Tag Archives: Whistler Resort Association

Welcoming Fall to Whistler

In may technically still be (and at times even feel) like summer, but for many people the beginning of September signals the beginning of fall.  While many people will have spent this weekend celebrating a certain beverage at the Whistler Beer Festival, in the 1980s this past weekend would have featured a celebration of the upcoming season with the Whistler Fall Festival.

The Fall Festival was first organized by the Whistler Resort Association (WRA, now known as Tourism Whistler) in 1981.  At the time, the Whistler Village was beginning to emerge from a craze of construction and Blackcomb Mountain was looking forward to its second season of operations.  There was a lot to celebrate in Whistler and the festival featured many of the growing community’s arts, crafts, sports, and activities.

The Fall Festival also included a Paint a Snowflake contest, leaving the fences around construction sites covered in snowflakes. Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation Collection.

One of the local characters showcased at the Fall Festival was Willie Whistler, the new mascot of the WRA.  Willie’s name came from a “Name the Whistler Marmot” contest for children in the area in which the winner, eight-year-old Tammi Wick, won a Blackcomb season pass.  The mascot was created to promote Whistler at local and other events and the Fall Festival, which included time each day to “Meet Willie Whistler,” was his first big event.

Willie Whistler takes a ride with Bo Bo the Clown during the Fall Festival in Village Square. Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation Collection.

The festival also featured local artists and artisans who demonstrated their crafts in the village, including pottery, fibre spinning, stained glass, and painting.  Performers over the weekend included acts such as Evan Kemp and the Trail Riders, the Alpini Band, and local favourite Doc Fingers, as well as dance performances and Bo Bo the Clown.

For visitors and residents alike, the Fall Festival offered different ways to see the Whistler valley.  Snowgoose Transportation offered free 50 minute bus tours, showing off everything from residential areas to the gondola base in Creekside to the Blackcomb daylodge.  To see the valley from above, participants could enjoy a flight from Okanagan Helicopters, take advantage of Blackcomb Mountain’s offer of free chairlift rides, or, subject to wind conditions, go up in Chuck Bump’s hot air balloon, billed at the festival as the “World’s Largest Hot Air Balloon.”

Evan Kemp and the Trail Riders perform in Village Square. Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation Collection.

Perhaps not surprisingly, sports and competitions also featured prominently at the Fall Festival.  Spectators could take in volleyball, Pro/Celebrity tennis matches that paired pro players with notables from politics, business, and media, a softball game between the Whistler Contractors Association and the Whistler A’s, or even a parachuting demonstration.  For those looking to compete, the Waiters Race challenged Whistler’s servers to run a timed obstacle course without spilling a drop, and the Labatt’s Great Whistler Water Race relay covered four lakes and the River of Golden Dreams through canoeing, kayaking, swimming, and windsurfing.

A softball game was fun for participants and spectators. Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation Collection.

Though the Fall Festival was primarily about showcasing Whistler, it also raised money for several different causes.  On the Sunday, Whistler hosted a run as part of the first national Terry Fox Run, raising over $7,600.  The proceeds from a beer garden hosted by the Whistler Athletic Society that evening were also donated towards cancer research.

Local causes benefited as well.  The WRA donated enough funds from the Village Centre beer garden to replace the snowmobile of the Alta Lake Sports Club that had been destroyed in a fire.  Umberto Menghi, who was then opening his new restaurant Il Caminetto, contributed to the festival by both providing the firework display for the Saturday evening and hosting a gala dinner at Myrtle Philip School to benefit the Whistler Health Care Society.

If you look really closely, Chuck Bump’s balloon also featured some advertising for local restaurants. Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation.

According to Glenda Bartosh of The Whistler Question, the first Fall Festival was about far more than raising money and generating revenue for the resort.  She reported that the festival “created laughter, high energy and a true appreciation of what Whistler is all about.”  The WRA must have agreed, as they continued to organize the Fall Festival for at least three more years.

