Tag Archives: Rod MacLeod

Forever and Ale-ways: A History of Brewing in the Sea to Sky

Patio days are upon us, and what better way to spend a sunny summer evening than having a post-work brew at one of our local breweries?  With craft breweries now popping up all over BC like suds in a glass of beer, the Sea to Sky seems to have gotten in on the brewing action quite early.

In the 1970s, the ‘official’ Canadian beer scene was composed of three consolidated large beer producers that basically split the market: Carling O’Keefe, Labatt, and Molson.  With little or no competition among them, frequent strikes, and nearly identical lagers, Canada was ripe for some flavour innovations from new sources.

Apart from these three conglomerates, homebrewing was alive and well in Whistler.  At Tokum Corners in 1971, Rod MacLeod was homebrewing based on knowledge gleaned from Bill Chaplain.  A homebrew contest was begun in Whistler in 1974 (running every year into the 1990s), where the competitors had to fill a case of 7-Up bottles with their own brew to be judged.  The winner received a mug trophy with their name engraved, their beer being drunk first, and the honour of hosting the contest the following year.

Tokum Corners was the site of some homebrew production by Rod MacLeod. Benjamin Collection, 1971.

Homebrewing is credited as inspiring the origins of craft brewing in the Sea to Sky.  In 1978, an article about homebrewing in Harrowsmith magazine piqued the curiosity of John Mitchell, a British expat who was the co-owner and manager of Horseshoe Bay’s Troller Pub.  He contacted the writer, Frank Appleton, and in 1982, the two enthusiasts joined forces in pioneering one of North America’s first modern craft breweries in Horseshoe Bay, using cobbled-together dairy equipment.  Fresh, flavourful, and interesting beer choices were clearly in demand: on opening night, the Troller Pub was packed, and all kegs of their sole craft beer, ‘Bay Ale’, sold out.

By the late 1980s, other entrepreneurs were taking notice of the opportunity to bring new beers to the table.  The Whistler Brewing Co. was first established in 1989 by Jenny Hieter and Rob Mingay.  Their permanent brewery was set up in Function Junction by 1991, boasting multiple tanks and a bottling system.  Though Whistler Brewing originally offered only Whistler Premium Lager, they soon added the more flavourful (and still-familiar) Black Tusk Ale to their repertoire.

Whistler Brewing Co.’s tap and production area in Function, 1991. George Benjamin Collection.

Down the highway, John Mitchell helped design the new Howe Sound Brewery in Squamish and was their first brewmaster in 1996.  Unique flavours and recipes were continually developing in the Sea to Sky corridor.  In 1997, High Mountain Brewing Co. (Brewhouse) opened, and was the only option for craft beer in Whistler Village.

Nowadays, the craft beer scene is really taking off.  Coast Mountain Brewing opened its doors in Function Junction in the summer of 2016, Pemberton has welcomed Pemberton Brewing Co. and The Beer Farmers, and Squamish hosts newcomers A-Frame Brewing and Backcountry Brewing.

A woman holding up an empty beer keg peers into the camera outside a lodge on Whistler or Blackcomb.  Whistler Question Collection.

New flavours keep emerging, sometimes on a weekly basis.  Locals have been adamant in their support for our local craft breweries, and local breweries have paid tribute to our local culture with beer names like ‘Death Before Download Pale Ale’, ‘Hazy Trail Pale Ale’, ‘Gaper Juice Hazy Session Ale’, and ‘Lifty Lager’.  The community has a strong advocate in our breweries, and our early innovation in the craft brew scene has provided some absolutely delicious après sessions along the way.  But don’t take our word for it – check our these local breweries for yourself!

The Holiday Season in Whistler

The holiday season has always been a hectic time in Whistler, as so much energy is spent welcoming and entertaining guests.  The Village Stroll looks magical at this time of year, with the lights glowing on the trees and the snow falling through the air.

