Tag Archives: housing

Moving House

Most people in Whistler are familiar with the process of moving house, including the packing, repacking, and unpacking.  Just about every person you meet has a story to share about moving to or within Whistler, but not many are able to tell you about the time they moved a house to Whistler.

Last week, however, we had someone do just that: Len Ritchie visited us at the museum to share his story of moving a 278 square metre (3,000 sq/ft) house from Garibaldi to White Gold in 1983.

Ritchie and his (not-yet-at-the-time) wife Patty first came to Whistler in 1975 and later moved to Whistler full-time, buying an empty lot in White Gold.  While driving Highway 99 in the fall of 1983, Len spotted a house on the side of the road with a sign proclaiming “For Sale $16,000 Delivered.”

Len and their dog pose next to the price of the house. Photo courtesy of Len Ritchie.

The unfinished house had originally been built at Garibaldi and the owner had decided to move the structure to a lot in Pinecrest.  Bob Moloughney of Squamish had been hired to move the house, but when the owner’s plans fell through Moloughney was left with the house.  He decided to sell it, including the cost of delivery in the price.

The house was sitting on the side of Highway 99, waiting to be moved. Photo courtesy of Len Ritchie.

Moving the house up the highway required some careful planning and could certainly disrupt traffic.  When Ritchie approached BC Hydro and BC Tel about dropping the lines during the move, he was told it would cost $16,000.  Instead, the decision was made to remove part of the roof from the house, bringing it down to a legal height to move under the lines, and move that piece separately.

The roof was reattached once the house reached its final resting place, and, according to Len, never leaked. Photo courtesy of Len Ritchie.

On the first day they got the house as far as Function Junction.  Ritchie recalled, “It was dark, and it was a little rainy, and we’re up on top with our poles to go under the lines.  So the logging truck, Valleau trucking, they were the driver, we had walkie-talkies, so he’d get up on the road and we’d get under a line and we’d go, ‘Hold it, hold it,’ and we’d push the line up, ‘OK, go ahead, go ahead,’ and that’s how we worked our way all of the way up the highway.”

The house waiting to cross the Fitzsimmons Creek Bridge into White Gold. Photo courtesy of Len Ritchie.

To get over the Fitzsimmons Creek Bridge, then the only access to White Gold, took more than four hours.  Lindsay Wilson, fire chief, left a truck in White Gold just in case a fire should occur while the house was occupying the bridge.  The house was jacked up using railway ties and the ends of the bridge railing were cut off, allowing the house to clear the bridge by mere centimetres.  After a while, White Gold residents came out to go to work and about their days, only to find that they couldn’t drive out.  Instead, Ritchie remembers, “If anybody needed to leave, I’d take their hand and bend down and crawl or crouch all the way.”  When the reached the other side, he had taxis waiting for them.

The house moved along the bridge just barely above the height of the railings. Photo courtesy of Len Ritchie.

The last stage of the move was up the hill to Ambassador Crescent.  After one perilous attempt at winching the house up the hill, Art Den Duyf kindly sent over a D6 Cat and a 988 loader to push and pull the house into place.  The top of the roof was then reattached and Ritchie, Patty and helpful friends took the next year and a half to fix the house up.

An excited group on the deck of the house, now on its lot and once again in one piece. Photo courtesy of Len Ritchie.

The house has since been sold a few times, but it is still standing.  In Ritchie’s opinion, the house that he first saw covered in tar paper, is now “a beautiful big house up there today,” and it has quite the story behind it.

Building Glacier Park

Earlier this month, Whistler Blackcomb (WB) began a rezoning process with the goal of constructing a new six-storey building with 60 units of employee housing to join the seven existing staff housing buildings on the Glacier Lane site.  Consisting of two-bedroom units, each about 40 square metres in size, this proposed housing will be very similar, if a bit newer than, the first four buildings originally built by Blackcomb Ski Enterprise and Canadian Pacific (CP) Hotels in 1988.

The first hint of the project came at the beginning of January 1988, when Blackcomb received permission to convert the administration offices of its old daylodge into temporary employee housing.  To assuage concerns from council that the housing might not remain temporary, Gary Raymond, Blackcomb’s vice-president of finance, mentioned that Blackcomb and CP Hotels, the owners of the then-under-construction Chateau Whistler Resort, would be bringing a joint proposal for permanent employee housing to council in the next few weeks.