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Whistler’s First Adventure Film Festival

In 1986, Whistler held its first Whistler Adventure Film Festival (WAFF), an event not all that different from the Whistler Film Festival’s sixth annual Adventure Film Series that takes place on the Victoria Day weekend in May as part of GO Fest. (The museum also ran some Valley of Dreams Walking Tours and a Discover Nature station as part of the festival; if you missed us, our Valley of Dreams and nature tours all start up again daily June 1 and Discover Nature will be back at Lost Lake for July and August!).

Often when films arrive at the museum, they look a bit like this.

The WAFF was co-sponsored by the Whistler Resort Association (today known as Tourism Whistler) and organized by One Step Beyond Adventure Group of Canmore, Alta., which also organized the Banff Festival of Mountain Films (today known as the Banff Mountain Film Festival) at that time.  Set to take place over the third weekend of November, WAFF was timed to excite attendees for the coming winter season and the adventures that might await them.

The films selected featured various “adventure activities” including skiing, white-water sports and climbing expeditions.  In total, the festival screened 11 films over two days, with a reception on the Friday evening featuring David Breashears.

In 1985, Breashears became the first American to summit Mount Everest more than once, having already completed the climb in 1983.  By the time he appeared at the WAFF, he had already won an Emmy for an ABC Sports special Triumph on Mt. Everest, which featured the first videotape microwave transmission from the summit.  According to the Squamish Citizen, at the opening reception Breashears was going to show a selection of his film accomplishments as well as talking about his career and the search for Mallory and Irvine, who disappeared during their 1924 Everest expedition.  Following his talk was a screening of Everest – North Wall, Laszlo Pal’s account of the 1982 American China-Everest Expedition narrated by Robert Redford.

Filmer Garry Pendygrasse, one of our “Filming Mountains” presenters from 2013, hauling gear around the Tantalus Range. Dan Milner photo.

Over the next two days, the WAFF screened more films, including three on sailing, an Irish film Beyond the North Wind about the 1981 Irish Arctic Expedition to Northern Ellesmere Island, a CBC/BBC collaboration Hell and High Water documenting a kayak and raft adventure through the Grand Canyon of the Stikine, and To the End of the Earth, a film recording the exploits of the Trans-Globe Expedition.  Two of the New Zealand ski films shown at the WAFF, Incredible Mountains and Across the Main Divide, are available for viewing today online at NZ On Screen.

The WAFF does not appear to have been long lived as we can find no evidence of it in our research binders after 1986.  Today, however, there are plenty of opportunities to view adventure films in Whistler.  The Whistler Film Festival‘s Adventure Series each spring features many of the same sports and adventures that could be seen in 1986, though some have evolved over time.

You can even catch some of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour in Whistler each February, brought to town by Escape Route.  Since it began in 1976, the festival has grown to include a World Tour in which a selection of the best films from the festival go out on tour in approximately 305 cities in over 20 different countries.

This Week In Photos: July 26

This week, like last week, we’ve got photos from every year of the Question Collection!  From windsurfing to dentists, Doug and the Slugs to puppet shows, these photos represent what was going on in Whistler (and Pemberton) this week, many years ago.

1979

Windsurfers and sunbathers enjoy the Alta Vista dock.

Dr. Ann Crowley, the new Pemberton Dentist.

The chow line at the Ski Camp barbecue.

Doug and the Slugs perform at the Ski Camp barbecue.

The roads around Whistler Vale got paved this week.

Terry Minger shows the Resort Association chart to the Whistler Rotary Club.

1980

The Husky gas station in Creekside sees steady business no matter the season.

Arnold Palmer, former PGA Champion, explains some of the ideas intended for the course at Whistler, with diagram posted behind him.

The Resort Centre doesn’t look like much but it will eventually have an Olympic-size ice rink. Something to look forward to during the late hot weather.

1981

Flag footballers take advantage of a sunny Sunday to show off some of their moves.

Former Mayor Wendell Watson and Mayor Shirley Henry cut the Pemberton Village 25th Anniversary Cake.

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s super skier!

