Tag Archives: Whistler history

Are you good at identifying people? Naming Night is back!

Naming Night may not be back at the museum, but it will be back online this week! Like previous Naming Nights, we’re seeking assistance in putting names to faces and places that appear in the Whistler area’s history. Whether you’ve been in the valley for decades or are new to the area, have lived here or visited over the years, are staying home in the valley or haven’t been back in an age, we’ll be displaying a collection of new (to Naming Night) photographs that we are searching for more information on. Help us identify your friends, family, coworkers, and anything in between!

We will be posting an album of photos on our Facebook page (find it here) at 7 pm on Thursday, September 23. Names and information can be added to each individual photo in the comment section, or you can even tag your friends in the photograph. Despite the physical distance, we hope the photos will still generate the discussions and debates about their who, what, where, when and why that we have enjoyed so much at our in-person events.

Whistler’s Answers: September 16, 1982

In the 1980s the Whistler Question began posing a question to three to six people and publishing their responses under “Whistler’s Answers” (not to be confused with the Whistler Answer).  Each week, we’ll be sharing one question and the answers given back in 1982.  Please note, all names/answers/occupations/neighbourhoods represent information given to the Question at the time of publishing and do not necessarily reflect the person today.

Some context for this week’s question: The Mountain Development Corporation was an initiative to provide affordable housing for Whistler residents through the development of Tapley’s Farm. Shareholders became the first owners in the neighbourhood and in December 1980 lots were drawn at a large party. Restrictions were put on the lots, including that all homes had to have a covenant restricting ownership to Whistler employees and that the Resort Municipality of Whistler had a right of first refusal on any subsequent sale of lots. When some lots were sold during the recession of the early 1980s, the RMOW passed on their right of first refusal and the covenants on such lots were removed. This meant that lots that had been passed on could be sold at market prices, rather than a formula price.

Question: Do you think MDC owners should be able to sell their lots at other than formula price?

Don Gamache – MDC lot owner

I’ve been thinking about that lately. Yes, I think the owners should be able to sell their lots at any price, but I don’t want to see a bunch of open property dropped on the market just to turn over a dollar. The lot should be developed and maybe owned for a couple of years before it’s sold.

Mike Culwell – interested bystander

No, I think the system was set up a certain way which everyone agreed to at the time so they should stick to it. Nine tenths of the people I know will scream at me for saying this but they knew the rules when MDC was started.

Roland Kentel – ex waiting list member

The answer to that is simple. Yes. There’s nothing to expand on. It’s a legal contract. The municipality refused when they had right of first refusal so owners are free to sell their lots on the open market.

W is for Whistler

For some visitors to the museum, the most recognizable images of Whistler’s past are not photographs or objects, but logos and company branding. Just seeing Garibaldi Lifts Ltd.’s green and blue “G” can instantly remind a former lift operator of their company-issued jacket and the months they spend loading the Red Chair sometime between 1965 and 1980. Some logos and branding initiatives have lasted for decades while others were only in use for a few years and then forgotten, though traces of them can still be found around the Whistler valley long after they were first introduced.

Jim McConkey is his Ski School uniform, including a small blue and green G on the label. Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation Collection.

The Whistler Village Land Company (WVLC) introduced their “W” logo in their newsletter in December 1978. It was designed by Robert McIlhargey, an architectural illustrator who, with his wife Lori Brown, created much of the concept rendering work for Expo 86. McIlhargey was hired by the WVLC along with David Clifford as design consultants, helping plan elements of the Whistler Village like the logo and even directional signs. According to McIlhargey, the “W” logo and uniform branding and signage throughout the resort were meant to “reinforce the image of Whistler.”

The “W” logo consisted of a circle of Ws, often with the words Whistler Village written underneath. It was designed to be easily adapted to different settings through the use of different text and background colours (the logo was first introduced in green). Shortly after its introduction, the Ws were visible on signs at the entrance to the Whistler Village site and into the 1980s the Ws could be found on wooden signs, pamphlets, advertisements, and even turtlenecks. In 1979, Don Willoughby and Geoff Power of Willpower Enterprises were given permission to use the “W’ logo to produce 1,000 t-shirts as souvenirs of the World Cup race that was meant to have run on Whistler Mountain.

New signs recently put up in the area of the new Whistler Village by the Whistler Village Land Company. Whistler Question Collection.

Not all marketing and branding initiatives in Whistler have been as seemingly well received as WVLC’s “W” logo. The reception to the memorable Big Old Softie initiative wasn’t exactly what the Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation (WMSC) had hoped for.

According to WMSC’s then Vice-President of Marketing Mike Hurst, Whistler Mountain began to be perceived as “the big ol’ tough ol’ mountain from way back” after Blackcomb Mountain opened for skiing in 1980, while Blackcomb built a reputation as a beginner-friendly mountain. Hurst described Blackcomb’s reputation as “this big, friendly family mountain, nice and soft, everything’s good.” Whistler Mountain did not yet have the same on-mountain amenities of family-focused programs that Blackcomb did, but after fifteen years without local competition Whistler Mountain was working to change its image.

The Big Old Softie sticker, showing a friendly image of Whistler Mountain.

Hurst and his team began trying to show that Whistler Mountain was “every bit as friendly and family oriented” as Blackcomb with lots of easy beginner terrain. Working with Ron Woodall (the person behind the A&W Root Bear and the creative director of Expo 86), the Big Old Softie initiative was created. Featuring a rounded, smiling mountain, the Big Old Softie was not a universal hit. On rainy days, some changed the name to the “Big Old Soggy” and, according to Hurst, he and the Whistler Mountain team “got raked over the coals pretty good by pretty much everybody” about the campaign. Despite this, the Big Old Softie has proven memorable, and Hurst thought that it did bring attention to Whistler Mountain’s softer side and developing programs.

While you are unlikely to come across an image of the Big Old Softie walking through Whistler today, there are still circles of Ws and even some Garibaldi Lifts Gs that can be spotted around town.

Whistler’s Answers: September 9, 1982

In the 1980s the Whistler Question began posing a question to three to six people and publishing their responses under “Whistler’s Answers” (not to be confused with the Whistler Answer).  Each week, we’ll be sharing one question and the answers given back in 1982.  Please note, all names/answers/occupations/neighbourhoods represent information given to the Question at the time of publishing and do not necessarily reflect the person today.

Some context for this week’s question: When Eldon Beck designed the Whistler Village, he intended for people to get a little lost. In 1982, however, some people were having a bit more trouble than expected. The Village was still under construction, subdivisions weren’t always clearly marked, and there weren’t all that many maps around for those finding their way. Even the signs on the highway were less direct than they are today.

Question: Have you had any problems finding your way around Whistler?

Karin Strom-Gundersen – Vancouver

I think everything seems to be fairly straightforward. There’s definitely adequate signage.

Last time we were here we went cross-country skiing and had no problems.

The only thing we didn’t realize and it might confuse other people – is that there’s two parts to Whistler: the old section down by the Husky and the new centre here.

Carolyn Henshaw – Delta, BC

None!

Axel Andkide – Essex, Ontario

It’s been fairly easy getting around. I would say we had no problems whatsoever.

This is the first time we’ve come here. We drove up from Horseshoe Bay and there was no problem in finding the place or finding our way around.

We’ve really enjoyed it.