It was the chance for a weekend get-away spot that spurred Florence Petersen and four friends to purchase a small cabin at Alta Lake in the mid ’50s.
At the time, the valley was a quaint summer fishing resort with only a handful of year-round residents. In the years following, the valley would transform from its humble beginnings into the internationally renowned four-season resort we now know.
With so much change taking place in the ’70s, early pioneer Myrtle Philip and Cypress Lodge owner Dick Fairhurst confessed to Florence a worry that the early days would soon be forgotten. Florence eased their fears by promising them that she would somehow ensure that their stories would be remembered and, true to her word, Florence started the Whistler Museum and Archives as a charitable non-profit society.
Since incorporating on February 12, 1987, the Museum’s basic function has been to collect and preserve the history of the Whistler Valley and to display, educate and disseminate information about Whistler’s history and its role in the greater society of British Columbia and Canada.
To that end, the Museum collects and preserves artefacts, archives and oral histories. To date we have acquired some 275 feet of archival records, including documents and photographs. Our collection includes 2332 artefacts; 80 oral interviews that have been conducted, digitized and transcribed; approximately 300,000 photographs, both negatives and prints; 150 hours of video (VHS, SVHS, DVD, DVcam, hi8 and U-Matic formats); and 13.5 hours of film in both 8mm and 16mm.
In order to make the Museum’s information easy to access there is a consistent ongoing project to organize, catalogue and digitize its collection. The artefact collection is 99% catalogued. 150 archival collections have been catalogued and are available online at the Museum’s ICA-Atom archival database. Approximately 42,000 photographs have been digitized to archival standards. The Museum endeavours to interpret the history of Whistler and the Museum’s information collection for visitors and the community with its exhibits, walking tours, blog and programs such as our very successful Discover Nature Project.
2016 was the busiest year in the Museum’s history in terms of exhibit visits, with a 7% growth over 2015 (another record year). We hope to continue our momentum in growing our numbers in regards to both our exhibit visits and the amount of material that we can make available to the public.
A special thank you to everyone who has volunteered, donated, visited our exhibits, attended our events, read our stories and helped spread the word about Whistler’s fascinating heritage over the past 30 years.
The Whistler Museum would like to invite you to our 30th Anniversary Open House on Sunday, February 12, 7:30 – 9 pm. Join us for an evening of food, music and free admission to explore the museum, venture into the archives and meet our staff. Everyone is welcome and we hope to see you there.