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Museum Musings: Looking for Answers in Whistler

'In some ways, the Answer of 1992 looked very different than that of earlier years'
The Whistler Answer issue that prompted talks of protest and quite a few headlines, April 1992.

Fifteen years after the Whistler Answer released its first issue, the Answer returned as a monthly magazine in April 1992. The first run (April 1977 to 1982) ended as those involved gained new priorities (such as mortgages and kids) or left town and, for some, the Answer became part of Whistler’s past. According to publisher Charlie Doyle, he “more or less forgot about it” until Answer editor Bob Colebrook (Bosco) returned to Whistler and talked him into a second run.

In some ways, the Answer of 1992 looked very different than that of earlier years. As Doyle put it, “We were dragged kicking and screaming into the computer age, so we got a computer and someone to teach us how to use it,” but it featured quite a few familiar names. The first issue brought back comics including The Peak Bros. and Localman while continuing to focus on stories about things that affected the people living in Whistler alongside fiction pieces, sports profiles, music reviews and more.

At first it appeared the return of the Answer, or “The Second Coming” as it read on the cover, was going to be a relatively quiet affair. In the Whistler Question’s “Notes From All Over” of March 26, 1992, readers were told to “watch for the return of The Answer next week on April Fool’s Day,” and an official opening party was planned for April 13, but there doesn’t appear to have been a lot more publicity in the lead-up to the publication. This quickly changed, however, following the release of the first issue.

Not long after it went on sale, businesses that advertised in or sold the Answer began receiving phone calls from a group calling themselves Mothers for Morality warning them about the content of the magazine. According to the spokesperson for the group, they were offended by instances of nudity and glorification of drug use found in the issue, specifically the image of a nude male skier used on the subscription form and the mention of marijuana use by a skier in a fictional story by Peter Vogler.

Though it appeared the telephone campaign met with little success (Hazel Ellis, the owner of Armchair Books, reportedly told them she would not remove the magazine from the shelves, and advertisers continued to support the publication), there was also talk of a demonstration outside the opening party by the group.

Colebrook contacted a reporter he knew with The Province who thought it was an interesting story. On April 13, the same day as the opening party, The Province ran a headline that read “Angry Moms on Rag, Say New Mag” and reported the group was “livid” and “planning a full-scale protest tonight.” Colebrook reportedly spent the day fielding calls from CBC, Maclean’s, Reuters and other news outlets, taking subscription orders from across the country, and hearing from some large advertising agencies. Thanks to the Mothers for Morality and a phone call made by Colebrook, the Answer received a ton of free advertising over the next few days as the story appeared in other newspapers throughout Canada.

As it turned out, there was no demonstration against the Answer at the opening party, which, from the photos in the May issue, appeared to have been thoroughly enjoyed by those who attended. Though the spokesperson for Mothers for Morality claimed to represent 27 Whistler mothers, only two members of the group were ever identified. The Answer kept on publishing its second run through August 1993, and continued to include some nudity alongside interviews with politicians and local groups, news about World Cup races, profiles of Whistler athletes, artists and musicians, articles on local issues, and some more satirical features.