27

1978

Trucks head up Whistler Mountain during the summer construction of the new chairlift.

The top drive station of the new “Little Red” chairlift being built at the top of Whistler Ski area.

1979

Smoke pillars up from the fire behind Garibaldi last week.

The concrete is poured on Wedgewood Properties Package #8 while workers get up to the roof level on the condominiums above Packages #4 and #5.

David Fairhurst proudly shows off the first Pine mushrooms he found last month.

Air West’s new Twin Otter on Alta Lake after bringing the C.O.A. delegates to Whistler.

The students give Dennis Lamarche’s wagon a good wash while the bake sale goes on behind.

The ad for Espresso Express Line, a unique business set up in Whistler.

1980

BC CABINET AT WHISTLER: Mayor Carleton greets Premier Bill Bennett and Labour Minister Allan Williams as they get off the train.

The Mayor shows the Town Centre off to Health Minister McLelland, Premier Bennett, Mrs. Aubrey Bennett, Provincial Secretary Hugh Curtis & Labour Minister Allan Williams.

Bennett poses with some Myrtle Philip students.

Miss Pemberton 1980 Kristi King presents the Premier with a giant potato casserole dish on behalf of the people of the Pemberton Valley.

Work on bridge over Fitzsimmons to bring skiers from Blackcomb into Town Centre.

Franz and Annette Wilhelmsen admire new Whistler pin while Hastings West president Ken Tolmie, Peter Alder and Trudi Salmhofer look on.

Heavy rain caused deep mud near the Town Centre. Golf course practice fairway 1 – Mark Clark truck 0.

Kayak is totally submerged at this portion of the course.

1982

Awarded a winged hat for being the fastest base runner in the beer league. Don Beverley of the 2.5 Rollbacks has all of next season to look forward to. Jan Simpson and M.C. Terry Boston presented him with his memento.

This W5 crew was on location in Whistler last week while covering a story on human rights. Segment of story covered here involved the theory of relocating Garibaldi residents to protect Whistler.

Students from UBC and the infamous University of Whistler braved chilly temperatures over the weekend to compete in the First Annual Intercollegiate Windsurfing Championship.

No one was hibernating on Whistler Mountain this summer. Renovations are nearly complete on the Roundhouse, including this new sundeck and snack stand on the east side of the building.

As the new Director of Ski Racing for Whistler Mountain, Dave Murray will be coordinating downhill race clinics, ski promotions and special events. Murray, 29, retired from the Canadian National Ski Team last year after the World Cup held at Whistler.

Parks Planner Tom Barratt and plant specialist Karen Edwards bone up on some of the plant species indigenous to this area.

1983

Brownies Karen Kogler, Sonja Richli, Madeleine Domries, Sara Jennings, Marika Richoz, Jessica Wilson, Adrienne Richters, Joanne DenDuyf, Jessica Humphrey, Melanie Busdon, Leah Wuolle and Heather Paul listened attentively to leader Brown Owl (alias Bettina Weidermann) at the first meeting of the season at Myrtle Philip School Wednesday. Brown Owl says that Brownies meet once a week, from 6:30 to 8 pm at the school, and are open to girls aged six through nine.

John Hunter Trucking goalie Steve Brunn misses a shot that grazes the post in Saturday’s Howe Sound Hockey League game opener against Tapley’s Winterhawks. Brunn was pestered with shots from Winterhawk forwards and defencemen all game long. A porous John Hunter defence coupled with fast skating Winterhawks players proved too much for the Squamish team as they went down to defeat 6-3.

Getting down is the way to get in shape at Bodyworks. Workouts will be moving to Myrtle Philip School starting Monday.

The skiing never stops for Philippe Lavoie and Brent Wood, seen here atop Whistler Mountain Sunday before boot-skiing on remaining snow.

Alpine Paving workmen roll along Mountain Lane and put the finishing touches to the route. With Village Stroll paving now complete, all that remains is completing Whistler Way from Tantalus Lodge to the underground parking entrance.

Greg Lee, new head skiing coach at Blackcomb, gets a head start working out with local girls and boys Sunday morning. Lee, a former World Pro Skiing Circuit skier, also does colour commentary for CBC Sports. Before Sunday’s soccer game Lee showed kids how to take their heart rate for better fitness.

