Tag Archives: Whistler Museum

Whistler’s Answers: May 13, 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. Summer ski camps and sports such as windsurfing and hiking were popular but Whistler was still best known as a winter destination.

Question: With Whistler winding down for the summer, what are your plans?

Kathy Hicks – Municipal Accounting Supervisor – Alpine Meadows

It seems that this summer is going to have to be a very recreational one.

Hopefully it will be a time when locals can really get to know each other before the winter season returns.

Mary Swaine – Laid-off traffic attendant – Alpine Meadows

I’m going to be artist-in-residence at a ranch in Washington because I need some culture in my life.

Laurie Vance – Assistant Manager at Blackcomb Lodge – Alpine Meadows

To get my flowers to come up. They’re being fooled by all the snow.

Penny Domries – Artist – Alpine Meadows

Hit the beach and learn to windsurf. And I hope to get some artwork done – interior banners and silkscreened prints.

We’re also going to be some of those people who’ll be leaving for a while – we’re planning a three-week trip to Alaska.

Bruce DeGraaf – Unemployed Blackcomb Ski Patroller – Telemark

I’m planning on doing a little government work… cashing checks for a living. I’m quite concerned about the current economic slump and I’m going to contemplate it down at Alta Lake.

I think we could organize a three-ring circus at the Rec centre for the tourists. There’s a lot of clowns up here, including myself, who could use the work.

Cris Simpson – Full-time kid – Alta Vista

I’ve been making model rockets and I plan to take them down to San Francisco this summer and visit my dad and shoot them off.

And at the science fair I’m going to show other kids how to make rockets.

But mainly I’m going to go swimming and windsurfing.

The White Gold Estate That Isn’t

By the early 1970s, various developments had begun to appear in the Whistler area spurred on by the growing success of Whistler Mountain. Some of these projects can still be found in the valley today, but many of the developments started in the late 1960s and early 1970s never realized the entirety of the developers’ plans; the original plans for both Adventures West and Tamarisk called for far more units and facilities than can be seen today (Tamarisk was meant to include over 400 units and a “condo-lodge” that would contain a cocktail lounge and dining facilities). Another development that would look very different if the full plans had been constructed is the neighbourhood of White Gold.

According to a pamphlet in the archives, the Ambassador Development Corporation of Canada Ltd. (ADCC) was planning to build “a whole new community.” When first promoted, The White Gold Estate was to include large cabin lots, condominiums, a shopping area and a hotel complex spread over 172 acres. The developers claimed that they would keep a large portion of the natural setting intact, “retaining as much of the park-like landscape as possible.” The serviced cabin lots were described as being planned “very carefully” to leave as many trees as possible untouched, both to create a “serene” atmosphere and to guarantee privacy for the owners.

The floor plans for condos planned for The White Gold Estates. Brown Collection.

A number of these lots had already been sold by the 1970s, with some cabins already under construction. In the fall of 1970 an advertisement in Garibaldi’s Whistler News offered lease-to-purchase lots with a deposit of $250 and three-bedroom cabins available from $16,800. That winter it was reported that Nancy Greene and Al Raine hoped to be settling into their new cabin in White Gold in the new year and by 1972 it was not uncommon to see houses in White Gold advertised for rent or sale.

While some roads and cabin lots were constructed, other parts of ADCC’s plans never came to fruition. The White Gold Estates plans included a commercial area of shops off of Highway 99 near the existing Ski Boot Lodge Motel that opened in 1970. Luxury one and two-bedroom condos were to be constructed, for which a “qualified management staff” would be provided to look after the units during the owners’ absence or even handle arrangements to rent out units for owners. According to a map included in the ADCC’s pamphlet, an artificial lake was proposed in the middle of what today is protected wetlands. Along with the lots that make up today’s White Gold, cabin lots would have extended from Fitzsimmons Creek to Highway 99 and even onto the other side of the highway.

