Mountain culture involves discovery and sense of place
In Europe and Asia people have lived with the mountains for centuries. Small villages and communities developed in the mountains, often in isolation. It was only with the development of railways and automobiles that many of these communities finally established links with the outside world. And it was with the development of railways that the tourism industry really got started, drawing outsiders to the mountains.
By contrast, in the New World trains were used to help populate countries and extract resources. For most people of the New World mountains were obstacles to overcome on the way to somewhere else, some notable exceptions being the people who built Machupicchu and the cliff dwellings of the Four Corners region.
Our own slice of the Coast Mountains, for instance, was a pretty desolate place, inhabited part time by a few native Indians and trappers, until Myrtle and Alex Philip decided it would be a good place for a fishing lodge. Later, the logging and mining potential were exploited, and then finally the skiing potential was tapped.
Throughout the modern history of these mountains it has been a single purpose that has attracted people: to trap, to fish, to log, to mine or to ski. It is only relatively recently that people have decided to live here for other reasons. Whistler is developing a sense of community, but it’s also growing and changing so fast that a sense of place is sometimes overlooked. Although technology has eroded most feelings of isolation, we still live in the mountains, and "the mountains" are more than just Blackcomb and Whistler.
That’s not to suggest that we should start herding dairy cows in the alpine each summer or that everyone should take up rock climbing, but we have to see the environment we live in as more than a commercial opportunity and a place with great skiing.
Mountains have been a source of inspiration to millions of people for thousands of years. There are many examples of people using that inspiration to create things in Whistler, but there are also examples of people trying to impose themselves on the mountains, rather than living with the mountains.
The mountains are a place for discovery. If we can remember that we can continue to grow.