Tag Archives: Highway 99

Whistler Before the Sea-to-Sky

Whistler’s steep, mountainous terrain is what makes it so attractive as a tourist destination. It’s perfect for skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, and hiking. However, those same rocky hills have been one of it’s greatest challenges, providing a frustrating barrier for tourists and residents alike.  For the first non-indigenous settlers, the area was only accessible by a narrow path known as the Pemberton Trail, constructed in 1877. This trail, which ran from Burrard Inlet, around the far side of Alta Lake, and up to Lillooet, was intended to provide access to the Gold Rush.

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The Pemberton Trail would have ran around Alta Lake’s far shores. Photo: Philip Collection

Unfortunately, by the time the trail was constructed the rush was basically over. An attempt was made to take cattle down it, but most of them died, due to the lack of grazing and the difficult terrain. With no other use for it, the Pemberton Trail functioned as an occasional route for travelers. The trail took three days, by steamship and by foot, assisted by a packhorse. In those days, horses were an important asset. Travelers carried supplies on packhorses, as did Myrtle and Alex Philip, founders of the area’s first resort. They also used a series of workhorses to construct Rainbow Lodge- to simplify things, all the horses were called “Bob”.

The train tracks also provided a ready-made sidewalk for Alta Lake and Parkhurst residents. Photo: Philip Collection

Many of the area’s inhabitants hoped the construction of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway would make access easier. The PGE had multiple false starts- a company was incorporated to build it in 1891, and by 1909 twelve miles of track were completed, when they ran short of funds and had to stop.

By the time construction began in earnest in 1912 the railway had acquired a number of despairing nicknames, among them  “Province’s Great Expense”, “Past God’s Endurance”, and “Prince George Eventually”.  Finally, in 1914, the railway was up and running from Squamish to Quesnel, and soon resorts, logging, and other industries began to spring up in the area. Transit was still anything but easy. The journey involved four to six hours on steamship from Vancouver to Squamish, and a further three to four hours to Alta Lake, as the train only went from 25 to 40 km/h and often had to stop to refuel. The train ride was upgraded through the years, including the addition of open-topped observation cars and a dinner service. Though the journey was long, it wasn’t unpleasant- travelers often enjoyed ice cream, or beer if they were older, as they waited in Squamish. There were also stops for afternoon tea at Rainbow Lodge, costing 35 cents.

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The creation of the PGE made it easy to travel in style. Photo; Philip Collection

Despite these improvements, the journey was still a long one. In the sixties, the Garibaldi Lift Company, hoping to set up skiing in the area, realized that something more convenient would be necessary in order to draw in tourists. A “road” was built from Whistler to Squamish in 1962, although it was. Initially the track was mostly fist-sized rocks and dirt, and driving across streams was sometimes required. 

The trail was plowed infrequently, making winter journeys treacherous. Tire punctures were common, and the first trips from Vancouver took five hours. Thankfully, the road was paved in 1966, and improvement has continued up to the present. The most recent upgrades were for the 2010 Olympics, cutting the travel time down to the two hours we enjoy today.  Although travel time has ranged from multiple days to a matter of hours, people have always felt Whistler was worth the trip.

Highway 99, shortly after it’s creation- still not paved! Photo: Gord Leidal

 

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This Week In Photos: July 12

This week seems to be full of races!  With the Garibaldi Cup, Molson’s Whistler Bike Race and the beginnings of the Whistler Half Marathon all making appearances, July would seem to have always been a very active month in Whistler.

1979

Paul Tattamanti and Eugene Rochfort at the Stage 1 turnaround at Whistler in the rain on Saturday. By the end of the weekend, Rochfort was celebrating as part of the Anglia-Norco team that won the Garibaldi Cup.

Mayor Pat Carleton and Alderman Al Raine with Minister of Municipal Affairs Bill Vander Zalm and his wife Lillian.

The Blackcomb view from the 4,000 ft. level looking down one of the runs towards the school and the Town Centre.

Vic Hurford’s crew at work on the Blackcomb Road.

1980

New location for Town Hall puts municipal buildings adjacent to the Public Safety Building (PSB) on the north side. Upstairs meeting room in the PSB will be used for Council Chambers.

Blackcomb’s mountain top restaurant takes shape before a shrinking backdrop of peaks and glaciers.

The wedding hall in Whistler set with finery ready for a post-nuptial feast.

Betty Vogler slams a service over to her opponent during the first women’s open tennis tournament on Sunday.

Dale Arsenault completing the first hang-glide journey from the top of Whistler to the base facilities near Highway 99.

