History

History

Whistler is a place where mountains, rivers and First Nations people have met for millennia. The Coast Salish First Nations people inhabited the land around Whistler for many thousands of years, hunting, gathering and trading long before European settlers arrived.

At one time, tens of thousands of Coast Salish First Nations people lived, traded and thrived between the Vancouver, Howe Sound and the Lillooet areas. In fact, some of the hiking routes between Howe Sound and Deep Cove (on the north shore of Burrard Inlet, near Vancouver) are the same routes traveled on by the Coast Salish First Nations peoples.

The Whistler valley was an isolated wilderness frequented by two First Nations: the Lil'wat Nation from the Mount Currie area (north of Whistler, near Pemberton), and the Squamish Nation who lived in an area stretching from present-day North Vancouver to the Squamish River watershed and the northern part of what is now called Howe Sound.

Whistler was often a waypoint for trading routes between the Squamish and Lil'wat Nations because it was rich with wildlife and resources.

Whistler's European history owes much to the pioneering spirit of Myrtle Philip. As a visionary of the early 1900s she set about to establish Whistler as one of the most popular summer resorts in western Canada.


Here is a chronology of Whistler's European history.

1860s
British naval officers survey the area and give modern-day Whistler Mountain its first European name: London Mountain.

1877
The Pemberton Trail is completed, linking the Pemberton valley to the Pacific coast north of Vancouver.

1900
Trappers and prospectors settle in the area, then known as Alta Lake. They use the informal name 'Whistler' because of the shrill whistle made by the Western Hoary Marmots that live in the alpine rocks.

1910
Myrtle and Alex Philip arrive in Vancouver from Maine.

1911
Myrtle and Alex make the three-day journey to Whistler: a steamer ship from Vancouver to Squamish, overnight in Brackendale, and a two-day horse trek to Whistler.

1914
Myrtle and Alex buy ten acres of land and build the Rainbow Lodge on the shores of Alta Lake.

1914
The Great Pacific Eastern Railway (now BC Rail) is built to Alta Lake and links the valley to the outside world. Whistler becomes a base for logging and mining. Myrtle and Alex's Rainbow Lodge is the most popular resort destination west of Banff and Jasper.

1950's
Other lodges open throughout the valley. The abundant fish stocks make Whistler a summer resort destination long before it is considered a winter one. Winter travel becomes possible when a gravel road to Squamish is carved from the cliffs of Howe Sound.

1960
Returning from the Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, a group of Vancouver businessmen search for a site to hold the Games in BC. They select what is now Whistler Mountain, form the Garibaldi Olympic Development Association, and in 1961 they submit a bid to be Canada's candidate for the 1968 Winter Olympics. Banff is chosen, but the bid process spurs development of the new ski area.

1964
The two-lane gravel road is extended to Whistler because of the ski area development and to Pemberton later that year. The trip from Vancouver to Whistler takes five to six hours.

1965
London Mountain's named is officially changed to Whistler Mountain. A four-person gondola, a double chairlift, two T-bars, and a day lodge are constructed. At the same time the provincial government had completed a rough road from Vancouver, which followed the old hydro service road - a journey that took five hours!

1966
Whistler officially opens for skiing. The gravel road to Whistler is paved.

1975
The Resort Municipality of Whistler is established - the first resort municipality in Canada.

1978
Construction begins on the new town centre that will eventually become Whistler Village.

1980
Blackcomb Mountain opens, creating one of the largest ski areas in North America.

1985
Blackcomb Mountain expands its terrain and becomes the only "Mile High Mountain" in North America.

1992
Snow Country Magazine votes Whistler the "Number One Ski Resort in North America" - just the beginning of many more accolades over the coming years.

1998
Operations of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains merge under Intrawest Corporation.

2002
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) shortlists Whistler/ Vancouver as a Candidate City for hosting the 2010 Olympic Winter and Paralympic Winter Games.

2003
Whistler and Vancouver wins the bid to host the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

2005
Whistler introduces groundbreaking vision and sustainability plan, Whistler2020 - Moving Toward a Sustainable Future.

Whistler is declared one of the most liveable communities in the world - and the best in the world in planning for the future - at the UN-endorsed International Awards for Liveable Communities (LivCom) in La Coruna, Spain.

2007
Whistler is one of seven communities selected as recipient of the provincial government's inaugural Green City Awards for demonstrating leadership and action in a range of sustainability initiatives.

Whistler is recognized as the first community in Canada to have achieved the fifth and final milestone within the Partners for Climate Protection (PCP) Program developed by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI).

2008
Whistler Blackcomb opens the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola on 12 December. Spanning the distance between Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, this engineering marvel offers a breathtaking, 11-minute 4.4-kilometre journey providing unprecedented access to the resort's renowned alpine terrain - both summer and winter.

2009
Whistler Blackcomb remains the top ski resort in North America for the 13th year in a row, upholding its No. 1 ranking on SKIING Magazine's "Top 25 Resorts in North America" list.

February 12, 2010
17 days of Winter Olympic Games begin.

March 12, 2010
10 days of Winter Paralympic Games begin.

To learn more about Whistler's history, visit Whistler Museum & Archives.

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