Tag Archives: Whistler Question

Sharing and Naming Whistler’s History

A huge thank you to everyone who came out last Friday evening (September 15) to the opening of The Whistler Question: A Photographic History and to those who came out on Thursday for our first Naming Night!

It was great to see so many familiar (and new) faces at the museum, as well as so many past and present Question staff members.  We would also like to thank our amazing special guest speakers Paul Burrows and Glenda Bartosh for joining us for the evening and for creating the paper.  Without The Question we wouldn’t have these photos that we now get to share with both the community and visitors.

Paul Burrows speaks to a packed house at the opening of The Whistler Question: A Photographic History.

Paul and Glenda both let those present in on a few secrets about the early days at The Question and the years when the survival of the paper and of the town seemed questionable at best.

The Burrows’ A-frame on Matterhorn, where the first editions of the Whistler Question were created.

The Whistler Question was started by Paul and Jane Burrows in 1976 in their A-frame home on Matterhorn Drive.  After an unsuccessful run to be Whistler’s first mayor, Paul had to decide whether to start a bus company or a printing company.  At the time the Burrows couldn’t afford to buy the buses needed for a bus company and so The Whistler Question was born.  The first issue was given out for free; the second issue cost buyers 15¢ and, as Paul Burrows explained, the paper’s readership dropped dramatically.  He continued publishing, however, and today The Question continues to be printed and distributed each week.

If you weren’t able to see the exhibit on opening night or are planning to come again to take your time and leisurely peruse the photographs (to view all of the images takes over 20 minutes), The Whistler Question: A Photographic History will be on display through the end of November.

As you may have read last week, community members have been identifying the subjects of some of our photographs on social media and here on our blog.  To continue this important work, we recently hosted our first Naming Night.

Community members came out to help us identify many of the people and places in 100 photographs.

As the title suggests, we invited everyone to the museum to help us add names to the subjects of our mystery photos.  We also wanted to know the stories behind the photographs and the memories these photographs brought to mind.  We had a great time listening as those who came out debated various names, locations and dates for the photographs on display.  In one evening we were able to add over 250 names to our photographs!  We can now tag all of these people and places in the photographs so that when you’re searching for something or someone in our database it is more likely that these photographs will come up.

Just one of the photographs on display. Photo: Whistler Question Collection, 1984

We’ve got a lot more photographs we need information for so keep an eye out for our next Naming Night!

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Opening this Friday: A Photographic History of Whistler!

Our scanner can finally breathe a sigh of relief (if that were possible), after over a year of hard work digitizing 35,000 photographs from The Whistler Question’s collection of negatives spanning 1978-1985 (made possible by funding from the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre).

Over the last year and a half we have scanned many photos of construction sites as the Village was built. Photo: Whistler Question Collection

With most of the images already uploaded to our online gallery, we have now set our sights on an opening night for the exhibit.  We have planned to feature the cream of the crop of all the scanned Whistler Question photos.

Photos were chosen for the exhibit based on how well they encapsulate the people, places and events in the community during Whistler’s transitional years, as well as on their pure aesthetic qualities that showcase the artistic side of The Whistler Question’s early photographers.

Whistler on a snowy night in December, 1979. Photo: Whistler Question Collection

Founded in 1976, The Whistler Question is Whistler’s longest-running newspaper and these early photographs document significant milestones in Whistler’s development, such as the construction of Whistler Village, the opening of Blackcomb Mountain and the Molson World Cup Downhill.

Everyday events experienced by the growing community also feature strongly, including sporting events, school plays, weddings, local government meetings and rowdy parties that express the spirit of the people living in our mountain town.  The Whistler Museum’s temporary exhibit room will showcase many of these week-by-week photos on the walls and will also host a slideshow screen that displays over 100 other photos from the collection.

Many of The Whistler Question’s original captions form the newspaper will accompany the photographs, demonstrating how these photos were framed in print.