Out for a postprandial training ride, cyclist Todd McPhalen coasts down Village Gate Boulevard. Not seen are Dave MacPhail, Don Barr and Murray Sudden, nuclei of the soon-to-be Team Whistler.

1984

An unidentified dog finds refuge from the rain beneath a Wedgemount Blasting truck parked in village parking lot “A”.

Chilly temperatures kept crowds to a minimum Saturday, but sunny skies brought throngs out Sunday for the fourth year of Whistler’s Fall Festival.

Pat Earley was one of six Vancouver-based artists who demonstrated their creative talents during the Sept. 22-23 Fall Festival. Earley specializes in oil pastel portraits which are exquisitely detailed and warm. Although the displays were moved indoors to the Delta Mountain Inn because of chilly weather, it was the first time artists were allowed to demonstrate and sell their wares in the streets of Whistler.

Playland set up an instant amusement park…

… but some youngsters weren’t too sure if they enjoyed the pony rides or not.

Television and movie producers seem to have developed a taste for Whistler. Actor Sean Connery, best known as James Bond, agent 007, starred Tuesday in a Japanese TV commercial for Biogur yogurt. Production coordinator Martin Yokata said they needed a “strong, healthy, clean” image, and 007 fit the part. In the ad, Connery is seen doing calisthenics and running alongside a golf green at the Whistler Golf Club with a Doberman Pinscher.

This Week In Photos: May 10

Not every week of photos provides much information.  The photos from this week in 1978 are one example.  We can identify some of the people and places but we’re hoping you can fill us in with more details for this year!

1978

A kayaker heads down a river.

Long-time Whistler resident and developer Walter Zebrowski, Chairman of the Board.

A man stands proudly beside his machine.

Some kind of casino night was held at the Myrtle Philip School, but why we’re not sure.

1980

Stefan Ples, long-time resident of Whistler, receives a lifetime pass from Garibaldi Lifts President Franz Wilhelmsen in recognition of his long involvement with Whistler.

B.J. Cooper and Pauline LePatourel of the Whistler Question staff kick-off the Pitch-In clean-up campaign for Whistler.

Construction City 1980. A piledriver towers over Resort Centre at town centre site as spring-summer construction picks up pace. Workers began flooding into the Valley this week as new town centre packages began.

Lonely toilet stands ready to serve Parcel 16 in the Town Centre.

1982

Viva Las Margar-Ritas! Cinco de Mayo is traditionally a day for celebrating the independence of Mexico and JB’s celebrations did not break with tradition. (L to R) Lisa Riser and Cindy Grierson, the original Dos Senoritas, join Holly Collinson and Kay Povarchook for one final toast to the joys of Mexico. (While this was the caption that originally appeared in the Whistler Question in 1982, Cinco de Mayo is actually a celebration of the Mexican Army’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.  The independence of Mexico is celebrated on September 16.)

Back to Basics… Sun, wind and water. Once the summer basics return to Whistler, you can’t keep a good windsurfer down. Chris Jacobs, Andrew Stoner and Bruce Cook were among the first to catch the wind after the ice broke off the surface of Alta Lake.

Lift off!

Students at Myrtle Philip School watch another rocket leap off the launching pad.

Dancing inspiration. Janice LeBlond of Pacific Motion Dance Company brought some inspiration to Whistler May 5, 6 and 7 when she conducted a three-day workshop on dancing, body alignment and anatomy. After the final workshop, LeBlond and fellow dancers Tara Twigg and Mary Craig demonstrated some of the style they have become renowned for.

1983

Jesse Fletcher tries out a new set of wheels (actually a very antiquated set of wheels) in Village Square. in case you don’t recognize the historic wheelchair, you can see it in its normal resting place at Stoney’s.

Once again the ace-in-the-hole team swept away Whistler’s frisbee golf championship, despite the chilling overtones of Saturday. (L to R) Al Pomeroy, Bob Noldner, Barry McClure and Hugh Wallace celebrated their win after a rigorous 18-round match, which included a hole in the back of a truck.

