Tag Archives: Whistler Writers Society

Women’s History Month: Part III

As we’ve discussed in the past few weeks, countless women have contributed to Whistler’s success over the past decades.  This week, the last in Women’s History Month, we are featuring Stella Harvey, who over the last 18 years has contributed tirelessly to Whistler’s burgeoning literary arts scene.

Stella Harvey founded the Whistler Writers Festival after moving to Whistler in 2000.

Stella and her husband Dave moved to Whistler in 2000 from Italy.  She left behind a career as an international management consultant and planned to become a writer.  After struggling to to feel connected to the community, she decided to post an advertisement in the local newspaper looking for other aspiring writers.

She recalled, “When we first moved to Whistler, it was very hard to find a feeling of community.  Living in Rome, even though we were in the middle of the city, everyone in the neighbourhood knew who I was.  I felt quite isolated in Whistler, so I had to create me own community.”

The first meeting of the Vicious Circle, her newly formed writing group, attracted 26 like-minded individuals who were hoping to improve their writing skills and ultimately get published.  Stella organized the first Whistler Writers Festival by inviting a guest author to speak to her writing group.  The first year saw 20 participants gather in her living room.

These typewriters must have seen plenty of writing in their lifetimes, though largely replaced by computers today.  Whistler Question Collection.

In 2001 Stella and members of the Vicious Circle formed the Whistler Writers Society.  The Whistler Writers Festival remains the main event put on by the volunteer-led organization, but they have included more programs aimed at providing opportunities for writers and bibliophiles to enjoy the literary arts throughout the year as they grow.

Programs such as the Whistler Writer-in-Residence Program, which started in 2007, provide opportunities for local writers to work with a published author and help hone their skills through classroom sessions and one-on-one meetings.

The Authors in the Schools program began in 2013 and has included authors such as Richard Wagamese, Joseph Boyden, Katherine Fawcett and Eden Robinson.  Its aim is to engage youth in the literary arts and provide the opportunity for students from Squamish, Pemberton, Whistler and Mount Currie to ask questions and hear authors read from books they are studying in class.

Since its first year in 2001 the Whistler Writers Festival has grown into a four-day event with 60 guest authors and roughly 2,000 participants.  The theme for this year’s festival, held earlier this month, was: “No one succeeds alone.”

Stella Harvey has embodied this theme by working selflessly to put on the best possible Writers Festival and other literary events throughout the year for the community.  While living in Whistler she has published two novels, Nicolai’s Daughter in 2012 and The Brink of Freedom in 2015, and in 2015 was also awarded Whistler Champion of Arts & Culture at Whistler’s Excellence Awards.

While this concludes our celebration of Women’s History Month this certainly won’t be the last time we share the stories of women who have contributed to the valley, both in the past and present.

Whistler Debates presents: Self-Publish or Perish?

Whistler Debates presents: Self-publish or Perish?

Boutique, big box, or by yourself? High-powered agent or DIY? Paperback or paperless? With the publishing world in flux, this debate-format panel discussion will tackle how aspiring wordsmiths can produce the best product, reach the broadest audience, and ultimately, make enough coin to write another day.

Whistler Museum (4333 Main St.), Sunday October 20, 2pm-3:30pm, $10

***Tickets can be purchased directly from the Whistler Museum, or on the Whistler Reader’s & Writer’s Festival website.***


Whistler is a writer’s town. You can find dozens of local names on book shelves around town, not to mention the dozens more who regularly contribute to local newspapers & magazines, and beyond. Over the last dozen years our local literary community has fostered, and in turn, been supporte d by the steady growth of the Whistler Reader’s & Writer’s Festival, happening later this month.

At last year’s festival the Whistler Museum launched our event series Whistler Debates, and we are excited to be celebrating the one-year anniversary of the popular program by once again partnering with the Writer’s Festival for what is now our 7th Whistler Debates event.


This year’s debaters (clockwise from top left): Les Anthony, Karen Haughian, Janet Love Morrison, Paula Shackleton.

On October 20th we will be hosting  Self-Publish or Perish? Featuring an esteemed panel with wide-ranging experiences within the publishing industry, the event will examine the relative merits of the many options facing today’s aspiring writers looking to get their book in print. While the debate will cater most directly to aspiring authors, it will compel, inform, and entertain anyone who is curious about the current state of the rapidly shifting publishing landscape.

