As long-time locals — those who remember the garbage dump where the village now stands — can tell you, Whistler isn’t what it used to be. But what it used to be and what it is now is not so easy to define. T.S. Elliot, when asked to define culture, came up with a list. Defining Whistler — past, present and future — may be best done through a list, too. People and events are important parts of that list, which seems to come up for revision annually around this time of year. Two years ago at this time it was announced that Whistler Mountain was becoming part of Intrawest. Last year about this time word of another bid for the Olympics was confirmed. This December another of Whistler’s founders passed away. Glenn McPherson was many things, including chairman of the Vancouver Port Authority, a director of B.C. Rail and an associate of Sir William Stephenson, who was better known as Intrepid, Winston Churchill’s secret service man during the Second World War. But it was as one of the principals in Okanagan Helicopters — at one time the largest helicopter company in the world — that McPherson is best known. McPherson’s, and Okanagan’s, ties to the Whistler ski area go back to the very beginning. It was Okanagan that provided the first helicopter to carry Canadian Olympic Association member Sidney Dawes and a group of Vancouver businessmen into Garibaldi Park in March of 1960 to look for a suitable site to develop for an Olympic bid. When Garibaldi Lifts Ltd. was formed to develop Whistler Mountain, McPherson was one of the initial investors and a director of the company. Okanagan Helicopters was critical to the mountain’s development, pioneering the use of helicopters to pour concrete on the mountainside for lift tower footings and to fly the lift towers into place. McPherson passed away this month at the age of 88, just a few days after the COA announced Vancouver-Whistler will bid for the 2010 Winter Olympics. Last spring Franz Wilhelmsen, president of Garibaldi Lifts Ltd. and colleague of McPherson’s, passed away the day before a press conference/rally at the Vancouver library to officially launch the Vancouver-Whistler Olympic bid. The list of people, events and accomplishments that help define who we are is constantly going through revision and additions. Taking time to take stock of that list is part of what this time of year is all about.

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