The Whistler Museum and Archives Society experienced a resurgence in the past year, marked by significant milestones. In 2023, the museum achieved its busiest year to date, welcoming more than 16,290 visitors to its exhibits—an increase of 43 per cent over 2022 and 13 per cent over the pre-COVID year of 2019. The museum also engaged an additional 10,400 individuals in a variety of events and programs.
Among these initiatives was the Valley of Dreams Walking Tour, a cornerstone program that imparts knowledge to both residents and visitors alike about the region’s mountain history, evolution of tourism in the valley, development of Whistler Village, and the 2010 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. Now in its 26th year, the tour operates daily throughout June, July, August, and September.
One highlight from the previous year was the museum’s Discover Nature program, held five days a week, Monday to Friday, during July and August. This program features an interpretation station at Lost Lake. Approachable interpreters interacted with participants through touch table items, fostering inquiries about natural history of the area. Attendees had the opportunity to explore exhibited items more extensively, revealing fascinating facts about local organisms in Whistler. Each day of the week featured a different theme. The program was expanded this year to include a geology day, with elements of the content developed in partnership with the Fire & Ice GeoRegion. We would like to thank the Resort Municipality of Whistler and the Whistler Community Foundation for their continued support of this great program, now in its ninth year.
The museum developed two well-received temporary exhibits in 2023. In February we launched the “Peak Bros: A Whistler Comic Strip 1979–1992” that delved into the creation of the Peak Bros comic strip by the talented Gord “Rox” Harder. The Peak Bros. comics were originally featured in The Whistler Answer and The Whistler Review. These comics celebrated an outlaw skiing lifestyle, capturing the escapades of a close-knit
group of friends as they embarked on adventures around Whistler.
Accompanying the exhibit was the publication of the complete compilation of the comic strips in a book specifically created for the exhibit. A heartfelt thank you goes out to Gord’s friends and family whose contributions made this project a reality and brought the exhibit to life.
To commemorate the centennial anniversary of the first documented mountaineering expedition in Whistler, we opened the exhibit “Mapping the Mountains: The 1923 Carter/Townsend Mountaineering Expedition.” On Sept. 9, 1923, Neal Carter and Charles Townsend embarked on a two-week odyssey through Wedge Mountain and Avalanche Pass. Throughout their expedition, these dedicated mountaineers meticulously documented their journey, captured breathtaking photographs, mapped the area, and assigned names to various features, many of which are still in use today by mountaineers exploring the region.
This spring also marked 50 years since the creation of the Toad Hall Poster. We were very excited to be joined at our May speaker series by former Toad Hall residents John Hetherington, Terry Spence, and Paul Mathews to learn more about both Toad Halls (Nita Lake and Soo Valley), what it was like to live there, and how Whistler’s most infamous photo—immortalized on the Toad Hall Poster—came to be.
One of the biggest developments over the past year has been the signing of a land lease with the Resort Municipality of Whistler for the development of a new museum facility. We have started to embark on the task of raising money for this endeavour. We are looking to raise $10 million to build a new, state-of-the-art Whistler Museum with mid-2028 as the target date for opening! If you are interested in donating to this initiative, more information can be found on our website at whistlermuseum.org/newmuseum.
Given our lack of physical space in our current location, our Museum Musings column has provided a valuable channel for the museum to share an additional 52 unique Whistler stories in 2023, and we are grateful for the support of Pique. Thanks to everyone who reads our column, attends our events, and visits our exhibits. Your ongoing support is appreciated, and we look forward to seeing you in the new year!