Tag Archives: Icon Gone

Which comes first, the Nudist or the Squat?

The kind of questions that arise when debating our community’s heritage are, well, unique. We held our annual celebration of Whistler’s history, Icon Gone, on Wednesday and the evening’s debate eventually boiled down to this: Which is more emblematic of our community’s cherished free spirit, a long-gone squat which sheltered hundreds of ski bums with a propensity for public nudity, or the timeless act of naked skiing itself. Seriously.

Maybe serious isn’t the best word to describe an event featuring hippie wigs, an ode to drinking, G.D. Maxwell singing (screaming?) “WHO LET THE DOGS OUT!?” and the anti-serious “Big Kev” Mikkelsen, but you get the point. In all, eight brave souls got in front of a packed crowd at Merlin’s to plead their case for a cherished icon from Whistler’s past. In the end, our town came out looking pretty darn good.

A packed Merlin's, an iconic Whistler watering hole itself, was the perfect venue for another Icon Gone throwdown.

A packed Merlin’s, an iconic Whistler watering hole itself, was the perfect venue for another Icon Gone throwdown.

A celebration of, or nostalgia for, Whistler’s free spirit was a binding theme through much of the night. Mo Douglas, who has done an amazing job MCing all 6 Icon Gone’s, warmed the crowd by roasting every competitor before they had a chance to get on stage.

G.D. Maxwell opened the ceremony with an ode to dogs, and the integral role they have played in fighting ski town solitude over the decades. Little known fact: a dog once ran for mayor of Whistler (and some in attendance last night evidently  wish Bob the Dog had won.) Max’s opening-round opponent, Emily Wood, narrowly took the bout with an ode to Whistler’s ultimate pioneering spirit, Myrtle Philip.

Emily Wood educates the crowd on how Myrtle Philip willed the community of Alta Lake into existence.

Emily Wood educates the crowd on how Myrtle Philip willed the community of Alta Lake into existence.

Up next Steve Andrews took the stage armed solely with his acoustic guitar and a nice little ditty about Dusty the Horse, everyone’s favourite taxidermied farm animal. Steve definitely had the best audience participation of the evening, as seemingly everyone was singing along with his Johnny Cash-inspired chorus. Despite the audience’s vote, defending champ Angie Nolan won over both judges (Museum prez John “Bushrat” Hetherington, and Whistler Question Editor Tanya Foubert) with her spirited defense of Whistler’s most famous squat, Toad Hall.

Steve Andrews won the crowd.

Steve Andrews won the crowd over by singing about a dead horse.

Mandy Rousseau used her generally quiet demeanour to totally floor the judge’s and audience with a hilarious profile of naked skiers. The Icon Gone neophyte managed to beat out event veteran and inaugural champion Stephen Vogler’s ode to drinking, despite the fact that virtually everyone in attendance, and virtually none were naked.

Know your market.

Know your market.

The final opening round match-up saw Kevin “Big Kev” Mikkelsen up against veteran scribe Michel Beaudry. Both had compellingly nostalgic performances: Kevin listed the powder-preserving advantages of the fast-disappearing fixed-grip chairlift, while Michel Beaudry celebrated the humility and free spirit of the under-appreciated Stefan Ples. Michel took the round, possibly due to his dominance in the facial hair department (no offense to Kev’s mutton chops).

Big Kev (at right) and Michel Beaudry's moustache (center background) simultaneously evoke memories of a quieter, simpler era.

Big Kev (at right) and Michel Beaudry’s moustache (center background) simultaneously evoke memories of a quieter, simpler era.

The subsequent rounds were a blur of debate, dispute, and a little debauchery, but in the end, Angie Nolan simply wanted the prize the most. In the second round she managed to explain how every other icon up for debate was fundamentally indebted to the spirit of Toad Hall, and in the final showdown against Mandy and Max (who was voted back in as a wildcard) sealed the deal by proclaiming :

As long as we remember to break some rules, Toad Hall will never be gone.

And that is how you win Icon Gone.

Angie reclaims the crown, the belt, and the glory.

Angie reclaims the crown, the belt, and the glory.