Rain Coast Puppet Theatre group captivates an audience of young and old in Whistler Village Square on July 24.

A sunny summer day and lush new landscaping – Mayor Pat Carleton and his wife Kay take advantage of Whistler at its finest to enjoy a stroll through Town Centre.

One innovative sunbather found a unique way to beat the heat of Saturday, July 25 at the Rotary Wharf on Alta Lake.

Bob Daly, recently of Surrey, has been appointed the new principal for Myrtle Philip Elementary School. Daly has 12 years teaching experience as well as experience as the head of a science department. In addition to his administrative functions, he will be teaching Grades 6 and 7 at MPES.

1982

One of the first customers makes an inquiry at the reception desk of the newly opened Delta Mountain Inn last Friday.

Mayor Pat Carleton pushing lawn mower.

“Surviving A Personal Financial Crisis” – a handbook.

Competitors take aim during the First Annual International Dart Tournament held at the Longhorn July 23 – 25.

1983

Terry Booth, an electrician with Whistler Mountain (left), graduated at the top of his class at Pacific Vocational Institute and is presented a certificate by Peter Alder, vice president and general manager of Whistler Mountain. Booth studied electrical work at PVI in four two-month sessions over two and a half years. He is one of eight EMSC employees being sponsored for an apprenticeship program.

Spanking new span over Culliton Creek is due to open by July 29 according to Vern Dancy, structural co-ordinator for Goodbrand Construction.

Al Davis heads out for a sail on what he described as a “classic day” for windsurfing on Alta Lake. The weekend sun gave way to rain by Monday.

Diane Eby, of Inge’s Hole in the Wall Gallery, has a wide selection of limited edition prints, reprints and posters for sale. The present collection, which includes pieces from $18 to $600 include works of Markgraf, Bateman and Lansdowne. The works on display will change at least once a month, Eby said.

After the lesson on infant nutrition during the Mother-Infant Program, this group of mums headed over to the Sundial Restaurant to see to their own nutrition. (top row, l – r) Public Health Nurse Marilyn McIvor, Sheila Peters and Colin, Annie Sanderson and Patrick, Lezlie Lock and Jessica, Sandy Epplett and Patricia; (bottom row, l – r) Merrilyn Hoffmann and Christina and Karen Martin and Robyn.

1984

Master of Ceremonies Tom Thomson talks to Glenn Carlsen, the winner of Saturday’s 57 km Molson Lite Whistler Triathlon organized by the Alta Lake Sports Club.

For thirsty triathletes competing in 27+ weather Saturday, watermelons in Village Square were a needed source of water for dehydrated competitors.

Yes, the water was a bit cool Sunday morning for the first leg of the Junior Triathlon in Lost Lake.

If the hydro’s going in to the new municipal hall, can the staff by far behind? Construction is advancing quickly as the staff at Function Junction tidy their desks in anticipation of the move back to the village scheduled for mid August.

This Week In Photos: May 31

1980

Here today, gone tomorrow – the continuing battle of graffiti artists on the old firehall at Mons was finally ended Tuesday, May 27 when municipal crews tore the building down.

Hydro uses a giant trailer and steering unit to move a new transformer into Rainbow substation at Mons.

Package 16 is quick to start work. The first of the Phase II parcels to start work in the Town Centre this year. Jim Cook’s pumper truck helps fill forms with cement from Cardinal Concrete.

The uphill, sunny east side of the new Blackcomb daylodge waits for glass and interior work to be done.

A cabin is ignited, ready to shoot a dramatic scene for Gold Key Entertainment’s movie “Up River”.

1981

Jeff Heinzman and Michael Smith of the High Country Band bringing an easy-to-listen country touch to the Mountain House.

Liam McCarthy takes tractor lessons from Ed Mitchell at the Coast Mountain Outdoor School.

Stanley Smith pins Rotary President’s Pin on Bob Brown.

T.J.L. Contracting lay sewer force main along Rainbow Drive.

One of the many houses in Garibaldi that are being moved as residents sell out before the June 10 deadline.

