Tag Archives: Terry Rodgers

Celebrating Myrtle Philip Day

You might not have heard of it, but this Monday, March 19 is a holiday unique to Whistler.  On March 10, 1986 the council of the day voted to declare March 19 “Myrtle Philip Day” in honour of Myrtle Philip’s 95th birthday.

Myrtle and Alex Philip first came to the Whistler valley, then still known as Alta Lake, in 1911 and opened Rainbow Lodge in 1914.  Over the next 30 years their success at Rainbow Lodge helped turn Alta Lake into a summer destination.  When the pair sold the lodge in 1948 they had planned to move on but, like many who came after them, they never quite left.

Myrtle and Alex Philip stand outside Rainbow Lodge in the 1930s. Philip Collection.

After Alex’s death in 1968, Myrtle remained at her cottage on Alta Lake and continued to take an active part in community life.  She moved into Hilltop House in Squamish for only the last few years of her life.

Recognizing Myrtle’s birthday was nothing new for Whistler: almost every year her birthday celebrations were reported in the local papers, including The Whistler Question and The Citizen of Squamish.  Myrtle’s 90th was marked by a grad celebration at Myrtle Philip School attended by about 200 well wishers, including her two sisters and nephews and nieces.  The students of the school presented Myrtle with 90 daffodils and the Gourmet Bakery prepared a 99-inch cake for the occasion.  Presentations were also made by Pat Carleton, the Whistler Rotary Club, the Whistler Chamber of Commerce, School Board Chairman Jim McDonald and the staff of Myrtle Philip School.  Pat Beauregard, on behalf of the Alta Lake Community Club, presented a plaque representing the newly created “Myrtle Philip Award,” awarded each year to a student demonstrating academic excellence.  This award is still presented today.

89-year old Myrtle Philip cuts her birthday cake at her party.  Whistler Question Collection.

Given the community’s respect for Whistler’s “First Lady,” it is no surprise that her 95th birthday warranted her very own day.  This was not, however, the first Myrtle Philip Day celebrated in Whistler.

On October 13, 1974, friends, former guests of Rainbow Lodge and others who knew Myrtle gathered at the still-standing Rainbow Lodge to remember their days at Alta Lake.  Officially called “Myrtle Philip, This Is Your Life” day, the event was described as a “time when old friends and former guests of Rainbow return to the lodge” for a party that lasted from the train’s arrival to its departure.  The railway even planned to reserve an “old-time railway coach” to transport the party guests.

Myrtle Philip and Mayor Mark Angus celebrate her 93rd birthday. Philip Collection.

The official declaration of “Myrtle Philip Day” in 1986 was only one of the gifts Whistler gave Myrtle that year.  She also received a birthday cake, flowers, gift baskets and even a special Myrtle Philip cookie from Germain’s.  Tapley’s, which bears her family’s name, put up a birthday banner for the day and Mayor Terry Rodgers made a trip to see Myrtle in Squamish.

Unfortunately, this was also Myrtle’s last birthday.  That summer she died of complications following a stroke and was buried in the Whistler Cemetery.  The community continued to celebrate Myrtle Philip Day, hosting fundraisers and handing out birthday cake in her honour.

Remembrance Day in Whistler

This Saturday marks the 34th year of Whistler’s Remembrance Day observances, and the first not to take place at the Whistler Village Fire Hall.

Yesterday (Friday, November 10) Whistler’s cenotaph was revealed at its new home in Olympic Plaza in the monument’s second dedication ceremony.

Remembrance Day Ceremonies at the Fire Hall in the 1980s were small but supported by the Whistler community. Photo: Whistler Question Collection, 1984

The history of Whistler’s cenotaph is surprisingly murky – not much about its installation made it into the Whistler Question; far more has been written about moving the cenotaph than building it.  As part of the campaign to have the cenotaph moved, Anne Townley and GD Maxwell searched for any reference to the origins of the cenotaph but were still left with more questions.

The cenotaph was first installed outside of the fire hall in 1985.  It was commissioned by the Rotary Club of Whistler to “honour the soldiers of World War I, World War II and the Korean War.”

The stone came from a quarry off the Duffey Lake Road and was installed by Art Den Duyf and someone by the name of Wilson.  (If anyone knows more about the commissioning and installation of the cenotaph please don’t hesitate to contact the museum.)  The monument was unveiled on November 11, 1985 by Mayor Terry Rodgers and was originally dedicated by then-Rotary Club president Floyd Leclair.  The ceremony occurred just three days after the cenotaph’s installation was completed.

Before the installation of the cenotaph, wreaths were placed dug into the snow in the same location. Photo: Whistler Question Collection, 1984

Although Whistler’s cenotaph was not installed until 1985 the community had been holding Remembrance Day Services for at least two years previously.  These ceremonies also took place outside of the fire hall and wreaths were laid in the future site of the cenotaph, even if a spot for them had to be dug out of the snow.

Since 1985 Whistler’s Remembrance Day observances have grown to include the Colour Party and Parade, the Service of Remembrance, a helicopter fly over, and coffee and hot chocolate in the fire hall courtesy of the Rotary Club.

The Remembrance Day service starts at 10:30 am today (Saturday, November 11) in Olympic Plaza.