Tag Archives: Village construction

This Week In Photos: July 5

1978

Sherri Bilenduke smiles during the Pemberton parade on July 1st.

Workers (currently on a break) sweat under the sun at the scene of the new Hydro substation expansion project. Some locals are involved.

The BC Rail bridge over the Fitzsimmons Creek showing how the gravel buildup has drastically reduced the space between the water & the bridge.

1980

The Valleau Logging Truck float rounds the bend carrying the new Miss Pemberton, Kristi King.

Ron Jensen and Larry Packer pause before continuing their Utah to Alaska bike or two years on the road, whichever comes first. Malmute huskies carry their own food and water.

(L to R) John Derby, Andrew Nasedkin and Jeff Stern enjoy the Toni Sailer Summer Ski Camp now in progress.

(L to R) Narumi Kimura, Al Karaki and Masahito Tsunokai stand beside the Subaru-donated vehicle for their use while they train in Canada for the FIS freestyle circuit.

Sid Young hoists one of his 120 East Coast lobsters he had airlifted in for his summer party. Each one of the crustaceans weighed near 1.5 pounds.

Too many trucks and cars parked in “no parking” areas means no clear sightlines for drivers trying to enter Highway 99 from Lake Placid Rd.

1981

Picnic site at Daisy Lake – soon to be one of the many recreational facilities closed by the provincial government.

The sunworshippers poured out of the shadows and onto the wharf of Lost Lake on July 5 to enjoy a bit of Old Sol, whom some believe to be on the endangered species list.

Diver leaps from “swinging tree” at Lost Lake.

Paving helps smooth things out in the Village entrance.

Florence Corrigan, Whistler’s new pharmacist.

Looking like the stark rib cage of a whale, the support beams to the roof of the Resort Centre are put in place.

Stuart McNeill and 16 of his sunny students take to the shade on the first day of Camp Rainshine. McNeill is assisting Susie McCance in supervising the program.

The first Miss Bikini of Whistler, Keli Johnston, 19, of Whistler won herself a crisp $100 bill in the Mountain House’s first bikini contest held July 6.

1982

Alta Lake hosted the District 11 Windsurfing Championships over the weekend. First overall went to Thierry Damilano.

Strike up the band and pedal a brightly-decorated bike for Canada Day! These kids were only too eager to parade their creations around Village Square July 1.

Wow! Eyes agog, patient cake lovers were distracted for but a split second by a passing batch of bright-coloured balloons at Canada’s birthday party. The wait in line proved well worth it.

A birthday party deserves lots of bright colours and fun, and these kids weren’t disappointed by the Happy Birthday Canada celebrations held July 1 in Village Square. Const. Brian Snowden in full dress uniform gave Willie Whistler a hand passing out balloons.

Any explanation of this photograph would be greatly appreciated.

1984

Whistler Mountain’s Village Chair is now open for rides aloft for picnics and sightseeing. The chair opened Saturday, and will be running Thrusday to Monday, 11 am until 3 pm all summer.

Mountain bike racers competed Sunday and Monday in a pair of contests around the valley.

Tony Tyler and Linda Stefan, along with the invaluable help of Willie Whistler, drew the names of two lucky North Shore Community Credit Union customers Tuesday morning. Winners of the credit union’s opening draw are Fred Lockwood and Heather McInnis, both of Whistler. Lockwood receives a dual mountain ski pass and McInnis a summer’s windsurfing.

Canada’s birthday didn’t go unnoticed in Whistler, where a Maple Leaf cake baked by The Chef & Baker was distributed after birthday celebrations. RCMP Constable Rocky Fortin managed to take a moment away from posing for tourists’ snapshots in his full dress uniform and cut the cake.

It’s not just what you make, it’s how you make it! Winner of showmanship laurels for Sunday’s chili cook-off went to the Medics, whose chili didn’t go down well with the judges, but at least stayed down.

Winning team (The Gambling Gourmet) consisting of (l to r) Ted Nebbeling, judge Dean Hill, Wendy Meredith, Sue Howard, judge Phil Reimer, Val Lang.

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This Week In Photos: June 28

1978

Power lines dip treacherously after Sunday’s strong winds knocked large pieces of deadwood onto the line.

The district track meet in Squamish got lucky with its weather.

Someone was practicing their glass breaking at the liquor store last week. RCMP are investigating.

A new BBQ ready to be installed at Alta Lake Wayside Park.

Sarah, Wendy and Sid try to decide what to do with that nosy photographer during a party Friday.

1980

Arnold Palmer chats with the crowd towards the close of the official ceremony at the Whistler Golf Course.

A chopper spins and dips above Whistler benchlands as the lowest lift of the three chair north face lift system is installed from top down.