1983

Dave Murray studies the Southern Cross timing computer during the Canada West Ski Area Association’s trade show in the Whistler Village Inn.

Fire Chief Lindsay Wilson kills two birds with one hose. While checking out the pressure on one of the municipal fire engines he provides 800 gal./min. worth of relief for a parched Alpha Lake Park.

“Stop that” squealed friends of Cindy Thomson, but they didn’t really mean it as temperatures soared to 36C Sunday. Lost Lake proved to be a haven for those seeking relief from the unseasonable heat wave.

From small beginnings great things sometimes grow. Toiling under 30plus temperatures, Christopher Forrest and Jody Edgon began excavations by the shores of Lost Lake on Monday. Unlike their elder counterparts, small contractors can dispense with building permits and zoning bylaws and focus on the job at hand.

1984

Sunday was one of the first real days of spring this year and the Myrtle Philip School diamond was the scene for a local fastball game between Pemberton Legion and the Whistler squad. Whistler lost 13-5 to the Pemberton team.

A true adventurer, Briton Paul Claxton passed through Whistler last Wednesday on the first leg of a solo cycling expedition to Alaska by gravel road. Clayton, 21, is an Oxford physics graduate on leave from his research job and says his 3,000 mile trip, leading to the brink of the Arctic Ocean, is the first of its kind. The determined cyclist is ready for anything. Last Tuesday he wheeled his custom built, $1,400 10-speed into the Daisy Lake campground where he spent the night under a picnic table. His only real worries, however, are bears and the man-eating Canadian mosquito.

Kelly Norton doesn’t like holding the tail of an 18 1/2″ Rainbow Trout that her dad, David, caught early Sunday morning. Kelly’s brother Michael doesn’t seem to mind though. Mr. Norton is wondering, however, if there’s any more fish like the one he caught still in Alta Lake. He says it’s the largest he’s seen in years.

Movers managed to transport the 5,300 lb. safe into the new credit union office in Village Square Monday after they also shifted the 4,500 lb. night deposit vault. North Shore Community Credit Union is all set for its Saturday opening.

Singer Paul Ciechanowski, hired by the Whistler Resort Association for summer village entertainment, opened the season Saturday in Village Square.

This Week in Photos: May 17

1978

The sign says “Turn here Denny”, but who is Denny and where are they going?

A demonstration of the Whistler Volunteer Fire Department’s equipment on the lake.

Gothic arches are getting harder to find in Whistler but in 1978 this one was still standing proudly.

A new council was sworn in for the day.

The staff at Myrtle Philip School. We recognize Jane Burrows and Sandra Epplett, but can anyone help with the rest of the names?

1980

Coral Robinson gets the last of the Roundhouse sunshine on closing day Whistler Mountain May 11.

A lone fireman hoses down a burning mountain of garbage as a nearby tanker truck refills the porta tank.

Lyall Featherstonebaugh slices, slams and pivots through a variety of wave types in the spring-swollen Cheakamus River on Sunday.

1981

The old Muni Hall building gets ready to move away from Blackcomb Way.

Garry Watson presents Doug Sutcliffe with a print of Whistler Village at the Founder Dinner.

Whistler’s founders? Or are they confusing Whistler with Disneyland?

A sunny game of volleyball outside the Highland Lodge.

Whistler’s version of a biker gang – not the most intimidating.

The Muni Hall building in its new location near Function Junction.

1982

Spring clean-up underway in the village included the removal of damaged beams from the Sports and Convention Centre roof. The huge gulls will be used by the municipality for picnic tables, benches and pedestrian footbridges along the trail system.

Const. Sowden talks to young bikers about safety.

View from the Top. Ever wonder what the view is like from the top of a 70 ft. fire truck ladder? It goes something like this, only try and imagine a bit of a sway while you’re standing there. Whistler firemen were taking part in a two-day seminar when they had this equipment out.

