Pioneers' vision at heart of Whistler's history
New book tells story of 13 people dedicated to making Whistler what it is
Looking at Whistler from a 1994 perspective, it's easy to see the valley's potential and why the resort has become a success.
But 35 years ago the prospects for Alta Lake were not so clear. It took a special vision to see what the valley could become.
Some of the people who had that vision are found in Whistler writer Janet Love Morrison's book Golden Dreams; The Realization of Whistler, which will be published in the spring.
"It's not a chronological reference book," Love Morrison says. "It's more personal history, the movers and shakers who made the valley what it is."
Love Morrison has charted the lives of 13 Whistler pioneers to produce the first Whistler history book since Anne McMahon's The Whistler Story, which has been out of print for six or seven years.
Love Morrison's first book, to be published by Terra Bella Publishing, a West Vancouver company, traces the stories of people who achieved a number of firsts. They include Don Gow, Florence Petersen, Franz Wilhelmsen, Tony Biggenpound, Garry Watson, Trudy Alder, Pat Carleton, Al Raine, Dr. Fred Harder, Jim McConkey, Sid Young and Hugh Smythe. Another chapter, titled School Days, profiles some of the first teachers and their students.
"All these people had a real pioneer spirit and a love for the valley. They weren't motivated by profit," Love Morrison says. Dedication was one trait common to all. She sites the example of Garry Watson, who took a year off from his law practice to work at getting Victoria to recognize the municipality.
The book covers the period from the late 1950s, when Don Gow worked for the railway, to the mid-80s. In between the stories of the first lift company presidents and the first mayor are told, but so is the story of Tony Biggenpound, the man who pushed the first gondola car out of the gondola barn in 1965.
Love Morrison started the book in the fall of 1993. She handed her first draft over to Sallye Fotheringham to edit last March. In between there were countless hours driving between D'Arcy and Chilliwack tracking people down. She hopes to bring all of them - with the exception of Sid Young, who passed away earlier this year - together for the launching of Golden Dreams; The Realization of Whistler at the Chateau in April.
"A lot of these people are in their 70s and (their stories) needed to be documented," she says.
"I'm a people person, I enjoy listening to all these people. And I'm grateful for the opportunity to work on something like this. It's an honour to sit in their living rooms and listen to all these people."
Love Morrison, 32, says she was motivated by Harder and others to write the book. But she has also lived in the Whistler community for 10 years and felt it was time to give something back. She plans to give some of the money from the book to the Whistler Museum and Archives Society.
Publisher Pamela McColl says the book will be very visual, and a lot of the material has come from the personal photo collections of the 13 people featured in the book. Because it is a collection of personal histories the chapters can be read in any order.
Love Morrison was born in Toronto but moved to Port Coquitlam when she was a child. She began visiting Whistler in the 1970s.
She has written on human rights for Amnesty International, has done some travel writing and is working on a park project. In the meantime she is employed at a "yuppie fleece store" until she can afford to quit and write full time.
Terra Bella is planning to launch a second Whistler book, Whistler Garibaldi, A Painter's View, about painter John Haig, at the same time Love Morrison's book is released.