Said hole in the back of a truck.

Winners in BC Hydro’s poster contest “Be Electrically Alert” were Myrtle Philip students (clockwise from left) Patrick Crewman (grade 4), Cris Simpson (grade 5) and Brandi Robinson (grade 5). The students received a framed certificate for their effort in the contest held in March.

1984

The Nesters Golf Course was the scene as about 40 Whistlerites flung their frisbees around Craig Barker’s 12-hole cross-country frisbee golf tourney. It wasn’t a traditional course as the first hole was an abandoned pick-up truck. This is the fourth year Barker has held the tourney and already he’s looking forward to the next summer invitational match.

Rotarian Richard Heine helps Kyla Paine master the techniques of safe biking.

The age-class winners at Saturday’s Rotary Bike Rodeo. (Top left has been identified as Jeff Lacombe.  If you recognize anyone else please let us know!)

These three answered the week’s question: What do you think of Whistler’s parks and trail systems? (L to R) Charlie Doyle, Commercial Artist, Alta Vista; Peter Xhignesse, Ski Patroller, Tapley’s Farm; Joan Richoz, Homemaker, Alpine Meadows.

This Week in Photos: February 22

1979

The crowds begin to arrive – the Olive Chair loading area on Thursday.

Blizzard! The scene looking down the Green Chair during the snowstorm on Tuesday.

The shed at Mons the day after firefighters were on the scene attempting to put out the blaze.

1980

Election day in the Myrtle Philip School gym.

Two of the many Japanese ski writers who have been visiting Whistler lately – From Skier Magazine in Tokyo (l to r) Photographer ‘Dragon’, Writer ‘Ando’, and Toshi Hamazaki of Whistler.

The new “guard rails” installed to protect the Lift Company office windows from skis.

No diplomatic immunity here – Mons prepares to tow away the Question truck from the lift base.

1981

Students at Myrtle Philip School take a look at cameras through the ages.

Nancy Green, Prime Minister Trudeau and Hugh Smythe spend the day taking in Blackcomb.

The Prime Minister was also taken on a tour of the construction sites of Whistler Village.

An unusually bright and empty view of the bar at Tapley’s.

Whistler Mountain’s Franz Wilhelmsen and Peter Alder watch proudly as Whistler’s Black Chair carries passengers for the first time this season on February 21.

1982

Search and Rescue Squadron 422 from Comox dropped into Whistler last week for a mountain rescue training session.

Stretching, an essential when preparing for a race.

A few Crazy Canucks share a laugh at Dave Murray’s retirement part at Myrtle Philip School.

The first test run of the fire department’s latest addition proved it could be instrumental in putting out high level fires such as the one at Whistler Village Inn January 13.

Long before they started making snow at Olympic Plaza snow piles have provided endless amusement.

A parking attendant’s dream… This giant tow truck pulled into town the other day – and quickly pulled out again, much to the relief of nearby parking violators.

1983

Soaking up the sun (l to r) Rosilyn and Marlin Arneson and Bill Bode of Washington State relax before calling it a day Monday, February 21 after the first really warm one on Whistler Mountain.

Sjaan DiLalla tries out one of the ranges in one of the 29 “studio lofts” in the recently opened Crystal Lodge.

First place team members in the Team Supreme competition. The event, held at Blackcomb February 20, raised $2,400 for the BC Disabled Skiers Association.

Seppo Makinen and Sam Alexander discuss Whistler’s proposed new Zoning Bylaw No. 303 with Assistant Municipal Planner Cress Walker.

Cross-country skiers set off on the Whistler Cross-Country Marathon which was held over a 20km route Sunday, February 20.

1985

Art ’85 was hosted in the gym of Myrtle Philip School this past weekend.

During an introductory press conference Sunday at Crystal Lodge, Todd Brooker (far left) introduces members of the Canadian Men’s Alpine Team: (l to r) Felix Belcyzk, Chris Kent, Paul Boivin, Chris McIver and Jim Kirby.

Canadian blues man Long John Baldry and crew crank it out at The Longhorn Sunday.

Jan Seger, Ski instructor, White Gold resident.