Tag Archives: RMOW

Over 20 Years of Whistler Welcomes

November has traditionally been a time of arrivals in Whistler: the snow arrives in the valley (we hope) and new faces arrive for the upcoming season.

Over the past week you may have seen some (or been one) of these new residents throughout town getting their scavenger hunt passports stamped, attending classes at Meadow Park Sports Centre or playing board games at the Whistler Public Library.

While many board games can by played at Games Night at the Whistler Public Library, we don’t think the Whistler Challenge will be among those found there.  Does anyone have a copy of this Whistler game? Whistler Question Collection, 1983.

All of these activities are part of Connect Whistler, a weeklong Whistler introduction put on by Whistler Community Services Society (WCSS) and community partners.  Though the name may not sound familiar, the idea behind it should be.  After all, WCSS has been officially welcoming new arrivals to Whistler for over a decade.

The first Whistler Welcome Week was put on in November 2003 by WCSS youth outreach workers Tessa McLoughlin and Greg McDonnell.  The week was designed to resemble “a healthier version of a university frosh week” and offered five alcohol-free events attended by over 1,300 people.

Some events, such as a volunteer fair and scavenger hunt, familiarized attendees with services and businesses available in Whistler.  There was also a snowboard film screening and the Moist Pool Party held at Meadow Park.  The week’s festivities culminated in Saturday’s Community Welcome Dinner.

Community meals have been held in the Whistler valley for decades.  Here the Alta Lake community gathered to ring in the new year.  Philip Collection.

Held at the conference centre, the Community Welcome Dinner sat new residents and old at a table together to share a meal provided by some of the town’s top chefs.  Whistler’s then-Mayor Hugh O’Reilly and his wife got to know eight young Australians the first year, discussing travel and the upcoming season.

The following year, the dinner was renamed in honour of Jill Ackhurst, a long-time community member and chair of the WCSS board of directors who died in 2003.

With the support of community partners such as LUNA, Whistler Blackcomb, Tourism Whistler and the RMOW, most of these events would remain Welcome Week staples over the next 12 years.

Other events were also added, ranging from a community rummage sale to workshops on tenants’ rights.

In 2016, WCSS announced a rebranding of Welcome Week.  The scavenger hunt, which used to be a single afternoon’s activity, has been reformed as a week-long opportunity to find and get familiar with local businesses and services, including the new WCSS building, the Re-Use-It Centre, the Whistler Library and even the Whistler Museum, with the incentive of some pretty great prizes.

Participants are also offered a chance to try out classes at Meadow Park, devour Rotary pancakes and ensure a good winter season by taking a plunge in Lost Lake.

With a few variations in dress, this photo easily could have been taken at the Whistler Museum last night. Whistler Question Collection, 1978.

Last night the Whistler Museum hosted Feeding the Spirit, the last in a long list of Connect Whistler events.  Thank you to everyone who joined up and we hope you learned something about Whistler’s history (if not, we’re open daily!).

A huge thank you to Creekside Market for their ongoing support of Feeding the Spirit, as well as all the local businesses that generously provide prizes.

Advertisements

Train Wreck Mystery Revealed

Train Wreck – the site of several abandoned box cars just south of Function Junction – has always been a little bit of a mystery to visitors.

We had always known that it had been there since the 1950s, but apart from that we knew very little about it. In 2013, our “Museum Musings” column in the Whistler Question newspaper featured the “mysterious” train wreck. We were subsequently approached by two members of the Valleau family (who ran a big logging operation in Mons at the time of the accident) who set the record straight once and for all.

trainwreck1.jpg

The abandoned box cars have been given new life by Whistler’s artist community.

The first to approach us, Rick Valleau, remembered his father talking about the train wreck. The second, Rick’s uncle Howard Valleau, actually remembered the incident first-hand!

Museum staff are frequently asked about Train Wreck’s backstory, so  we are delighted to have these accounts which shed light on one of Whistler’s most unique attractions.

Here, therefore, is the firsthand account of the definitive guide to Train Wreck: The crash occurred in 1956 shortly after the Valleau family had moved to the area. The wreck happened on an area of track constricted by rock cuts, and there were three boxcars loaded with lumber jammed in there, blocking the line. The PGE Railway’s equipment couldn’t budge them so the company approached the Valleau family.