This map shows the planned lots for The White Gold Estates. The yellow appear to be cabin lots, extending beyond today’s streets through the protected wetlands by Fitzsimmons Creek and even across Highway 99. Brown Collection.

There is not much information in the archives about the ADCC or why their plans for The White Gold Estate were not completed. It appears that the company was dissolved by 1979, though it is unclear why. By the mid-1970s, however, the ADCC had completed the four roads that currently make up White Gold: Nancy Greene Dr. (fittingly named for one of the neighbourhood’s early residents), Toni Sailer Ln. (the Toni Sailer Ski Camps had been operating for several summers by that time), Fitzsimmons Rd. (running parallel to Fitzsimmons Creek), and Ambassador Crescent (presumably named for the development company that built it). Like other projects from that time, the development that we find in White Gold today is only a part of what was envisioned by early investors in the Whistler valley.

According to the ADCC, this development was “only the beginning.” Brown Collection.

Whistler’s Answers: May 6, 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/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.

Question: If your boss told you that you had to take a 2.5% pay cut because of economic conditions, how would you react?

Sigrid Moore – Bartender at Creperie Chez Moi – Alpine Meadows

I don’t think there would be too much I could do right now. There aren’t too many jobs available and if you have one you have to hang on to it. It’s not a matter of pride where you could just stick your nose in the air, say ‘forget it’ and walk out.

Jean-Luc Perron – L’Apres busboy – Alta Vista

At the salary I’m making right now, I think it would be unfair to take away any percentage. As it is now, I’m only making enough to get by on.

Astrid Douglas – Front desk clerk at Mountainside Lodge – White Gold Estates

It all depends on the situation. For me working here, I couldn’t afford it, especially living in Whistler where increases in salaries are never even as high as inflation.

It depends on what you’re working at too.

Rob Phillips – Longhorn manager – Whistler Cay

If it was essential for me to stay at Whistler, then I would gladly accept a cut in pay.

But if the money was important, my background in the restaurant business allows me sufficient latitude to maintain my current level of income elsewhere.

Jim Kitteringham – Vehicle Maintenance Foreman for Whistler Mountain Ski Corp. – Emerald Estates

If my employer asked me to take a wage cut, there’s no way I could support myself financially, especially considering the high cost of living at Whistler.

In other words – no way!

Ken Domries – Husky mechanic – Alpine Meadows

I think what I’d do is send my boss to my landlord and the power company to see if they would take a 2.5% decrease. Sure, I’d take a cut – if everyone else did.

Windsurfing in Whistler

Before summers in Whistler drew thousands of mountain bikers to the area, Whistler was gaining a reputation for a sport that took place on the water: windsurfing. As the sport of windsurfing became more popular in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Alta Lake became a hot spot for many Canadian windsurfers, as shown in the many photos from the 1980s that feature windsurfers of various ages, skill, and standards of dress.

According to Jinny Ladner, a former Canadian windsurfing champion, the first board was brought to Whistler by Mark Dufus in 1975, though not many people in the valley know much about the sport at the time. Looking at reports from the summer of 1981, however, it would appear that once windsurfing was introduced to Whistler it took hold and grew quickly.

Windsurfers on Alta Lake, sometime between 1981 and 1983. George Benjamin Collection.

While you might think that May 1981 would have marked the beginning of the windsurfing season in Whistler, apparently a few hardy souls had already been seen with their boards on Alta Lake as of January 1. For most windsurfers, however, in May the season was just getting started.

According to the Squamish Citizen Shopper, Whistler Windsurfing and Blackcombe Sports were the two main businesses offering rentals and instruction. For newcomers to the sport, the Citizen helpfully noted that, “in consideration of the fact that learning how to windsurf involves falling in the water quite a bit, anyone wishing to take lessons should be able to swim.”

Sails flapping, windsurfers in the first heat of the men’s Triangle races skim away from the starting line during the BC Windsurfing Championships on Alta Lake. Whistler Question Collection.

