The husband and wife had their eye on a property on the Sunshine Coast and, like so many of us who end up settling in the resort, a certain calculation was made.
“[A lot in Whistler] was a little bit less than the cost of a waterfront house with five acres on the Sunshine Coast, so it was like, ‘OK, we get a little less property. We won’t be on the ocean, but we’ll be in Whistler and we’ve got friends there and it’s just really starting to take off with the new village and Blackcomb,’” recalls Cheryl. “It was this new, emerging, young community that still had the wildness to it, the lawlessness.”
Nearly four decades later and the Masseys will finally get the oceanfront home of their dreams after the couple recently announced they would be leaving Whistler for the Sunshine Coast this summer.
The decision was by no means an easy one, rooted partly in the stage of life they now find themselves in, and partly because of the ways the community they helped shape has changed for self-made artists like them.
“Mountain culture is changing and then the arts community seems to be changing,” Binty says. “The artists that I hang out with, two or three of them left town before us. When you start losing these creative people ahead of you, then you start to lose that soul.”
As for how the resort shaped their work, Binty says that despite the inherent challenges to making it as an artist here, Whistler also afforded them the luxury of being able to play just as hard as they work.
“Happy people, happy art,” he says. “We’re living this most awesome lifestyle where we can put down our potter’s wheel or clay and go ski for an afternoon or morning and then come back to our work. It really is the best of both worlds.”
Binty was a fixture in the early years of the Whistler Arts Council (now Arts Whistler), and built his successful pottery and ceramics business quite literally from the ground up. He constructed the home studio both he and Cheryl work out of himself in 1985 (and later a gallery), and has already begun disassembling it to be rebuilt at their new property.
“Yeah, I’m going to have to pick up my hammer,” he laughs.
Binty has also been involved with Whistler Search and Rescue since 1989, and got to watch as the volunteer organization grew into one of the largest and most polished rescue crews in the province.
“I’ve been a part of that team since we were a ragtag bunch of bush rats up here,” he says. “It educated me on mountain culture and mountain safety and a lot of things I didn’t know. I’d say it helped keep me alive.”
Cheryl, meanwhile, weaves intricate baskets using flora and fauna from the forests, lakes and oceans she has been inspired by. She was also deeply involved in the local grassroots theatre scene over the years, working with such Whistler luminaries as Angie Nolan and Michele Bush on a whole host of productions.
“In the acting community, the opportunities that I had here as an actress were outstanding,” she says. “I just feel like I’ve worked with some incredibly talented, hilarious, funny people and I’m so grateful for those opportunities that I’ve had.”
Like most longtime locals will tell you, it may be the mountains that bring you here, but for the Masseys, it’s the people that made them stay.
“Living in this community and building the great relationships we have, Whistler always has your back. When the chips are down, everybody rises to the occasion to take care of each other,” Cheryl says. “It’s really so comforting. You always feel like you’ve got a safety net.”
But what happens when a town already transient enough as it is loses the kind of institutional knowledge and community fabric that longstanding locals like the Masseys bring?
“There’s a few of us that have been leaving over the years that have been here that long that are taking those stories with them, and there’s a few that have passed in the meantime,” says Binty. “Regrettably, I feel like we may be leaving a giant hole here, and that’s what a lot of people are saying to us.”
The Masseys’ gallery will remain open to buyers and well-wishers until the morning of June 5, although the couple will remain in town through July.
And for anyone worried they won’t be back, have no fear: the Masseys might make use of your spare room.
“For those that are staying, well, they’ve got to stay because we need a room to sleep in when we come back,” Cheryl says with a laugh. “There’s already a couple parties in September that I’ve got to come back for.”
Learn more at vincentmasseypottery.com.