Myrtle Philip, aged 93, with the Grade 5 class from Myrtle Philip Elementary School at her home on Alta Lake Road, May 1984. Photo: Whistler Question Collection

We will be celebrating opening night of The Whistler Question: A Photographic History 1978-1985 and the completion of the digitization project on Friday, September 15 from 6 to 9pm.  We hope you’ll join us for a night of admiring these beautiful photos, reminiscing and mingling as we welcome special guests Paul Burrows, the found of The Whistler Question, and Glenda Bartosh, the second publisher and owner of the paper.

Paul and Glenda will share their experiences and stories of the early years of The Whistler Question and Whistler itself, providing context for the visual exhibit that will add even more to the already vivid photos on display.

The Whistler Museum will host refreshments, including snacks and complimentary tea provided by DavidsTea, as well as a cash bar to fuel the good times.

Admission for the evening will be free, so we hope that the community can join us to wander the exhibit and celebrate the archives of our local paper!  If you aren’t able to join us for opening night, please come view the exhibit during our normal opening hours (11am to 5pm daily, open late on Thursdays) until the exhibit ends on November 30, 2017, or browse the digitized Whistler Question photos online here.

The Whistler Question: A Photographic History

We are very excited to announce that The Whistler Question: A Photographic History 1978 – 1985 will open Friday, September 15!  To celebrate the opening of our latest exhibit and the completion of the Whistler Question Digitization Project (you can read more about that here) we would like to invite everyone to join us and special guests Paul Burrows and Glenda Bartosh for appetizers and drinks at the Whistler Museum.

Featuring photographs from the Whistler Question Collection, this new exhibit captures the town of Whistler during a time of transition and rapid change.  Come and view the development of the resort and the growth of the community through nearly seven years worth of photos!

The Whistler Question’s Archive Photos Bring New Exhibit

Just over a year ago we announced that we had begun digitizing negatives from The Whistler Question’s archival collection (read more here).  Since then, the staff at the Whistler Museum has been busy cataloguing and scanning nearly 35,000 photographs from 1978 to 1985.  As of today, we have reached the final stretch and are nearing the completion of this digitization project!

Just a few of the photos from the Whistler Question Collection.

The photographs were originally donated to the museum in 1991 and have gone through an extensive cataloguing and preservation process before they could be scanned and shared with the public.  This digitization project has also been generously funded by the UBC Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.

As this project comes to a close, we want to celebrate these photos by sharing them with everyone, both online as they are uploaded to our photo-hosting website, SmugMug, as well as on display in the museum.  We will be opening a new exhibit, The Whistler Question: A Photographic History 1978-1985, featuring a selection of some of our favourite photographs from the collection.

Every photo tells a story, though sometimes what that story is is not quite clear.

Speaking as the Collections Coordinator at the museum, assisting in the creation of this exhibit has been one of the highlights for me this summer.  Coming to Whistler as a visual arts student from UBC, I have always had a strong interest in photographs and the stories that they tell.  Being able to go through these pictures has given me the chance to get a glimpse of the unique culture Whistler had during the late 70s and 80s.

These snapshots of various people and happenings document Whistler during a time of rapid change.  Events such as the construction of the Whistler Village and the opening of Blackcomb show Whistler growing into the world class resort that it is today.  But there are also photos of the local community, bar events, school plays and road accidents, which express the vibrant and unique vitality of the people living in this mountain town.

In the exhibit itself, I wanted to display these images in a way that would convey a sense of the overwhelming number of photographs whilst respecting the integrity of the photographs themselves.

For some, the collection is sure to bring back some memories of their own time in Whistler during the 1970s and 80s.

For some, these photos will spark a sense of nostalgia of the memories that were captured; for others, these photos act as a window to the past of what this town once was.

With these documentary photographs of our town during a pivotal time, this September The Whistler Question: A Photographic History 1978-1985 invites the public to experience a Whistler that is long gone, but not forgotten.

