Walking back in time
Whistler will be going through a bit of a time warp this spring.
A project creating two Heritage Trails in the valley will bring the past to the present as the Whistler Museum and Archives Society and the Resort Municipality of Whistler team up to map Whistler's past.
According to Nancy Ford, a planner with the RMOW, the two trails will start at the new museum site beside the Whistler Public Library on Main Street and head off into history. One of the trails will head off toward Rainbow Park and back around the Whistler Golf Course
"The first trail will focus on the early settlers of the area," Ford says.
The heritage trail system will be made up of two trails, roughly six and 10 kilometres in length respectively. Interpretative signs with historical facts, information and anecdotes will line the trail at important areas. The second trail will go from the museum, out toward Meadow Park and will focus on logging, ethnobotany and natural history.
The signs will point out historical stories like one found in the Victoria Daily Colonist Oct. 16, 1968. The historical column recounts how John Millar had found a Wolverine in one of his traps while checking his trapline on Sproatt Mountain. After "killing" the Wolverine and sticking it in his pack, Millar carried on down the line. According to the story, the Wolverine recovered, chewed it's way out of the pack and "bit him in the seat of the pants."
While some of the stories the 20-40 signs will carry will be funny, getting people involved in Whistler's history is no joke. Ford says the trails are part of the Whistler Heritage Strategy. Designed to catalogue, identify and preserve Whistler's heritage, the strategy is also designed to tap into an emerging trend dubbed "cultural tourism."
According to Ford, Whistler can only benefit from giving people low-impact options in recreation as the resort diversifies. The Heritage Inventory will divide historical resources into five areas: natural history, native significance, early settlers, ski resort development and cultural and architectural resources.
The signs will be installed on trail sites over the course of the summer and examples of the signs will be available for viewing when the Whistler Museum has its soft opening on the May long weekend.
Brain Buchholz, president of the Whistler Museum and Archives Society, says the trails expand the museum beyond the boundaries of walls and into the natural history in the valley.
"Not only does the trail get people out and doing something, it encourages people to take that next step, to think, ask questions and find out more," he says.
Buchholz says the more interactive history becomes, the more people get involved and plans are in the works to create a brochure or kid's colouring book that would augment the information on the heritage trail.