Roll me over in the clover… said this little Honda in the middle of Myrtle Philip school field. And so some of the crew repairing the baseball diamond did just that (roll it over, that is) to inspect the underside of the poor thing. Sure beats putting it on a hydraulic lift.

Salad Days! Hungry staff survey the new salad bar at the Creekhouse Restaurant.

1983

Clamouring for the start of Whistler Children’s Festival, this bunch of artists whomped up posters to advertise the event to be held June 18 and 19. Clockwise from the summit: Harley Paul, Melanie Busdon, Marika Richoz, Samantha O’Keefe, Charlene Freeman, Angus Maxwell. Jason Demidoff and Iain Young say they can all hang in until then.

These two answered this week’s question: Dave Cipp, Bartender, White Gold and Karen Playfair, Grocery Store employee, Alpine Meadows.

Road crews were hard at work widening the alignment of Highway 99 west of Green Lake May 13. In three or four years the road to Pemberton should be an easier one to travel.

Following Saturday’s annual general meeting, Jeff Wuoller (left) will sit as the new WRA director-at-large for the coming year, while Jacques Omnes (right) will assume the position of accommodations director.

1984

Grade 5 students from Myrtle Philip School, named in honour of Whistler’s pioneer in 1976, gathered around Mrs. Philip at her home on the shores of Alta Lake.

Leaping horses, Batman! It’s Bob Warner getting warmed up with his trusty steed for another season of trailriding at Whistler which starts this Thursday. This year Layton Bryson is running his operation from new stables at Mons.

This Week In Photos: March 8

One of the best part of the Whistler Question Collection is that it shows different sides of Whistler as a developing resort, including skiing, contests, parties, school events, construction and scenes of everyday life.

1979

Toni Sailer runs the Molson World Cup Downhill course on Tuesday.

Toni Sailer and Nancy Greene-Raine on the World Cup Downhill course.

A Beetle is carted out of Creekside.

One of the Tantalus Creations seamstresses at work on a vest, part of a line of custom ski wear.

1980

Construction continues in Whistler Village despite the snow on the ground.

The new Public Service building has its finishing touches added and new cells installed, currently unoccupied.

Myrtle Philip pays a visit to a class at Myrtle Philip School, sharing photos and tales of her early days in the valley.

‘Downhill’ Bill Gregory leads a group of cross country skiers down the water town hill in the Fischer Cup.

Myrtle Philip teachers & parents prepare the climbing apparatus for the PE workshop on March 8.

1981

The lineup at the bottom of Whistler Mountain looks like it could use a little more snow, or any snow at all.

It’s not the usual slalom course you see in Whistler, but that didn’t stop this group of kayakers.

The crowd gets out onto the dance floor at Club 10.

Mayor Pat Carleton (centre) congratulates Michel Segur (left) and Jean-Jacques Aaron on the opening of their new club.

How many people can you fit in one hot tub? Looks like we’re going to find out.

1982

Guide Mike Jackobson heads the pack as the powder skiers make tracks on an open slope near Bralorne.

All that remained of the lower portion of the Blackcomb skiers bridge that collapsed Saturday, March 6 injuring two.

Action! Fitness instructor Sue Worden pedals her heart out for Action BC testing Saturday, March 6 while Kevin Ponnock, fitness consultant, records pulse rate. The government-sponsored program includes flexibility training and a diet analysis so that participants can asses their fitness level.

Don Armour (seated) and Peter Zandon give the new WRA computer system a workout. The computer is a major step towards co-ordinating reservations throughout Whistler.

1983

A new sound wafted through the air of Whistler Village Saturday, March 5 thanks to Otto Baumann and his Alp horn. The horns were originally designed to call cattle home or signal nearby neighbours. Baumann, 25, a native of Lucern Switzerland, made this horn himself. It measures 12 feet in length.

At it again! Blackcomb and Whistler Mountain staff squared off for the second round (actually there’s been far more than two rounds guzzled in this competition) of their boat races.