A HUGE thanks to all the competitors, our judges, Mo Douglas, our sponsors (Merlin’s, Araxi, Whistler Foto Source, Sushi Village, Purebread Bakery, and the BC Provincial Government) and everyone who made it out to the show. Is Icon Gone now a thing of the past, or will it continue to make history in the near future? Only time will tell.

Competition Bracket - final results

What is Whistler’s Greatest Icon?

What heights will this year's competitors go to?

WHAT HEIGHTS WILL THIS YEAR’S COMPETITORS GO TO?

Icon [AHY-kon] noun: A person, place or thing of great cultural significance.

Icon Gone [AHY-kon gon] event: A no-holds-barred critical-thinking cage match to determine Whistler‘s greatest icon.

Tailor-made for a town with as quirky and contested a history as Whistler, Icon Gone is a raucous community celebration that pits passionate, outspoken locals against each other in a rhetorical joust to determine Whistler’s greatest historical icons.

It’s all going down this Wednesday at Merlin’s, itself an iconic Whistler watering hole. An atmosphere (and the carpets too I guess) drenched in decades of epic apres sessions will provide the perfect setting for 8 impassioned Whistlerites to get on stage and debate on behalf of their chosen icon.

Just who are these Icon Goners?  Well, we’re pretty excited because we have a full  array of prominent, knowledgeable, and  charismatic long-time locals who are sure to out on a great show:

Michel Beaudry

Mandy Rousseau

Angie Nolan (defending champ)

Stephen Vogler (inaugural champ)

Steve Andrews

G.D. Maxwell

Emily Wood

Kevin “Big Kev” Mikkelsen

We’ve got actors, writers, and all sorts of other creative folk. Who or what their specific icons are we’ll leave as a surprise, but suffice to say there are some great choices, and a few tricks up their sleeves.

Once again, Mo Douglas will be keeping things rolling as our wonderful MC, and we’ve got Whistler Question editor Tanya Foubert, and Whistler Museum President John “Bushrat” Hetherington joining you, our audience, as the esteemed judging panel. It all adds up to one solid night of entertainment, and you’ll probably learn a thing or two as well!

Angie Nolan, with help from Cathie Coyle, waxes nostalgic about the beloved Boot Pub.Angie Nolan, with help from Cathie Coyle, waxes nostalgic about the beloved Boot Pub.

Icons—our shared experiences, cherished landmarks, and beloved neighbours—are the essence of our shared identity, the difference between a collection of people and a real community. So what are Whistler’s greatest icons? Is it Black Tusk? Opening day gondola line-ups? Your favourite local visionary or eccentric? Or is it some under-appreciated yet essential element of our social fabric? Come with an opinion, and come prepared to laugh, cheer, maybe even cry at one of the few events that can truly claim to be “history in the making.”

We’ll leave you with a clip from last year’s event, as Jamie Bond (Gaper Day) and Angie Nolan (The Boot Pub) faced for the evening’s final showdown.

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Wednesday, March 6th, at MERLIN’S BAR & GRILL

Advanced tickets: $10 at Whistler Museum (4333 Main Street, or call 604.932.2019)

Tickets at door: $15

Facebook Event Page

Icon Gone’s back!

We’re super excited to announce the return of Icon Gone, one of our biggest events that we like to describe as “the Battle for Whistler’s Soul!” For those who don’t know, Icon Gone pits passionate locals against each other in a head-to-head competition to determine Whistler’s greatest historical icon. Over the past five years this has produced tons of compelling, entertaining, informative presentations, and yes, even some controversy (for those who recall Andrew Mitchell’s questionable but ultimately effective defense of bikes).

Well, as all good things do, Icon Gone muse come to an end. This year will be the last Icon Gone, so we’ve opened up the field and all previous icons are back on the table, whether or not they were represented at past events.  We’ve got a great line up featuring such literary and performing heavyweights as Michel Beaudry, G.D. Maxwell, defending champion Angie Nolan, Stephen Vogler, and more. Mo Douglas returns as our fabulous M.C.

It’s all going down the evening of March 6th, this year at that iconic Whistler watering hole, Merlin’s.

