Tag Archives: Mo Douglas

Best Laid Plans…

On Thursday, February 15, the museum was thrilled to welcome John Rae, Mo Douglas and Kristen Robinson (KR) as our speakers for Behind the Games: Creating the 2010 Olympic Experience.

The three began the evening with a look at the years of planning, partnerships and collaborations that went into creating not only the Olympic Bid but also the Games themselves.  Hosting the Olympics is a huge undertaking and, like anything you plan for, it seems some of the best stories are the ones that you don’t expect.

KR, Mo Douglas and John Rae at February’s Speaker Series.

From the volunteer staying in Birken who was determined to come work the Olympics despite a recent kidney transplant to the absurdity of asking the RCMP to please pull over and ticket speeding VANOC cars who were enjoying being the only ones on the road to knocking on the doors of the National Japanese Olympic Committee to borrow mittens for a medal ceremony, the stories of the three speakers demonstrated that some things cannot be planned for.

KR was the festival director for Whistler Live. The Whistler Live team had the task of planning, creating and broadcasting programming for 8 to 15 hours every day of the Olympics in six different venues, all controlled from one studio.  This included live performances, interviews, street entertainment, photography, films and, of course, the Olympic sports.  According the John Rae and KR, scheduling the programming began with the sports which included trying to find a way to show all Sea to Sky athletes.  Other content was slotted in around the sporting events.  As competitions and other events could be postponed and rescheduled without too much notice, running Whistler Live was a delicate balancing act, one John Rae described as “a chess game that was being played every day.”

The Whistler Live stage and screens in crowded Village Square. Photo: Anastasia Chomlack/RMOW

The first day of Whistler Live didn’t entirely go smoothly.  First, the horses that were supposed to lead the parade of Canadian athletes into Village Square went home sick.  The rest is best put in KR’s words.

We’re just trying to get this group back and we’re learning how to switch out the CTV feed and the Hairfarmers were playing, and that was great, and then all of a sudden, we’re kind of getting into our groove, and this big [notice] on the screens comes up and it’s like ‘I’m sorry, Bell Expressvu is no longer in service.’

After running to the studio, where people were running to fix the problem, KR was told by the director “I want you to run to the stage, and I want you to start talking, and I don’t want you to stop until we fix this.”  Thankfully the Whistler Live team was able to return the feeds just as the Canadian team rounded the corner into Village Square.  The next day it was discovered someone at Bell in Toronto had noticed Whistler Live had multiple accounts on the system and were consolidating them, taking away the feeds.

We’d like to thank everyone who came out on Thursday, especially our speakers.  Keep an eye out for more untold stories of the Whistler 2010 Olympics.

GODA’s Many Olympic Bids

With the 2018 Winter Olympics going on in PyeongChang we’re taking a look back at Whistler’s own Olympic past.

There’s no doubt that over the past six decades this town has been greatly influenced by the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.  If the Garibaldi Olympic Development Association (GODA) had had their way, this month would mark the 50th anniversary of Whistler’s Olympic Games instead of the 8th.

In 1960 a group of Vancouver businessmen and Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) members formed GODA with the aim of bringing the Olympic Winter Games to BC.  In the introduction to their bid for the 1968 Olympics, GODA wrote: “In the northwestern part of Garibaldi Park, only 75 road miles from Vancouver, and part of a picture-post card panorama of mountains, snow and forest is Whistler Mountain, proposed site of the 1968 Olympic Winter Games.  It is this mountain and this area that offers the ideal physical location for the Games.”

Driving to Whistler, 1959. Not quite as easy as they made it sound.  MacLaurin Collection.

What their introduction didn’t mention was that the 75 road miles were mostly logging roads and a difficult drive at the best of times, or that the site had no power, water or sewer and all venues and facilities would have to be constructed form scratch.

Not surprisingly, GODA’s first bid was not successful and Banff, Alberta was put forward as Canada’s nomination.  In the end the 1968 Games were held in Grenoble, France.

GODA looked to the future and formed Garibaldi Lifts Ltd. to develop Whistler Mountain.  Five years later, with lifts now installed and paved highway linking the site to Vancouver, they put forward another bid for the 1972 Games.  Again the COC chose Banff to represent Canada (Banff then lost to Sapporo, Japan) and again GODA went back to work on another bid.

Three separate combined Vancouver/Whistler bids were put forward through the 1970s.  By 1970, when the bid for the 1976 Games was put forth, Whistler Mountain had become an established ski resort and was continuing to grow.  This bid received endorsement from the COC and was put forward as an official national bid.  Because of this, we are fortunate today to have many records of the vision for the 1976 Games.

The 1976 bid even had federal support from Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau who often skied at Whistler.  Whistler Mountain Collection.

The official Vancouver/Garibaldi bid book included designs for a purpose-built Olympic Town Site located at the site of today’s Whistler Village, including a grand pedestrian concourse to the bottom of the mountain, sloping angular buildings, and a large plaza with a view of the ski jumps.  The bid promised that all Olympic facilities would be within a 4 km radius of the town site.

Despite a strong bid for Whistler, Montreal’s successful bid the 1976 Summer Games mean the Winter Games could not be awarded to Canada.  Denver, Colorado was chosen but, due to public outcry over environmental impacts and rising costs, Denver declined.  The Games were then offered to Whistler, but a newly elected Social Credit government in BC turned them down and the Games returned to Innsbruck, Austria.

In 1974, the COC approved a bid for the 1980 Games but this was rejected by the provincial government.  In 1979 Whistler and Vancouver put forward a proposal to host the 1988 Olympic Winter Games, but the COC decided on the ultimately successful bid from Calgary.  It was not until 2003, over 40 years after the first bid was put forth, that Whistler learned it would host the Olympics.

Village Square during the 2003 Olympic Bid Announcement – Whistler finally got to host the Olympics.

Over the next two months, as the Games take place in PyeongChang, we’ll all be reminded of the 2010 Games and the experience of playing host to such a massive event.  If you’ve ever wondered how the planning and details that went into that experience all came together in Whistler, you might just get some answers at our next Speaker Series.  Thursday, February 15, the Whistler Museum is delighted to welcome John Rae, Mo Douglas and Kristen Robinson for Behind the Games: Creating the 2010 Olympic Experience.  For more information check here.

February Speaker Series

The Whistler Museum’s 2018 Speaker Series is back this month with Behind the Games: Creating the 2010 Olympic Experience.

Hosting the Olympic Games involves a lot more than organizing and holding sporting competitions (though that is a huge undertaking for any organization).  Host cities also host performances, cultural exhibitions and more to engage visitors and residents throughout the two months and create a memorable experience of a place.  It’s been 8 years since Whistler and Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympic Games and John Rae, Maureen “Mo” Douglas and Kristen Robinson will be sharing the planning and stories that went on behind the scenes.  From planning at the beginning to presenting the Games on the frontline in Whistler, these three speakers have just about seen it all.

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