In 1981 there were plenty of ways for those interested to get involved in the sport, from novices to international competitors. Blackcombe Sports offered membership to the Blackcombe Boardsailing Club, which included free use of a board for the summer, discounts on lessons and sales, and free entry into all Club-sponsored events. Whistler Windsurfing co-sponsored an instructor course with the Canadian Yachting Association and the British Columbia Sailing Association. They also ran the Whistler Windsurfing Summer Series, a series of weekly races beginning in early June. Race results were tallied to come up with a monthly winner and at the end of the summer the monthly winners would compete to become the overall winner.

Other windsurfing events held on Alta Lake that summer included the Whistler regatta in June, the British Columbia Championships in August, and Whistler’s first Great Waters Race in September, though the Great Waters Race was not strictly speaking a windsurfing event. As part of the Whistler Fall Festival, five-person teams (at least two of whom had to be women) competed in canoeing, swimming and kayaking along with windsurfing. The windsurfing portion of the race may not have been the most successful, as it was later described by the Whistler Question as “a paddling race due to lack wind.”

Andrew Stoner, owner of Whistler Windsurfing, now has to take a definite step up in the world to jump the gap between his docks on Alta Lake. Whistler Question Collection.

Whistler residents were well represented at the Canadian Windsurf Championships in September that year. Jinny Ladner and Andrew Stoner (one of the organizers of the Summer Series alongside Doug Schull) earned places as two of the five Canadians traveling to the Windsurf World Championships in Okinawa later that year.

Windsurfing remained a prominent sport on Alta Lake through the 1980s and 1990s, but the sport experienced a decline in popularity in the late 1990s. While it is less often that you will come across windsurfers on Whistler’s lakes, windsurfing has seen a resurgence in the last decade and windsurfers and kitesurfers will often be found in Squamish.

Whistler’s Answers: April 29, 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/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%. While some buildings in the Whistler Village were completed, much of the first phase was still under construction. Construction of the Resort Centre (known today as the Conference Centre) began in March 1980 and was still ongoing in 1982. The original plans included an Olympic-sized ice rink, swimming pool, whirlpool, saunas, racquetball courts, squash court, restaurant and more. The proposed budget (not including operating costs) was in the $5.5 to 5.8 million range. In January 1983 the provincial government formed Whistler Land Co. Developments, a Crown corporation chaired by Chester Johnson to take over the liabilities and assets of the Whistler Village Land Company. Under Johnson the Resort Centre was reconstructed as a conference centre without the extra recreational facilities and construction was completed by 1986. You can find more information about the Resort Centre here.

Question: Would you be adverse to having any portion of your property taxes go towards finishing the Resort Centre?

Jim Crichton – Carpenter – Alpine Meadows

Yes. The original plan for the convention centre stipulated that the taxpayer was not to pay for it. Think it will be years before that thing is finished and I don’t want to be subsidizing it.

They should get a private developer to take it over and run it.

Barry Johnston – Social Psychologist – Alpine Meadows

I think everyone would say it depends on how much extra we have to pay in taxes.

If they did use our tax money, the Land Company would have to make a much closer accounting to property owners on how the money was spent.

David Kirk – Whistler Village Sports/Whistler Creek Ski Shop – Alta Vista

I would like to see a referendum held in order that some direction – whether it be positive or negative – be given the Land Company and municipality on this issue.

Charlie Doyle – Commercial Artist – MDC

I would be against having any portion of my property taxes going for that purpose.

It was a mistake on the part of the Land Company in estimating costs. Why should we bail them out? They certainly don’t bail out my mistakes.

The centre means something to them only as developers. If they were really interested in the community, they wouldn’t have made it such an epic of a building.

If we were given some benefit, maybe we should consider it. But we’ll end up paying both as taxpayers and as customers once the centre’s finished.

Mark Sadler – Contractor/Developer – Multiple commercial & residential property owner

That’s a difficult question to answer. My basic answer is yes, I would be against having any portion of my residential taxes used to finance the sports centre.