To whet your appetite, here’s Jack Crompton’s opening round performance as Jeanie the Bear from last year’s event. Those who recall that the event took place during the last municipal council election will get the joke in Mo’s introduction of Jack.

Jack’s spirited performance was enough to advannce to the semi’s, where he went head-to-head with Jamie Bond in full Gaper Day mode. Here’s Jamie’s 2nd round rebuttal of Jack’s Bear performance:

Tickets ($10 in advance) are now for sale at the Museum. More details to come later this week. Hop to see you there!

The Real “G” in GLC

At this year’s Icon Gone we experimented with a new head-to-head elimination format to heighten the competitive drama. The new system also introduced an interesting strategic twist, as one could potentially be presenting three times if they advanced to the final round: Do you deliver your best material up front, or, conversely, do you save your best for last with no guarantee you’ll get a chance to use it?

By most accounts the formula was effective, though it was at times hard to accept the ruthless efficiency with which it discarded so many compelling would-be  pretenders to the Icon Gone throne.

One of the most unfortunate victims was Stephanie Sloan, who hoped to reveal the true story behind “the ‘G’ in GLC.” (Stephen Vogler won the inaugural Icon Gone with a conspiracy-theory-esque exposition arguing that the “G” stands for “gravity,” which it doesn’t.)

Stephanie Sloan entertains the crowd at Icon Gone.

Stephanie delivered a solid, informative first-round presentation about the life and times of one Giuseppe Garibaldi, the nineteenth century revolutionary  credited with the creation of the modern state of Italy. Beyond his trans-Italian military campaigns, Giuseppe’s adventures took him to such exotic locales as Russia, Uruguay, Nicaragua, and New York, among others, making him a more-than-worthy namesake for so many prominent features and organizations in a region renowned for its globetrotters.

Giuseppe Garibaldi, Whistler’s only icon to have never come anywhere near the place.

At last count, Garibaldi’s name is attached to a massive volcano, a stunning alpine lake, a world-class provincial park, a hotel, a (now-abandoned) town,  an Olympic Development corporation, the company that founded Whistler Mountain, the renowned apres spot that hosted this years’ Icon Gone, and countless other local businesses. Not bad for a man that never visited the B.C. coast!

And so, with her five minutes almost up, Stephanie dangled this historical conundrum as bait for the judges’ and audience’s support, concluding with:  “If you vote me back for the next round, I will tell you how Mount Garibaldi got its name since the Iconic Garibaldi never came to this part of the world, and of Whistler’s own battles to be promote peace and freedom.”

Alas, Stephanie narrowly lost to Hi Brooks, whose ode to loved ones lost to the mountains left more than a few teary-eyed audience members, and we never got to find out. I’ve had a bunch of people write or tell me how they wished to hear the rest of Stephanie’s story, so here it is:

In 1860, the British sea captain George H. Richards of the HMS Plumper was conducting a survey of the coastline from the Fraser River Delta to the Sunshine Coast. When he encountered the massive volcanic peak at the head of Howe Sound, Richards decided that it was a fitting monument to the celebrated Italian hero, whose army had defeated the Kingdom of Naples a few months earlier, essentially creating the modern state of Italy. Garibaldi was an especially popular figure in Britain, considered a champion of Liberal democracy.

It was common practice in that era of colonial exploration to name far-flung landforms after prominent public figures back in metropolitan Europe. On the same trip Richards named a bunch of other geographic features, such as the Britannia Range of mountains along the east shore of Howe Sound, with Hanover, Windsor, and Brunswick mountains each named after a European house of nobles.

When, acting upon the advice of local mountaineers, the BC government created Garibaldi Provincial Park in the 1920s, it was an obvious decision to name the park after the mountain which was best known and most representative of the area (although there were a few calls to change the names to better reflect lobal history).

Mount Garibaldi and Garibaldi Lake from Panorama Ridge, probably the most photographed viewpoint in Garibaldi Provincial Park for the last 80-plus years.

Decades later, when a group of Vancouver businessmen started to act upon their dream of bringing the Winter Olympics to British Columbia, it made sense for them to name their organization, the Garibaldi Olympic Development Association, after the park where they planned to hold the games. They even looked into hosting the events in the Diamond Head area on the flanks of Mount Garibaldi itself, but, as we know, they eventually chose the peak known as London Mountain on government charts (again, named by an early British surveyor) but referred to locally as Whistler Mountain.

