Tag Archives: Village Square

This Week in Photos: January 18

1980

Whistler base from the Gondola Run, as it looked on January 14, 1980.

Paul & Jane Burrows added a bit of warmth to the paper with more travel photos, this time from New Orleans.

Cars got buried in snow in Alpine Meadows.

1981

Paul Burrows holds a copy of the winter edition of Whistler Magazine. The magazine is still published today.

Fuel-soaked cardboard ignites as Bentham (far right) readies to run. (If anyone knows why this stunt took place or has any further details, please let us know at the Museum.)

Bursting through the blaze as crewmen with fire extinguishers head towards Bentham.

Getting the treatment from four extinguishers including brother Harry Bentham (wearing the ski toque).

In the aftermath, Bentham is bandaged by his brother Harry.

1982

A weekend snow storm effectively buried many cars and had many people heading out with shovels.

“Through the hoops” – a Myrtle Philip Kindergarten student shows their form during the school ski program at Blackcomb. The students go skiing once a week for four weeks.

Dennis Waddingham, North Side Ski Shop Manager for Whistler Mountain, Resident of Whistler Cay.

Dogs enjoy playing in the snow in Village Square.

1983

Cross-country skiers kick out over the new trail system around Lost Lake on a sunny Sunday afternoon. The same trail was the scene of a 20 km race earlier in the day.

Have you cleaned your chimney lately? If not, these fellows may pay you a visit shortly. Fire Inspector Gerry Fosty reports there have been four chimney fires at Whistler since the New Year – all of them preventable.

Over 200 applicants turned out at the Keg Monday, January 17 for a variety of jobs being offered by the restaurant. The Keg is scheduled to open its doors sometime in early February.

All hands were on deck for the first series in the third annual Boat Race between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains Wednesday at the Longhorn Pub. Crowds cheered the Blackcomb team on to victory in the Women’s and All-Star (mixed team) events. Whistler Mountain personnel were the top tipplers in the men’s division and will have a chance to regain the All-Star title Wednesday, March 2 at the Bavarian Inn.

1985

Divers prepare for a plunge into Nita Lake.

An RCMP E-division diving trainee prepares to climb out of the frigid water of Nita Lake at last week’s training session held in Whistler. The divers combed the lake bottom in pairs learning how to recover lost objects such as vehicles, weapons and bodies.

The shaken occupant of a van that was struck at the Lorimer and Nesters intersection last Thursday morning leaves the upturned vehicle. About $4000 damage was done to the two vehicles, but there were no serious injuries. The accident occurred when a car turning off Nesters Road collided with a second vehicle, which was travelling on Lorimer Road. The driver of the first car was charged with driving without due care and attention.

The SoCreds Party in Whistler!

Thirty years ago, Whistler was at the centre of the BC political universe. During the week culminating in July 30th 1986, the provincial Social Credit Party held their leadership convention here, as they sought to find a replacement for outgoing party leader Bill Bennett.

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The Whistler Driving Range was transformed into a political fair grounds, where leadership hopefuls could promote their political brand.

The Socreds, as the party was commonly known, had a close connection to the nascent resort. Although the initial decisions to create the RMOW, develop skiing on Blackcomb, and build a tourism-specific village at the base of the mountains had been made during the 1972-1975 reign of the NDP, the Socred’s ideological opposites and bitter rivals, the Socreds (to many people’s surprise) continued to support Whistler Village when they regained power in 1975.

Most notably, this included assuming provincial control of a heavily indebted Whistler Village Land Company in 1983. Without that decision, Whistler Village would be a very different place than it is today. At major political risk, the Socreds had hitched their wagon to Whistler Village.

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The buzz in Village Square was inescapable.

In 1986, with Whistler Village construction completed and the resort experiencing rapid growth and approaching economic stability, it was the perfect venue to highlight one of the Socred’s major successes in governance.

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The carnivalesque atmosphere on the Whistler Village driving range during the 1986 SoCred Leadership convention. Photo by Dave Steers.

In typical fashion, Whistler locals made sure to apply their own interpretation of the term “political party.” As local photographer Dave Steers recalls:

What became evident rather quickly to Whistlerites was that the convention offered interesting eating and drinking opportunities. Many of the would-be leaders didn’t seem to mind wining and dining the locals in town and, not surprisingly, full advantage was taken.

Tapley’s regulars could be found schmoozing with delegates over bar-b-q’d bison burgers. Citta’s patio-dwellers migrated to the driving range to trade political views and and down beers with the movers and shakers of the Social Credit party. It made for some interesting exchanges.

A kind of poster war developed in the village. Rumour had it that local eateries were selling walls and pillars to candidates who would then paste their campaign posters onto them. A pillar in the right location was rumoured to be worth over a thousand dollars.

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Village Square was turned into a central convention space and outdoor billboard for all of the contenders (at least those that could afford the temporary real estate for their signs).

In the end, Bill Vander Zalm won the convention and assumed leadership of the party, overcoming rivals Grace McCarthy and Brian Smith, among others. Notably, the 12th and last place finisher was none other than future Prime Minister of Canada Kim Campbell.

The 1986 convention was widely regarded as a successful and energizing political event, and Vander Zalm initially enjoyed high approval ratings as BC Premier. Thankfully, however, Whistler’s fortunes weren’t tied to the Socred brand, as Vander Zalm was forced to resign due to a controversial conflict-of-interest case in 1991, and the ultimate decline of the Social Credit Party followed soon after.

Here in Whistler, meanwhile, the party never stopped.

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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