Casey Simpson, Eric Bredt, Devin Turner, Rachel Roberts, Corinne Valleau & Stephanie Simpson head out for their sprint with Terry Alway & Alex Marshall officiating.

Phase II Parcel 16 takes shape with Whistler Chairlift N-14 rising through the trees on the left.

Heavy Duty flat deck pulls out the last of two trailers that served as council chambers before Town Centre road construction forced the move.

1981

With a landscaped area, seed for lawn and new curbing in, Sunshine Place takes on a new look. Paving will add a finishing touch and should be completed by the end of July.

Myrtle Philip looks on as Greg Beauregard receives the first ever Myrtle Philip Award. Mother Pat smiles proudly.

Not to be outdone by the Myrtle Philip staff who were in last week’s paper, the staff from Signal Hill Elementary School in Pemberton pose for The Question.

Contestants for the Miss Pemberton Contest look on as BC Minister of Highways, Alex Fraser, explains the provincial grant for Pemberton Airport.

Madeline Domries and her pal Curly Jones wait with great expectations for their fourth prize at Dog Days in the Village Square.

Dressed up at the Alta Lake Community Club Roaring Twenties Pot Luck Dinner, left to right: Max Maxwell, Kelly Maxwell, Diane Smith and Ken Domries.

Susan McCance will run Whistler’s new daycare program.

1982

A chopper heads out with a bucket of water to help squelch the recent forest fire in Cheakamus.

Jan Naylor displays some of the strawberries now ready for picking at the Naylor Berry Farm 3 km north of Pemberton.

Stubborn as a mule! In spite of the efforts of the ‘D’Arcy Prospectors’ this donkey refused to cross the BCR tracks during the Pemberton Parade in celebration of Canada week.

New stop signs often get ignored so the municipality placed reminders in front of this sign on the intersection of Rainbow, Matterhorn and Camino Drive.

Not even the rain stopped these kids from a practice paddle on Alta Lake for the Whistler Country Guides Kids Races. Bad weather postponed the races to Saturday, July 3 at 9:30 at Wayside Park.

1983

Long-time Whistler residents Paul Mathews and Margot Sutcliffe shared a smile on their wedding day Saturday, June 25 at Whistler. Over 150 guests joined the celebration at the Sundial Restaurant.

This house has found its new home on the streets of Whistler.

Round and round and round they danced in celebration of summer. Whistler’s first Midsummer Fest, June 25-26, caught the imagination of hundreds, whether they were Scandinavian or not.

Toni Sailer, six-time Olympic gold medalist, comes to Whistler from Austria every year to run the ski camp.

Dave Murray and Floyd Wilkie have a pre-session consultation at the base of the t-bar.

The Tapley’s Pub softball team poses for a group photo.

Ken Harrop of Singapore Airlines showed his staff and took to the air Saturday during the obstacle race – part one of the three-part Battle of the Travel Stars. Thirty-seven travel agents took part in the two-day fun-filled FAM tour of Whistler.

1984

Scandinavian dancers and musicians filled the village over the weekend for traditional Midsummer festivities. Saturday and Sunday afternoon dancers in garb of the old country whirled about Village Square to folk tunes.

Pemberton Mayor Shirley Henry officially opened the Pemberton Museum Saturday with help from West Vancouver-Howe Sound MLA John Reynolds and his wife Yvonne. Museum curator Margaret Fougberg says most of the collection, which features artifacts dating from the 1860s until the 1950s, was donated by townspeople. The museum building itself has a long history. It was built around 1895 and has been moved twice. It’s permanent location is on Prospect Street in Pemberton.

Whistler Mountains’ miniature golf course at the gondola opened last week and immediately attracted a steady following. The 18-hole course costs $2 a round for adults, $1 for children and is open all day.

Grade seven students went on a computer tour Friday, visiting municipal computers, Twin Peaks Property Management computers and the phototypesetting systems used by the Whistler Question. Pauline Wiebe, Question typesetter, shows students how the machine works.

Myrtle Philip: School and Community Centre

Looking through the photographs of The Whistler Question one thing that sticks out is how many of the photographs were taken at the same venues.

It makes sense – the Village was still under construction for many of the years covered by The Question Collection and indoor venue options were limited in the late 1970s.  One of the locations that shows up again and again is the first Myrtle Philip Elementary School.

The first Myrtle Philip School at the beginning of the school year, 1978. Photo: Whistler Question Collection

Myrtle Philip School, originally located about where the Delta Suites sits today, first opened its doors in 1976.  Prior to its opening, students from the Whistler area attended school in Pemberton after the Alta Lake School closed in 1970.