The Valleaus took their logging machinery (a couple of D8 Cats) down to the site, put a hitch (luff) on with two moving blocks to the boxcar and pried them out. They then dragged the cars up the track and into the forest, where they lie today. To all those who were confused by the fact that there is no damage to the trees around the wreck, this is because the train did not come off the rails at this point, but the boxcars were moved there after the fact.

trainwreck.jpg

The unique ambiance of these colourfully graffitied boxcars amidst mature, open forest (not to mention the impressive mountain bike stunts) makes for one of the Whistle Valley’s favourite attractions.

The train had been assembled in Lillooet by John Millar, a conductor for the PGE. Millar told the story to Howard Valleau, as follows: The train had four engines. There was a mistake made on the tonnage of the train, making it too heavy, and they had to split the train to get up the grade to Parkhurst (on Green Lake). This put them behind schedule, and they tried to make up time by  travelling a little faster than usual. The speed limit on that section of rail was only 15 mph (24 km/h). The fourth engine turned a rail, causing the train wreck. They checked the tape in the engine, which told how fast they were going – the crew had thought the speed was 15mph, but in fact it was 35 mph (56 km/h).

Millar told Howard Valleau that had they known the actual speed, they would have taken the tapes out. The engineer and crew were subsequently fired after the investigation into the wreck.

Access to the Trainwreck site has in recent years been complicated by the fact that it involved a sustained stretch of walking on the train tracks – illegal trespassing. We are very excited to spread the news that the RMOW has overseen the construction of a pedestrian bridge across the Cheakamus River, providing alternative, legal  access to the outdoor museum and impromptu art gallery. We hope you are able to go visit the Trainwreck, for the first or the fiftieth time, again soon.

trainwrek_map_v4

Revolution: Whistler MTB in Photos & Art

So we’re in the final countdown leading up to our first ever Whistler Mountain Bike Heritage Week. Here we’d like to focus on one specific event that we’re especially excited about, Revolution: Whistler MTB in Photography and Art.

This is a photography and art show we’ve organized that will be on display in the Gallery at Maury Young Arts Centre (formerly known as Millennium Place) from May 16 th -June 13th . The show features some of the world’s leading mountain bike photographers, artists, and athletes, including the work of Sterling Lorence, Justa Jeskova, Reuben Krabbe, and many more.

ONeill-0001-06Samurai_038-lowres

This photo by Robin O’Neill, portraying an epic climb on Whistler Mountain during the Samurai of Singletrack race, is one of more than 30 images comprising our Revolution MTB art show.

While the art on display is absolutely top-notch, the images have been selected to portray the full range of the Whistler MTB experience, including the strong sense of culture and community that exists here. Images range from alpine to valley bottom, in all weather and light conditions, with world-class pros and Average Joes, showcasing the trails, terrain, talent, and passion that makes Whistler a Mecca of the global mountain biking scene.

As with all shows in the Gallery at Maury Young, this is 100% free to check out, just head in at any time during the Arts Centre’s regular hours.

Artwork on display has been generously donated by the artists and will be available for purchase via silent auction, with all proceeds going to support mountain bike-related programming and archival work at the Whistler Museum. To check out all of the pieces, and to place a bid, simply head to: http://www.32auctions.com/mtbweek

This exhibit is produced with generous support from the Resort Municipality of Whistler, and in partnership with the Whistler Arts Council.

***

Even if you weren’t able to get one of your biking shots included in the show, we’ve devised a way for everyone to get in on the action. We’re having a mountain bike photography contest, with the chance to win a canvas print of one of the photos on display at the show.

Entry is easy, simply post your best Whistler mountain biking photos to Facebook or Instagram, tag the @WhistlerMuseum and #WhistlerMTBWeek, and you’re entered. The contest will stay open until May 31st , after which we’ll select our favourite for the grand prize. Easier than changing a flat!

We hope to see you at some of this week’s MTB Week events, kicking off Wednesday May 18th at 6pm at the Whistler Museum with “Dirt Masters: Whistler Trail-building Through the Decades” featuring panelists Eric Wight (Whistler Backroads), Jerome David (former WORCA Trails Director), and Dan Raymond (builder of Wizard Burial Ground, Lord of the Squirrels, and many more). Tickets are $10, $5 for members of WORCA and the Whistler Museum.

See you there, or on the trails!

