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The Best of Pemberton 2011

It's home to Olympic champions, world famous outdoor guides, award-winning eateries and more.

It's home to Olympic champions, world famous outdoor guides, award-winning eateries and more. But read on to find out what makes Pemberton really special and where and what the locals vote for as their favourite spots to hang out, recreate, eat and more.


Best view of Mount Currie


You get a great view of the majestic mountain that towers over the town when you go to just about any property on the south side of Highway 99 that travels through Pemberton. But one of the best places to go is Big Sky Golf and Country Club on Airport Road. There you can play a golf game in the shadow of one of the most iconic features that nature has bestowed on the Pemberton Valley. Other places you get a good view include the patio at the Mile One Eating House, the Black Squirrel restaurant in the Meadows at Pemberton Golf Course and the Cream Puff bike trail.


Best neighbourhood


You might say the voters in this category were afflicted by a little condition known as "vinyl fetish." That's at least one explanation for them picking the Glen as Pemberton's best neighbourhood. The residence for many a Pembertonian, it has long been distinguished from others by its houses and the vinyl siding, giving it the moniker "Vinyl Village." But it wasn't the only popular neighbourhood named here. Also ranking were the Pemberton Meadows, the Benchlands and Pioneer Junction.


Best party


It almost didn't happen this year, but Two Acre Shaker has triumphed as Pemberton's best party. Planned originally for a property in Mount Currie, the First Nations band there wouldn't allow it to happen on reserve so the organizers were left scrambling to hold it somewhere else. Eventually they settled on Old Kirk Becker's Farm, the venue that held it in years previous, and the party went down without a hitch. Revellers came from all over to get a taste of electronic music in a pastoral setting, with sounds bouncing off the mountains that surround the valley.


Best Pemberton trend


Anyone worried about Canada not repopulating itself fast enough need only take a single look at Pemberton, where babies are a big trend. The small, pedestrian-friendly community is a fitting one for young families, where kids can enjoy a skateboard park, water park, bike park and community centre, all within a few metres of each other, providing a great distraction for the kids as the adults sit back on benches and socialize. And its well known that babies absolutely dominate the Mount Currie Coffee Company at 11 a.m. on any given weekday.


Best Day Trip


Beloved of Sea to Sky residents and city folk alike, Joffre Lakes Provincial Park came out as the best day trip location. A coveted location for climbing, fishing, hiking and other activities, you get there via the Duffey Lake Road. Once there, you can get to Lower Joffre Lake via an easy path from the parking lot, while the five-kilometre path to Middle and Upper Joffre Lake is a steep mountain route. Once there it's a divine experience, with green, glacier-fed lakes cut off from the rigours of civilization.


Best use of money


Rare is the time that you hear taxpayers speak highly of spending decisions by a government. But the Village of Pemberton, with help from community and business donations, won out big in this category, with the skateboard park voted as the best use of money. The park took years to build, as the Pemberton Skateboard Society worked the community and elsewhere to solicit donations that would allow them to build a state-of-the-art facility next to the Pemberton Community Centre. Their efforts paid off with much fanfare earlier this year, as the Village announced the opening of the park right next to an already-constructed bike pump track.


Best reason to own a 4x4


The Hurley Road is a notorious one, giving you one bumpy ride on the way to outlying communities like Bralorne. It is, according to this survey, the best reason to own a 4x4, as it's really the only thing that will take you along that road and get you to where you're going.


Best example of 'Wild West' culture


Pemberton has a deep attachment to its "wild west" roots. Long ago, pioneers settled in the lush agricultural valley and helped make it the renowned farming community for which it is known today. To get around, they used horses... and they still do. Today they're recognized as the biggest example of "wild west" culture in the valley. You can find them everywhere, traversing trails, tied up at the hitching posts outside The Pony and even on sidewalks, carrying tourists around on horseback. Bob Menzel, the owner of a ranch property on Prospect Street, is a genuine cowboy and he ranked second.


Favourite agricultural product


This one should be a given: potatoes. The Pemberton Valley produces a cornucopia of agricultural products including berries, garlic, pumpkins and various other vegetables, but potatoes are the product that continues to help define Pemberton. The community is so sensitive about the sanctity of its namesake product that it has legal restrictions in place, which prevent people from bringing foreign potatoes to the area.