Scanning through our archives, photos from many collections show that Christmas has been a major production in the area dating back to Rainbow Lodge in the 1920s.  Alex and Myrtle Philip, the owners and proprietors of Rainbow Lodge, were renowned hosts and pulled out all the stops at Christmas to entertain visitors and residents around Alta Lake.

Here’s the Rainbow Lodge dinner table, Christmas 1923.  Philip Collection.

While we have only a few photos of the interior of Rainbow Lodge during this era, the Philip Collection includes images of the main lodge with a decorated tree and streamers and the dining room set for Christmas dinner.

Other holiday photos from Alta Lake include the Woods family in the snow with party hats and a New Year’s Eve dance at the community hall (also the Alta Lake School) in 1937.

New Year’s Eve celebrations at the community hall for 1937.  Philip Collection.

Dances at the community hall were remembered fondly by Bob Williamson, a lineman working for the Pacific Great Eastern Railway in the 1930s.  As he recalled, “This was the Hungry Thirties.  Not very many locals were earning much money but many pleasant evenings were spent in this hall in the wintertime… The only cost for the evening was to buy the coffee and that was raised by donations of 10 to 25 cents from those who could afford it.  Alex Philip made the coffee in Granitewood Gallon Coffee pots.  It was excellent coffee.”

Season’s Greetings from Whistler Mountain staff, early 1970s.  Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation Collection.

As skiing developed in the valley, winter and the holiday season got busier.  The Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation Collection includes photos of a skiing Santa, ski instructors dressed up as reindeer and Seasons Greetings from Whistler Mountain.

The so-called “ski bums” got into the holiday spirit as well.  Over the past few months Angelus Chouinard has been working on digitizing the complete George Benjamin Collection and we have found some gems showing Christmas dinner being prepared at the first infamous Toad Hall in 1969.

Master Climax Turkey Glory – Christmas Dinner at Toad Hall in 1969!  Benjamin Collection.

John Hetherington, Toad Hall staple, Whistler Mountain ski patroller and current Whistler Museum Board President, reflected fondly on those days:

Christmas at Toad Hall was great… Of course, there was no electricity, so it was just Coleman lanterns and the old ‘Master Climax’ wood stove.  One year we used candles to decorate the Christmas tree.  We only had birthday candles so they burned quick and we had to keep replacing them.  While they were burning it looked amazing, but we were terrified of burning the whole place down.

Many such treasures have been found while digitizing the George Benjamin Collection.  George Benjamin first came to Whistler to ski in 1968 and moved to the area in 1970.  He and John Hetherington co-owned Tokum Corners, a roughly made cabin with no electricity or running water, and lived there with Rod MacLeod into the early 1980s.  George was a semi-professional photographer and, as his family in Ontario owned a photo-finishing business, was able to develop his photographs for free.  There are over 8000 images included in the George Benjamin Collection, spanning from his first visit in 1968 to 1991.

To view more of the photos mentioned here, check out our Smugmug page here and keep an eye out for more photos from the George Benjamin Collection to be added in the New Year!

We hope everyone enjoys their holiday season and wish all of you a Happy New Year!

This Week In Photos: May 3

From road conditions and ski races to golf tournaments and end-of-season competitions (LA Legs Contest?) the Whistler Question reported on everything and anything going on in town.

1980

Nester’s residents won’t have any speeders in their neighbourhood if they can help it. And to help them are large- to dangerous-sized boulders strewn about the roadway in an attempt to slow drivers to a crawl.

This bus seems to be missing a key component.

(L to R) Minister of Tourism Pat Jordan chats with our Pat – Mayor Carleton – at the Town Centre during a tour of the site and an explanation by the mayor of what exactly is going on at the busy construction site. With Honourable Minister and Mayor are Tourism Ministry staff Joan Jarvis and George Plul.

A golfer drives one off the third tee at the Whistler Golf Course during the Bob Parson’s Memorial Golf Tournament.

Chauffeur Chris Speedie and assistant Rod McLeod take the golf course refreshment buggy around the course.