1981

Cyclists climb as part of Molson’s Whistler Bike Race.

The $300,000, three-room addition to Myrtle Philip School begins to take shape.

Betty Vogler, winner of the women’s singles.

Birthday boys Murray Coates (left) and Doug Schull cut their giant cake.

Peter Andrew, Willy Schaeffler, Nelson Bennett, Bob Bartley, Bill McCance, Lorne O’Connor, Boyd Stuwe and John Hanna discuss the new downhill course plan.

1982

Delta Mountain Inn’s General Manager John Pope surveys the main lobby of the hotel as workmen add finishing touches.

The guest rooms at Mountain Inn feature luxurious appointments, including original artwork. This one was decorated in tones of royal blue with beige and rose bright lights.

Molson’s Whistler Bike Race passes through the Whistler Village.

Phil Anderson of West Point Cycles could have stolen the show in the Celebrity Race with this two-star wheelie. Celebrities, including Whistler’s Mayor Pat Carleton, tested their skills on similar race vehicles during the Sunday afternoon race.

In honour of the first annual ‘sailpast’ of the newly formed ‘Whistler Yacht Club’. Commodore Jan Holberg takes the salute as the motley array of boats passes the reviewing stand on July 12.

With the families and godparents gathered together, Rev. Ed Wallace recites the baptism service to the Roberts family (left) and the MacKenzies on the occasion of the christening of their children on July 10.

Under a Rest lifted their voices in perfect harmony to give Whistlerites a taste of a capella singing on Friday.

1984

Whistler T.V. Society members Floyd Eclair, Richard Heine and Albert Bryjack went up to adjust the society’s channel 6 antenna atop Sproat Mountain last Sunday.

Whistler’s Bottlemaster Harry Carman with just some of the new-fangled bottle types that have flooded the market.

Ready to go! Finishing in a time of just over 1:12, Alan Carr won the second annual Whistler Half Marathon last Sunday, beating out a crowd of more than 200 other runners. Carr says that the course was as hilly as he’d ever seen, adding that he trains only about four or five days a week, one half hour a day. Neil Waken placed second in the 13.1 km race.

Stew Muir gets a shot of diesel from Art Den Duyf’s tank at Mons.

Someone is chopping down trees on Ruth Buzzard’s property. Buzzard recently received permission to build a campground on a 15.3 ha (38 acre) site between White Gold and Mons. But despite no trespassing signs and notices asking that trees not be cut, at least a dozen trees have disappeared. Now a large area of the future campground is almost bare.

Whistler landscaper Leigh Finck donated time, plants and energy over the weekend to spruce up the Chamber of Commerce Information Centre at the gondola.

Driving the Sea to Sky (when it was mostly dirt)

If you’ve ever taken a look at the Whistler Museum’s YouTube channel you might have seen a short film from the Petersen Film Collection that features the drive to Whistler in 1958.  The footage makes it clear that the drive was an interesting one, full of steep hills, narrow roads and bumpy track.  At one point the car obviously overheated, a problem solved with the help of a nearby river.

The footage from the Petersens is only one account of coming to Whistler by car when the area was still known as Alta Lake.  Another well-known figure in Whistler, Don MacLaurin, also made the journey up the “highway” in 1958.

At the time Don was working in the forest service and was part of a cruising crew staying in Pemberton (cruising crews measure volume and quality of timber before it is harvested).  In a 2007 with John Hammons and Karen Overgaard, Don shared photos of his trip that are now part of the Whistler Museum archives.  As Don recalled, it took “two crews, two land rovers, winches, prayers and eight hours to go from Squamish to Pemberton.”

The road through the Cheakamus Canyon. MacLaurin Collection.

One shows a portion of the original road through the Cheakamus Canyon.  When asked to describe the drive, Don chose the word “precarious.”  The one-way road had a cliff on one side and, according to Don, “logs cabled through the road into the cliff… trying to hold the road in.”  Another photo shows a cable running back to a land rover.  It was a good thing the crews had two, as one would frequently be used to pull the other out when stuck.

A land rover is pulled up the road by another land rover – it’s handy to have two. MacLaurin Collection.

The road through what is now the Tapley’s Farm neighbourhood (and at the time would have been around the actual Tapley’s Farm) was “very, very wet and very soft and you were lucky to get through that as well.”  Once past Alta Lake the crews still had to get past what they called “suicide hill” which was located “under the power lines on the railroad side of Green Lake when you made the descent back down to the Green River.”  With a “so-called road” and “baseball-sized boulders” it’s no wonder Don described that section as “very, very tricky.”  Despite these challenges, the crews did eventually make it to Pemberton.

