Back in the mid-’80s, in his hometown of Kimberly, B.C., the newly invented sport of snowboarding quickly became a major interest for current Squamish local Jeff Patterson.
But what started as a cool new hobby and something to do with his friends after school and on weekends quickly grew into something more: First a passion, then an obsession, and finally, a way of life.
With so few boarders at the time, and a rather hostile reception from many skiers and ski resorts, snowboarding quickly gained traction due to its rebellious, counterculture nature. And from there, a community was born.
“We just kind of got tied into this really tight community of people. We started travelling around to other resorts and you’d meet the other 10 snowboarders at each of the hills that were around because there wasn’t many people doing it,” he said. “So all the guys who were [snowboarding], you’d look for them on the hill … and you’d just be part of the pack. It was a really cool time to be part of the sport.”
From there, Patterson’s life followed snowboarding. First through competitions, then into a career building snowboard parks at ski resorts around the world, and finally into a film and photography career.
And everywhere his snowboarding journey took him, he started collecting memorabilia and stories from the sport’s infamous beginnings, eventually building up a collection of boards and equipment from people and brands across the sport’s three decades.
“From that early stage, being shown that first board, that was my eye-opener to how much snowboarding had changed even in a few years from when I started,” said Patterson. “And as I was travelling around building parks, I would always see people’s garage sales, or posts in newspapers of old snowboards, and I would pick up boards at pawn shops, and kind of had a lot of people on the lookout for me for boards. So I started amassing older boards for quite a long time.”
The collection’s growth has slowed in recent years as the price for memorabilia from snowboarding’s early days has begun to skyrocket. Now, Patterson mostly relies on his connections in the industry to add to his personal collection.
But as Patterson’s collection grew too large for his parents’ basement and began filling up a storage unit, he realized something needed to be done with all this stuff. But even though his collection would be worth thousands of dollars, Patterson was never interested in collecting for profit—he did it because of his passion for the sport.
So as a way to give back to others who share that same passion, Patterson decided his collection needed to be on display in a snowboard museum. And where better to make that happen than in one of Canada’s premier ski resorts: Whistler.
“I’ve been pushing for this idea of trying to figure out a way to have a community space and I’ve had good conversations with some of the brands that are supportive of the idea and want it to happen,” he said. “But the hardest thing at this point is Whistler is obviously the best place in Canada and one of the best places in the world to have something like this, because of its ties within the history of snowboarding, but the real estate costs in Whistler are also far greater than many of the other resort towns across B.C.”
While there are many different grants and funding options available for non-profits like the one Patterson has registered for his museum, the main hang-up is you need an actual physical location before you can apply for most of them.
So Patterson is hoping the GoFundMe he started can help be the catalyst that promotes his idea while raising the necessary money to find that perfect Whistler location to set up shop.
However, Patterson’s vision is more than just a space where he can display his collection of snowboard memorabilia and any other donations that may come to fruition if the museum ever gets off the ground. Instead, he envisions a space that fully takes visitors back to those early days of the sport.
He wants his space to recreate that old-school snowboarding, dirtbag, hangout culture where people go to meet friends, grab a snack and just spend time browsing all the archived videos, pictures and stories that have been collected throughout the years from snowboarding’s past.
“When we were teenagers, we’d go into the snowboard shops and you’d go watch the videos to see what was coming out next and see the catalogues for next year. And we got places like The Circle that are like the core snowboard shops but we lost that—it’s weird to say—but that dirtbag culture where you go to the shop to meet your buddies,” he said.
“So I kind of want to have this space that’s like a community gathering hub where you can pay homage to all the people that came before, because there’s just so much colourful history through the ’80s and ’90s that tells so many stories. So I just really would love to find a spot that we could properly archive and showcase all these things.”
To help support Patterson’s goal, go to gofundme.com and search “World Snowboarding Museum and Hall of Fame.”