Tag Archives: Gord Harder

Peak Bros: A Whistler Comic Strip 1979 – 1992

The Peak Bros. comics captured the hearts and minds of Whistler when they were published between 1979 and 1992 in The Whistler Answer and The Whistler Review. The comics were based on the real-life adventures of Gord ‘Rox’ Harder and his friends, who became known as the Peak Bros. after their love of skiing Whistler Peak.

Gord ‘Rox’ Harder in the maintenance building on Whistler Mountain, where he worked as a journeyman carpenter. Harder Collection.

First created on the back of a Garibaldi Lifts Ltd. logbook, the Peak Bros. comics paid homage to the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. Gordy was an avid reader and admirer of the Freak Brothers, created by Gilbert Shelton and first published in Austin, Texas in 1968. The Freak Brothers followed the antics of a trio of cop-dodging cannabis-loving outlaw hippies. The Peak Bros. were the Whistler-ised version, where their outlaw skiing lifestyle gets the Peak Bros. into trouble. The ski police start to chase them, and the trouble begins! Celebrating 80s ski culture and the tongue-in-cheek humour of Gord Harder, Peak Bros: A Whistler Comic Strip, opens at the Whistler Museum on February 22nd 2023.

From left to right – ‘SO’, ‘Rox’ and ‘Crazy Harry’ all featured in the Peak Bros comics. Harder Collection.

With local people from the Whistler community featured in the comics, it could be a thrill to identify who characters were based on whe¬n each new Peak Bros. comic was released. Many of the true stories from the real Peak Bros. are as unbelievable as fiction. Building an illegal cabin below the Roundhouse, riding down the mountain on a windsurfer, and catching a helicopter up to the peak to join the Whistler Mountain staff party.

Rob ‘Bino’ Denham, one of the Peak Bros. windsurfing down Whistler Bowl. Photo courtesy of Dave and Laura Kinney.

Shawn Hughes, better known as SO, remembered one of their many adventures up Whistler Peak. “We would camp on the peak every full moon. That was the Peak Bros. tradition. Then we woke up one morning as a bomb went over. That’s when that tradition ended.” Until the close call brought around an abrupt end of the camping tradition, SO had not missed one winter camp in over 6 years.

Gord Harder, and the other real Peak Bros. were excellent skiers and could be found on the mountain every day. Janet Love Morrison recalled watching Gordy ski down the peak during a Whistler Mountain staff party. “There was no Peak Chair. Gordy and his friend, they had hiked up to the peak and they skied Don’t Miss, which is all [permanently] closed now. I didn’t know Gordy was the calibre of skier that he was when I met him, and I remember everybody started hooting and hollering and whistling and Gordy had jumped into Don’t Miss. Just like over the rocks and the whole face under the Peak Chair, he’s just bouncing like it’s effortless…” With everyone on the mountain watching they got a rock star cheer.

Tracks down Don’t Miss left from Gord ‘Rox’ Harder and Shawn ‘SO’ Hughes. Photo courtesy of Dave Steers.

In the late 1970s and early 1980s there was a massive crackdown on fast skiing on Whistler Mountain following a slew of visitor complaints. Whistler Mountain Ski Patrol were encouraged to catch speeders in the slow zones, and the patroller who issued the most warnings or confiscated the most passes received a dinner voucher for L’Après. With the Peak Bros. priority on skiing, and skiing fast, they were regularly the ire of ski patrol who would ticket them if they could ever catch them. Patrol even delivered warnings to Peak Manor, the clubhouse the Peak Bros. built in the trees below the Roundhouse. The comics mimicked real life with ski patrol forever chasing and regularly outmanoeuvred by the devious and athletic Peak Bros.

The ‘ski police’ were always after the Peak Bros. The chase became more and more elaborate throughout the comics. Harder Collection.

Come to the Whistler Museum to celebrate Gord ‘Rox’ Harder and the Peak Bros. The opening of Peak Bros: A Whistler Comic Strip 1979 – 1992 is on Wednesday the 22nd of February, beginning at 6:30 pm. The exhibition will be open until April 23rd 2023.

Peak Bros: A Whistler Comic Strip

Join us and special guests at the Whistler Museum on Wednesday, February 22, 2023 for the opening of our latest exhibit, Peak Bros: A Whistler Comic Strip 1979 – 1992.

Created by the one and only Gord ‘Rox’ Harder and published in The Whistler Answer and The Whistler Review, the Peak Bros. comics celebrated an outlaw skiing lifestyle and followed a ragtag group of friends on their adventures around Whistler. Learn more about the comics, the people behind the Peak Bros. tales, and maybe even pick up your own copy of the Peak Bros. adventures!

Thank you to Gord’s friends and family who contributed to this project and made the exhibit possible. Peak Bros: A Whistler Comic will be on display through April 23, 2023.