Best place to cruise for hippies


Earlier this year, Pemberton was voted the "best place to cruise for hippie chicks," in Mountain Magazine . So you have to wonder where, in Pemberton proper, is the best place to go to find them. Respondents mostly said The Pony, a popular restaurant with a patio looking out on to Portage Road. It's here you'll find stroller-joggers, cyclists, pickup trucks and, yes, hippies making their way into town. Heck, you might find them on the patio sitting right next to you, having a bowl of warm honey roasted veggies. Other places to look for them are the Two Acre Shaker music event, an electronic music festival that takes place every summer.


Best potato recipe


A community so famous for its potatoes would understandably think up some creative ways to cook with them. Here we find many manners in which to use the product that has given the Spud Valley its name. We have poutine; we have fries; we have mashed potatoes. Those three tied for first place, though many other recipes were mentioned. There was potato-leek soup, scalloped potatoes, potato salad and, of course, potatoes distilled into spirits - namely vodka - a recipe very particular to Pemberton.


Best place to witness a pack of stroller joggers


You can find them all over the place, running past The Pony and stopping off at the Mount Currie Coffee Company or the community centre at around 10:30 a.m. on a weekday morning. The latter two were identified as the best places to find stroller joggers.


Best place for people watching


People watching is great, isn't it? You get to sit back like Statler and Waldorf of Muppets fame and wonder at people as they go about their days. From a distance you can watch a seemingly happy couple fighting over something trivial. Or you can watch a man dissolving into a sickness as he walks down the street despite him telling you he's doing a lot better than before. The best place to form an audience for people's everyday lives is The Pony, for a long time Pemberton's most popular restaurant. There you can sit on the patio and watch people drive, stroller-jog, ride past on a horse, or anything else, and get a unique glimpse of all that is happening to them.


Worst use of money


Strange, it seems, that a gathering place is so often seen as a terrible waste of taxpayers' money. The Pemberton Community Centre makes it to the top of this category once again; with residents complaining it doesn't have nearly the amenities it should have, like a full gymnasium in which to play basketball. Last year it was named the best use of money. It is also, it seems, a candidate for most polarizing community centre ever built. McDonald's ranked second.


Worst Pemby trend


"Poo" and its many varieties took top honours. Pembertonians appear a careless bunch that consistently leave their animal poo on trails, on sidewalks, in parks, anywhere that people intend to walk. And really, who can blame people for being annoyed? We have dog owners not picking up their poo; dog poo accumulating on paths in the winter; horse poo on trails; horse poo in parks. All right, that's enough about poo. Babies were also identified as a bad trend in Pemberton.


Way to keep cool


There used to be only one way to keep cool in Pemberton: find the nearest shade or lake and book for it. But even that could betray you when it reached above 25 degrees C in the shadows... a common occurrence in a Pemberton summer. Now, the water park has arrived to give people some relief in times of hot weather. After some wrangling back and forth between the Village, the regional district, the contractor and Vancouver Coastal Health, the water park opened in August and has since served as a prominent community-gathering place. Politicians here observe fewer community members leaving town or complaining there's nothing to do. And that can only be a good thing.


Reason Pemberton is not like Whistler


If you're a Whistlerite, brace yourself for this: Pemberton voters believe they are distinct from Whistler because they believe a sense of community exists there that doesn't in its sexier neighbour to the south. Surely it's easier to feel a sense of community in a smaller town. Pemberton, including the outlying areas, has about 6,000 people, well beneath Whistler's population of 10,000 that swells to over 20,000 in the winter. And a lot of its amenities are packed close together, along Portage Road or in the downtown area. Part of the reason for Pemberton having a better sense of community than Whistler, perhaps, is simply the fact that it is smaller.


Best new business


Have you ever eaten a hot dog made of real beef? How about one made of beef raised just down the road? All this and more is available at the Mile One Eating House, located at the recently opened Pemberton Gateway Village Suites Hotel, the one with the clocktower as you arrive into town. The Mile One Eating House is already a huge hit, serving up dishes such as gourmet burgers made with Pemberton Natural Beef, designer mac-n-cheese and a Philly cheesesteak. Other mentions here included Western Promises Food and the Blackbird Bakery, which won the Best New Restaurant category last year


Municipal park


It's hard not to be seduced by Pemberton when you come from the south. When you arrive in town the first thing you see is One Mile Lake, a great summer gathering place with a boardwalk laying out its perimeter. Voters elected it their favourite municipal park by a landslide, and it's only likely to get more popular with the establishment of a nature centre to help teach the eco-minded about biodiversity. It's great for canoeing, paddle-boarding and all other manner of park activity that Sea to Sky residents and tourists may fancy. But it's not the only choice in Pemberton. There's also Pioneer Park in Pemberton's downtown, Underhill Park and Foughberg Park.


