The Whistler Story
From Fishing Resort to World Class Ski and Summer Destination
In 1914 pioneers Alex and Myrtle Phillip motivated by tales of "so many hungry fish, ya had to beat'em off your line with a stick" traveled from Vancouver by steamship, then buggy then a two day hike with pack horse to open the new Rainbow Lodge on the west side of Alta Lake. The Phillips operated the lodge for 34 glorious years! They turned the isolated valley into a lively, sociable community with Saturday night dances at the lodge, fishing, boating, hiking, skating, snowshoeing and the new sport... SKIING. By the time they sold the resort in 1948, the Rainbow Lodge had become the most popular honeymoon destination west of Jasper.
The FIRST Olympic Bid:
In 1960 a group of Vancouver businessmen fresh off their Olympic ski trip to Squaw Valley had a brainwave. Vancouver and the vast mountains north of it, would be a perfect place to host the 1968 Olympic Games. They began their search for suitable terrain, however, one of those men, Franz Wilhelmsen already knew the ideal location. He was crazy about skiing and spent his weekends hiking through thigh-deep snow to get to the top of Whistler Mountain. It was an exhausting but exhilarating adventure, and it only needed a chair lift to make his life complete Franz, along with a team of tireless and passionate experts spent the next 5 years researching, preparing proposals, and finally in 1965 the lift construction began!
Althought the Olympic bid was rejected, the dream of Whistler becoming a world-class summer and winter resort was now etched firmly in the minds of these pioneers. In February 1966 The Garibaldi Lift Company opened the Gondola, Big Red Chair and two t-bars. The local population was 527.
The REAL ESTATE rush begins:
Lots were cleared and cabins were built in Whistler Creekside, Alta Vista, and Whitegold, then more cabins were built and new large 600 lot subdivisions were created in Alpine Meadows and Emerald Estates, despite there were no sewers, no building codes, no fire protection no police force and no planning department. Oh those were the days!
The provincial government recognized they needed to get involved and in 1975 the Resort Municipality of Whistler was incorporated.
Build it and they will come...
The 80's and 90's were the 'golden' building years. Blackcomb Mountain was sold to Intrawest Development Corp. and the mountain undertook a massive expansion, piece by piece the Blackcomb Benchlands, Blueberry Hill, and Nicklaus North was developed. Commercial lots were sold and developed in Village North.
Local authorities and business owners launched a strategy that would extend the resort's business as a four season resort. The strategy involved incentives to create a mix of summer attractions. Golf courses, the Valley Trail, lakeside parks, mountain bike parks, and summer skiing was marketed and Whistler Mountain constructed the Gondola to attract hikers to the high alpine.
Under the direction Hugh Smythe and owned by the highly successful real estate development company, Intrawest, in 1998 Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains merged.
On April 20, 1999, Whistler Blackcomb became the first North American Ski Resort to top 2 million skier visits in one season. Nice air Charles! (taken off Highway 86)
On May 21st, 2007, the groundbreaking ceremony was held in honor of another important development for the lift systems on these mountains: the Peak to Peak gondola, which links the summits of Whistler and Blackcomb.
The Peak to Peak comprises the largest unsupported lift span in the world, coming in at 3.024 kilometers or 1.88 miles. At its highest point, the cabins are suspended at 436 meters or 1427 feet above Fitzsimmons Creek in the valley bottom.
Whether it's winter or summer... this lift is BIG and it's BEAUTIFUL!
The Philip's remained in the Whistler Valley for the rest of their lives. Alex lived until the age of 86, and Myrtle lived until 1986, living to the age 95!
Myrtle saw the village and the resort community grow.She was proud of what it had become. "To see it all so changed now, it's like a dream," she said.
Call me and I'll help make your dream a reality!