The Garibaldi Lift Company followed soon after, as GODA’s sister organization dedicated to the development of ski facilities at Whistler, and the current bar/lounge of the same name is an homage to that bygone era.

An early brochure for the upcoming development of skiing facilities on Whistler Mountain.

Beyond Giuseppe Garibaldi’s spirit of adventure, Stephanie drew a second parallel between the prolific place-name muse and our own history. When Whistler finally won the Olympic bid in 1998–a bid supported by a municipal council that Stephanie was proud to be a part of–it was seen by many as the culmination of a lifetime’s worth of efforts, akin to Garibaldi’s ultimate success 138 years earlier and half a world away.

Just as Garibaldi fought several Wars for Freedom during his lifetime, Stephanie planned on celebrating Whistler’s multiple bids to host the Winter Olympics, a movement which she describes as dedicated to ‘building a peaceful and better world’ through sport. As Stephanie’s presentation on this great, largely unknown icon would have concluded: “Garibaldi would be amazed to see all of the rights and freedoms we enjoy today.”

Icon Gone: blow-by-blow

After weeks of steady preparations by Museum staff and intense training by the competitors, this past Sunday’s Icon Gone confirmed that Whistler’s greatest historical icon is none other than the beloved Boot Pub. Angie Nolan, assisted by Cathie Coyle, took home the glory after defending the Boot’s honour against Jamie Bond and Gaper Day, in an epic final showdown between an “Icon Gone” and an upstart icon-in-the-making.

Angie showing off her Icon Gone Championship belt while Jessica “Pika” Turner dons the crown (Angie felt the honours should be shared since Rabbit and the Boot Pub were inseparable in their day). A well-dressed Cathie Coyle looks on. (Belt designed “with love and angst” by the Whistler Arts Council’s Andrea Mueller)

As promised, the competition was fierce. The new head-to-head format proved ruthlessly efficient, perhaps no more so than during the final first-round match-up when odds-on favourite Jessica “Pika” Turner’s heartwarming presentation about her father John “Rabbit” Hare was defeated by the eventual champions. The audience called for a tie, but Stephen Vogler and Jennifer Miller, who as judges were forced to pick just one, were swayed by Angie and Cathie’s theatrics.

Icon Gone ensures that community pillars like “the locals’ living room” are gone but not forgotten.

The evening’s presentations were consistently compelling, but of widely divergent styles. Few dry eyes remained after Chris Quinlan’s touching tribute to late restauranteur Joel Thibeault or Hi Brooks’ case for an on-mountain memorial to fallen mountaineers, while Jamie Bond’s elaborate Gaper Day schtick and Jackson Crompton’s Broadway-style ode to Jeanie the Bear had the crowd crying with laughter (as did Jamie’s wry remark that Jack’s “bear” costume was actually a gorilla suit better-suited to Gaper Day during their semi-final showdown).

Unable to withstand Jamie’s punishing verbal blows in the semis, Jackson/Jeanie secured the final podium spot with a little Aerosmith and aerobatics.

Kevin Damaskie delivered a deadpan recollection of The Whistler Answer that reinforced Whistler’s proud tradition of satire, while realtor and freestyle-ski queen Stephanie Sloan’s biography of Guiseppe Garibaldi was highly informative, but her narrow first-round elimination denied us the chance to learn of Whistler’s own “three wars.” Here are the final results:

Keeping the event running smoothly and the audience in stitches, Maureen Douglas returned to host the event for the fifth straight year. No one’s ego was safe from her razor-sharp wit. The GLC, a Whistler icon in its own right but a newcomer to the Icon Gone scene, proved the perfect venue for the informal community celebration.

Big thanks to everyone who came out, as well as the Province of BC, the GLC, Whistler Foto Source, Araxi, and Sushi Village for supporting what may have been the best Icon Gone yet. Tons of well-deserved credit goes to all of our competitors, judges, and MC for taking time out of their busy lives to take part in the event simply for the fun of it all (and perhaps some bragging rights). That’s what Icon Gone is all about!