Most dubious decision made by council


Boy did voters have fun with this one. It was a near three-way tie for most dubious decision made by Pemberton's politicians, but the decision to disallow Cedar View Estates from hosting weddings on their property ranked on top. The Village of Pemberton had a rare packed house at an April council meeting when the decision came down to them as to whether or not they should allow weddings and special events to take place at Cedar View, a bed and breakfast on Pemberton Meadows Road. The property is an agricultural zone, and there were previously no problems with them advertising for weddings there. But noise complaints forced the Village to act. The decision was a divisive one, with some questioning council's commitment to economic activity and others happy that the Village had stood up for their right to peace.


Most desired big city amenity


Swimming pool; pure and simple. Pembertonians have long wanted either a swimming pool or a skating rink, but these days a pool seems the more desirable option. Pemberton can get very hot in the summertime and cool in the winter and a pool would be a good way to beat the heat and the cold, not to mention provide a desirable recreational amenity that might even draw more people to live there. Paying for it, however, is another matter entirely. At public meetings people often speak of their demand for a swimming pool but the demand quickly dissipates when they hear the cost. Same thing for an arena.


Least like Pemberton


McDonald's sticks out as the thing least like Pemberton. Hidden, almost, in the back of the building at the AC Petroleum gas station, word has it that the proprietors originally wanted zoning to allow them to build golden arches around their location. That didn't sit well with the Village, but they located there anyway. Good and fun though the food is, it stands in stark contrast to the kilometres upon kilometres of agricultural land, which spreads out from it.




During the first two weeks of the three weeks of online voting for this year's Best of Pemberton contest Fescue's Restaurant and Patio at Big Sky Golf and Country Club and Blackbird Bakery was not included in the list of restaurants voters could choose from when voting for various food and beverage awards. Fescue's was added for the last 8 days of the contest. There was always space available for voters to write in the names of restaurants that weren't listed. Nevertheless, we acknowledge that the omission of Fescue's from the list of restaurants for two weeks may have had an impact on the voting results. We apologize for our error.

Best Wine List - The Black Squirrel


It's not Groundhog Day - but history is repeating itself. The Black Squirrel has again led the pack to the watering trough, where we can repeatedly plunge our thirsty faces in its abundance of crushed, fermented grapes. With a range to choose from, including the best selling Astica Malbec Merlot, Blasted Church and anything from Blue Mountain, the Squirrel's Gord Bell, owner of the Meadows at Pemberton, is always looking for personal favourites that offer good value to customers.


Best Waiter - Chris Hedges at The Black Squirrel


The Pony, Fescue's and the Squirrel duked it out in this one, with all receiving multiple nominations for various servers but in the end it was Chris at the Squirrel who reigned victorious. Some people just have a knack for making others feel good, and they're rare enough that they should be celebrated whenever possible. Chris - this is the year your head will be filled with applause for all your good work, kind words and excellent service.


Best Value - The Black Squirrel


Bang for buck isn't something that small town folk take lightly, but then again neither is quality food - especially in the fertile Pemberton Valley where there's no excuse for mediocre product. It's taken some tweaking to get it just right, but the Black Squirrel has found that happy medium of excellent food for reasonable prices, which is kind of like finding the Holy Grail of restaurants.

"Our menu has evolved over the past four years to suit what the customers are looking for," said Black Squirrel owner Gord Bell. "This year we featured 18 different burger combos, sizzling hot fajitas, steaks, smoked mac and cheese, ribs and a lot of other comfort food."


Best Takeout - Centennial Café


All the good times had when mom's away and dad's in charge can be summed up by the rich, yummy goodness of Chinese food take-out. Pemberton's Centennial Café has all the take-out bases covered - quick service, fresh food, excellent hot-and-sour soup and consistent noodle dishes. Though it's hard to break out of ordering your regular beefy broccoli, try their barbecue duck, Buddhist feast or Singapore noodles for a change. None of it will leave you craving more, at least until next weekend.


