Tag Archives: Ski-doo

Whistler Après: 1968

In February of 1968 entertainment options for locals and visitors were limited.  Alta Lake, as the area was still called, had a very small full-time population and comparatively little infrastructure.  The Village was still serving as a town dump site and development in Creekside had really only just begun.

The development of Creekside and the surrounding areas as of 1970. Whistler Mountain Collection.

The February edition of Garibaldi’s Whistler News included the “Whistler Mountain Weekly Schedule of Entertainment”, a listing of weekly events that were open to the public.  While not a lengthy list (especially when compared to the five pages of listings found under PiqueCal and Nightlife in this publication just last week) every evening provided something different.

The week began on Sunday with a General Information Night where “ski-weekers” were invited to the Cheakamus Inn to view slides of the area and ask any questions they might have about Whistler Mountain.

On Monday a day of skiing could be followed by hot drinks in the Cheakamus Inn lounge and a “Get-Acquainted Party” at the Highland Lodge to meet instructors and others on vacation.

Shown here with his children, Dick Fairhurst was the owner of Cypress Lodge and a ski-doo enthusiast. Fairhurst Collection.

Cypress Lodge (the current site of the Point and Sailing Club) offered Ski-Doo parties every Tuesday, including a ski-doo trip to Cypress Lodge, hot drinks, light refreshments and the option to dance or rent a ski-too to take around Alta Lake.

Wednesdays were Movie Night when a film would be shown in the Day Lodge at the foot of Whistler Mountain.  In 1968 a ticket to the movies was a reasonable $1 for adults and $0.50 for children.

On Thursday the entertainment moved to the Mount Whistler Lodge, a location of fond memories for many Whistler residents and visitors.  Guests were encouraged to come “any time after 9 pm and see the local people in action” with a Jug Band on hand and records for dancing, as well as refreshments and pizza.  According to an advertisement placed by the Mount Whistler Lodge, in which it was described as a “rustic waterfront lodge with rooms and cabins in one of the finest settings in the world,” this was also the place to be every Friday and Saturday for dancing and pizza.

Hillcrest Lodge, originally built and run by the Mansell family, was renamed the Mount Whistler Lodge under new management soon after Whistler Mountain opened.  Mansell Collection.

The February of 1968 offered extra entertainment with two dances scheduled in Whistler Mountain’s main lodge for February 3 and 17, alternating Saturdays with the Mount Whistler Lodge for the month.  Admission to these dances was $1.50 and music was provided by the newly formed Poppy Family.  An added attraction was a “psychedelic lighting show”.

Today there is no shortage of evening entertainment opportunities for visitors to Whistler, including outdoor activities, restaurants, bars and theatres (movie and otherwise), not to mention the events, classes and presentations put on by many local organizations.

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Whistler’s First Snowmobile Superstar

Whether used to access fresh ski lines, or simply for “rooping” in the snow, snowmobiles are a way of life for many Whistlerites. While 4x4s hauling sleds are ubiquitous come winter, few realize just how deep Whistler’s snow machine roots go.

While browsing through old issues of Ski Tracks, a Lower Mainland ski newspaper from the 1960s, we came across a pretty cool bit of trivia.  Their January 1966 issue announced that the newly-formed B.C. Snow Vehicle Association would be holding their inaugural meet and race on January 30th on Alta Lake. The group seems to have been run out of Vancouver.

The report in Ski Trails’ next issue revealed that 23 entries ran in the races, and “Ski-doo” brand machines took all events. Notably, the champion of the large-machine slalom race, running the 20-gate course in 39.9 seconds, was none other than Dick Fairhurst on his Ski-doo “Super Olympique.”

Dick with his little sled-groms on a neighbour's sled, Ron Dent's "Dentmobile," 1965

Dick with his little sled-groms on a neighbour’s sled, Ron Dent’s “Dentmobile,” 1965

Dick is better known among Whistler history buffs as the owner of Cypress Lodge, a small lakeside resort he ran from the early 1940s until 1972, when he sold the property to the Canadian Hostels Association. Today, the former lodge is known simply as The Point, a grass-roots arts centre next to Rainbow Park. The snowmobile races were held on what was essentially Dick’s front yard.

From R-L, Dick Fairhurst, Gray Mitchell, Stephan Ples, and Don Gow take a break on Callaghan Lake, March 1970. The entire upper Callaghan Velley, including Callaghan Lake, is now a non-motorized zone to avoid conflicts with backcountry and nordic skiers.

From R-L, Dick Fairhurst, Gray Mitchell, Stephan Ples, and Don Gow take a break on Callaghan Lake, March 1970. The entire upper Callaghan Velley, including Callaghan Lake, is now a non-motorized zone to avoid conflicts with backcountry and nordic skiers.

Other winners at the inaugural race: Dee Wickes claimed the small-class slalom on a regular Olympique in 42.0 seconds. A “twisty course” around the lake was set up for the open race, and 30, 15, and 10 lap races were won by Ralph Monhay, Hugh Charbonneau, and Mandy Harrison, respectively.

Unfortunately, we don't have any background info of this archival photo of snowmobilers taking a break in front of Black Tusk. Judging by the sleds, this is probably from the early 1970s.

Unfortunately, we don’t have any background info of this archival photo of snowmobilers taking a break in front of Black Tusk. Judging by the sleds, this is probably from the early 1970s.