The “roads” in Whistler. MacLaurin Collection.

This was not the first time Don had come through the Whistler valley.  In 1951 he travelled through on the PGE on his way from Quesnel to Vancouver.  By 1961, when he returned with Isobel and a couple of neighbours, there was still no dependable road, and certainly not one that could sensibly be used in the winter, so again they came by rail.

Going through the Cheakamus Canyon on the PGE. It still has quite the drop. MacLaurin Collection.

By 1964 visitors to Whistler could come along a gravel road called Highway 99.  Two years later Highway 99 was paved from Squamish to Mons Station and to Pemberton in 1969.  With changes made over the decades and work done prior to the 2010 Olympics, the road Don, the Petersens and others travelled in 1958 is almost unrecognizable in the road we travel today.

This Week in Photos: May 17

1978

The sign says “Turn here Denny”, but who is Denny and where are they going?

A demonstration of the Whistler Volunteer Fire Department’s equipment on the lake.

Gothic arches are getting harder to find in Whistler but in 1978 this one was still standing proudly.

A new council was sworn in for the day.

The staff at Myrtle Philip School. We recognize Jane Burrows and Sandra Epplett, but can anyone help with the rest of the names?

1980

Coral Robinson gets the last of the Roundhouse sunshine on closing day Whistler Mountain May 11.

A lone fireman hoses down a burning mountain of garbage as a nearby tanker truck refills the porta tank.

Lyall Featherstonebaugh slices, slams and pivots through a variety of wave types in the spring-swollen Cheakamus River on Sunday.

1981

The old Muni Hall building gets ready to move away from Blackcomb Way.

Garry Watson presents Doug Sutcliffe with a print of Whistler Village at the Founder Dinner.

Whistler’s founders? Or are they confusing Whistler with Disneyland?

A sunny game of volleyball outside the Highland Lodge.

Whistler’s version of a biker gang – not the most intimidating.

The Muni Hall building in its new location near Function Junction.

1982

Spring clean-up underway in the village included the removal of damaged beams from the Sports and Convention Centre roof. The huge gulls will be used by the municipality for picnic tables, benches and pedestrian footbridges along the trail system.

Const. Sowden talks to young bikers about safety.

View from the Top. Ever wonder what the view is like from the top of a 70 ft. fire truck ladder? It goes something like this, only try and imagine a bit of a sway while you’re standing there. Whistler firemen were taking part in a two-day seminar when they had this equipment out.

Roll me over in the clover… said this little Honda in the middle of Myrtle Philip school field. And so some of the crew repairing the baseball diamond did just that (roll it over, that is) to inspect the underside of the poor thing. Sure beats putting it on a hydraulic lift.

Salad Days! Hungry staff survey the new salad bar at the Creekhouse Restaurant.

1983

Clamouring for the start of Whistler Children’s Festival, this bunch of artists whomped up posters to advertise the event to be held June 18 and 19. Clockwise from the summit: Harley Paul, Melanie Busdon, Marika Richoz, Samantha O’Keefe, Charlene Freeman, Angus Maxwell. Jason Demidoff and Iain Young say they can all hang in until then.

These two answered this week’s question: Dave Cipp, Bartender, White Gold and Karen Playfair, Grocery Store employee, Alpine Meadows.

Road crews were hard at work widening the alignment of Highway 99 west of Green Lake May 13. In three or four years the road to Pemberton should be an easier one to travel.

Following Saturday’s annual general meeting, Jeff Wuoller (left) will sit as the new WRA director-at-large for the coming year, while Jacques Omnes (right) will assume the position of accommodations director.

1984

Grade 5 students from Myrtle Philip School, named in honour of Whistler’s pioneer in 1976, gathered around Mrs. Philip at her home on the shores of Alta Lake.

Leaping horses, Batman! It’s Bob Warner getting warmed up with his trusty steed for another season of trailriding at Whistler which starts this Thursday. This year Layton Bryson is running his operation from new stables at Mons.

This Week In Photos: April 12

The photos we share through This Week In Photos are only a very small part of the Whistler Question Collection.  The full collection can be viewed online here.  If you see a photo you love, photos from our collections can be purchased, either online or by contacting our Collections Manager John Alexander, and certain sizes can even be printed for you at the museum!

1980

A bird’s eye view of Creekside.

And a fly-over view of the Whistler Village, or what there is of it so far.

Somebody was spending a lot of time in a helicopter this week – here they flew over Cheakamus Lake amid the mountains of Garibaldi Provincial Park.