Best Steak - The Black Squirrel


This a tense subject in beef country, where overdoing your steak is akin to gettin' it on in front of the local church. The honour of making the very best steak goes to the Squirrel, which has humbly passed on the accolades to the source - excellent, healthy local beef sourced from Two Rivers Specialty Meats. "They are a dynamite little meat company and they help us out with great product all the time," said restaurant owner Gord Bell. "If you start with the great product it usually ends up great on the plate."

As far as what kind of special love Chef David Rabbit gives his steaks, that remains top secret.


Best Restaurant - The Black Squirrel


I will not use nut puns, I will not use nut puns.

In a town where most of the restaurants take their product seriously, it can be hard to separate the cream from the milk. But based on setting, prices, food and service, the best restaurant category goes to the Black Squirrel, where staff work hard to maintain their multi-award winning product. It's not hard to see why (check out how many categories they win in Best of Pemberton each year) but what's more important is that like its industrious namesake; the mighty Squirrel doesn't rest on its laurel like a fading prom queen after winning the crown. Nay, the Squirrel battles to prove greatness and can hold its title high and proud over the hallowed mountains in which it rules with an epicurean and generous reign!


Best New Restaurant - Mile One Roadside Café and Base Camp


We love the oxymoronic motto of this new and excellent Pemberton café. Billing its grub as "accelerated slow food," Mile One got many-a-mention through our other categories as well. Besides the obvious - they serve gourmet burgers and hotdogs made with Pemberton Natural Beef, designer mac n' cheese for grown-ups as well as kids, poutine, sandwiches, cheesesteaks, beer, and wine - owners Randy Jones and Cindy Yu abide by the following honest, cross-your-heart-and-spit rules of the table: We take comfort food seriously; We believe the food you eat ought to be as genuine as the people you share your table with; Our menu respects the ingredients, the producers and the land that make it up; A hard-earned hunger deserves good, clean food; Made with care; Dished straight-up, every time.

Their other motto is Get Well Fed. Who's going to scoff at that?


Best Beer Selection - The Black Squirrel


Many litres of beer gets drunk in small mountain towns, it's nothing short of a right of passage for cold winter nights and hot summer days. So to do beer well is nothing to sniff at. The Black Squirrel dominated the best beer category, despite paring back its offerings this year. "It is very similar to our wine list in that we sell what we like to drink," said owner Gord Bell. "In peak season we have about 20 different beers available including our own signature Black Squirrel Ale."

A squirrel that brews its own -something was needed to wash down all those nuts.


Best Breakfast - The Wild Wood Bistro and Bar


To break one's fast is a time-honoured tradition taken seriously by royalty and common folk alike. It is one of our more delicate categories because fierce loyalties will instinctively and loudly defend their favourite joint. Again, the Wild Wood Bistro and Bar, now closed, has nabbed the honours of Best Breaky in Pemby, no small thing in a town that takes its mountain exploration and crack o'dawn risings seriously. Can't wait to see which eatery will claim this category in 2012!


Best Burger - Mile One Eating House & Base Camp


Like the steak category, Best Burger is one that comes with its fair share of complicated judging criteria. Tender but not too pink; soft but not too sloppy; meaty, but with a perfect balance of condiments and garnish. Then there's the bun - overlooked by some but hardly an insignificant piece of the puzzle. To master all these complicated elements is an accomplishment many a backyard grill amateur spends a lifetime perfecting. If you don't want to wait that long, head over to Mile One and get yourself a goodie with all the fixins.'


Best Chef - David Rabbit at Black Squirrel


If chefs wore gloves they'd be on the ground as last year's winner Ryan Leitch, who moved from the Black Squirrel to take over as executive chef of Fescue's at Big Sky Golf and Country Club, went toe-to toe-with the Squirrel's new executive chef, David Rabbitt. Both are wise kitchen gurus who design their menus with a Midas touch, but it was Rabbitt who secured the trophy this year. A born-and-bred kitchen kid who cut his teeth in his family's restaurant in Revelstoke, Rabbitt has carved a reputation for pulling some serious culinary magic out of his black hat.

"We have put out some great food in the past at the Squirrel but we were always way off the mark on our labour costs so when I hired Chef Rabbitt this year I knew I was getting a guy that was not only passionate about food but also about the business side of the restaurant," said Squirrel owner Gord Bell. "He has done an amazing job this year on both fronts."


Best Dessert - Black Squirrel closely followed by Blackbird Bakery


Trying to appease all kinds of post-dinner preferences is no easy task. Some like it fruity, other creamy. There are the chocolate-heads, the cheesers and the (boring) cappuccino-only types. But here's a combination that works for all - the Black Squirrel's deep fried banana splits, house made cappuccino pie, crème brûlée, apple crumble and variety of local fruit pies made from scratch with love.

