Tag Archives: Whistler Television Society

Bringing the First Television to Whistler

Bringing television access to Whistler was no easy feat before cable and satellite, but Walter Zebrowski can be credited with bringing it to the valley.

The Chamber of Commerce apparently began discussing television at its first meeting in 1966, and members wrote letters to the provincial government in Victoria asking for the installation of antennas or a TV cable.  But they heard nothing back from their queries.

Walter feeding the fish at Eva Lake Park.

Zebrowski eventually asked the Chamber members to give him free rein to attempt to bring television to the Whistler valley.  He was determined and eager, and the members approved.  In 1970, Zebrowski took a trip to Vancouver and with his own money purchased a TV antenna and a small battery-operated television set.

Next came the challenge of finding a location for the antenna where it would receive a TV signal.  Zebrowski spent months exploring the surrounding mountains be snowmobile and helicopter for the right location.  Between the two peaks of Mount Sproatt he found a signal.

Zebrowski ordered the rest of the equipment that was needed to put up the antenna and it was erected with the help of Jon Anderson.  Next to the antenna, Zebrowski proudly hung a flag of Garibaldi Lifts Ltd.

A few days later, however, when a storm passed over the mountain, the masts were all destroyed.  Zebrowski described the main antenna as looking like “a swan with a broken neck,” so they started all over again with smaller masts that were more resistant to the wind.

At the annual December Ball of the Chamber of Commerce, Zebrowski put a TV set in the corner of the hall and covered it.  After the usual complaining about the lack of TV, he turned the set on and embraced the astonishment and joy of the other Chamber members.

The Sproatt antenna required regular snow clearing during the winters. George Benjamin Collection.

The antenna originally received three different stations.

Along with the TV antenna, Zebrowski also founded the Whistler Television Society, which helped maintain the site and collected a fee from members to help fund the service.

In the late 1990s, the antenna was struck by lightning and one of the devices stopped working.  From then, there were only two channels available.  By the time this happened, most people in the valley were using cable or satellite TV and no one was around who knew how to, or was willing to, repair the primitive technology.

Zebrowski passed away in 1996, leaving a lasting legacy in Whistler.

Whistler T.V. Society members Floyd Eclair, Richard Heine and Albert Bryjack went up to adjust the society’s channel 6 antenna atop Sproat Mountain.  Whistler Question Collection, 1984.

The television signal captured by Zebrowski eventually became redundant and by 1999, it was unknown if there was anyone still using the Sproatt signal.  The municipality decided to stop collecting taxes to fund the Whistler Television Society and when the CRTC licence expired in 2000, the signal was no longer usable.

The site of the Sproatt antenna was an ideal location, as it was later proposed, to build an internet connection structure.  Paul Burrows, who had acted as a caretaker for the society and helped shovel snow off of the repeater in the winter, claimed that “You can see clear all of Whistler from that site.”

This Week In Photos: July 12

This week seems to be full of races!  With the Garibaldi Cup, Molson’s Whistler Bike Race and the beginnings of the Whistler Half Marathon all making appearances, July would seem to have always been a very active month in Whistler.

1979

Paul Tattamanti and Eugene Rochfort at the Stage 1 turnaround at Whistler in the rain on Saturday. By the end of the weekend, Rochfort was celebrating as part of the Anglia-Norco team that won the Garibaldi Cup.

Mayor Pat Carleton and Alderman Al Raine with Minister of Municipal Affairs Bill Vander Zalm and his wife Lillian.

The Blackcomb view from the 4,000 ft. level looking down one of the runs towards the school and the Town Centre.

Vic Hurford’s crew at work on the Blackcomb Road.

1980

New location for Town Hall puts municipal buildings adjacent to the Public Safety Building (PSB) on the north side. Upstairs meeting room in the PSB will be used for Council Chambers.

Blackcomb’s mountain top restaurant takes shape before a shrinking backdrop of peaks and glaciers.

The wedding hall in Whistler set with finery ready for a post-nuptial feast.

Betty Vogler slams a service over to her opponent during the first women’s open tennis tournament on Sunday.

Dale Arsenault completing the first hang-glide journey from the top of Whistler to the base facilities near Highway 99.

1981

Cyclists climb as part of Molson’s Whistler Bike Race.

The $300,000, three-room addition to Myrtle Philip School begins to take shape.

Betty Vogler, winner of the women’s singles.

Birthday boys Murray Coates (left) and Doug Schull cut their giant cake.

Peter Andrew, Willy Schaeffler, Nelson Bennett, Bob Bartley, Bill McCance, Lorne O’Connor, Boyd Stuwe and John Hanna discuss the new downhill course plan.

1982

Delta Mountain Inn’s General Manager John Pope surveys the main lobby of the hotel as workmen add finishing touches.

The guest rooms at Mountain Inn feature luxurious appointments, including original artwork. This one was decorated in tones of royal blue with beige and rose bright lights.

Molson’s Whistler Bike Race passes through the Whistler Village.

Phil Anderson of West Point Cycles could have stolen the show in the Celebrity Race with this two-star wheelie. Celebrities, including Whistler’s Mayor Pat Carleton, tested their skills on similar race vehicles during the Sunday afternoon race.

In honour of the first annual ‘sailpast’ of the newly formed ‘Whistler Yacht Club’. Commodore Jan Holberg takes the salute as the motley array of boats passes the reviewing stand on July 12.

With the families and godparents gathered together, Rev. Ed Wallace recites the baptism service to the Roberts family (left) and the MacKenzies on the occasion of the christening of their children on July 10.

Under a Rest lifted their voices in perfect harmony to give Whistlerites a taste of a capella singing on Friday.

1984

Whistler T.V. Society members Floyd Eclair, Richard Heine and Albert Bryjack went up to adjust the society’s channel 6 antenna atop Sproat Mountain last Sunday.

Whistler’s Bottlemaster Harry Carman with just some of the new-fangled bottle types that have flooded the market.

Ready to go! Finishing in a time of just over 1:12, Alan Carr won the second annual Whistler Half Marathon last Sunday, beating out a crowd of more than 200 other runners. Carr says that the course was as hilly as he’d ever seen, adding that he trains only about four or five days a week, one half hour a day. Neil Waken placed second in the 13.1 km race.

Stew Muir gets a shot of diesel from Art Den Duyf’s tank at Mons.

Someone is chopping down trees on Ruth Buzzard’s property. Buzzard recently received permission to build a campground on a 15.3 ha (38 acre) site between White Gold and Mons. But despite no trespassing signs and notices asking that trees not be cut, at least a dozen trees have disappeared. Now a large area of the future campground is almost bare.

Whistler landscaper Leigh Finck donated time, plants and energy over the weekend to spruce up the Chamber of Commerce Information Centre at the gondola.