BC Tel and BCR towers on the west bluff of the Black Tusk.

WORM’S EYE VIEW of the new drugstore and office building in the town centre. This building should be one of the first to be finished this summer.

Question Editor’s Assistant BJ (Brad) Cooper.

1981

Nancy Greene-Raine takes to the polls April 11 with help from Pat McMillan.

Joe Cannon, with his personality-plus, gave the Question this comment on life during his April 10 show at the Brass Rail. His flexible voice worked its way masterfully around tunes from Bob Dylan to Gordon Lightfoot to Elvis the Pelvis. Cannon has quite a remarkable way with audiences, not to mention photographers.

The Municipal Hall on a snowy, windy day.

Mrs Turner’s class thanks Mr Strathers after their field trip to the drugstore.

A class also took a trip to visit the local RCMP detachment.

1982

Michell Brown and Doug Smith hold up the Price Waterhouse Trophy, which they won in junior skiing competition at Blackcomb Mountain on Sunday.

Some Whistler residents could do with a few lessons in tidiness and cooperation. This scene at the Mons garbage compactor tells a story.

The latest development in the Cheakamus Canyon project is the diversion which carries vehicles through the rock cut rather than around one of the most dangerous corners on Highway 99.

The Mountainside Inn has come a long way from the pouring of its foundations,

A friendly game of charades is played out in someone’s living room.

1983

A gift of two mountains was presented to Washington Governor John Spellman (right) by Mayor Mark Angus (second from right) during his tour of Whistler last week. Washington hopes to develop its Early Winters Resort. Governor Spellman was accompanied by Senator Alan Bluechel (left), Mrs Jeanne Erlichmann Bluechel and Mrs Irene Spellman.

Mountain Square buildings in various stages of construction. Some hotels are missing, giving a clear view through to Sundial Crescent.

First place winners in the Mouton Cadet Spring Festival held April 9, 10, 11 on Whistler Mountain. (l to r) Dave Murray, Nancy Smith, Jim Parsons, Toby Shale. Back row Xavier deEizaguirre of Mountain Rothschild and Werner Schonberger, president of Featherstone & Co.

An innovative storage system for the Mouton Cadet atop the mountain.

This Week in Photos: February 1

All of the photos used for This Week in Photos (as well as many more) can be found in the Whistler Question Collection here.

1979

Just one of the winter safety signs visible along Highway 99.

RCMP and Mountain Hostesses working at the “Ski Watch” programme during Tuesday’s snowstorm. The sign reads: THIS SKI AREA IS NOW PROTECTED BY ANTI-SKI THEFT CRIME PREVENTION PROGRAM Participants in this program have all ski equipment identified, marked and registered with the authorities. For information on how to participate in this program, contact manager of this ski area.

The Whistler Municipal broomball team exhibits the fine form that won it the Winterfest Broomball Trophy on Sunday.

Elmer Hellevang plays the “pipes” as he leads the parade from the haggis at the Burns Night celebrations.

The Spring is Sprung (in January) – skiers sunning themselves on Thursday beside the Gondola Barn.

1980

The Question didn’t just cover Whistler – here they are on the scene at Big White.

Photographer Chris Speedie tries to fix a frozen camera.

A ski-out to the parking lot, today underneath Blueshore Financial and the Village Stroll.

1981

Ron Andrews skies the powder on January 28.

The fresh produce selection at the Whistler Grocery Store shortly after it was put out on display last week. Both the grocery store and Tapley’s Pub recently opened their doors.

Tapley’s Pub during its first week of operations.

Community Club members dig in to the numerous dishes at the Burns Night Pot Luck Dinner.

1982

The official opening of the Village Chair. In 1988 the Village Chair was replaced with a 10 person gondola.

The brass plaque commemorating the opening of the North Side lifts will be displayed at the base of the Village Chair.

John Lavin and Gary Koliger know what they like – cold beer and good music. Lavin and Koliger were playing at the Creek House but will be sitting in with Doc Fingers at the Brass Rail for the rest of the week.

An Alta Vista residence under a heavy blanket of snow.

Al Raine receives the ‘Freeman of Whistler’ scroll from Pat Carleton.

Four-year-old Justin Adams will be trying to beat the municipal sign bylaw by keeping on the move. Justin says he’ll use his earnings to buy a toboggan.

Roland Kentel, John Reynolds and Jeff Fisher toast Tapley’s first anniversary with glasses of bubbly.