"Our top two sellers this year were the deep fried banana split and cappuccino pie, both new to the menu this year," said the Squirrel's Gord Bell. "Next year we will have some new things to try, we like to change things up and keep it interesting for our members and guests."

Oh yes please, mister, we'd love it if you keep trying to please us.


Best Nachos - The Black Squirrel


Any true nacho lover will tell you the trick to a perfect nacho recipe is in the layering. There is nothing worse than eating the top crust of gooey cheese and diced veggies from a pile of nachos to find nothing but a barren, dry stack of pale yellow chips underneath. No, nothing is worse than that. So to the Squirrel and the Rabbitt - thank you for understanding that like a good friend or archenemy - nachos should stay interesting the deeper you go.


Best Pizza - The Pony


It's almost a shame to pit anyone against The Pony in the pizza category. A longstanding winner of this title, this community restaurant has the pizza thing dialed. They even blend decades-old British Columbian stereotypes into their pizza names. "Tie Die Hippie Pizza Pie," and "The Cow Tipper" are sure to give the tree-hugging left and red-necky right something to sink their teeth into. Drop in on a Thursday night for a pint and a pizza - even if you're not local, you'll sure feel like one.


Best Latte - Mount Currie Coffee Company


There's a kind of confidence that's strictly local in Mount Currie Coffee Company's strategy. As posted on their website, "before November 2007, when the Mount Currie Coffee Company opened its doors, Pemberton was a kind of Siberia for coffee-purists, an isolated wilderness far far from anywhere."

Pemberton might qualify as far from anywhere for big city folk, but owner Chris Ankeny makes a good point - a town isn't a real place until it has its own coffee. Way to represent. We're down with MCCC - yeah you know me.





Best Bartender - Kevin Mcleod at The Black Squirrel


Here's a little inside scoop - this year's winner is actually the Meadows at Pemberton operations manager Kevin Mcleod, who moonlights as bartender-supreme at the Black Squirrel.

"In any given day you will see Kevin working in the accounting department, golf shop, cutting grass, bartending and he even makes time to golf - a lot," said Gord Bell of his prized employee. "Kev is also our head bartender and works the bar at all our weddings and major functions. From my perspective having the accountant behind the bar is awesome and from Kev's perspective he just loves people and always has a story or a joke for our customers."


Best Patio/Best Hangout - The Pony, closely followed by Mile One Café and the Black Squirrel


The Pony speaks to our pioneering roots - it's the kind of place you can imagine riding up to on your pinto and slinging beers back under Mount Currie. It's got all the elements - it's central, it's breezy and always filled with interesting folks. And if you're single, it's a good place to pretend to read your book while checking out the local talent.




Best place to shop for women

The options are limited because, y'know, Pemberton's small and all, so the competition is fierce: Pemberton General Store beat out Valley Fashions by one vote. So there it is. The General Store has been voted the best place to find pantyhose, hair scrunchies and other womanly goods.


Best place to shop for men


Well, it's no surprise that what's good for the goose is good for the gander. And while this saying is hardly relevant, Pemberton General Store has also been voted the best place to shop for men, as well as women (see above). Maybe women are doing all the shopping for hubbies and BFs? Or vice versa? Or maybe the selections are simply unbeatable for both sexes. That's probably the case. Good for them.


Best Grocery Store:


There was one store that outshone the others and the winner is... Pemberton Valley Supermarket! Again! That's fantastic news, truly great. With their fine selection of cured meats, local and transported produce and Dairyland milk products it's no wonder. They deserve it. It's a fine store. Really.


Best Financial Institution :


There are only two banks in Pemberton but only one can be the best. We like to imagine the two institutions battling it out like adversarial neighbours, wooing customers with mint candies and friendly smiles. Well, Scotiabank had the better candies this year, beating out North Shore Credit Union. But let's face it, folks, both keep the money safe and provide decent rates on mortgages. They're both winners!




Favourite veterinarian


Sea to Sky residents love their animals and so it's no surprise that they taking voting for their favourite vet seriously. This year Dr. Christine Kirby, who actually works along side last year's winner Dr. Quinn Gavaga at the Spud Valley Veterinary Hospital, took the honour. Dr. Kirby specializes in horses - how appropriate for a community that prides itself on its frontier heritage.


