The integral role Jane Burrows played in the founding and operations of the Whistler Question, Whistler’s first newspaper, came through clearly at the opening of the museum’s temporary exhibit in September 2017 featuring photographs from the Question. In the Question, as in so much else, Jane and Paul Burrows were equal partners.
Born Doris Jane Burrows in Kirkland lake, Ontario in 1941, Jane moved west to Vancouver in the 1960s after completing a degree in Marketing Research at Ryerson University and taking time to travel the world with a few friends. While living in the city Jane obtained her teaching degree from the University of British Columbia and, in 1968, met Paul at the Dev Pub.
Jane began her teaching career with the Howe Sound School District (today Sea-to-Sky District #48) soon after her marriage to Paul. After teaching for a time in the two-room school at Britannia Beach Jane transferred to Signal Hill Elementary in Pemberton where she taught primary grades. Commuting from Alta Lake, where Jane and Paul lived in their Alpine Meadows A-frame, and Pemberton in the early 1970s was not for the faint of heart. In a 2000 interview with Whistler Cable Paul recalled that stretch of Highway 99 as “nothing more than a glorified logging road.” A spot was decided upon by the Burrows as “the point of no return” and if conditions became questionable Jane would decide to turn back or forge ahead depending upon whether she had passed that point or not.
Alta Lake officially became the Resort Municipality of Whistler in 1975 and the next year brought great changes for both the Burrows and their growing community.
Following an unsuccessful run for Whistler’s first mayor on Paul’s part, the two sat down to decide on their next project. They came to the conclusion that Whistler was in need of both a bus company and a newspaper.
Without the funds to purchase the requisite vehicles, the Burrows decided upon the latter. The first edition of The Whistler Question was produced in their basement and published in April 1976. Jane was an important influence on the Question, both in what was covered and who was hired. When Glenda Bartosh (who would buy the paper in 1982) applied for a job as a reporter she had to pass two interviews, one with Paul at the Creekside office (by then the paper had moved out of the basement) and one with Jane at their home.
Five months after the Burrows became publishers Myrtle Philip School opened in September 1976. Jane transferred from Signal Hill to form part of the school’s original staff.
At Myrtle Philip Jane was not only a kindergarten but the kindergarten teacher in Whistler, a position which held a great influence over an entire generation of Whistler children. When the growth of Whistler’s population led to the need for a second kindergarten class there was great consternation that, for the first time at the school, students would start their schooling with a teacher who was not Mrs. Burrows.
Jane and Paul were also incredibly active in their community outside of the school and paper. Both were involved in the Alta lake Ratepayers Association before there was an RMOW, joined the Whistler Ice Stock Sliding Club, sang in the Whistler Singers, contributed to the Whistler Museum and Archives and sat on the Whistler Public Library’s first Board of Trustees. Despite these and many more commitments, the pair made time for extensive travels to almost every continent (as far as we know the Burrows did not got to Antarctica).
In 2000, now both retired, Jane and Paul moved to their dream home in Salmon Arm and quickly became involved in their new community. They continued to travel, even after Jane was diagnosed with Alzheimers in 2012, taking their 60th cruise in 2015. Jane passed away December 29, 2018.
This past Saturday (April 27) there was a Celebration of Life held for Jane at the Myrtle Philip Community School. This was an opportunity for everyone who felt her influence to remember an amazing woman who, whether teaching five-year-olds about Stone Soup, instructing Question employees on what to keep in their car for winter driving or helping shape the Whistler we know today, impacted so many people.