Whistler MTB Heritage Week

Over the last three decades, mountain biking has woven itself into the fabric of our community and Whistler’s distinct biking scene has spread its influence across the world. To celebrate this proud tradition, the Whistler Museum is hosting our first ever Mountain Bike Heritage Week, a full series of daily events running from May 18-23rd.

mtbweek_full_V3_11x15_final

We will be holding three separate Speaker Series events, each focusing on different aspects of Whistler’s MTB scene, beginning with an ode to those unsung heroes of the biking world – the trailbuilders. Dirtmasters: Whistler Trailbuilding through the Decades will explore the past, present, and future of Whistler’s world class trail network.

With thousands of dedicated riders, it’s safe to classify Whistler’s biking community as a horde of raving die-hards. Find out how our local scene grew from niche to enormous at Whistler MTB: Building a Community, a panel discussion featuring local organizers, coaches, and more on Saturday May 21st. The Speaker Series trilogy concludes the following evening as we expand our view outward with Whistler MTB Gone Global, featuring local riders and entrepreneurs speaking firsthand to the worldwide influence and appeal of Whistler mountain biking.

photo: Robin O'neill

Riders climb towards Whistler Peak during the Samurai of Singletrack race. Check out this photo and many more at The Gallery at Maury Young Arts Centre, May 15-June 14th. Photo: Robin O’Neill

 

It is a mountain bike festival, after all, so there’s more than just panel discussions going on. May 19th, being a Thursday night, we’ll be teaming up with the leading institution of Whistler’s MTB community, WORCA’s weekly Toonie Ride. Riders will be encouraged to break out the spandex, the clunkers, and any other retro gear stashed away in storage that you just couldn’t bear to part with. The ride will begin at the bottom of Scotia Creek on Whistler’s westside.

For all the freeriders out there, we are organizing a free screening of the classic freeride film Kranked 3 on Friday May 20th at Forlise Whistler in Mountain Square. We’re especially excited to be able to include a filmmaker Q&A with special guests Bjorn Enga and Christian Begin.

A legendary rider on a legendary feature. Brett Tippie on Whistler Mountain. Check out this photo and many more at The Gallery at Maury Young Arts Centre, May 15-June 14th. Photo: Margus Riga

A legendary rider on a legendary feature. Brett Tippie on Whistler Mountain. Check out this photo and many more at The Gallery at Maury Young Arts Centre, May 15-June 14th. Photo: Margus Riga

Underpinning the whole festival is Revolution: Whistler MTB in Photography and Art, featuring some of the world’s leading mountain bike photographers, artists, and athletes, including Sterling Lorence, Justa Jeskova, Reuben Krabbe, and many more. Running from May 15th until June 14th at The Gallery at Maury Young Arts Centre, this exhibit will showcase the trails, terrain, talent, and passion that makes Whistler a Mecca of the global mountain biking scene.

Artwork on display has been generously donated by the artists and will be available for purchase via silent auction, with all proceeds going to support mountain bike-related programming and archival work at the Whistler Museum. This exhibit is produced with generous support from the RMOW, and in partnership with the Whistler Arts Council.

Local riders enjoying the recent expansion of bike trails into the alpine. Check out this photo and many more at The Gallery at Maury Young Arts Centre, May 15-June 14th. Photo: Justa Jeskova.

Local riders enjoying the recent expansion of bike trails into the alpine. Check out this photo and many more at The Gallery at Maury Young Arts Centre, May 15-June 14th. Photo: Justa Jeskova.

The Whistler Museum will also be showcasing historic photographs and artifacts as we unveil a new display about Whistler’s mountain bike heritage in our permanent exhibit. Everyone is invited to come check it out during our regular admission hours or during one of the three evening Speaker Series events.

Everyone is encouraged to enter our Instagram contest, simply by tagging their riding shots with #WhistlerMTBWeek between now and May 23rd. Our favourite shots will be selected for great swag and prizes from our many awesome sponsors.

Of course it wouldn’t be a mountain bike festival without a ton of actual riding, so keep your ears and eyes open for a number of impromptu and informal group rides and bike park hot laps throughout the week.

Whistler Mountain Bike Heritage Week is produced by the Whistler Museum in partnership with WORCA, the Great Outdoors Festival, the Whistler Arts Council, and Forlise Whistler. It would not be possible without the generous support of the Resort Municipality of Whistler, the Province of British Columbia, Deep Cove Brewing, Chromag Cycles, Vorsprung Suspension, Whistler-Blackcomb, Whistler Bike Co., & David’s Tea.