Unlike the Alta Lake School, which in 1956 had excited students with its indoor plumbing and uneven playing field, Myrtle Philip School was a modern elementary school.  It had six classrooms, a gym, lunchroom, library, computer lab, offices, a full-size playing field, tennis courts and an ice stock sliding area.

It was obviously built with room to grow; in 1976 the school had 57 students and three teachers (including Roger Griffin, who was also the principal).

The new school had also been built with the growing community in mind.  The Squamish Lillooet Regional District contributed $300,000 to the school for a larger gym and common facilities that were to be used by the community as a whole.  From the photographs, it certainly looks like these spaces were put to good use.

The Community Club Craft Fair held in the Myrtle Philip School gym, December 1978. Photo: Whistler Question Collection

As well as school activities, such as Christmas and spring concerts, the annual science fair, awards ceremonies and sporting events, Myrtle Philip School also hosted meetings (of the business, political and Brownie varieties), art exhibitions, dances, performances and even elections (you can see Myrtle Philip vote in Myrtle Philip School in the Week of November 26, 1978).

A community meeting in the gym gets a unanimous verdict in January, 1979. Photo: Whistler Question Collection

Before the construction of the conference centre, the gym was the setting for the European Dinner Dance as well as performances by the Squamish Youth Chorale and Dave Murray’s retirement party.  Some events were both school and community events, such as Myrtle’s Hoedown Showdown held in 1991 to celebrate what would have been Myrtle Philip’s 100th birthday.

A spring baseball game on the field of Myrtle Philip School in May, 1980. Photo: Whistler Question Collection

As Whistler is generally a pretty active community it’s not surprising that the school and its facilities were often used for soccer matches, baseball games, ice stock sliding practice and dance classes (photos of both Debbie Gurlach’s jazz dance class and the Squamish Youth Chorale’s performance of The Day He Wore My Crown can be seen in the Week of April 18, 1983).  The school gym was also the site of Whistler Mountain Ski Club ski swaps and community markets.

By the late 1980s enrollment at Myrtle Philip School had grown to 250 students and by 1991 the school had eight portables, a type of classroom many Whistler students would be familiar with through the early 2000s.

In 1979 Myrtle Philip School and the firehall were two of the few finished buildings in the Village. Photo: Whistler Question Collection

In 1987, only ten years after the school had opened, the Howe Sound School Board had already begun plans for a site evaluation for a new school.  The second Myrtle Philip School on Lorimer Road opened in September 1992 and also included community spaces.

Although the first Myrtle Philip School only operated for fifteen years it provided an important space for a growing community to gather and many classes, community groups and community programs continue to operate out of school spaces today.

Creating the Consummate Ski Village

Building on the post from two week’s ago which examined some of the key influences that informed landscape architect Eldon Beck’s design for Whistler Village, now we will delve deeper into some of the challenges and happy surprises that came to light during the actual construction of the village.

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As Beck recalls, though he had a lot of support and leeway in crafting an initial design true to his personal vision, getting it built was a different story.

Probably the biggest [challenge] was that the various designers with their projects, the architects, were used to doing stand-alone buildings… The requirement that they subordinate their individuality to the totality of the Village was really hard for many to comprehend. We’d set it up, and that’s why we required models. We wanted to see how the models would fit together. We’d get one model, stick it by another, you’d see it didn’t match. We’d talk with them and say, “Can’t you make your roof form fit, can’t you make this happen?” We lost all of those battles.

My first reaction when they were built was to walk around I got probably 40 or 50 slides of mistakes. So I took pictures of all these things that didn’t quite fit. A couple of years later I did the same thing and said, “Well those are really pretty nice.” It was almost the mistakes of not fitting that became human. It was more real and more human because of the imperfections rather than controlled perfection. It was interesting. I had to flip my mind around and say, “Oh, that’s kind of neat.” That really looks like [several] people did it instead of being totally controlled. But that was the big one. Their understanding that they were subordinate to the Village totality was hard for most designers to comprehend.

And so in his typically philosophical manner, Beck learned that relinquishing some control could actually enhance his vision.

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However, not all the unplanned changes pleased him. One notable concern he continues to raise is the impact of some of the larger buildings in the village:

I have not been consulted on any of those. I’ve been consulted on most new things in the Village, revisions within the Village… The problem with the big buildings, when they become vertical, they lose the relationship with the pedestrian level.