By Lauren Smart.  Lauren is the Whistler Museum’s Collections Coordinator this summer.  She is a visual arts student at UBC and will be returning in the fall to continue her studies.

Grassroots Galleries – Mountain Paint

A few Whistler locals have taken it upon themselves over the years to display their own mini collections of items that show off Whistler’s history. One of these collections covers the walls in “Mountain Paint” located in Function Junction. There are pieces all over the store when you walk in but it is hard to miss the multitude of posters and other paraphernalia that cover the walls at the back of the store.

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Just some of the collection amassed inside Mountain Paint

Dave and Laura Kinney took over Mountain Paint 20 years ago and almost immediately their collection found its home on the walls of their store. When asked, Dave recalled that his daughter, who is an interior designer, did not want her parents’ home looking like a ski bums home, so she had Dave and his wife move the collection into the basement which is where Dave took them from to decorate the shop.

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Since then many more pieces have joined the others on the walls including many things donated by Rob Boyd and Gord Harder. The Whistler Museum and Archives has a few of Gord’s items on display including his old fridge and mountain bike.

Dave and Laura both worked for Whistler Mountain for 10 years between 1979 and 1989, and even lived at the top of the mountain for some time. This was how they became friends with the Boyd family who lived at the base of the mountain. When they started working for the Mountain though, it was still run by the Garibaldi Lift Co. and so the couple saw it through its transition into Whistler. Dave tells of when he used to work in maintenance for the company and when it came time to change the signage on the outside of the buildings, Dave took home one of the old Garibaldi signs rather than throw it away. Coincidentally, he and his wife now live on Garibaldi Way, so Dave has turned it into their address sign. The pair also has a red chair from the old chairlifts hanging from their front deck.

Most of the couples collection is built upon old newspaper clippings from the Whistler Question and Answer as well as posters collected throughout the years as Whistler Mountain grew into what it is today. Yet, Dave’s favourite piece they have on display is two pages of an old Maclean’s magazine article from 1961 entitled “Skier’s Dream.” The article is all about the plans for the Whistler area and how great it was going to be long before the Mountain was actually opened in 1966.

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“Skier’s Dream” out of January 1961’s Maclean’s Magazine

Dave fondly refers to his collection of items as a “community collection” because not only have prominent members of the community donated to it, but it is largely viewed and appreciated by the community as well. It allows people who see it to look back on the growth of Whistler and see how far it has come.

Happy Birthday Whistler Question!

Earlier this year, Whistler’s longest-running newspaper, the Whistler Question, celebrated their 40th anniversary. The Whistler Museum wanted to celebrate in style, so what better present could we give than digitizing nearly 35,000 photographs from the Question’s archival collection and making them available online to the public?

Our archives recently received generous funding from UBC’s Irving K. Barber Learning Centre to digitize The Question’s negatives. The project will aim to preserve and share snapshots taken for every week’s newspaper spanning from 1978-1985. These stunning black and white 35mm negatives chronicle such poignant events in Whistler’s history — Village construction, the opening of Blackcomb, 1982 Alpine Skiing World Cup, to name a few. We felt this collection would not only be of the most use to the community, but also the most fun to explore in its entirety online.

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The Keg hits the road, from the week of May 28, 1981.

When the collection’s digitization is complete, anyone with an Internet connection will be able to explore this town’s sporting events, parades, Village construction projects, road collisions, festivals and portraits of locals from the years 1978-1985. Corresponding captions that originally accompanied the photos in each week’s published newspapers will tell the story of Whistler’s transitional years and the day-to-day lives of the people who lived here at the time, all on one snazzy website.

The Question’s negatives were donated to our institution in 1991. When archival documents are donated to the museum, they go through quite the process before we are able to share them with the public. The entire collection must be labelled with an accession number, put into preserver sleeves safe for photographs, and then entered into our online database with full descriptions. It is at this point we are able to make high-quality scans of the photographs.

