Tag Archives: Whistler Museum

Whistler’s Answers: June 17, 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: Summers in the early 1980s were not exactly busy – some businesses even closed for the season – though there were some efforts to draw visitors to the area. The Whistler Golf Course, which had begun as a 9-hole course (learn more about that here), was being expanded in the summer of 1982 with hopes that it would drive more summer visitors to Whistler.

Question: How valuable an asset do you think the golf course will be to Whistler?

Robin Crumley – Manager, Whistler Village Inn – Alpine Meadows – Occasional Golfer

It’s indispensable. It Whistler is to become a summer resort, not only is the golf course indispensable, but all the other attractions necessary for a summer resort are indispensable as well. You can’t have a resort in a vacuum.

Since skiing is the main attraction, people who come here are already sports-oriented. It’s much better to extend the market you already have into the summer months.

John Carter – Manager, Tantalus Lodge – Tantalus Lodge – Occasional Golfer

It’s a good selling point. But the economics of it are questionable because of the limited number of people who can actually play in one day.

About 300 people a day can play, and there’s about 4000 commercial beds in this valley.

I think tennis courts are a much more valuable asset. They’re cheaper to build, cheaper to maintain and surveys show that they’re used more than golf courses.

Diane Eby – Past President of Whistler Ratepayers Association – Emerald Estates – Non-golfer

I think it’s an absolute necessity as a summer attraction for tourists.

My only concern is that is not become a horrendous burden to the local taxpayer, and I’d like to see some answers from Council on how this will be avoided.

$89,000 is slated for the golf course this year. What will it be next year?

Jim Kennedy – Labourer – Westside Rode – Occasional Golfer

I think it’s going to be a liability as opposed to an asset.

There’s only so many people who can shoot a round of golf in a day – not like skiing which can accommodate 10,000 people a day.

I’d also be surprised if it will be reasonably priced for local people to play a round of golf. It’s going to take a lot of money just to maintain it.

Pascal Simon – Roofer – Alpine Meadows – Non-golfer

I would say any improvement, such as a development like this, would be an asset to the tourists and the locals. It has to be worth it – we’re going to pay for it after all.

Harry Carman – Unemployed – Adventures West – Golfer

I think it will make the difference between this community making or breaking it.

It will help bring conventions in, providing they get the other facilities set up as well.

I’m sure it will attract more people in the summer months which will help all the businesses.

I’m real anxious for them to finish it. Needless to say, I’m a player.

Cooking at Mons

While a disused logging camp may not seem like the most likely place to find a great meal, that is exactly what could be found at Mons Crossing from 1978 to 1981. The Cookhouse, described as a “little hut by the tracks,” opened in June 1978 to provide breakfast and lunch to local contractors, workers, and any residents or visitors who chose to stop by.

The Cookhouse at Mons. Whistler Question Collection, 1981.

Everett Valleau moved Valleau Logging Ltd. to the Alta Lake and Green Lake areas in 1955. The company was a family affair, with Everett’s sons Laurance, Eugene, Bob, Howard, Ron and Lindsay all working there; over the years, at least ten grandchildren and three great-grandchildren would also work for Valleau Logging Ltd. As Whistler Mountain, and then the Resort Municipality of Whistler, grew, the Valleaus expanded their business to include excavation work, road building, and more. They established a logging camp at Mons near the railway and offered space to the community to build a firehall, operate a post office, play horseshoes, and even pave an area for ice stock sliding. The logging camp was in use until the Valleaus decided to move their business to Pemberton in the 1970s.

In 1978, the RMOW granted Jan Systad and Helene Allen temporary permission to operate the camp’s cookhouse as a home-made breakfast and lunch food service. Before they could open, however, the building needed some work done. The building inspector reported that the interior of the building required a thorough cleaning, the installation of two fire extinguishers and a new sink, and repairs for the rear porch in order to make it the main entrance instead of having customers enter through the kitchen. Given these changes, the health inspector gave the business the go ahead.

The Cookhouse had separate entrances for those doing the cooking and those doing the eating. Whistler Question Collection, 1981.

From accounts we’ve seen, the Cookhouse was a big success with Whistler residents. In August 1978 the Whistler Question food column called the Cookhouse’s pancakes “a dream” and “a perfect cure for the Monday morning blues,” describing them as “light and fluffy with a deep, rich flavour… served last week with a pinch of raspberry and maple syrup.”

The Cookhouse operated as a seasonal restaurant, opening in the spring and then closing in November. With no social media, opening and closing dates traveled partially by word of mouth. In 1979, Question staff and other hungry customers arrived at the Cookhouse only to find that it had been closed for the season since the Friday before. When the Cookhouse opened back up in April 1980, it reportedly opened “with an air of secrecy about the operation.” Systad and her assistant Donna (if anyone knows Donna’s last name, please let us know!) told the Question that they “didn’t want to get overwhelmed on a Monday morning by a crowd whipped into a home-cooking frenzy due to advertising,” instead opting for a slower start as word of its opening was passed around Whistler. Despite the lack of formal advertising, there was a steady stream of customers at the Cookhouse, a testament to the quality of the food.

Jan Systad serves Christoper Systad at the final closing of the Cookhouse in November. Whistler Question Collection, 1981.

The Cookhouse only operated for four years before closing permanently in November 1981. Beginning in January 1982, however, Systad continued to serve her “much-sought after home-cooked goodies” from the Husky in today’s Creekside. She also took over the operation of the deli, grocery store, and laundry facilities at the Husky. The buildings from the Valleau logging camp, including the Cookhouse, were removed from Mons and the area grew into the industrial centre it is today.

Whistler’s Answers: June 10, 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: A major recession hit North America in late 1981, with interest rates reaching up to 20%. Employment and construction projects were uncertain for many.