Independent-minded builders and excess verticality weren’t the only unforeseen challenges to attaining Beck’s vision. In late 1981, as the village was mid-construction, a massive recession brought much of the work in progress to a halt. Though the provincial government bailed out the village construction, the building environment changed substantially. As Beck recalls,

It is interesting ‘cause it was almost the opposite to the question on over-planning… The controls were eased thinking that by golly if someone can come in and build something, go right ahead. Don’t worry so much about the regulations. So as dearly as I love Al [Raine] and Nancy [Greene], I think that the roof form on their building [Nancy Greene Lodge] was absolutely wrong. And I think it was at that point the Carleton Lodge was built. And I think that violated one of the early premises that that was the town living room. In early plans it was a two-story building, low in profile, so that when you came up the street you could see the mountains. Instead it became a big old block at the end of the street. So the whole west side of Village Stroll I thought was pretty badly compromised by that period of time.

Still, Beck is very satisfied with the final outcome. We’ll conclude with some of Beck’s favourite aspects of the village, as recounted two decades after its initial construction:

Probably the thing that’s most consistent actually is the spatial framework, the pedestrian framework of the Village has really survived. It was organized around views, so as walk at the end of the place, you see a mountain. So the structure of the Village really grew out of that view. That has remained and I think that’s been the thing that’s made it really work very well.

I think Village Square is superb. The scale is right, the life is right, it really works. From there going back, Skier’s Approach to Village Commons, I think that’s probably one of the nicest sections in terms of scale… So I keep pointing back to that one section, saying that’s really what the objective was. I think Village Square is a magical place, it really works well.

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Whistler Village Influences

If the twin peaks of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains put our town on the map, then Whistler Village is what keeps it there. It didn’t come together overnight; there were more than a few hiccups along the way, but to this day the village remains one of the defining features of our resort.

In the past we shared some stories from Eldon Beck, the lead architect responsible for the Village’s design. With this post we will delve a bit deeper into Beck’s creative process and the physical reality that it resulted in.

Despite the naturalistic approach, a lot of thought got crammed into Beck's initial designs.

Despite the naturalistic approach, a lot of thought got crammed into Beck’s initial designs.

When asked about the main influences on his design, Beck first pointed to his success in redesigning the village at Vail, Colorado.

My professional training is in landscape architecture…  In 1972 my firm was hired by the town of Vail to do an overall community master plan… It finally turned into resolving horrendous issues they had about traffic and servicing in their village, so the task was to make it a pedestrian village. So I worked for them as their prime consultant for about six years, from 1972-1978. That really was the bulk of my early mountain planning experience.

It was on the heels of this successful transformation of Vail into a more pedestrian-centric place that Beck was solicited for the new Whistler Village.

Lots of attention were paid to ambiance, the flow of traffic, and sight-lines of the surrounding mountains.

Lots of attention were paid to ambiance, the flow of traffic, and sight-lines of the surrounding mountains.

Unsurprisingly he took a similar approach here, to similar success, scrapping the original, grid-style design for his more flee-flowing traffic-free village. Continuing to describe how his work at Vail carried through to Whistler:

Vail did have a fairly important influence, mostly Bridge Street. The shape of the street actually was almost exactly what the shape of the valley suggested.

Going back further, Beck referred to where most influences in the ski world draw from, the Alps…

I’d done a fair amount of European traveling in the mountains, and I was fascinated by villages for a long, long, long time. So both Wengen and Interlaken [in Switzerland were major influences]. I took a lot of pictures there and I used parts of both of them. One as a pedestrian town and the other as a symbol of what a village was with the picture of shops on the ground floor and then the people who own the shops living above it. And so that was kind of the pattern, that’s the historic look of what a village is… The European villages all were shaped by the land. They didn’t violate the land. So to me that was very important. In our continent we tend to dominate the land. We don’t respect it as we should.

And so the Village adopted Beck’s more environmentally oriented design style.

This amazing scale model was produced to help visualize and plan the village before building. Note the planned hockey arena that instead ended up being the Conference Centre.

This amazing scale model was produced to help visualize and plan the village before building. Note the planned hockey arena that instead ended up being the Conference Centre.

The Village Stroll was intended to mimic the meandering curves of a flowing stream. Like an actual river, major bends in the route were conceived as eddies, incorporating open plazas where people could take a breather and watch the flow of traffic stream by.

The meanderings were intentional because, even though they weren’t direct or efficient like a grid, that wasn’t the point. Tourists weren’t here for business, Beck reasoned, but to relax, so a little happy confusion was sprinkled into the design. He wanted people to be able get a little lost in the village and wander aimlessly.

Practical considerations were not lost on Beck however; the village still needed to function. Logistical features such as the commercial loading bays, underground parking, hotel entrances and so on were tucked into back alleys in the Stroll’s many folds, hidden from view to keep the noise and distraction away from the pedestrian zones.

Recognize this spot?

Recognize this spot?

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In next week’s post we’ll return to Beck and his reminiscences about the village’s construction and how the reality matched his vision.