Al Raine – Ski Industry Legend, Visionary, and a Pretty Cool Dude

When ski racing legend Al Raine made the move to Whistler in 1973, he had already established himself as head coach and program director of the Canadian National Alpine Ski Team at the age of 32. Around this time, the provincial government was looking for an individual to provide technical expertise and coordinate provincial ski expansion, as well as oversee the development of Whistler as a tourist destination resort. With his extensive background in the ski industry, Raine was the perfect candidate to act as a liaison between the municipality and the provincial government. Thus, Al was approached about a position and he accepted in May 1974. As acting Ski Area Coordinator of B.C. and alderman for the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW), one of Al’s first tasks was assisting in the building of a sewer plant that would service the entire valley.

al

With the completion of the new sewer system, the Whistler council turned their attention to creating a central village. When the government asked their appointed ski coordinator to report on the realistic achievable goals for Whistler, Al remained positive that it had the potential to become a world-class ski resort, despite the weakness that was B.C.’s coastal climate. He was confident that with good skiing on the upper mountains, solid lifts, and a village, success would be imminent. At the same time, this meant that more lifts were vital, seeing as upward of 2400 people could be seen standing in line for hours at a time, waiting to get onto a mountain with a capacity of 600 skiers per hour.

ACCESS-1975_RMOW_Council

The original Resort Municipality of Whistler Council. Pictured from left to right: Alderman Bob Bishop, Alderman Al Raine, Treasurer Geoff Pearce, Mayor Pat Carleton, Alderman John Hetherington, Alderman Gary Watson

al2

Al Raine and wife, Nancy Greene Raine, enjoying a day out on the slopes

With local government starting to take shape, Al began to look toward the possibility of a future for Blackcomb. In September of 1976, he put out a proposal call to develop the mountain. After months of silence, a bid finally came in from the Aspen Ski Corporation of Colorado in joint venture with the Canadian Federal Business Development Bank. Once final terms were ironed out and the deal agreed upon, investors had the go ahead to complete phase one of development, and on December 6, 1980, Blackcomb Mountain opened with 1240 vertical meters of skiing available.

ACCESS-WMA_P91_246_CITIZEN

Al Raine shaking hands with Whistler’s first mayor, Pat Carleton, ca. 1975

Al’s position as B.C.’s ski area coordinator included more than just Whistler. He also studied 45 areas province wide, giving site evaluations on their probability. In 1980, Al stepped down from his position and took the job of General Manager of the newly formed Whistler Resort Association. The organization was responsible for scheduling events at Whistler while providing basic information, central reservations, and marketing promotions for the resort. Today, Al and his wife Nancy can be seen in Whistler skiing, golfing, and playing tennis. After years of hard work and dedication, Al Raine has the opportunity to enjoy the vision of Whistler that he assisted in creating.

Whistler Community Cultural Plan

 

Truls' painting.

Artwork inspired by Whistler’s heritage by a Whistler High School student.

The Whistler Community Cultural Plan was accepted by Council on September 3rd.

The report has lots of interesting ideas and plans for the future of Whistler and most importantly (for us) has lots of great recommendations regarding the Whistler Museum, including a recommendation for a new Museum building, which were are very excited about.

We are very pleased with the plan and are looking forward to getting working on the recommendations related to us right away. In fact, recommendation #11 “Highlight stories of Whistler’s heritage throughout the Village via decentralized heritage displays” is something we have already started working on:

There is a beautiful new display about Florence in the Florence Petersen Park, and we have also exhibited the old Red Chair from Whistler Mountain there. In the winter you will also be able to enjoy a new exhibit on the history of Lost Lake displayed in Passiv Haus.  You can sip a hot chocolate in the cafe after a good workout in the cross-country ski trails and learn some things you never knew about Lost Lake.

The full Whistler Cultural Plan can be read here:  Whistler_Cultural_Plan- Final-AUG-12-2013-NoAppendices

It may seem a little intimidating at 155 pages, but the really interesting part (in our opinion) is the 31 recommendations on how our cultural community should grow over the next few years. These can be found in the easily digestible 7 page executive summary at the beginning of the report. If any of the  recommendations intrigue you, you will be able to find a full description of them  in  Section 9. All the recommendations came from a substantial community outreach program including stakeholder interviews, surveys, focus groups and community open houses.

Whistler is full of smart people, so it is great to hear their ideas for our future.