Question: What do you think the chances are for a province-wide strike in the construction industry this summer?

*editor’s note: the following men interviewed are all union members

Ken White – Plastering Contractor – Vancouver

The boys are going to vote for a strike and the contractors are going to turn around and lock them out just to show them they still have the power.

No way contractors want to pay out that kind of money. The workers are asking for $7.50 an hour more over the next year.

Bricklayers, electricians, plumbers – I drink beer with them every weekend and they have the same opinion.

Bob Wyer – Plumber – North Vancouver

I honestly don’t think anyone knows. The only reason why they’re taking a strike vote is so they can use it as leverage.

They want to be able to go to the contractors’ association and say, look, we have so many men here who want to go on strike.

What you hear through bar-talk and the grapevine is that there’s a good possibility of a month-long strike.

But who knows for sure? They haven’t even made us an offer yet.

Monte Sandvoss – Project Manager – Vancouver

I think there’s going to be a strike. Working (union) members don’t see reality.

They’re working and look at the economy and it doesn’t mean anything. They think they have good reason to strike. They don’t care – they’re on the gravy train.

I was disappointed when I talked to quite a few of them and found out they wanted to strike.

Bill Agler – Hod Carrier – Vancouver

I don’t think there will be a strike. Everybody I talk to doesn’t want to strike, but then I’m talking to working guys.

It really is hard to say for sure, but as far as I can gather there probably won’t be one since a little more than half the union men are working right now and they don’t want to give that up.

Ben Vos – Labour Foreman

I don’t think it will happen. They might vote in favour of a strike, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll go on strike.

What is does give them is a mandate at the bargaining table.

But I’m doubtful they’ll even get a strike vote. If they do, the contractors might just lock them out.

Al White – Hod Carrier – Vancouver

A lot of guys are out of work now or on unemployment insurance and they’re going to vote for a strike because it won’t make much difference to them.

It’s the ones who are working who would be hurt by a strike, and I’d say they’re in the majority.

It will be a close vote, but I think it probably won’t happen.

The Lost Lake Debate

For residents and visitors alike, Whistler’s parks are a favourite place to spend a summer day. Each park offers something different, whether it’s the playground at Alpha Lake Park or a history lesson from the cabins at Rainbow Park. Lost Lake Park offers swimming, biking, nature walks, and even disc golf. Back in 1982, when the park was still being developed, there was a debate about whether Lost Lake Park should offer even more than it does today.

Lost Lake Park almost didn’t become a park at all. In the 1960s the two limber licenses in the area were set to expire and developers, who knew the licenses were about to expire, had already started preparing to apply for the waterfront property. Don MacLaurin saw what was happening and contacted his friend Bill in the Parks Branch. With help from Bill and other contacts, the area around Lost Lake was assessed and set aside by the provincial government as a potential Use, Recreation and Enjoyment of the Public (UREP) site.

A jumper unfolds their flip into Lost Lake. Whistler Question Collection.

By 1980, residents were regularly using Lost Lake for recreation. In summers freestyle skiers were training and even holding competitions on the ski jump. In the winters the Alta Lake Sports Club was cross-country skiing in the area, having begun work on their first course in 1976. The Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) received official approval for the transfer of the UREP surrounding Lost Lake to the municipality for the purposes of creating a municipal park in August 1980 and plans were made to clear a beach area at the south end of the lake and to further develop the trails already in place.

There plans were still underway in June 1982, when Municipal Parks Planner Tom Barratt was creating a five-year plan for Lost Lake and the surrounding area (500 acres of Crown Land surrounding the lake was also transferred to the RMOW in 1982). Like before, this plan included clearing the beach area and upgrading the trail system while retaining the area’s “wilderness character.” Most people seemed to have accepted these parts of the plan but the idea of including a permanent concession stand offering snacks, drinks, and paddleboard rentals at Lost Lake Park evoked differing opinions from residents.

Grant Cooper cuts through bush on shores of Lost Lake. Miles of X-country trails are being cut as well as a dock and beach for the south end of Lost Lake. Whistler Question Collection, 1980.

An editorial in the Whistler Question on June 3, 1982 pointed out that opinions on further development of Lost Lake were “sharply divide.” While not agreeing with those who thought the area should remain untouched by the municipal government, the editor wrote: “We understood that the original concept of Lost Lake was that the area was to be cleared up, landscaped, seeded and generally made more attractive, but we really cannot endorse any plans that could well turn this pristine area into Whistler’s own Coney Island.”

One letter to the editor in June 1982 argued that developing a beach for visitors was enough but offering “paddleboards, rubber rafts, canoes, rowboats, fishing rods, towels and fast food” was going too far and asked the question, “How big do our elected members think the lake is?” Another letter supported the building of a moderate concession that could also be used as a warming hut in winter. The Question asked six residents what they thought about the proposed concession stand for their “Whistler’s Answers” feature and while some accepted the sale of food and drink, most did not support boat rentals. (You can read their responses on our Whistorical blog here.)

When weekend temperatures soared to the mid-20s, sun worshippers who had been denied their pleasure for nearly six weeks flocked to Lost Lake like the swallows to Capistrano. Whistler Question Collection, 1983.

By July, the debate appeared to have quieted, most likely because the RMOW would only grant Dave Lalik, who had applied to run the concession stand, a one-year lease while he calculated he would need at least two summers to earn back his investment. Work on Lost Lake Park continued throughout the summer but no concession had opened by the time the park was officially opened on September 11, 1982.

Today the beach at the south end of Lost Lake is incredibly popular, as are the trails that surround the area. There is a concession building that is used as a warming hut for cross-country skiers and snowshoers in the winters, but anyone wanting to float on Lost Lake is still required to bring their own boat.