References to the “Financial Wizard” in the Blackcomb newsletter usually included a drawing of said wizard. Blabcomb

The proposal was for four buildings, each with 48 two-bedroom units, to be built over two years.  When finished the buildings would house almost 400 people; at the time, Blackcomb had roughly 500 employees and the Chateau was expected to employ about 350.  Due to a severe shortage of housing, the plan changed, and all four buildings were to be constructed over the summer of 1988 in time for employees to arrive in October.

The Blackcomb/CP Hotels Glacier Lane project was not the only employee housing project underway.  That summer projects with the Whistler Valley Housing Society (WVHS) were also being constructed or proposed at Nordic Court and Eva Lake Road.

An architect’s drawing of the proposed housing. Look familiar? Blabcomb

All of these projects hit some snags over the summer, though the Glacier Lane project may have been the most visible.  The buildings were higher and more visible than expected and Letters to the Editor were published in The Whistler Question referring to the construction as a “massive box” that could be seen from any point in the valley north of the Village.  In July, Mayor Drew Meredith even called the visibility of the project “a worthwhile mistake,” while pointing out that the developers were trying to mitigate the visibility of the buildings through landscaping.

Before the buildings could officially open on September 19, 1988, they first had to be named.  A contest was announced in the Blabcomb newsletter and employees were invited to name both the development as a whole and the individual buildings.  The contest was won by David Small, who proposed to call the development Glacier Park, with each building named for a glacier: Horstman, Overlord, Spearhead and Decker.

The early blueprints for the building. Blabcomb

At the grand opening, Blackcomb president Hugh Smythe recalled his own years spent living in employee housing while working for Whistler Mountain, saying “I remember sleeping on the floor, on tables and in trailers,” including one trailer, known by many as “the ghetto.”  According to Smythe, the new units compared quite favourably to his own experiences, and certainly had a better view.

The first residents began moving in October 1.  They were reportedly a mix of Blackcomb employees, including employees of Alta Lake Foods who provided food services for the mountain, and CP Hotel construction workers.  Most of the CP Hotel employees would not move in until the Chateau Whistler Resort opened in late 1989.

By the end of November, the Blabcomb reported that all units had been filled, with people either already moved in or with rooms committed to incoming employees, and a waiting list had already been started.  They were also able to report that, partly due to his work managing the housing project, Gary Raymond had been awarded one of the Whistler Chamber of Commerce’s first “Business Person of the Year” awards, along with Lorne Borgal of Whistler Mountain.  According to the Blabcomb, the project had been a great success.

Finding A Place: A History of Housing in Whistler

Our newest temporary exhibit Finding A Place: A History of Housing in Whistler will be opening Friday, May 31!

Finding A Place takes a look at the different ways people have made a home in the valley over the past century, from constructing a fishing lodge to subdividing a neighbourhood and from squatting in the woods to the Whistler Housing Authority (and everything in between!).  The exhibit also features the photographs of Carin Smolinski’s Living the Dream, providing a glimpse of some unique living situations in Whistler’s present.

Doors open at 6:30 pm.  Cash bar & free admission.  The exhibit will run through July 31.

This Week In Photos: April 5

Depending on the year, the photos from each week of the Whistler Question Collection show a very different side of Whistler.  Some weeks are dominated by photos of skiing and resort events (like Labatt’s World Cup Freestyle this week in 1980) while others demonstrate a community similar to many other small towns (think an Easter egg hunt and the completion of a new playground).

1980

Scott Brooksbank shows fine form in the men’s ski ballet portion of Labatt’s World Cup Freestyle event.

Stephanie Sloan shows her ballet style on a socked-in Saturday competition.

Combined champion Hedy Garhammer thanks the crowd while runners-up Janice Reid and Lauralee Bowie stand by.

A competitor flips over the aerials portion of the event.

1981

Getting ready for a toast to the newlyweds! (Can anyone identify the newlyweds?)

New smiling face at the Whistler Post Office – Barbara Jennings sorts the mail.

Kristi King and Garth Leyshon head out from Whistler on their way to Squamish.

Man and dog pose at the Whistler Vale Hotel.

 Pat and Kay Carleton enjoy a toast from the goblets given to them at a surprise party on April 3 to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary.

The new snow on Blackcomb provides a pleasing backdrop to the Whistler Village plaza.

1982

The Walk-A-Thon from Mt. Currie to Vancouver in support of a Youth Centre passes through Whistler.

Hundreds of kids showed up for special treats courtesy of E. Bunny on Blackcomb Sunday. despite heavy snowfall.

