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Museum Musings: Images of Blackcomb

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While the Whistler Museum does not yet have a name for the woman pictured, many people shared their fond memories of Blackcomb’s giant cookies when this photo was posted online.

If you follow the Whistler Museum on social media, you will probably have noticed more images of Blackcomb Mountain appearing over the past year or so as we’ve been working to digitize the Blackcomb Mountain Collection. We’ve been sharing some of the more eye-catching and informative images that we’ve come across while digitizing. Next week we’ll be sharing even more of the Blackcomb Mountain Collection images in the hope of adding more information to the images.

The Blackcomb Mountain Collection includes more than 22,000 promotional and candid images taken by more than 30 photographers between 1980 and 1998. This period covers the mountain’s opening and its years in competition with neighbouring Whistler Mountain up until the two merged under Intrawest. Some of the photographers are well known for their work in the area, including Greg Griffith, Chris Speedie (of Toad Hall fame), and Paul Morrison, while others are perhaps better known for their work on Blackcomb Mountain, such as Hugh Smythe (then the president of Blackcomb Skiing Enterprises) and David Perry (then in Blackcomb Mountain’s marketing department).

The content included in the Blackcomb Mountain Collection varies widely. There are, of course, a lot of images of people skiing and, in the later years, snowboarding. There are also many images that were created to promote Blackcomb Mountain—so they show people (often hired models) happily wearing ski gear in the sun, sharing a meal at one of Blackcomb’s restaurants, or eating giant cookies outside in the snow. There are also images of mountain facilities, retail stores, and a lot of Blackcomb-branded clothing.

Not all of the images, however, are quite so obviously staged, and seem to be promoting Blackcomb Mountain simply by capturing what was happening on and around the mountain.  These images include many events that were hosted on Blackcomb, such as Freestyle World Cups, Kids Kamp events, Can Am bike races, and the well-remembered celebrity Suitcase Races. There are also images of people paragliding with Parawest Paragliding, the company that Janet and Joris Moschard operated off of Blackcomb Mountain in the early 1990s, and street entertainers organized by the Whistler Resort Association drawing crowds both at the base of Blackcomb Mountain and throughout Whistler Village.

Amongst all of these images, there are also a series of images of Blackcomb staff and staff events from the early 1990s. These are the images to which we are hoping to add more information (specifically names) at our next Naming Night at the Museum.

If you haven’t been to a Naming Night before, the format is pretty simple. At 6 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 22, we’ll be posting about 100 images around the museum that we need more information about, including the series of Blackcomb staff. Everyone is welcome to come help us fill in the blanks, whether you recognize a face, a place, or an event, by writing the information on a Post-it and sticking it to the image. This information will then be added to the image’s entry in our database, making it much more likely that the image will be included when someone searches for a specific person, place or event in our database or online galleries.  We’ve also had hundreds of names added to our images by people across the world since moving Naming Night online in 2020, so if you’re not able to make it to the museum, we will also be posting the images on our Facebook page on Friday, Sept. 23. Whether in-person or virtually, we hope to see you there!