The official blog of the Whistler Museum & Archives Society
Collecting, preserving, documenting and interpreting Whistler's natural and human history.
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Tag Archives: Whistler Question
This week in the 1980s was apparently all about the kids of Whistler, with the majority of the photos having to do with the Myrtle Philip School sports day, ballet recitals and the Whistler Children’s Art Festival.
Not every week of photos provides much information. The photos from this week in 1978 are one example. We can identify some of the people and places but we’re hoping you can fill us in with more details for this year!
These photos from the Whistler Question show a much smaller Whistler, where everything from a visit by the Governor General, to a snowblower surviving an encounter with a train, to a visiting Rotary exchange student, to a mysterious explosion in a Longhorn toilet are recorded together in the paper.
Yesterday (Friday, January 26) we opened our 2018 Speaker Series season with an evening dedicated to the Rainbow Ski Village, presented by Tom Jarvis, John Lee and Tommy Thompson. The three told stories of Rainbow from three different perspectives: the owner trying to make the small ski hill a going concern, the former liftee in his first kitchen job, and the teenage ski jumper who got his start jumping on the BC circuit. We’d like to thank all of our speakers as well as everyone who came out!
As we’ve been preparing for this event over the past few months we’ve gotten the chance to talk to some of the people, like our speakers, who worked, skied, owned and jumped at the Rainbow Ski Village, as well as Beau’s Restaurant, and have been gathering their stories.
Recently the museum was fortunate to speak with Andy Clausen, whose family managed the Rainbow Ski Village when it first opened and whose memories include not just Rainbow but also life in the Whistler valley in the 1960s and 70s. Along with an article from the fall 1970 edition of Garibaldi’s Whistler News, Andy’s memories five us a much clearer picture of the early years of the Rainbow Ski Area.
Andy’s stepfather, Vic Christiansen, worked for Jim McConkey at Whistler Mountain and had an impressive reputation as a skier. In the late 1960s Vic was approached by Norm Paterson of Capilano Highlands Ltd. to operate a small ski area at Rainbow.
The Rainbow Ski Area first opened in the winter of 1969/70 with one 400-foot tow lift servicing a beginners’ slope. After that first winter Capilano Highlands added a new 1,200-foot towrope and cleared four beginner/practice slopes leading off the lifts. They also began construction of a day lodge and a parking area.
In 1970 Rainbow opened five days a week (Wednesday – Sunday) under the management of Vic and his family. Night skiing and reasonable rates (an adult pass for day and evening was $3, a child’s was $1.50) made Rainbow a popular place to learn to ski.
Over the next few years another towrope was added and the Rainbow Mountain Ski Club was formed. Vic and Andy built Whistler’s first ski jump and Rainbow became a stop on the BC ski jump circuit. The café was a popular stop for coffee and before he became Whistler’s first mayor Pat Carleton, a Nabob rep, could be found there frequently.
Being able to draw from both personal recollections and published articles helps to create a more colourful and complete picture of any given time and place. Memories provide detail and a personal experience while publications, such as Garibaldi’s Whistler News, often record specific dates, names and even lift rates that an individual may not recall. We are lucky to be able to refer to Whistler’s many publications, including Whistler News, the Alta Lake Echo and The Whistler Answer, when looking for information about this area’s past.
For the past 41 The Whistler Question has provided a record of life in and around Whistler, chronicling a rapidly changing community and growing mountain resort. From covering the opening of Blackcomb Mountain on its front page in 1980 to announcing the marriage of Bob Daniels and Kashi Richardson in “Notes From All” in 1985, The Question has been an important source of local news in our town.
This past week we wrote our last article for The Question as it published its last edition on January 23 (Museum Musings will be appearing in the Pique beginning next week). We would like to thank The Question for providing the Whistler Museum with a space to share Whistler’s stories, as well as an archive from to gather them.
We’re starting something new on our blog for this year! Every week we’ll be sharing our own version of #tbt (Throwback Thursday) using photos from the Whistler Question from 1978 to 1985 and, wherever possible, the original captions. When the collection was donated the negatives were very helpfully organized by week, which means we actually know when the photos were taken or published! Some years do have some missing weeks, but what we’ve got we’ll share with you. So, if you’ve ever wondered what this week in Whistler used to look like, read on.
The Whistler Museum’s Collection Manager Alyssa Bruijns will be saying goodbye to Whistler and the museum (temporarily, we hope) at the end of this month. In her own words:
People arriving and people leaving – that’s one of the constants in Whistler.
In the past three years I’ve worked at the Whistler Museum, I’ve had countless friends leave, return, leave again and return as again. As a result, I’ve been to many going-away parties, but I did not expect to be attending my own so soon!
After a successful and enjoyable few years working at the Whistler Museum as the collections manager, I will be stepping down at the end of September. The time has come for me to adventure around the world a little more and finally visit the homeland of many Whistler residents – Australia.
I’ll admit my departure has been partly fuelled by the common Whistler fairytale – Canadian girl meets Australian boy with a visa ending all too soon. I can thank the community of Whistler for introducing me to so many friends and a wonderful significant other from across the pond. I will be back to the amazing town – it’s just a matter of when and for how long.
In the time that I’ve worked for the Whistler Museum, I’ve gotten to take part in many amazing projects. Just last Thursday, I had lots of fun planning our first “Naming Night” which saw the community come together to name places, people and events from photos lacking information in our catalogue.
I was also privileged to take part in planning our first and second annual Mountain Bike Heritage Week. With the help of many student interns, I have overseen the cataloguing of vastly interesting collections – including Petersen, MacLaurin, Griffith and more – and the uploading of many collections to our online gallery. Completing a mass inventory of the collections was one of the larger tasks, which allowed me to get to know Whistler intimately through the archives and artefacts that have been donated since the museum’s opening year.
There has been one project that I have been working on for my entire time at the Whistler Museum. When I was a bright-eyed summer student, just dipping my toes into the museum world, my task was to catalogue The Whistler Question negatives from 1978-1985.
Months later, when I returned as the collections manager, I honed my grant-writing skills in order to obtain funds to digitize those same photos. Once granted, I oversaw more than a year of scanning and eventual uploading of 35,000 photos to our online gallery (click here to take a look).
Finally, I co-curated The Whistler Question: A Photographic History, 1978-1985 exhibit, which features just over 200 of these photos. It was a roller coaster of a journey seeing these negatives go from boxes, to website, to our walls, but that journey has been massively rewarding.
The highlights of my time at the museum will definitely be the magnificent people I have worked with during my time here. I count my co-workers as friends and have been surrounded by a supportive contingent of board members and locals that always make me feel that my work is worthwhile and important.
A community’s historical collection needs this support and engagement from the community. I have heard comments from countless visitors to the museum that Whistler is a special place with a unique community, and I wholeheartedly agree.
Whistler’s celebration of its own past is necessary to understand what makes our town different and how we can maintain our uniqueness. I am confident my co-workers Bradley Nichols, Allyn Pringle and John Alexander will work hard to ensure Whistler’s past is not just remembered by the community, but actively consulted when making the tough decisions for the future of this town.
I thank everyone who made my time here memorable, especially Bradley Nichols for taking a young archivist on board. Whistler, I’ll miss you dearly!