Whistler in the
‘60s and ‘70s was geared more to the “young and the restless” than to families
in station wagons. Some long-time Whistler residents and visitors share their
memories of this wilder part of Whistler’s history — in honour of the Whistler
Pioneers Reunion that took place on April 12.
Paul Burrows, the
founder of the Whistler Question newspaper, moved to Whistler in 1966 and
remembers the “hot-dogger” years fondly. “Just getting to Whistler was a
challenge,” Burrows said of that early ski era, adding that the drive from
Vancouver took “five or six hours.”
“You left after
work on Friday and were lucky to get to Whistler by 10 p.m.” People would go to
the Cheakamus Bar (located in the Beardmore family-owned Cheakamus Inn in
Creekside) for a drink after they got to Whistler because the drive could be
harrowing (the road to Whistler wasn’t paved until 1967).
had a Land Rover, or a VW with a ski rack on the back with two pairs of skis
and a shovel. The shovel was for the Cheakamus Canyon — sometimes you had to
shovel your way through there if there was an avalanche. If you didn’t have a
shovel, you waited for the next person to drive along and help you.”
watching the traffic roll into Whistler from the Cheakamus Bar on a Friday
night (“which had a good view of the road”) and knowing “about half of the cars
coming into town. We’d say ‘Oh look, so-and-so made it,’ or ‘what happened to
so-and-so? He should be here by now.’ Looking back, we were living history but
we didn’t know it at the time.”
When did Whistler
become politically correct or as Burrows calls it, “mainstream”?
“I think it was
when the village and Blackcomb opened. With Blackcomb opening, there was
competition between the two resorts over who could deliver the best guest
experience. That eventually led to an improvement in the product.”
opened, in the wild atmosphere of the ‘70s, Whistler was host to many “hot dog”
skiers. “Hot doggers” skied down the lift tower lines and were definitely
“guided by ego,” Burrows remembers.
“We used to get
cheers and calls from people up in the gondolas above us. It was a captive
audience. We would ski off cliffs and bumps and do things that we thought were
daring — but nothing like what the kids do today.”
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