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Museum Musings: Paying with Borgal Bucks

Do any former Whistler Mountain employees have old Dusty Dollars kicking around?
whistlermountainfranz-wilhelmsen-and-lorne-borgaldedicationfranzsrun
Franz Wilhelmsen and Lorne Borgal at the dedication of Franz’s Run on Whistler Mountain. Lorne Borgal’s photo was featured on the Borgal Bucks used by Whistler Mountain employees.

For many businesses that involve retail or food services, staff discounts are a common benefit for employees. Staff discounts can take many forms, with some offering more savings than others. In the 1980s, staff discounts on food at Whistler Mountain had a physical presence in the form of “Borgal Bucks.”

Borgal Bucks took their name from Lorne Borgal. Borgal had first come to Whistler as a teenager, and spent weekends volunteering for ski patrol on Whistler Mountain. In 1980, he was hired by Hugh Smythe to work in administration at the soon-to-open Blackcomb Mountain, where he got to wire telephones and direct traffic. After three years, Borgal left Blackcomb Mountain and went to Europe for a long- awaited vacation. While on his vacation, he received a call from Mike Hurst at Whistler Mountain letting him know that Franz Wilhelmsen was retiring and Borgal was being considered as his replacement. Borgal joined Whistler Mountain as president and CEO in 1983, a role he kept for six years.

During his time there, Whistler Mountain replaced multiple triple chairs with the Village Express gondola, built Pika’s Restaurant at the Roundhouse, added the Peak Chair, and celebrated Whistler Mountain’s 20th birthday. He also tried introducing new programs and initiatives to update and improve Whistler Mountain’s customer service and management. Members of management were required to spend one day a month during the ski season working in a front-line position, which could lead to improvements for both customers and employees as management experienced the difficulties of different jobs and were sometimes more willing to spend money or try new things to fix them.

One benefit that was introduced for employees was the “Borgal Buck” or “Dusty Dollar.” Whistler Mountain staff could pay for the physical coupons, which could then be used to purchase food from Whistler Mountain at a discounted price. On the coupon itself, the name of the currency appears to be “Dusty Dollars,” no doubt a reference to Dusty’s at the base of Whistler Mountain where the coupons could be used. Prominent on the paper coupon, however, is also a photo of Borgal.

According to a recent interview with Janet Love Morrison, Borgal Bucks entitled staff to 40 per cent off food from Whistler Mountain and could also be purchased against one’s next payday “if you were hungry and couldn’t make your paycheque.” It would seem that these coupons became quite popular. “Everybody had Borgal Bucks,” Love Morrison noted.

Love Morrison recalled other staff discounts offered by Whistler Mountain in the mid-1980s as well, including significant discounts on ski equipment and the offer of a payment plan spread over multiple paycheques, which Janet remembered using to purchase banana-yellow Atomic downhill skis for her boyfriend Gordy Harder.

Like Borgal, Love Morrison filled various roles at Whistler Mountain during her years working there, including cleaning the volunteer cabin, working at the daycare, and living at the top of the mountain with Gordy as alpine caretakers.

Today, staff discounts are still a popular way to provide benefits for employees, though they vary from organization to organization. As far as we are aware, however, there are no discounts in Whistler these days that feature the face or name of the company president and CEO.

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