Tag Archives: transportation

Whistler Before the Sea-to-Sky

Whistler’s steep, mountainous terrain is what makes it so attractive as a tourist destination. It’s perfect for skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, and hiking. However, those same rocky hills have been one of it’s greatest challenges, providing a frustrating barrier for tourists and residents alike.  For the first non-indigenous settlers, the area was only accessible by a narrow path known as the Pemberton Trail, constructed in 1877. This trail, which ran from Burrard Inlet, around the far side of Alta Lake, and up to Lillooet, was intended to provide access to the Gold Rush.

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The Pemberton Trail would have ran around Alta Lake’s far shores. Photo: Philip Collection

Unfortunately, by the time the trail was constructed the rush was basically over. An attempt was made to take cattle down it, but most of them died, due to the lack of grazing and the difficult terrain. With no other use for it, the Pemberton Trail functioned as an occasional route for travelers. The trail took three days, by steamship and by foot, assisted by a packhorse. In those days, horses were an important asset. Travelers carried supplies on packhorses, as did Myrtle and Alex Philip, founders of the area’s first resort. They also used a series of workhorses to construct Rainbow Lodge- to simplify things, all the horses were called “Bob”.

The train tracks also provided a ready-made sidewalk for Alta Lake and Parkhurst residents. Photo: Philip Collection

Many of the area’s inhabitants hoped the construction of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway would make access easier. The PGE had multiple false starts- a company was incorporated to build it in 1891, and by 1909 twelve miles of track were completed, when they ran short of funds and had to stop.

By the time construction began in earnest in 1912 the railway had acquired a number of despairing nicknames, among them  “Province’s Great Expense”, “Past God’s Endurance”, and “Prince George Eventually”.  Finally, in 1914, the railway was up and running from Squamish to Quesnel, and soon resorts, logging, and other industries began to spring up in the area. Transit was still anything but easy. The journey involved four to six hours on steamship from Vancouver to Squamish, and a further three to four hours to Alta Lake, as the train only went from 25 to 40 km/h and often had to stop to refuel. The train ride was upgraded through the years, including the addition of open-topped observation cars and a dinner service. Though the journey was long, it wasn’t unpleasant- travelers often enjoyed ice cream, or beer if they were older, as they waited in Squamish. There were also stops for afternoon tea at Rainbow Lodge, costing 35 cents.

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The creation of the PGE made it easy to travel in style. Photo; Philip Collection

Despite these improvements, the journey was still a long one. In the sixties, the Garibaldi Lift Company, hoping to set up skiing in the area, realized that something more convenient would be necessary in order to draw in tourists. A “road” was built from Whistler to Squamish in 1962, although it was. Initially the track was mostly fist-sized rocks and dirt, and driving across streams was sometimes required. 

The trail was plowed infrequently, making winter journeys treacherous. Tire punctures were common, and the first trips from Vancouver took five hours. Thankfully, the road was paved in 1966, and improvement has continued up to the present. The most recent upgrades were for the 2010 Olympics, cutting the travel time down to the two hours we enjoy today.  Although travel time has ranged from multiple days to a matter of hours, people have always felt Whistler was worth the trip.

Highway 99, shortly after it’s creation- still not paved! Photo: Gord Leidal

 

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LEGO Competition 2017 Recap

Last Saturday the Whistler Museum was happy to welcome 41 children for our 21st annual LEGO Building Competition. Because of the smoke in the valley, we had to bring the kids inside to build their creations. This didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s sprits or creativity!

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The kids in the 9-11 age group begin to build their LEGO transportation creations.

After a short presentation and introduction, the kids were given 45 minutes to build their best interpretation of the theme. This year’s theme was “Imagination Transportation”, to showcase how much transportation has changed in the past 100 years of Whistler. The children were asked to build anything to represent their ideal form of transportation, real or imaginary. We had some really inventive interpretations of the theme, including spaceships, a hover-board, and an impressive black submarine from a talented 8 year old.

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A colourful flying car built by a 6 year old named Peter.

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Gregory’s jet engine and Marie’s hover-board powered by rockets, both from the 9-11 age category.

 

We would really like to thank our judges Alison Hunter, Marie Holland from the Audain Museum, Julie Burrows from the Whistler Public Library, and Alyssa Bruijns from the Whistler Museum and Archives. We wouldn’t be able to hold the competition without your support! The winners they decided on this year were as follows:

Ages 5 and under:

  1. Michael M.
  2. Asher
  3. Cam H.

Ages 6-8:

  1. Isaac P.
  2. Ethan A.
  3. Joey J.

Ages 9-11:

  1. William O.
  2. Zachary D.
  3. Bronwyn D.

Ages 12 and up:

  1. Samuel L.
  2. Linus K.
  3. Dylan P.
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A little boy from the under five age group with his impressive DUPLO train adorned with a polar bear!