I would like to see the major users – namely commercial establishments which benefit the most – pay towards the completion of it, and that statement comes from me as a property owner in the Town Centre.

Why should we taxpayers be responsible for problems incurred by poor management, inflation and other factors?

Drew Meredith – Real Estate Agent – Alta Vista

No, not at all. I’ve been waiting a long time to see that building finished and I’d be willing to put out out of my own pocket for it.

The addition of a full ice area and squash and racquet-ball courts will be a definite asset to the community. It’s not going to be any cheaper in the future.

I wouldn’t be against having my taxes go towards it, providing the Land Company repays the municipality in the future when the real estate market perks up again.

The End of Brio House

When looking through reports on the 1991 fire in Function Junction that damaged many of the Whistler Question photographs (and more) last week, we came across another fire that took place at the very end of 1990, destroying a property known as Brio House.

This fire was not the first to mark the Hawthorne Place property. The house had already experienced a major fire in April 1987. It was believed that the fire had started with a smouldering couch cushion that spread to a cedar wall and up to the wood ceiling and cedar roof, leaving half of the duplex a “blackened shell.” The other half was saved by the building’s fire wall. Firefighters were on the scene only four minutes after they received the call and within an hour had the fire under control. The flames, which at one point rose up to twenty metres into the air, could reportedly be seen by those leaving the late show at the Rainbow Theatre, including some residents of the house.

Unfortunately, the prints or negatives of the photos from both the 1990 and 1987 fires that were originally published in the Whistler Question were destroyed by the fire in Function Junction just a few weeks later. Whistler Question, 1991.

Almost four years later, the Question reported on another fire at the same property that began on December 30, 1990. Unlike the fire of 1987, however, this fire left the Brio House gutted.

On that Sunday afternoon the Whistler Fire Department responded to a call after residents noticed black smoke pouring through the air vent above the fireplace. The residents tried to put out the fire but then noticed flames in the wall. By the time they realized they would not be able to contain the fire, it was too late for the residents to attempt to save their belongings. Though firefighters were able to control the fire, it was decided that it was too dangerous to send firefighters inside and the main concern was to protect the neighbouring houses.

This and the photo before were submitted by Jan Holmberg, a neighbour in Hawthorne Place and the owner of the building in Function Junction that burned down later in January. Whistler Question, 1991.

One reason both fires were considered so newsworthy was because of the number of people they affected. In 1987 the property was described in the Question as “Whistler’s most controversial and popular multi-resident home,” due to the number of people living in the large duplex and its use as temporary housing for visitors and recent arrivals to Whistler. The owner, Dave Whiffen (who in 1987 lived in a suite in the basement), was trying to have his property rezoned as an eight bedroom pension; the municipality had previously fined Whiffen for using the building’s basement and loft when the main floor already used up the permitted 360 sq. metres. The municipality stated that Whiffen had overbuilt and was running a “hotel” on his property, while Whiffen maintained that the duplex was “a necessary source of low-cost accommodation for Whistler service-industry personnel.”

By the evening of December 30, 1990, twenty residents were left homeless. Some were temporarily put up by neighbours while others were lodged in Blackcomb Mountain staff housing. According to then-Question editor Bob Barnett, “Offers by Whistlerites and businesses to house and feed the Brio residents and to hold a benefit for them were made before the fire was completely extinguished.” Whiffen, who by that time had moved out of Whistler, told the paper that he planned to rebuild “a regular duplex” and sell the property, putting an end to Brio House.

Naming Night (NOT) at the Museum: April 2021

The Whistler Museum is looking for your help again! As part of this interactive event, 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 photographs that we are searching for more information on. Help us identify your friends, family, and anything in between!

Naming Night continues to be a little different – instead of having you all come to the museum, we’re continuing to bring the photos to you! We will be posting an album of photos on our Facebook page (find it here) at 7 pm PST on Thursday, April 29. 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.