Favourite tour guide


Where else in the world do you meet a tour guide who's one of the best adventure skiers in North America? A man like Eric Pehota should be leading international businessman on trips through the most perilous terrain of the Kitzbuehel Alps. Instead he has made his home in Pemberton for the past 16 years, serving as a big mountain skier, climber and guide for kayak, raft and jet boat trips. Legend has it that he took a single look down from the summit of Mount Currie in 1987 and from there learned an appreciation for all that the Coast Mountains have to offer: the air, the scenery, the spiritual fulfillment that comes from standing on the shoulder of a giant.


Favourite realtor


From looking at Pemberton, the place can be a hard sell these days. Travel up and down the Meadows and you see a lot of properties with "For Sale" signs. The valley can't coast as easily on the strength of being a bedroom community for Whistler as it used to. A talented realtor is required to sell in a place like this and Danielle Menzel stands out above the rest. An agent with the Whistler Real Estate Company, she serves areas including Pemberton, Birken, Devine, D'Arcy, Bralorne and Gold Bridge.


Favourite politician


Rare is the community where your mayor is a ski patroller and a farmer on top of his political duties. That's Pemberton for you, where Jordan Sturdy has served as mayor since 2005 and is about to mount his third straight campaign for the job. Sturdy is the owner of North Arm Farm, a property that supplies crops such as potatoes, pears, beans and flowers. His farm is the venue for the Araxi Longtable Series, in which Whistler's fanciest restaurant sets out a long table in the field for people to eat and drink surrounded by nature. Quick with a quote and self-deprecating at times, Sturdy has been a staunch advocate for boundary expansion, trying to take more properties into the Village of Pemberton so it can make more tax revenue. All this despite not even living in Pemberton proper: his property lies in Area C of the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District.


Favourite lawyer

This category really ended up being about who helped out Pembertonians with legal issues. Pat Kelly, the owner of the Whistler Real Estate Company who doubles as a notary public, and has an office in Pemberton, got a mention in this category, as did John Steward, a notary public based in Squamish. The only full-time lawyer mentioned here was Peter Shrimpton, who operates the Mountain Law Corporation out of his office in Whistler's Function Junction.


Favourite farmers


This is one of those categories where there's an abundance of choice. Naming your favourite Pemberton farmer off the top of your head can be a complicated endeavour. There are so many of them, with beautiful, sprawling properties located up and down the Pemberton Meadows Road and Highway 99 leading into Mount Currie. In this survey, the Helmer family came out on top. Doug, Jeanette, Anna and Jennie operate Helmers' Organic Farm in the Pemberton Meadows, supplying potatoes to popular Vancouver restaurants such as C, the Raincity Grill and Nu. They also sell their product at Vancouver's Sunday Farmers' Market in Trout Lake. Clearly, these taters get around.


Favourite doctor


Tie game in this one: Dr. Anthony Ho Chen, with a practice on Aster Street, finds himself neck-and-neck with Dr. Hugh Fisher, a Pemberton resident who used to work out of Northlands Medical Clinic in Whistler but is now a locum. Dr. Chen has operated a practice in Pemberton for 18 years. While Fisher is well known for his medical skills he is also known for the gold medal he won in canoeing at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles.


Favourite dentist


A dentist in Pemberton for 30 years, Anne Crowley must have a loyal clientele in the valley and she must surely know the dental problems and eating habits of just about everyone in town. Working out of Pemberton Valley Dental, there is no doubt as to her status as the favourite of Pembertonians.





Top Local News Story

Of the dozens of news stories that rippled through the community in 2011, one stood out like a crooked snaggle tooth - the Meager Creek landslide! That's right, the biggest news story of 2010 is also the biggest news story of 2011, even though Pique has written nowhere close to what we wrote about last year. So the lesson here is large scale mudslides captivate small town audiences for much longer than the average news cycle. Good to know, Pemberton.


Favourite photographer

David Steers is Pemberton's favourite. Yeah, yeah, he won last year. How's 'bout giving another photographer a chance, eh David? Let someone else gloat for once.

But for now, let's all give Steers - who works tirelessly week after week to document Pemberton's ever-growing community - a standing ovation. Or a round of applause. Or a simple thumbs up. Give what you can.


