If you’ve ever tried to make a cake that looks like something other than a cake, you’ve probably discovered that it’s not always that easy to do. The idea of creating a cake that looks like a specific geological form may seem intimidating, but in 1980, that was just what contestants in the Fall Fair Mountain Cake Bake contest were asked to do.
The Alta Lake Community Club’s (ALCC) Fall Fair was first held in the Myrtle Philip School gym in 1977. The ALCC had “reactivated” itself in 1976 after a four-year hiatus and began supporting adult education classes, a Brownies group, dances and children’s parties. In May of 1977, it began planning a Fall Fair to be held in November in partnership with the Whistler Mountain Ski Club’s Ski Swap.
The Fair was a fundraiser for the ALCC and featured a cafe in the lunchroom, handmade crafts, a white-elephant gift exchange, a raffle, and even a ski demonstration. This first Fair made a profit and the ALCC began planning a slightly larger fair for the following year.
The Fall Fair continued to be held in the school gym, and additions were made over time. The ALCC began appointing members to organize the event, one of the club’s main fundraisers. The 1980 Fall Fair would appear to have been a particularly successful year.
On Nov. 22, 1980, Myrtle Philip School might have been the most bustling place in Whistler. In addition to the Mountain Cake Bake contest, that year’s Fair included stalls selling various crafts, a bake-sale stall contributed to by various community members, a rummage sale coordinated by Viv Jennings, and the Port Moody High School Stage Band, featuring Whistler regular Mark MacLaurin on trumpet. For $1, attendees could also buy a raffle ticket and be entered to win prizes including a Whistler Mountain Season Pass, a Blackcomb Mountain Season Pass, and two children’s passes for Ski Rainbow on Rainbow Mountain.
A month before the Fall Fair, an article was published in the Whistler Question outlining the rules and regulations of the Mountain Cake Bake competition. Written by now-Councillor Cathy Jewett, it included an (unsubstantiated) history of mountain-cake baking in the area, supposedly begun by none other than Myrtle Philip who is said to have created a cherry-flavoured replica of Rainbow Mountain, inspiring the formation of the Mountain Cake Baking Society.
The rules of the competition were fairly simple: cakes had to be at the Fall Fair no later than 10:30 a.m. and had to taste good while resembling a local mountain.
That evening, the winning cake would be consumed while the runners-up were to be auctioned off. Though there is no mention of what first prize consisted of, all entrants were eligible for dinner at Beau’s. To get potential entrants thinking, Jewett offered suggestions such as “a Mount Brew Beer Cake, Sproatt Mountain carved out of alfalfa cake, a licorice-flavoured Black Tusk,” and more.
The 1980 Fall Fair was described in the ALCC minutes as a “financial success.” The prize for the Mountain Cake Bake was awarded to Debbie Cook and her sister Karen, who submitted a model of Diamond Head that was said to be “pleasing both to the eye and the palate.”
It was also a success for Norman Dedeluk, Sid Young, Ross Cameron and Moira Biggin-Pound, who all won various season passes in the raffle.
The only year the Mountain Cake Bake competition took place was 1980, as there is no other mention of it in the ALCC meetings, but if you would like to share your own experiences trying to recreate Whistler’s landscape out of cake, let us know at the Whistler Museum.