Once the collection is scanned, we will upload it to our Smugmug photo-hosting website, so that the public can explore and even purchase the photos for personal or commercial use. The Whistler Question collection will join several collections of already digitized material, including the Whistler Mountain collection, the Myrtle Philip collection, the George Benjamin collection, among several others already hosted on this website.

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We have boxes full of binders full of pages full of strips of negatives. There are a LOT of photos to scan!

We have finally begun scanning, slowly bringing Whistler’s history into the digital world. The project is slated to take roughly six months, at the end of which we hope to present to you the massive Question collection in all its glory, online.

Happy Birthday, Whistler Question — here’s to many more!

A Question of Snow

When talking about a lack of snow in the valley, Whistlerites often recall the winter of 1976/77 which was undoubtedly the worst season since Whistler Mountain opened for business.

The snow, Whistler’s most valued winter guest, was seen only rarely in the neighborhood that year – but made it to the front page of the Whistler Question every week. In November 1976, the Whistler Question was still a “youngster”. Only six months old, Whistler’s local weekly paper consisted of not much more than ten text heavy pages stapled together.

Grab yourself a coffee, and check in for a time travel. We take you back to the five-month snowflake hunt of 1976/77, which came as a severe shock to the round 500 Whistlerites that lived in the valley at that time and have never considered snow-making before.

November 24, 1976 : Think Snow!

November 1976 was dry with a cold north wind blowing. There was some snow in the alpine but not enough to ski to the bottom of the old Green Chair which is pretty much where the Emerald Chair is today.  The editors start worrying about the acute shortage of snow on the mountain and the loss of revenue to the businesses in the valley. Spot the snowflakes that the editors have scattered around the paper that week – their share to help augment the snow drought. November 1976, Whistler Museum, Question collection.

The editors start worrying about the acute shortage of snow. Spot the snowflakes that the editors have scattered around the paper that week – their share to help augment the snow drought. November 1976, Whistler Museum, Question collection.

December 1, 1976: First consequences

The paper reports that due to the lack of snow, the lift company laid off about 12 employees. “This together with the permanent staff that was not hired in mid-November as usual means that there are about 25 people out of work” says that week’s paper. December 1976, Whistler Museum, Question collection.

The paper reports that due to the lack of snow, the lift company laid off about 12 employees. “This together with the permanent staff that was not hired in mid-November as usual means that there are about 25 people out of work” says that week’s paper. December 1976, Whistler Museum, Question collection.

December 22, 1976: A little Christmas miracle?

Whistler Mountain was able to open for the Christmas holidays. You could ski on the Green Chair and in the t-bar bowl, but had to download on the Red Chair and the gondola. November 1976, Whistler Museum, Question collection.

Whistler Mountain was able to open for the Christmas holidays. You could ski on the Green Chair and in the t-bar bowl, but had to download on the Red Chair and the gondola. November 1976, Whistler Museum, Question collection.

January 12, 1977: One last defiant struggle…

January 1977, Whistler Museum, Question collection.

January 1977, Whistler Museum, Question collection.

January 19, 1977: The unbelievable happens

January 1977, Whistler Museum, Question collection.

January 1977, Whistler Museum, Question collection.

January 26, 1977: Frozen Alta Lake becomes the new center of life

January 1977, Whistler Museum, Question collection.

January 1977, Whistler Museum, Question collection.

February 2, 1977: Time for superstition

February 1977, Whistler Museum, Question collection.

February 1977, Whistler Museum, Question collection.

February 9, 1977: The first snow gun arrives in the valley

February 1977, Whistler Museum, Question collection.

February 1977, Whistler Museum, Question collection.

March 16, 1977: Guess what…

March 1977, Whistler Museum, Question collection.

March 1977, Whistler Museum, Question collection.

And the moral of the story? Patience wins March powder glory!