Skip to content
Join our Newsletter
Join our Newsletter

Fork in the Road: What’s in your fridge, Cheryl and Binty Massey?

A ramble round the shelves with a couple of Whistler paragons 
fd-glenda 29.28
Fresh fruit and white wine straight from the fridge of Binty and Cheryl Massey, served up on a Binty plate and a Cheryl basket. What more could you ask for on a warm summer day?

A mantra compact enough to store in your brain forever; solid enough to sustain you for life. If you want to take a chapter from the philosophy of food according to Cheryl and Binty Massey, here it is in a nutshell: “Eat fresh, whole foods. And grow something—arugula or kale on the counter, even a jar of sprouts,” says Cheryl.

If you’ve been around Whistler any time since the mid-’80s, when the village was still a work in progress with concrete and rebar footings sticking out of the ground like a forest of weird tree stumps, good chance you know the Masseys, or at least know of them. 

Vincent—or Binty, as he’s better known—for the 1980s ski cabin/mountain home he built himself on the corner of Forest Ridge and Matterhorn Drive in Alpine Meadows, and which eventually housed their gallery. Or maybe for his longtime contributions to Whistler Search and Rescue and the Whistler Arts Council (now Arts Whistler). Or for the beautiful pottery and ceramics he first learned to make at North Vancouver High School after he figured out there was something better to wrap himself around besides academics.

Cheryl you might know for her involvement in the local theatre scene, working in tandem with local heroes like Michele Bush and Angie Nolan. Or for her beautiful baskets woven from natural materials that she learned to make after experimenting on her own and taking a course on traditional techniques used by Indigenous people in B.C. 

Or you might know them both for their lovely kids, Tyler, 37, and Michela, 33, who grew up in this wood-inside-and-out home, and whose friends were so much a part of family life they still come by to visit on their own.

If you’re really plugged into Whistler, including reading Pique Newsmagazine, you’ll know that after 37 years in town, Cheryl and Binty are pulling up stakes this month and moving to Nelson Island on the Sunshine Coast, where their new home sits on a two-acre lot with a big garden full of blueberries, raspberries, greens, tomatoes—you name it. And where it takes a 10-minute boat ride to get to a grocery store in Pender Harbour, “which makes you really think twice before you go shopping,” says Cheryl.

Food—fresh, healthy food albeit with a paleo-keto spin these days—has long been part of Cheryl and Binty’s life. They first met at Christmastime 1980 at the Roundhouse Cafeteria on Whistler Mountain. Then more food factored in. 

“We hadn’t even started dating yet and here I’m teaching Cheryl and her friend how to make bread,” says Binty. Her best friend, Barb, was dating his best friend, Graham, and while they soon parted ways—Cheryl to Tokyo and Binty back to art school in England—they later re-connected big time.

Making bread is still a Binty specialty. He loves to serve it with a good veggie stew, only these days it’s sourdough bread, something we’ll get to next instalment when we find sourdough starter in their fridge—a white GE Profile, with the freezer on the bottom. It sits in the big open living/dining space just past the mud room in this unpretentious home, which was designed by Binty’s dad, Geoffrey. (If you’re of a certain vintage you might also twig on Binty’s grandad, actor Raymond Massey.)

A well-regarded architect and urban planner known for his modernist- and pedestrian-inspired projects including Simon Fraser University on Burnaby Mountain, and Vancouver’s MacMillan Bloedel Building—both designed with Arthur Erickson—Geoffrey Massey was also key in developing the blueprints for Whistler Village and Granville Island.

“He had an aversion to drywall,” Binty notes by way of explaining all the wood used in their house. But there’s another “Geoffrey Principle” at play here: the value of scrounging.

“When we built this house, I was a very starving artist and Tyler was just born. We had no money, so this kitchen is a lot of scrounged wood,” says Binty, noting that the kitchen cabinets are faced with “cheap-o” white melamine.

The floor, a mixture of fir and hemlock Binty also used for the counters, is from another Whistler icon, Seppo Makinen, who scrounged it from the school at Woodfibre—an isolated pulp mill and former company town on the west side of Howe Sound you had to access by boat. It closed in 2006.

“Then there’s a slab of marble I scrounged from my parents’ house in West Van when it got torn down. They had a lot of marble from the old Vancouver police station that my dad had scrounged. And the built-in cutting board is oak stair treads from another house in Point Grey that I laminated together and put on top of the island.” 

The oak island has been so central to the kitchen and the many dinners and parties with family and friends over the years, it’s jokingly called The Trough. What else would you call the place everyone gathers round to eat? Even the fridge faces The Trough, with a view of Blackcomb Mountain and Singing Pass beyond. 

When they first moved in, though, there were virtually no trees in Alpine Meadows, so they could see from Wedge Mountain in the north and all the way to Black Tusk. But that’s the way of Whistler, isn’t it? Constantly changing, and the Masseys’ imminent departure is just part of it. 

For now though, Cheryl and Binty and their lovely border collie, Lucie, are still at home, although that’s in a state of flux, too. For one, Binty’s dismantling the gallery to take it to Nelson Island. 

Meanwhile, the fridge and The Trough stand guard (it’s going nowhere), and we’ll plunge into those shelves next column to see what we find to remember them by. 

Glenda Bartosh is an award-winning journalist who knows that Whistler will really miss the Masseys.