Representing the more conventional path of signing a book deal with an established publishing firm will be local author, editor, and renaissance man Dr. Leslie Anthony, and Karen Haughian, publisher with Winnipeg-based Signature Editions. Debating on behalf of self-publishing, e-publishing, and other non-conventional options are Vancouver (and formerly of Whistler) author/editor Janet Love Morrison, and local writer, publisher, and literary organizer Paula Shackleton.

Debater Profiles:

Leslie Anthony holds a Ph.D. in zoology from the University of Toronto and is likely the only person on Earth to have published books on herpetology (the science of amphibians & reptiles) as well as skiing. He has won awards for both his poetry, and journalistic work in outdoor, action sport, and general-interest magazines such as Skier, Equinox, explore, and Powder, on whose masthead he’s appeared for twenty-one years. He lives in Whistler, British Columbia, where he most recently was named editor of the Mountain Life Annual publication.

Karen Haughian – While pursuing her master’s degree in English and teaching at Concordia, Karen Haughian decided to audit an undergrad publishing class — which resulted in the formation of a publishing company. Originally named Nuage Editions, the press began in 1986 as the very first desktop publisher in Quebec.  Since 1991 Karen has been the firm’s sole proprietor, subsequently relocating to Winnipeg and renamed as Signature Editions. Karen is committed to discovering and developing new Canadian writing of merit, regardless of genre, and the press publishes many first-book authors. These days Karen lives in Winnipeg with her husband, also a publisher (but the rivalry is generally friendly), and their teenaged son.

Janet Love Morrison was born in Toronto but raised in Greater Vancouver. Years spent travelling the world inspired her to document what she felt, what she saw and what she heard, leading her to write for Pique Newsmagazine, The Globe and Mail, and many other publications. She counts “Refugees, children, taxi drivers, fellow travellers, work colleagues, family, friends, Dhyan Vimal (founder of Friends to Mankind), and His Holiness the Dalai Lama” among her many teachers. She first started editing in 2004 for Masters’ World magazine in Malaysia, and since then has embraced a wide variety of editing assignments including websites, brochures, magazine articles, real estate advertisements and much more.

Paula Shackleton is a Canadian writer and publisher with a passion for literacy. She is the Founder and Executive Editor of www.bookbuffet.com, a literary website dedicated to avid readers and book groups; the Founder of Whistler Reads, a citywide reading program started in 2005; and the Founder of Literary Excursions, a destination travel entity incorporating lectures with cultural and gastronomic pursuits.  Paula is a Director on the VPLF Board and the co-chair of TOUCH.  Look for her book-art sculpture, Babble-On at TOUCH.


About Whistler DebatesWhistlerites self-identify as informed, opinionated, and outspoken. We’re putting this assumption to the test. Inspired by the Doha Debates, our aim is to provide a forum for respectful, informed dialogue on wide-ranging topics of local or general interest. Debates occur year-round and generally coincide with ongoing festivals and events. All debates will feature a strong audience participation component, so come armed with an opinion, an open mind, and a desire to engage with some of the most pressing topics of our times.





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Has Snowboarding Sold Out?

WSSF Debate poster

With the return of “The Festival” upon us yet again, winter gets to enjoy one last hurrah in the spotlight before we officially begin looking forward to summer. Here at the museum, we’ve taken this as an opportunity to reflect on the meteoric rise of snowboarding. Way back in the 1980s (before the Whistler-Blackcomb merger) Blackcomb Mountain was the first ski resort in British Columbia to allow snowboarding, and since then our local mountains have provided the venue for countless iconic moments, faces, and features in the history of snowboarding. From the Blackcomb Windlip, to Camp of Champions, the Westbeach Classic, and far too many pro riders, photos and film segments to name, our resort has played an integral role in the development of the sport.

In just a few decades snowboarding has gone from near-banishment from ski resorts to the very core of the mainstream skiing and action sports industries. Athletes have accomplished some remarkable feats, tons of money has been made, and the act of sliding on snow has been changed forever. But at what cost? Snowboarding started out as pure, youthful rebellion. Has the push for growth and progression sucked the soul from the sport? Come find out at this candid and compelling discussion featuring passionate, long-time snowboard industry insiders and influencers.