When Hollywood Came to the Alpine

It’s safe to say that we are very lucky in our valley. We can enjoy lush forest hikes or adrenalin loaded bike runs for our morning workout before heading into the office. However, a now-obsolete technological quirk used to require a unique mountain town profession that came with some special perks.

Home of the three musketeers: the Alpine Service Building with the Little Red Chair. Schoki patrols, and makes sure that everything is in order on top of Whistler Mountain. Photo courtesy: Janet Love Morrison, Gordy Rox Harder

Gordy and Janet’s home above the tree line: the Alpine Service Building with the Little Red Chair. Photo courtesy: Janet Love Morrison, Gordy Rox Harder

While we valley dwellers actually have to get in the truck, and drive a few kilometres to the lifts and stand in a line up, Janet Love Morrison and Gordy Rox Harder enjoyed the privilege of having their serene home nestled among the wildlife of the mountains right next to the top of the Red Chair. From 1978-1992, the lifts on Whistler Mountain actually required full–time caretakers to start them up each day, among other tasks. From January 1987 to November 1988, they were the alpine caretakers living on top of Whistler Mountain – in winter and summer.

“It was magic living up there and watching the seasons change” Janet enthuses. She remembers that the wildlife was very entertaining in summer. They heard the grouse and the hoary marmots, and they saw little pikas (rock rabbits) race here and there. In the summer months, Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation would let them use the building maintenance truck to drive from the valley to the alpine on the service road. “A real treat” as they call it because it was so much easier to get groceries home if you didn’t have to transport them on the lifts.

Living in the mountains can be magical – and sometimes even thrilling: Gordy and Janet met Sidney Poitier while filming a scene of the movie Shoot to Kill in the Little Whistler bowl on Whistler Mountain. Photo courtesy: Janet Love Morrison, Gordy Rox Harder

Living in the mountains can be magical – and sometimes even thrilling: Gordy and Janet met Sidney Poitier while filming a scene of the movie Shoot to Kill in the Little Whistler bowl on Whistler Mountain. Photo courtesy: Janet Love Morrison, Gordy Rox Harder

In the summer of 1988 Hollywood came to the alpine. A scene in the movie Shoot to Kill, starring Sidney Poitier and Tom Berenger, was being filmed just past the top of the T-Bars at the bottom of Little Whistler. Janet and Gordy blasted up on the skidoo to watch them film. They recalled: “Mr. Poitier came over and chatted with us. He was so surprised to learn that someone lived up on the mountain. It was an absolute thrill to meet him. He suggested a film assistant take a photo with a Polaroid camera. It was so kind.”

They watched them film a blizzard scene where Sidney’s character starts to dig a snow cave. Gordy helped out by passing someone on the set huge bags of mashed potato flakes that were dumped in front of a large fan to simulate driving snow.

Janet and Gordy have a lot of golden memories to share, and we will post them to this blog in the coming months.

The position of alpine caretaker first began in 1978 with the completion of the Alpine Service Building close to the top of the Red Chair. From January 1987 to November 1988, Janet Love Morrison and Gordy Rox Harder, both in their early 20s at that time, were the alpine caretakers living on top of Whistler Mountain. There were actually three teams sharing the positions: Gordy and Janet lived in the alpine (1,850m); their neighbours Laird Brown and Colleen Warner lived at mid-station (1,350m); and Sandy and Molly Boyd lived in the valley (650m). In the summer of 1988, the Whistler Village Gondola was installed, and the alpine caretaker position was terminated. The mid-station position remained for another winter, and the valley caretaker position until 1992.

Hippie style of smokin’ salmon

You may think that a fridge is only used for conventional things such as keeping cucumbers, Coca-Cola, and beer cool. However, there are many other uses for old refrigerators. In the museum, we have a fridge that serves as a chronological monument documenting Whistler life from the beginnings of our ski town to the famous destination resort it is today. Gordy Harder’s fridge truly is a tribute to the spirit of the early ski bum – and, of course, “stickermania” at its best.

Bruce Prentice and Bob Sanderson (r.) smoking and hanging fish. Whistler Museum, Benjamin collection, early 1970s

One more purpose of a fridge is – believe it or not – salmon smoking. In the early 1970s, this old fridge actually garnished the backyard of the Worlebury Lodge on Alta Lake Road, a property which is now owned by Roger McCarthy. Back then, using an old fridge was a common way of smoking a fish or meat, remembers long-term local and president of the Whistler Museum, John Hetherington.

Someone would get an old fridge from the dump, cut a hole in the side for the stovepipe leading from an airtight stove, and light a fire. An airtight was a cheap heater stove made of a sheet of metal, he recalls. Ask Bruce Prentice or Bob Sanderson. Maybe they will share their fridge construction plan for the white dragon with you. Enjoy!