Tag Archives: Jean Tapley

Snow Way to Get Around

While we may not know how much snow Whistler will get each winter, one thing that can be relied upon is that snow makes travelling within the valley more interesting.  Historically, snow and ice greatly affected people’s mobility through the winter months.

While the snow could slow down the train (one year the railway snowplow reportedly got stuck in the snow near Pemberton for two weeks), the frozen lakes provided the early residents with another way to travel around the valley.

Myrtle Philip and Jean Tapley on their way to Tapley’s Farm over the snow. Philip Collection.

Bob and Florence Williamson moved to Alta Lake in 1930.  One year, Bob remembered, it snowed over two metres in just 48 hours at about -25°C.  According to him, “The snow was just like sugar.  When we got the roof shovelled off, the snow level was higher than the eaves and we had to shovel out the doors and windows.”  On occasion, the couple would skate to the end of Alta Lake, walk over to Green Lake, and skate over to visit with those living at the mill at Parkhurst.

By the late 1960s, when Trudy Alder arrived in the valley, the area had roads and automobiles weren’t such an uncommon sight.  In the winter, however, cars were still not an entirely reliable way to get around.  Trudy worked as a caretaker at the Tyrol Lodge on Alta Lake Road.  Because the road was not always cleared of snow, she would park the car at Alpine Village and walk home across Nita Lake.  To attend movie nights at the community hall, Trudy walked, often in the dark through deep snow (her first winter season at Alta Lake had 1.5 to 2.5 metres of snow in the valley) and accompanied by a pack of coyotes in the distance.

Ice skating across frozen Alta Lake was one way to get around the valley. Philip Collection.

For another group, the snow could be a bit of a burden.  Not too long after Whistler Mountain opened for skiing, Dorothy and Alex Bunbury purchased property almost a kilometre up the old Microwave Road (now known as Gondola Way) and built their ski cabin there.

The dirt road up to the cabin was used by BC Rail about once a week to access the microwave station.  In the winter, the Bunburys were fortunate if BC Rail’s trip had taken place on a Friday as that meant they got an easy walk up a packed-down road before their weekend of skiing.  If BC Rail hadn’t gone up recently, the skiers could be in for a long walk.

The development of Creekside and the surrounding areas as of 1970.   While there were roads, they weren’t alway plowed and some weren’t very drivable.  Whistler Mountain Collection.

On one memorable evening, the worst night Dorothy could remember, they arrived in Whistler to find 38 centimetres of powder with “an icy, breakable crust.”  Even snowshoes were no use on the icy surface.  Dorothy wrote, “There were four of us, all heavily burdened with packs, and we took turns breaking trait.  It took us about an hour and a half to walk into the cabin that night, and in the morning all awoke with bruised and painful shins.  That was one night when I would have gladly sold the whole mess for a train ride back to Vancouver.”

As we hope for more snow this season, consider your own favourite way of travelling through the cold, whether with skis, skates, snowshoes or very warm boots.

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Postcards of the Whistler Museum Archives – Pt.2

This week’s postcards have more of a direct link to Whistler’s history than the ones featured in last week’s post (read pt.1 here) – they represent a fraction of the correspondance sent between Whistlers’s best-known pioneer Myrtle Philip and her relatives. Both of the postcards shown were sent to Jean Tapley, Myrtle’s sister who lived in Seattle.

In this era prior to text messaging, Facebook and other forms of quick communication, the postcard was the fastest means of contact, something you would send when you couldn’t find the time to write a full letter.

Rainbow Lodge Postcard

This first postcard was meant to advertise all of the amenities at Alta Lake and Rainbow Lodge – it shows a view of Alta Lake with mountains in the background, the bridge to Rainbow Lodge, an interior shot of Rainbow Lodge, and swimmers enjoying the chilly waters of Alta Lake. Myrtle sent this postcard to her sister on July 13th, 1927 – nearly 85 years ago today!

On the back, written in Myrtle’s own cursive, is a message which reads “Dearest – How do you like the new style postcards? Dr & Mrs. Naismith are here – look fine – send love to you – Wish you were here now, but Sept will be a lovely holiday time. Dad is fine. Was very pleased with your letter. Best love Myrtle.”

Lost Lake Postcard

This second postcard shows Lost Lake, and was mailed to Jean by Rhi Philip, who was married to Alex Philip’s brother, John. Rhi, John and their two children were frequent visitors to Rainbow Lodge.

Rhi appears to have been in a rather bad mood the day she penned this postcard in 1929. The message on the back reads, “Dearie – Owe everyone (sic) of my sisters letters but couldn’t write this mail. Didn’t feel like it. (illegible) feeling queer & restless all over. Rotten weather cold & pouring. Coming up in the summer time next year. Just when does your holiday begin? Think I have rent my house but had to come down to 27.50 but building no garages of anything else so (illegible) as far ahead & if I get it rented this week the two months rent will help pay my $70.00 taxes – Bye dear hope your feeling better – Rhi.”

We hope you enjoyed this journey back in time! If you have kids, keep an eye on our blog and website for details on our Family Saturdays – on Saturday July 21st we will feature a postcard craft and a short presentation on Myrtle Philip, who was in fact Whistler’s first postmistress. Family Saturdays activities run from 2:30-4:30pm.