An ode to 40 years of Whistler 

The municipality celebrates four decades with a weekend of fun

click to enlarge PHOTO BY CATHRYN ATKINSON - First of 40 Andrea Mueller (left) put up paintings celebrating the RMOW's 40 years, on Tuesday, Sept. 1.
  • Photo BY Cathryn Atkinson
  • First of 40 Andrea Mueller (left) put up paintings celebrating the RMOW's 40 years, on Tuesday, Sept. 1.

Eldon Beck has written a poem about Whistler.

Whistler could easily write one about Beck, an American landscape architect who designed the layout of the resort in the 1970s — and took it from a little ski hill to an internationally renowned destination.

His verse, called Whistler Mountain, is one of 40 pieces of writing, photos, painting and sculptures going on display at The Gallery in Millennium Place to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW).

The exhibit — 40 Years 40 Stories 40 Artists — runs from Thursday, Sept. 3, to Monday, Oct. 12.

Beck says the poem is a look at the natural and human history of the mountain, and the general flow of life.

"It's a mountain journey, beginning with the fiery birth of Whistler Mountain as it rises from the ground and brushes the clouds," he says.

And the way the rivers and streams flow down the mountain in his poem connects with the flow of the resort in real life.

"The thesis of the organization of Whistler's system is that it's intended to let people move quickly, like in a stream, or stop and be in contact with where they are. That's the theme of the poem."

Beck is flying in from his home in San Francisco to take part in the RMOW's celebrations of the anniversary — they run Friday, Sept. 4 to Sunday, Sept. 6.

Painter Anne Popma has a painting that explores the history of her husband, Garry Watson.

"It's a painting of one of the first cabins to be built around the gondola base in 1965. It was opened just before the mountain opened. It was built by Garry and I was working from an old photograph I pulled out of a box," Popma says.

"It is still standing and the road leading up to it is now called Watson Way."

Exhibition organizer Andrea Mueller says the aim of the show is to celebrate important moments, places and people in Whistler's history.

"The RMOW approached me with the idea that they wanted to do an art exhibit. We reached out and have community involvement in the 40th anniversary celebration," Mueller says.

"I'm really excited to see all the pieces come together. It's a big mix and it will be interesting to see them all together. The stories tie everything together and I think they work."

Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden — who has lived in Whistler since 1973 and who joined council in 1984 — says the 40th anniversary is a milestone that they wanted to make the most of."It's fun that we are pulling it off," she says.

"One of the reasons we wanted to celebrate it was because some of our first citizens are getting up there in age and we thought it would be most appropriate that as many of them as possible were still around to participate in the celebrations."


Music on Friday and Saturday includes the Rachel Thom Duo, New Orleans Ale Stars, The Rundown and The Little Biggs Band. Performances are located at Town Plaza, Village Square, and Whistler Olympic Plaza.

There are also two major concerts.

Indie band Great Lake Swimmers performs at Whistler Olympic Plaza on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. (See interview page 79)

And Vancouver Celtic rockers Spirit of the West performs at Whistler Olympic Plaza on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. (See interview page 78)Both bands are appearing as part of Whistler Presents.

All music events are free.


The Whistler Museum and Archives is holding a Speaker Series with two of Whistler's original councillors from the 1970s and 1980s, who will be discussing their memories of the early years of the resort.

"They are going to have a discussion about that first municipal council," Wilhelm-Morden says.

Al Raine and Gary Watson will be in conversation with Bob Barnett, Pique's founder, at the museum on Saturday, Sept. 5. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Tickets are $7 ($5 for members).

Other events

Toni Smith's Hoop Interaction, Stories of Whistler at the Whistler Public Library, Jazz the Balloon Man are some of the other events, along with crafts, maple sugar shack, face painting, a rotary hot dog and corn roast and live art.

There is also a Whistler communal mural, which is a fun take on colour by numbers with little stickers. It will ask people to write the day they arrived in Whistler on the stickers, which will be added to the mural. It is located at Millennium Place.

There is also an Instagram contest using the hashtag #mywhistler to show the resorts history. The best image wins a luxury prize package with two nights' accommodation and dinner for two.

For more information on RMOW 40th anniversary activities, visit:


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