Doc Fingers and the Gortex Blues Band kept the crowd on their feet at the Canadian Telemark Team Benefit, Sunday March 6 at Bullets Cabaret. (L-R) Robin Ferrier, Doc Fingers and Jack Levin belt it out for the full house. Not shown is Ferrier’s crutch – supporting his ankle, broken March 4 scant days before the telemark racing season really gets underway.

Foot in the Door titillates the telemarkers at the Canadian Telemark Team Benefit held at Bullets Cabaret Sunday. (L-R) Mark Schnaidt, Craig Barker, Charlie Doyle and Rocco Bonito helped the team net $500 toward sending the team to races in Colorado.

M. Robert Gourdin, North American sales rep for Moet et Chandon and Hennessy Cognac, topped off this $24,000 tower of Baccaret crystal glasses with a few bottles of bubbly during a special presentation at Delta Mountain Inn March 3. And how to open a bottle of champagne on such a special occasion? Why, with a Napoleonic sabre, of course.

1984

A typewriter graveyard? No, these are just a small part of the many tons of equipment, from pencils to lasers, being used for Molson World Downhill coordination.

It was a tough choice for judges at Saturday’s air band contest. The contest, held at Stumps in conjunction with the Volvo Ski Show, featured four bands. The Energy Pals, a duo, eventually won and took home two pairs of Blizzard skis. In second place were The Superbs followed by the five-member Culture Club.

Al Raine – Ski Industry Legend, Visionary, and a Pretty Cool Dude

When ski racing legend Al Raine made the move to Whistler in 1973, he had already established himself as head coach and program director of the Canadian National Alpine Ski Team at the age of 32. Around this time, the provincial government was looking for an individual to provide technical expertise and coordinate provincial ski expansion, as well as oversee the development of Whistler as a tourist destination resort. With his extensive background in the ski industry, Raine was the perfect candidate to act as a liaison between the municipality and the provincial government. Thus, Al was approached about a position and he accepted in May 1974. As acting Ski Area Coordinator of B.C. and alderman for the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW), one of Al’s first tasks was assisting in the building of a sewer plant that would service the entire valley.

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With the completion of the new sewer system, the Whistler council turned their attention to creating a central village. When the government asked their appointed ski coordinator to report on the realistic achievable goals for Whistler, Al remained positive that it had the potential to become a world-class ski resort, despite the weakness that was B.C.’s coastal climate. He was confident that with good skiing on the upper mountains, solid lifts, and a village, success would be imminent. At the same time, this meant that more lifts were vital, seeing as upward of 2400 people could be seen standing in line for hours at a time, waiting to get onto a mountain with a capacity of 600 skiers per hour.

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The original Resort Municipality of Whistler Council. Pictured from left to right: Alderman Bob Bishop, Alderman Al Raine, Treasurer Geoff Pearce, Mayor Pat Carleton, Alderman John Hetherington, Alderman Gary Watson

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Al Raine and wife, Nancy Greene Raine, enjoying a day out on the slopes

With local government starting to take shape, Al began to look toward the possibility of a future for Blackcomb. In September of 1976, he put out a proposal call to develop the mountain. After months of silence, a bid finally came in from the Aspen Ski Corporation of Colorado in joint venture with the Canadian Federal Business Development Bank. Once final terms were ironed out and the deal agreed upon, investors had the go ahead to complete phase one of development, and on December 6, 1980, Blackcomb Mountain opened with 1240 vertical meters of skiing available.

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Al Raine shaking hands with Whistler’s first mayor, Pat Carleton, ca. 1975

Al’s position as B.C.’s ski area coordinator included more than just Whistler. He also studied 45 areas province wide, giving site evaluations on their probability. In 1980, Al stepped down from his position and took the job of General Manager of the newly formed Whistler Resort Association. The organization was responsible for scheduling events at Whistler while providing basic information, central reservations, and marketing promotions for the resort. Today, Al and his wife Nancy can be seen in Whistler skiing, golfing, and playing tennis. After years of hard work and dedication, Al Raine has the opportunity to enjoy the vision of Whistler that he assisted in creating.