Alta states 

Tom Thomson: Charting a course for the future


He's like a magpie. Nothing, it seems, ever gets thrown away. Indeed, his house in White Gold Estates is a repository for a life's worth of adventures: from skis and snowboards and bikes and fishing tackle and other sundry sports gear on the lower floors to pots and ceramics and paintings and banners and other sundry artists' tools on the higher ones. His dining room table, for example, would be hard-pressed to deliver enough room for a meal. As for his living room, forget about entertaining people there, for that serves as his painting studio.

He's like a closet Renaissance Man. Painter, potter, teacher, philosopher, pro athlete - not to forget lifelong volunteer - he trawls the community in search of new inspiration. Nothing escapes his avid gaze. Nothing is too trite or too ponderous for his attention. His art is tactile to the extreme. His politics are based on the power of mutual respect. And if he doesn't get outside once a day for a little exercise, he gets grumpy...

Yet rookie Whistler council member Tom Thomson wouldn't have it any other way. "I am what I am," he says. "No apologies. No excuses. What you see is what you get..."

And what Whistler has gotten in the youthful 68-year-old is one seriously engaged citizen. "I've always believed in giving back to my community," explains Thomson. "I love this place. I love the people who've made Whistler their home. To me it's an honour to serve as a member of this council." He smiles and I can just catch a hint of the mischievous kid he once was. "I mean, I've learned so much in the last year. And what I've learned is that Whistler's administrative team is the envy of most other towns."

Like so many who've put down roots in this place, Thomson started life a long ways from here. "I was raised in Scarborough," he says. "I thought I was a real tough guy. But I was on a freight train to nowhere." He laughs. "Fortunately, my parents moved us out to the West Coast when I was 15. It saved my life..."

A talented athlete, Thomson excelled at hockey and football at UBC. He would eventually parlay his football talent into a stint with the CFL after graduation. But it was a random trip to Whistler in 1968 that really changed his life's path. This is how he describes the moment: "It was the spring, and I'd already sampled the terrain at Mt. Seymour and Mt. Baker. But they'd both left me less than impressed. Still, one of my friends kept insisting that there was a really big mountain north of Squamish that we should check out. So that's what we did..."

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