Whistler Mountain Ski School instructors hand out certificates and prizes following an Easter race.

Yummy in the tummy! Alyssa Wilson, 3, enjoys Easter treats the bunny brought to the schoolyard Easter morning.

Not even a blizzard on Easter Sunday kept kids from using the new Adventures Playground, recently completed at a total cost of $3,624.11.

1983

A sure sign of spring – Connie Kutyn decks out Whistler Village in its finest banners designed by Suzanne Wilson and Penny Domries. Banners tell the story of Whistler’s theme “Summer Side of the Mountain”.

A brand new surrey with a fringe on top is the latest addition to Mountain Carriage Tour Co. Visitors may enjoy an old-fashioned ride through town.

Ears to you, said this creative skier – one of the many who paraded on the mountains in Easter finery, or funnery.

This strange aquatic being was pulled from the depths of Green Lake on Saturday, April 2. Mons Towing driver Denver Snider hooks up the stolen van that the RCMP frogman discovered. The van had been stolen from Burnaby, stripped and pushed into the lake.

Only place a man can get away from it all… Trevor Weakley, originally from Christchurch, New Zealand, took a three-day tour of Whistler with friends and unfurled the kiwi colours in the full Easter sun.

E. Bunny delighted hundreds of kids in the annual egg hunt at Myrtle Philip School.

Patricia Fennell turned up Sunday in her finest Easter bonnet.

1984

You know spring is definitely here when Tapley’s A’s start their annual tryouts.

With the Whistler Valley Housing Society’s 20-unit project at the gondola base near completion, potential renters had a chance Thursday and Friday to see what they’ll get. Another open house is set for this Saturday afternoon.

Whistler’s Gourmet Club met for yet another Epicurean celebration Saturday. Members of the five-year-old club were treated to a six-course (not to mention many rounds of hot saki) Japanese meal prepared by this month’s hosts Ted Nebbeling and Jan Holbery. The club tucks in together once a month, and has sampled the cuisine of just about every country on the globe. Left to right are: Ted Nebbeling, Judy Grant, Doug Schull, Laurie Vance, Jan Holberg, Lance Fletcher, Buffy and Nigel Woods, Drew Meredith, Judy Fletcher, Mike Vance, Jan Simpson, Peter Grand and Wendy Meredith.

Creative Solutions to Whistler Living: The People Who Lived in Walls

Living in Whistler has always come with unique challenges, whether its’s a lack of housing, money, employment or easily accessible transit (walking three days from Squamish with a packhorse at the beginning of the 20th century was not for the fainthearted).  Despite these challenges, however, thousands of people have chosen to call this valley home.

Though many stories of unorthodox living arrangements have become well known (think Toad Hall or Lot 4 in the mid-to-late ’90s), there is one story that surprisingly few people have heard: the people who lived in wall.  (Please note that the Whistler Museum neither condones nor encourages such practices as follow.)

Adapting accommodations to fit your own needs is common practice - the Jardine-Neiland family built additions to the original cabin of Ol' Mac.

Adapting accommodations to fit your own needs is common practice – the Jardine-Neiland family built additions to the original cabin of Ol’ Mac in the 1920s.

It happened in the early 1990s, in an unnamed Whistler hotel, in the four feet of space between the fifth and sixth guest floors.  A small service hatch in the stairwell meant to provide access to the plumbing and electrical wiring in the space instead provided two very determined young men access to a crawlspace-like room kept warm and cozy by the hot water pipes.

As the entry was located in a little-used firewall stairwell the staff at the hotel had no knowledge of their new residents.  The pair lived somewhat comfortable, if a little bent over, until a search for a water leak led maintenance workers to discover their living quarters.  This discovery explained some odd footage on a recently installed security camera that caught one of these unsuspected tenants stealing the cushions off of a couch in a hallway.

In the 1970s accommodations could be found in Whistler by building your own or taking over an abandoned cabin.

In the 1970s accommodations could be found in Whistler by building your own or taking over an abandoned cabin.

Unfortunately for the young men living in the wall, their identities were easily discovered from the Hard Rock Café pay stubs that had been left sitting in the open.  It was soon revealed that they had been making full use of hotel amenities; they slept on clean sheets taken from housekeeping carts, ate in the staff cafeteria where they were such a common sight that it had been assumed that they were hotel employees, and showered in the hotel health club where a monthly payment provided access to the pool and gym for far less than the cost of rent.

Needless to say, once discovered the two were quickly evicted from the premises and forced to find lodging elsewhere.