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The kids in the 12 and up table share their LEGO with a boy from a younger group.

 

 

Even if a child didn’t win a prize, they still went home with a loot bag fun of fun goodies.

This event wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for the support we receive every year from our generous local businesses. This year we received donations from Armchair Books, Cows Ice Cream, Escape! Whistler, IGA, Meadow Park Sports Centre, PureBread, The Great Glass Elevator, Avalanche Pizza, The Old Spaghetti Factory, and Whoola Toys.

We would also like to give a huge thank you to every child and parent or caretaker that was involved in the LEGO Competition. We love to see everyone come out to have fun, and despite the relocation it was a success. See you next year!

 

2017 LEGO Building Competition

The competition is sold out for this year! This year marks the 21st annual Building Competition with LEGO bricks. It is open for children under 15 and there are many great prizes to be won! Children are given 45 minutes to create something in their best interpretation of the theme. This year’s theme is “Imagination Transportation”, to showcase how much transportation has changed in the 150 years since Canada’s Confederation. After the time is up, our judges will choose the top three children from each age group to win special prizes. You don’t worry about winning, because every child will walk away with a goody bag full of fun stuff!

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Transportation has always been a crucial factor in history, affecting who visits a place, who stays, and how people live. Every major period in Whistler’s history developed alongside changes to Whistler’s links with the outside world. 150 years ago, the only way to get to Whistler was through the Pemberton Trail, which was winding and dangerous. When pioneers first began making the trek to the valley, about 100 years ago, it took three days. The first day would be spend on a steamboat from Vancouver to Squamish, followed by a three day journey on foot to get to Whistler. After that came the train, and since then cars, bikes, water-planes and many other methods of transportation have made their way into the valley. This year’s theme, therefore, is going to showcase transportation! Old or new, real or imaginary, show us what you think would be the best way to get around. Maybe you think everyone should do as they did back in 1914 and take the train everywhere they go. Otherwise, maybe in your fantasy world, the streets are filled with snow and everyone gets along with skis and snowboards. From horses to spaceships, or even to riding lions, let your imagination run wild!

This year the event will be taking place on August 5th in Florence Petersen Park from 2pm-4pm. 

It is $10 per child, to register please call us at 604-932-2019 or email our Program Coordinator at programcoord@whistlermuseum.org.

We have great prizes from Armchair books, Cows, Escape!, The Great Glass Elevator, and Meadow Park Sports Centre, just to name a few. 

Speaker Series: Three Decades On The Duffey

*** SOLD OUT ***

Failure planes, depth hoar, induction lines, Rutschblocks. Even if you have no idea what we’re talking about, you probably know that avalanche safety is an extremely important topic in B.C. and other mountain regions around the world. Avalanche science has come a long way over the last three decades, and Scott Aitken has seen it all.

Scott in front of some Gazex avalanche detonator above the Duffey.

Scott is entering his 29th season as an avalanche technician for the B.C. Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure’s Coast-Chilcotin section. The man is personally responsible for keeping our region’s roads safe from snow slides, including the renowned ski terrain above the notorious Duffey Lake Highway. You can bet he’s accumulated his share of stories over the years.

For a quick video tease of Scott working in the field, check this short clip “Avalanche Road” from photo/video magician Jordan Manley, profiling avalanche crews around the province (Scott and partner Doug Tuck appear about 1:35 in):

This Wednesday evening Scott will be coming into the Whistler Museum to kick off our winter Speaker Series with a presentation  entitled “Avalanche Forecasting: A Thirty Year Retrospective.” The start of another glorious, snow-filled winter is the perfect time for a snow-safety refresher, but don’t come expecting a dull crystallography lecture (though I’m sure he’ll be happy to answer any technical questions).

Fairly typical work conditions for an Avy Tech.

Instead, Scott will offer a unique first-hand account of the life of a professional avalanche technician. These folks work pretty darn hard to keep our roads and surrounding mountains safe, but go completely unnoticed when they’re doing their jobs best. Wednesday’s presentation will provide you with a behind-the-scenes look into these unheralded efforts and broaden your perspective on the huge advancements in avalanche safety over the years.

Where: Whistler Museum (4333 Main Street, behind the Library)
When: Wednesday November 21st, Doors 6:15pm, Presentation 7pm
Tickets: 7$/$5 for Museum members. Advance tickets at museum or call 604-932-2019
Other: Cash Bar (19+), complimentary tea & coffee.

Stay tuned for announcements about upcoming Speaker Series events, to occur on the 3rd Wednesday of each month, January through April.