Alta States 

Living in exile


He grew up on the shores of Alta Lake. “That’s what I remember the most about my childhood,” says Whistler-born Davey Barr. “Hanging out by the water all summer long. Life seemed so relaxed; so easy in those days. Everybody on the Westside Road knew each other back then. It was all about dogs and kids and windsurfers…”

But that’s all gone. Now 30 years old, happily engaged and with a young child of his own, Barr no longer lives in the Whistler Valley. A member of what could be legitimately termed the first generation of true Whistler-born locals — children of the dreamers and pioneers and ski bums and hippies who first moved here in the early 1970s — Davey was forced to move down-valley to Squamish two years ago. “There are few of my generation even connected with Whistler anymore,” he says. “Out of my graduating class, for example, I think there are only a couple who actually lives in Whistler today.”

So what does that say about the community? What does that say about Whistler culture and the way we treat the kids who grew up here? “It’s kind of strange,” he says. “I love Squamish. I love owning my own house and being able to ride my bike there all year long. But is it my home? I’m not sure. I still feel so tied to Whistler. I’m tied to the mountains. Tied to my parents. You know — I didn’t leave by choice. I was pushed out. I knew I couldn’t keep renting. I knew I wasn’t getting anywhere. But with the high price of housing in Whistler I had no alternative…”

Packing up and leaving town, however, was a lot harder than he thought it would be. “It was tough,” he says. “Although I knew I had to make the move, it didn’t feel right to me somehow. I’ve accepted it now. But at the time it wasn’t easy to leave all I cared about behind.”

Barr admits he hasn’t allowed himself to think too much about it since he arrived in Squamish. “I’ve kind of buried it,” he says. “It happened so quickly that I never really had a chance to fight back. I mean — I knew 10 years ago that there would be no place for me at Whistler.”

Having grown up in a town in constant flux, Barr believes that it primed him for accepting the inevitable. ”I grew up with change — whether it was watching the local garbage dump become the town centre or seeing Creekside transformed into something foreign and impersonal. So for me, moving to Squamish was just another change in my life.”

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