As the Games wind down to their closing ceremonies and the blush of new gives way to the comfort of well-known, maybe it's time to put your feet up, grab a refreshing beverage and gather 'round the virtual campfire for a few stories about the 2010 host town north, Whistler.
What's that? You've heard 'em all before? Maybe, maybe not. After the hundreds of thousands of words printed by the world press, enough hours of video to cross your eyes and make life off the grid seem like a wistful paradise, and a non-stop whirlwind of parties, events and press conferences, you can be forgiven for thinking there are no story stones left unturned, no tales untold. You can be forgiven... but you're wrong.
Whistler's cultural history may be thin soup - a statement for which I'll be roundly criticized by those who have lived most of it - but our larder is full of fun stories. Some are well known, some have nearly been forgotten. But the fact is, I'm willing to bet you've never been to a place like this before unless you've been to this place. Now, that's a bold statement and here are two nuggets of local lore to back it up.
Without culturally appropriating or completely dismissing tales of the Before Time, tales that belong to the First Nations peoples who lived here long before the rugged pioneers of Euro-American stock showed up, and with a nod to those early settlers who built the town of Alta Lake, Whistler isn't really much older than many of you. What you see around you only dates back to, let's say, 1960. So how many towns have you been in - Olympic host or not - whose history is contemporary with your life? How many towns have you visited where you can talk to the people who sunk the first shovel into the ground for the first foundation, built the first building, raised the first chairlift? In a very real sense, it's kind of like time travelling... without leaving home, assuming this is your home.
Which leads us to the second unique nugget. Everyone you meet in Whistler, with the exception of a very few lucky souls who were born here, moved here of their own free will. There isn't a soul in town who is "stuck" in Whistler. We're all willing victims, channelling our inner ski/mountain bike bum. And make no mistake: this town might look like a weird mélange of Disneyland and Barbie's playhouse right now but scraping out a living here ain't no walk in the park. Whistler locals are as resourceful and resilient as they are weird and whiny, an interesting combination for an interesting resort.
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