Snowboarding has progressed incredibly over the years, but has it gotten any better? Long-time Whistler pro rider Oliver Roy, late 1990s. Photo: Greg Griffith/Whistler Museum Archives.

Snowboarding has progressed incredibly over the years, but has it gotten any better? Long-time Whistler pro rider Oliver Roy, late 1990s. Photo: Greg Griffith/Whistler Museum Archives.

We are excited to announce our next Whistler Debates event, this time partnering with the World Ski & Snowboard Festival. Monday, April 15th at 5pm at the Whistler Museum we will be debating “Has the Snowboard Industry Sold Out?”

Our lineup features:

Brian Hockenstein: Snowboard photographer, cinematographer videographer and publisher Brian Hockenstein, whose images have been turning heads inside and outside the industry for years. He recently become even more enmeshed in the industry through the launch of his highly successful online snowboard website 33mag.com.

Dave Rouleau: Rouleau spent his twenties exploring the limits of life though snowboarding, film, the arts, web media and being a sponsored snowboarder. He claims that sustainability for snowboarding as a sport, art form and lifestyle lies not in “destroying it’ but CREATING IT, not in ‘killing it’, but rather LIVING IT! 

Graham Turner: Graham has been snowboarding longer than you, and has worked for W-B as a retail manager/buyer for almost as long. If this doesn’t convince you of his OG snowboarder cred, well, you know all those retro snowboards on display at Merlin’s. Those are his.

Mystery Debater X: Details to come…


When: Monday April 15th, 5-7pm

Where: Whistler Museum
Tickets: $7, available at the WSSF ticket booth, or the Whistler Museum. Spots are limited.
Other: 19+ (cash bar)
Visit whistlermuseum.org or WSSF.com for more details.


About Whistler Debates: Whistlerites self-identify as informed, opinionated, and outspoken. We’re going to put this assumption to the test. Inspired by the Doha Debates, our aim is to provide a forum for respectful, informed dialogue on wide-ranging topics of local or general interest. Debates will take place year-round and coincide with ongoing festivals and events. All debates will feature a strong audience participation component, so come armed with an opinion, an open mind, and a desire to engage with some of the most pressing topics of our times.

Whistler Debates

Thanks to digital technologies the written word is more widespread than ever, but how much is really being said? Is cheap (or free) content pricing the truly-talented out of the market? Or is the spark of literary genius too bright to be extinguished by some measly little internet?

The future of books?

If you’ve ever pondered such matters, we’ve got the event for you. This Sunday, October 14th, from 5:30-7:00, the Whistler Museum will host the first installment of our new event series Whistler Debates. Produced in partnership with our friends over at WhistlerIsAwesome.comWhistler Debates events will feature articulate and opinionated guests engaging in respectful, informed dialogue on wide-ranging topics of local or general interest.  The debates will take place year-round and usually coincide with ongoing festivals and events. 

Our first installment coincides with this weekend’s Whistler Readers & Writers Festival, and we will be debating the statement “Whistler believes… The internet is killing literature.”  On the “Yea” side we have local writer, editor, mc, and all-around s$*#-disturber Feet Banks, and Vancouver-based singer/songwriter Chelsea Johnson.  Arguing “Nay” are Jillian Christmas, acclaimed poet & spoken word artist, and Jesse Ferreras, formerly of Pique Newsmagazine fame and currently an associate editor with the Huffington Post. 

Entry to this great event is just $7 ($5 for those with Writer’s Festival passes), and can be purchased here at the museum (4333 Main Street) or by calling us at (604) 932-2019.

After the debate make sure to head on over to Maxx Fish, for the Writer’s Fest’s final event, Whistler’s 7th installment of Pecha Kucha, where Chelsea and Jillian will once again feature on a very exciting bill of presenters.

We’ve also got more debates coming in the near future, starting with the “Preservation vs. Pow” debate on backcountry access, taking place at Millennium Place on October 29th. Stay tuned for more details on this and future Whistler Debates events coming shortly!