Tag Archives: Whistler liquor store

Beer Woes of Whistler

The summer of 1978 was a dry one for British Columbia, though not because of the weather. In early June 1978, workers at the three major breweries in the province were locked out during contract negotiations. For the next few months, beer became a limited commodity in BC, including in Whistler.

That spring, Labatt, Molson, and Carling O’Keefe, each of whom employed about 500 workers in BC, decided to negotiate jointly with the Canadian Union of United Brewery, Flour, Cereal, Soft Drink and Distillery Workers. Talks began in May but by June little progress had been made and workers at all three breweries were locked out. With few craft breweries in the province and labour disputes with breweries also occurring in Alberta and Manitoba, liquor stores and customers turned to American breweries to try to meet demand. While the Liquor Administration Branch (LAB) imported products through official channels, individuals were not always so dutiful. On June 14, the Whistler Question informed residents that, “with Alberta now dry, all mercy missions must be directed towards dangerous smuggling operations to the US,” and Macleans reported that “Petty smuggling became an art form, and a customs inspector at the Washington border allowed that ‘Canadians are becoming pretty proficient liars when it comes to making declarations.” (“No rest for the beer,” Dan’l Larocque, Macleans, July 24, 1978)

Paul Burrows picks up his two cases of Olympia. Whistler Question Collection, 1978.

Within Whistler, the state of beer in the area was discussed almost every week throughout the summer. On June 28, amid predictions that the “near-drought (beer-wise) seems to be sticking around,” the Question reported the supply of local establishments such as the Highland Lodge, the Boot, and L’Après like they would sporting statistics, with the Highland Lodge “checking in” at 25 domestic cases of beer. Though the Liquor Store implemented a two-case limit and tried to buy imported and American brands, the Whistler store was just one of many stores in the province competing for a limited supply. By the end of June, the Liquor Store had no beer at all and did not expect to get any in until July 5 at the earliest, well after the long weekend ended.

Schlitz and Olympia, American beers, attempted to fill the gap left by the breweries being shut down. Whistler Question Collection, 1978.

When the July 5 shipment did arrive, Whistler’s Liquor Store received only 135 cases of imported European beer our of an expected 500. The beer, which was priced between $11.50 and $13 per dozen (between $45 and $50, when adjusted for inflation), went on sale at 1pm and was sold out by 6pm, even with a one case/customer limit. According to store manager Dennis Lemarche, a couple of local restaurants tried to circumvent the limit by asking people in the parking lot to pick up a case, but this was quickly stopped.

Not all beers brought in to fill the gap were American – imported European beers were also popular that summer. Whistler Question Collection, 1978.

Through August, rations of Olympia, Schlitz, Heineken and other brands continued to arrive in Whistler periodically, usually selling out within a day or two. In the lodges and hotels around the valley, supplies of American and imported beer were kept on hand but, as the weather in Whistler got hotter, prices were also reported to rise.

Negotiations between the breweries and the union had progressed and by the fall employees were able to go back to work. In the stores, however, a new problem developed; the LAB announced that it had a backlog of around 2 million cases of American beer that needed to be sold before they could begin stocking Canadian brands as usual. Brands that during the summer had been in high demand were put on sale at prices comparable to Canadian beer in an effort to reduce stockpiles in warehouses and store but it was not until mid-October 1978 that Whistler’s Liquor Store once again sold Canadian beer. The summer, however, had changed some people’s habits and, according to the LAB, one case in four sold continued to be imported.

This Week In Photos: October 18

As we get further into each year we’re looking forward to seeing when the first snow fell.  This week photos of snow in the valley turned up in 1982, 15 days later than 2018’s first snow on October 2.


Tuesday night craft class – one of the many Adult Education courses currently being offered at the Myrtle Philip School. Left to right: Inge Neilsen, Jenny Busdon, Ruth Howells, Marilyn Willoughby and Kelly Fairhurst.

The logging truck that burned near Green Lake on Thursday.

Whistler Creek Lodge showing where the worker fell off the roof on Friday.

Cartoonist Tom Thomson stands in front of his cabin in White Gold Estates with the sign put up by the Whistler realtors in answer to his cartoon of September 26.

Edith Iles (right) makes her speech before giving Gay Guthrie the “Endurance Award”.


Fire Chief Lindsay Wilson shows the Myrtle Philip kindergarten class the workings of one of the Whistler fire trucks. The visit was in recognition of National Fire Prevention Week.

The town shapes up! The addition of curbs and paving in front of the town centre approach really sets it off against the new snow on the mountains behind.

Long weekend parking problem! New curbs create a traffic problem outside the Whistler liquor store on Saturday just before closing.

The view of the Whistler United Pharmacy, now open for business in the Blackcomb Professional Building in the centre of Whistler Village.

Whistler’s first paved ski area parking lot! Grandview Blacktop crew paves the day skier parking lot in front of the base area daylodge.

This giant saw blade decorated and donated by Germaine Degenhardt is one of the prizes to be sold off at the Pemberton Lions Club auction on Thursday, October 23.


A Whistler wonderland appeared overnight Sunday, October 17 with the season’s first snow in the valley.

DeMolay youngsters take full advantage of the first snow of the season and run through a very crisp game of flag football Sunday.

The world was someone’s living room – so who needs a TV when you can sit and watch the crowds stroll by in the municipal parking lot.

Newcomers and old-timers enjoyed tea and nibbles at the second annual Welcome to Whistler Tea put on by the Alta Lake Community Club in Blackcomb Lodge Sunday.

Whistler Council shows the signs of a gruelling three-hour public hearing held to discuss bylaws for the equestrian centre October 18.

Rich Miller outside Granny’s Food Emporium, which will open in Whistler November 1.

Pierre Trudeau, insulation contractor, Alpine Meadows.


Connie Kutyn dismantles the stage in Village Square that helped feature entertainers all summer long. She and Al Bosse built it earlier this spring.

Two friends watch from the stands…

… as their classmates get started in the meet.

Winners of the Fire Prevention Week poster contest are, left to right: Madeleine Demries (gr. 3), Nicola Dedeluk (gr. 6), Jocelyn Willoughby (kindergarten) and Rachel Roberts (gr. 5), all students at Myrtle Philip Elementary School.

Building a log cabin is traditional work using a minimum number of modern conveniences. David Stary chisels a section to fit precisely the log beneath.

Whistler residents were delighted Wednesday to hear of $7.8 million worth of completion plans for the long empty convention centre. Plans for the building include a completely refurbished roof, atrium, theatre and tall, bright banners to orient visitors to its location.


Part of the aftermath of last week’s severe flooding in Pemberton.

Farmer Tom Kempter lost close to 150 tonnes of hay when flood waters destroyed it last week. Kempter lost two-thirds of his winter feed for his livestock.

Tracy Comber was one of the many Whistler volunteers who flocked to Pemberton to help with the massive clean-up job. She helped with cleaning equipment at the flood-ravaged Pemberton High School which sustained about $500,000 in damage.

Whistler’s slo-pitch league almost became snow pitch this season, but Stoney’s pulled ahead before the flakes fell and won the championship in the 19-team league. Saturday’s championship game against the Gourmet Rainbow Reefers saw the Stoney’s crew win 14 to 8, and had some observers calling the league the Beer and Whine league by the end. Next year should be another interesting season as the Tapley A’s make their long awaited slo-pitch debut. Left to right: Norm Trottier, Lance Fletcher, Marianne Hardy, Dave Kipp, Paul Liakakos, Tim Malone, Val Jazic, Will Moffat, Sue Christopher, Dave Murphy, Barb Simpson, Wendy Jazic and Ron McCready.