By Michel Beaudry
Joe Ryan is probably writhing in his grave right now. So too is Franz Wilhelmsen. And they should be! After all, both men invested vast amounts of time and effort to create what are, arguably, Canada’s two most iconic mountain resorts. One did it in Quebec in the late 1930s. The other managed it in B.C. 30 years later.
But that doesn’t seem to be enough anymore.
For according to the clever men who run the vast marketing machine called Intrawest, Ryan and Wilhelmsen might as well have never existed. At least that’s what they’re trying to convince Southern Ontario homebuyers. But don’t take my word for it. You be the judge:
“From Intrawest, creators of Whistler and Mont Tremblant, comes an opportunity to indulge yourself with a home at Ontario’s premier [sic] four-season resort,” ran the first sentence in a very slick ad campaign for a new housing development in Collingwood. Festooned with flowery descriptions of the proposed homes — and the associated lifestyle that goes with “Intrawest ownership” — the ad copy went on to promise only good things for prospective buyers. Indulge yourself indeed….
The full-page advertisement appeared in a recent edition of the Globe & Mail. And if it hadn’t been for a sharp-eyed visitor to Toronto, it would have never come to my attention. “I can’t believe this is going on,” wrote my incensed correspondent, who also included a scanned copy of the ad for my viewing pleasure. “The creators of Whistler and Tremblant? These guys are getting away with murder!”
Now I have no trouble with the good folk at Intrawest selling timeshares or quarter-ownerships or octo-ownerships or whatever they’re into this week. That’s the business that they’re in. But when it comes to tampering with the truth — when it comes to taking credit for great deeds and bold decisions — I find it really hard to stand by and just let them re-write history.
I know. I know. I make a lot of you uncomfortable when I start titling at conceptual windmills. You’ve made that amply clear with your letters to the editor. And I’m probably doing myself all sorts of harm by poking at the great dragon that powers this valley’s economic engine. But enough is enough. Don’t you think?
I mean, it was one thing for Intrawest to pull the wool over American investors’ eyes in order to raise the dollar value of their company. But to place an ad in one of Canada’s biggest dailies and blatantly lie about their role in the development of two of this country’s most beloved resorts? Well, to me, that’s just going too far…
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