Favourite local writer

Lisa Richardson won last year and the year before that. Either Pemberton is lacking variety in its writers or Richardson is just that good . We like to think it's the second option. She writes wonderful and engaging stories about mountain life doubling as a PR flack, and for good reason! PR pays, baby. But how about writing a best-selling novel and secure a spot for favourite writer 2012? Eh?


Favourite artist

This is the year of repeats. Last year's winner is also this year's: Karen Love, who paints vibrant landscape portraits that are detailed and seem to be shimmering in liquid. We wrote the same thing last year because if Pemberton is so keen on repeating itself then so are we. What's good for the goose and all that jazz.


Event of the Season

Even though the Two Acre Shaker was better than last year and more fun than a day at Chuck E. Cheese, the Slow Food Cycle has been voted the event of the season. That's probably because it promotes health and locally cultivated food and was a fun family activity. These are all excellent points. The Shaker was the second most celebrated event of the season. Maybe next year Pemberton will combine the two and create the Two Acre Cycle, y'know, for the lazy folk.


Best quote

There was no clear winner in this category, as each entry received only one vote and none of the quotes entered were accurate. There were, however, two references to "the HST sign," referencing (we think) Jordan Sturdy's removal of the HST sign from near his property.

That golden quote is: "In retrospect it was certainly an error on my part to pick it up and touch it. It was an error on my part to touch it at all and I should have left it in the ditch. You can be quite certain that that's what I will do in the future."

Yes! Great! Awesome! What love we all have for Sturdy, that maverick mayor.


Best musician


Again! Again last year's winner wins this year! Papa Josh, you own this town. You might as well run for mayor. You'll take this town to the top!  No one can defy your "funky grooves" or whatever. You'll win this election! Do it Papa, please: run for mayor.




Favourite Pemberton Athlete


Ashleigh McIvor didn't have the best season to follow up her Olympic victory, as one of the many athletes that were temporarily destroyed by an X-Games ski cross course that was a little too burly to be safe.

McIvor was having a good season before that, with a silver and bronze medal in World Cup competition. But this wasn't her first injury and she put it behind her almost right away - heading to Hawaii to rehab on her road bike after deciding that ripping her snowmobile through the Pemberton backcountry was probably the wrong way to recuperate.

McIvor said it was tough to accept the Favourite Pemberton Athlete award as she's been going back and forth between Whistler, Pemberton and Vancouver constantly and hasn't spent too much time in her cabin - her dad has been living there and finishing it up.

"Pemberton is an amazingly beautiful place to live, especially when your front porch faces Mt. Currie," she said. "Stack that scenery on top of some of the best mountain biking in the world and the best athletes to get out there with, as well as the long summers with the low elevation, it really is an outdoor sports lover's dream come true. I hope all the Pemby kids realize how lucky we are to have access to all the fun things we can do in town to stay active and healthy and live happily. And that I grew up doing all the same things they're doing now. And look where it led me!"

Freeskier Mark Abma was the top male athlete, a few votes behind McIvor, while multiple votes also went to big mountain man Ian MacIntosh, freestyler Kristi Richards, snowmobiler/freeskier Dan Treadway, mountain biker Jesse Ballhausen, freeskier Laura Ogden, freeskier Eric Pehota and paddler Aleea Dahinden - not a bad showing for a town you could fit into the Whistler Conference Centre.


Best Outdoor Sport


There aren't many towns in the world that are Pemberton's size and boast so many kilometres of bike trails, which is one of the reasons that mountain biking was once again voted Pemberton's Best Outdoor Sport.

And as good as it is - and with a season that's two or three months longer than Whistler's - it's getting better with new trail projects opening up more terrain all the time. A visit to the Pemberton Valley Trails Association ( tells the story, including the expansion of the organizations' range to the Duffey Lake Road and the Wild Bill trail. The new Jack the Ripper trail (named after Jack Hannan, which is a rework of the neglected Titties and Beer trail) is now complete, as is the Chain Link Trail connecting Little Owl Lake to Birkenhead River Road. Let It Go and Gravatrout have both been given facelifts.

Golf is number two on the list, which is a natural considering that Pemberton probably has more golf holes per capita than any town in the province (45, including Big Sky's Academy course, or 46 including the helicopter-accessed 19th Hole by Big Sky).

Skiing - presumably the backcountry variety - also scored highly, as did dragon boat racing, pond hockey, swimming, skateboarding, snowmobiling, snowboarding, soccer and stand up paddle-boarding. (Lots of outdoor sports begin with the letter 's' for some reason - we didn't even include skydiving or stock car racing.)


