Some of Whistler’s earliest ski-related institutions can be traced back to Roy Ferris, an Englishman who once taught skiing in Scotland but spent most of his life promoting Whistler.
"His whole heart, his life, was in Whistler," said Sandy Martin. "He had a lot of good ideas."
Ferris died last week in Vancouver, a victim of cancer at the age of 62.
Ferris and his partner Alan White came to Alta Lake in the early 1960s, when the idea of making Whistler Mountain a ski area was just being formulated. Ferris, White and Harvey McDiarmid built the Highland Lodge, which was about the only commercial accommodation available during Whistler Mountain’s first season of operation, 1965-66.
Ferris and White also ran the first ski school on the mountain, the Garibaldi Ski School, before Jim McConkey arrived in the late 1960s.
Not content with skiing in the winter, Ferris and White established the first summer ski camp on Whistler Mountain and were responsible for bringing Austrian skiing legend Toni Sailer to Whistler. The Toni Sailer Summer Ski Camp ran for more than a decade, with coaches such as Nancy Greene Raine, Wayne Wong and Patrick Russel. As Martin recalls, the first summer ski camps offered skiing, sailing and horseback riding on Tex Rogers horses, which were stabled on the site now occupied by Capilano Highways.
Martin, who built the Alpine 68 condominiums and the Christianna Inn, later called Whistler on the Lake, frequently worked with Ferris on early Whistler promotions. They brought the first Japanese tour group to Whistler in the early ’70s, with half the group staying at the Highland Lodge and half at the Christianna.
In recent years Martin and Ferris were both promoting seniors tours to Whistler.