1983

Like a bridge over troubled waters the Culliton Creek span begins to edge its way towards the south bank. Scheduled for completion this spring, the bridge will take a big kink out of Highway 99 when it is finished.

A competitor in the women’s 7.5 km cross-country race in the inter-collegiate competition held at Whistler January 28, 29 and 30.

CKVU talk show host Laurier LaPierre rolled into Whistler Friday, January 28 with his TV crew to compile an updated report on the crown corporation takeover at Whistler. At Beau’s Restaurant, LaPierre interviewed Roy Ferris, Mike Widger, Geoff Power and Glenda Bartosh for their opinions on Whistler and it’s future. The segment will be aired on the Vancouver Show Friday, February 4.

Brian Moran, Ken Till, Bob Elliott and John Grills outside the soon-to-be-opened Whistler Keg.

1985

Fans turned out to PWA’s Pro Tour race Saturday and Sunday on Blackcomb to see Sean Murphy win his first race on the circuit.

Some fans even made their own banjo music at the race.

Education Minister Jack Heinrich explains a funding formula to his audience at Howe Sound School District offices in Squamish Monday night. They suggested he go easy on the chalk – there isn’t much money for that sort of thing, apparently.

Helicopters were used to airlift in tons of cement to re-stabilize Tower 12 after Thursday’s malfunction.

This Week in Photos: January 25

1979

New signs recently put up in the area of the new Whistler Village by the Whistler Village Land Company.

Powder snow and sunshine – the way it was at Whistler several times during the past week.

1980

Work continues on the town centre buildings despite the snow and cold temperatures.

The new ski shop located in the Roundhouse addition at the top of Whistler.

All that remained of the BC Hydro Ski Club cabin at 7:30 on Saturday morning. Not only was the large cabin reduced to a heap of burning rubble, but the trees in the area caught fire also. Lack of access prevented the Whistler Fire trucks from getting close to the fire.

A group of happy skiers zips down one of the new Blackcomb runs. (Blackcomb did not officially open until the beginning of Winter 1980/81.)

1981

Bob Ainsworth, Whistler Mountain area manager (left), and Peter Alder, Whistler Mountain Vice-President (right), celebrate the first new snow at base level in over a month with the photographer as a target for some hefty snowballs.

Two of many skiers that made use of BCR (BC Rail) passenger service last week.

Volunteers transport federal mail after BCR dropped it at Whistler Station.

An aerial view of the winding Highway 99.

1982

Dogs have been sprouting up all over the place – including this planter at Tapley’s.

Get Lucky! Take a chance like Vicki Larson-Rodgers and Susan Gestrin are! Get your Lot-tery ticket from Rita Knudson who will be selling them in front of the Grocery Store Fridays and Saturdays 2-6 pm and Sundays 1-4 pm. All proceeds go to the Whistler Health Care Society – and you might win a $100,000 lot in Whistler Cay Heights.

Looking as though he is kneeling on his skis, a racer heads through a gate during the recent telemark dual slalom on Blackcomb. For every gate that the racers pass through when not in the telemark position, they are assessed a penalty point.

Jan Holmberg and Ted Nebbeling keep the dough moving at the new Chef & Baker.

1983

A podium finish at the Fleischmann Cup held on Whistler Mountain.

Sue Worden of Body Works puts a group of Corporate Cup die-hards through the paces in Village Square Saturday.

Ah, for the delectable treat of glaced salmon, especially when it’s been served up through two hours of hard work by the Envirocon team during Saturday’s Corporate Cup. This jaunty fellow was the first-place finisher out of 27 entries in the ice sculpture contest.

Here’s a race we can get behind! Inner tube pullers are put to the test in another fun contest – Sliding Inflation.

Does anyone remember the rules for this race? If so, can they please explain?

A more easily recognized competition – a game of volleyball in the Myrtle Philip School gym.

1985

First you pick it up… “Now how do I put this thing on?” wonders five-year-old Troy Hansen-Wight of Vancouver. Young Troy was seen Sunday at Whistler Mountain’s Ski Scamps program trying to figure out just how to fit on a racing helmet – it’s not easy.

Construction continues on the Conference Centre in Whistler Village.

Belly up to the bar, for 2400 shooters at The Longhorn’s Silverstreak party Saturday, compliments of the one and only Silverstreak himself. The lively host picked up the tab, while Longhorn bartenders Delmar Page (left) and Gerry Heiter poured the honours.

Staff at Pemberton Secondary played against the Senior Girls team last Friday and the lunch hour game ended in a 12-12 tie. School board officials expect to replace the gym floor sometime this summer at an estimated cost of between $30,000 and $40,000.