This temporary decking on the bridge over Fitzsimmons Creek on the Blackcomb access road will be replaced during May by a full width concrete surface.

A spring trip to Meager Creek Hot Springs BC Forest Service Recreation Site.

1981

Architect Joe Yamauchi and Alderman Mark Angus inspect the model of the controversial Whistler Tower Building planned for Parcel 26.

Jody Wick, 10, of Myrtle Philip Elementary, brings out the shine on Ike’s tow-truck during the WPTA’s successful carwash held May 2.

Costumed members of the Vancouver Telemark Society practice group telemark turns on the last day of the season.

For being the top MPE artists, not to mention electrically alert, Tami Wick, Rya Kirkwood and Cris Simpson were awarded these framed certificates. Standing behind (l to r) are Ross Dinwoodie, Laroy Watt and Gary Wong.

We don’t know whose best friend this is, but who could resist that face?

Whew! All tuckered out at the end of the season, Donald Campbell, 4, of North Vancouver decided that the best place for a weary skier to lay his helmetted head was the front step of Jim McConkey’s Ski Shop.

1982

Wind’s up… and that’s enough for Chris Jacobs to drag out his sailboard and take on the ice! Jacobs uses a wooden platform with skis attached and finds the boardsailing just fine. Andrew Stoner photo.

They’re switched on and tuned in at Mountain FM.

That toe-tapping beat inspired even the heavy-footed to get down to the music of the Sailboats at Blackcomb Daylodge on Sunday, May 2.

Pas de demux amid the hubbub during Boogie-in-your-ski-boots. Fiona Maxwell (2) is led by Neal Jennings (3), both of Whistler.

Move over J.R. On location to shoot a 10-minute promotional short for a possible new TV series called “Whistler”, this film crew from Eighth Avenue Productions was the centre of excitement. Driving his own Rolls-Royce is Peter Mueller (no, not the skier) who is reported to be providing financial backing for the project.

Whew! What a win! After tight competition through the season, Jim Wharin and Megan Armstrong skied to the top of the local championship series on Blackcomb.

1983

In Whistler, even line-painting comes with a view.

Workers at The Madhouse on Whistler Mountain at the end of the season.

A bunch of real hackers, Team Hack cleaned up on one of the valley’s most coveted trophies, the Whistler Cup. And the winners, ladies and gentlemen, were (l to r) Sue Boyd, Rob Denham, Mike Turcotte and Jim Wharin.

Hubba, hubba! What a beaut! This mystery entrant in Blackcomb Mountain’s LA Legs Contest April 30 strutted away with first prize.

Semi-finalists at Stoney’s Suitcase Party May 1 let off some steam before the final name was selected. The lucky winner? Dave Cipp of Tapley’s (fourth from left in back row, with his mouth wide open). Cipp grabbed his golf clubs, Brenda Davidson of Today’s Video and headed to Honolulu that night.

Yowser, yowser, yowser! The gang at Rendezvous Restaurant on Blackcomb Mountain have their own special way of saying goodbye. Of course they were in the midst of the clutches of spring fever Sunday, May 1.

1984

Former Delta Mountain Inn Food and Beverage Manager Dave Roberts received an unceremonious going away party last Wednesday, and to not let him forget what his job’s all about, Delta staff applied raw eggs, tomatoes and various other foodstuffs to Roberts’ body.

Simon Gould and family have yet another car in their collection after winning the Winterfest lottery Saturday. The prize was a $12,000 1984 Jeep Cherokee graciously supplied by Mountainview Motors of North Vancouver. Gould, from West Vancouver, happened to be on the scene when the draw took place and said it could mean that his daughter, the most thrilled of the lot, will be getting a car of her own.

The Squamish Youth Chorale, with a cast of 69, presented its latest production, “Dreamer”, to a packed house at Myrtle Philip School Saturday night. The story is based on the biblical saga of Joseph and his 10 brothers.