Eric Beardmore and the Cheakamus Inn 

Whistler icons remembered

He was a pilot with the Royal Canadian Air Force. Fought in the Battle of Britain and everything. Was shot down, injured and rose up to fight another day. Square-jawed and broad shouldered — friendly, outgoing, decisive and not afraid of a risk or two — Eric Beardmore was the quintessential mid-20th century sportsman.

And were it not for men like Beardmore — Vancouver professionals who gambled on a crazy dream and an outlandish ski hill proposition in the early 1960s — Whistler would be a sadder, far less exciting place today…

What? You mean there were other people than Joe Houssian and Hugh Smythe and Gary Raymond who played a role in putting Whistler on the global destination map? You mean there was actually a vision here before Intrawest convinced us all to buy into outlandish ideas like the Peak-to-Peak gondola and the Symphony (or should I say Sympathy) Chair?

Indeed. For it was due to people like Beardmore — and others like Chunky Woodward and Ivan Quinn and Glen McPherson and Peter Bentley and Dave Mathews and of course, Franz Wilhelmsen — that the Whistler Mountain story was set in motion in the first place. And though the propaganda spinners in this valley rarely give them much credit, none of this would exist today without the vision and hard work of these daring pioneers.

That, in a nutshell, is what motivated Ian Beardmore (Eric’s son) and former ski school great, Ornulf Johnson to organize a “Reunion of the Old Pioneers” this coming Saturday at Creekside.

“I was visiting the local museum a few years ago with my two daughters,” explains Ian, “and I was shocked to see that there was virtually nothing about the original Whistler Mountain visionaries.” A smile creeps into his features, and the resemblance to his father shines through bright and clear. “That’s what motivated me to start getting in touch with old Whistler acquaintances. And the response has been amazing. People are really keen to get together and re-visit that era — I’m looking forward to Saturday’s celebration.”

Here’s the text of the invitation:

Whistler was the concept of a group of farsighted visionaries who recognized the incredible potential of the mountainous terrain surrounding the Alta Lake area. The grand opening of Whistler in February 1966 was made possible by this very group through the sale of debentures in Garibaldi Lifts Ltd. (incorporated 1962). The current history of the Whistler/Blackcomb Mountain Ski Resort, as told and presented by the many recent arrivals to the area, totally skips over this period from 1960 to 1979.

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