Jamie wins over the evening’s MC and judges with his Gaper Day gospel.

Icon Gone: The Battle for Whistler’s Soul!

It’s no secret. You hear it all the time in other B.C. ski towns, but it’s a common criticism around these parts too. Whistler has no soul.

Whether or not you agree, Whistler has clearly had a relatively short, though turbulent history. As a result you will find widely varying opinions on topics such as our shared heritage, our sense of community, our cultural icons. Such concerns lie at the heart of the Whistler Museum’s annual community celebration, Icon Gone, which returns for round five this Sunday at the GLC.

The 2008 competitors.

The format is simple: eight prominent Whistlerites get up on stage to make the case for a Whistler “Icon” about which they are especially passionate. Using a competitive format, with liberal helpings of feisty smack-talk and audience participation, a champion is crowned.

The event’s initial inspiration came in 2007 following the loss of a few Whistler icons, most notably our beloved Boot Pub. Incidentally, the Boot’s iconic status will be defended at this year’s Icon Gone by local performing arts Renaissance woman Angie Nolan, with assistance from Village Host head honcho Cathie Coyle.

“The Locals’ Living Room”

We all miss the boot, but such reminiscence begs the question, are Whistler’s icons all gone? Has Whistler sold out? Or, to paraphrase Mark Twain, have rumours of Whistler’s demise been greatly exaggerated?

No matter your opinion, this year’s Icon Gone line-up has something for you.

There will be something for you cynics, for whom reveling in the nostalgia of Whistler’s “Golden Era” (however defined) serves as a cathartic rejection of this would-be wonderland that has apparently lost its way.

If you value the role that sharing and preserving stories play in building our sense of community, then Hi Brooks’ heartfelt dedication to the loved one’s we have all lost to the mountains is sure to pull at your heartstrings.

Needing an “Iconic” cover for their 5th anniversary issue, Mountain Life Mag designed this cool photo collage of Rabbit.

If you feel that beyond the mountains, the snow, the facilities, and the hype, it’s the characters that make this place special, then you can’t miss Jessica “Pika” Turner tribute to her father “Rabbit” Whistler’s quintessential ski bum, or self-described “political hack” Jackson Crompton’s musical homage to Jeanie the Bear.

Cherish Whistler’s contrarian nature? Kevin Damaskie returns on behalf of the iconoclastic Whistler Answer.

Remember Stephen Vogler’s 2007 Icon Gone-winning story about the “secret” meaning of the “G” in GLC? (hint: it was gravity) Well realtor-extraordinaire Stephanie Sloan is here to set the record straight with the real meaning, and the story is just as cool.

If you’re looking for a surprise, Chris Quinlan has chosen to play his hand close to his chest. His Icon remains top secret.

If you need a break from all the bickering in local newspapers, facebook pages, and coffee shops for an evening, and simply want to have a laugh at the expense of our ridiculous community (it is after all, important to stop for a laugh when things get too serious), then Jamie Bond has your fix.

Did you know that Jamie’s Icon, Gaper Day–everyone’s favourite year-end ski circus–has been proving that Whistler’s free spirit is alive and well for fifteen years? Here’s some proof:

Or if you’re simply looking to be reminded of what makes this town great, you’ll get eight compelling examples presented by our passionate, outspoken competitors.

Icons—our shared experiences, cherished landmarks, and beloved neighbours—are the essence of our identity, the difference between a collection of people and a real community. So what are Whistler’s greatest icons? Do we even have any left? Come with an opinion, and come prepared to laugh, cheer, maybe even cry at one of the few events that can truly claim to be “history in the making.”

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Details:

  • When: Sunday, November 6th, 7pm-10pm, doors at 6:30pm
  • Where: GLC
  • Who: 19+
  • Cost: $10 advance purchase from the Whistler Museum/$15 at the door (all ticket proceeds go directly to supporting the Whistler Museum & Archives Society)

Tickets can be purchased in person at the Whistler Museum (4333 Main Street) or by calling 604-932-2019.

Brought to you by the generous support of the Province of B.C., The Garibaldi Lifts Company, Whistler Foto Source, Araxi, and Sushi Village.