Best Indoor Sport

Dribblers beat the sweaters this year as basketball topped spin classes at Revolution by one vote, with the stretchers at yoga pulling up third, also by one vote. Sex has fallen right off the list, which means either our readership is getting older or that it's been downgraded from sport to pastime.


Best Bike Trail

As mentioned, there are a few new trail ride options this year, but our readers seem to be evenly divided between the rocky Cream Puff descent or the enjoyable Happy Trail climb - which happens to lead to Cream Puff. Other trails to rank on the list include Big Nimby, Lumpy's Epic, Econoline, Middle Earth and Stimulus.


Best Hiking Trail

It was a tie this year with the three lakes at Joffre and the viewpoints of Lumpy's Epic tying for best hiking trail. Joffre Lakes is an 11km loop that takes about six hours to complete, with a total elevation gain of around 400 metres. Lumpy's Epic can be accessed right out of One Mile Lake parking lot and a complete loop is less than 10km. There's a lot less vertical but the switchbacks will leave you huffing and puffing and the viewpoint of the Pemberton Meadows, Green River and Mt. Currie is spectacular - especially in the fall. If you've never done it, your best opportunity is the annual Lumpy's Epic Trail Run, taking place on Oct. 9.


Best Golf Hole

It was a closer race this year but once again the Island Green on Hole 8 at Pemberton Meadows was the town's favourite golf hole. The hole was lengthened this year, making it even harder to reach the only island green in the corridor in less than two strokes, which is tough for a Par 4. Keep your ball scoop handy.

Hole 4 at Big Sky, where you have to cross the same creek three times, with the last section creating something like an island green that's flanked by three sand traps, ranked number two. All the views are great in Pemberton, but this hole really lets you soak it in.


Best Fishing Spot

The Birkenhead River, recently choked with monster Chinook, placed on top of this list, followed by Birkenhead Lake. Other nods went to Anderson Lake, One Mile Lake, Lillooet Lake, Lillooet River, Mosquito Lake and Zipper Mouth Creek. "It's a Secret" also got a pile of votes, proving once again that people who fish can be jerks sometimes.


Best Lake for Swimming

Mosquito Lake was Pemberton's favourite place to cool down this summer - not that there was as much call for that this year as past years. Surrounded by trails, it's easy to make a day of it at Mosquito Lake, biking, running and hiking as well as fishing and swimming.

One Mile Lake ranked second this year, followed by Gates Lake and Anderson Lake.


Most Obvious Answer

The question "Best Place to Ride a Skateboard?" used to mean something in Pemberton but after a decade of fundraising and lobbying and arguments over the location, the skatepark at last opened to the public in May - the result being that there's only one real answer to that question. Using a design from Jim Barnum, the park is adjacent to the new rec centre and features a deep bowl, rails, rollers and other street features, and has been an instant success.

Best Snowmobile Trail


Pemberton is surrounded by some of the best backcountry opportunities in the universe, from Cayoosh and Cerise Creek in the north, to Mount Currie to the east, to the Rutherford in the west - one of the best accesses to the Pemberton Ice Cap. One of the only ways to access this awesomeness is by snowmobile, which is why the town is home to so many hardcore sledders and pros.

The Rutherford trails got the nod for the best place to sled, with a single drainage accessing the Pemberton Ice Cap, the Ipsoot Glacier and beyond.


Best Place to Ride Your Horse

There were a dozen different options listed, but the favourite is still the dyke trails leading to town. Anybody know the legal limit for operating a horse?


Best Place to Ride Your Dirt Bike

This one was a tie between the Green River Motocross Track, a work in progress that gets better each year, the Green River Forest Service Road and Meager Creek Hot Springs - currently inaccessible any other way after the bridge at Capricorn Creek - and a section of road - were washed out in 2010.


Best Place to Ride Your ATV

The Green River FSR took top billing in this category, with nods to Meager, Owl Creek FSR, the Highline Road to Seton, the dirt road to Bralorne and Mudd Lakes.


Best Lake for Motor Sports

Anderson Lake is big, warm(ish) and perfect for a day of cruising, fishing, wakeboarding and generally goofing off in boats. It's also quite huge - 21 km from end-to-end with D'Arcy to the south and Seton Portage to the north. Gates Lake and Lillooet Lake also got nods but Gates is smaller, Lillooet colder and getting a boat into the water at Anderson takes all of five minutes.



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