June 28, 2002 Features & Images » Feature Story

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Some origins of Whistler names

There are no hard and fast rules for getting geographic features named in Canada. Federal and provincial geographic and mapping agencies prefer not to use people’s names, but if a name is appropriate then it can’t be that of a living person.

Names that fit in with the surroundings, or are appropriate for the appearance of an area, are preferred – providing that they don’t conflict with other names in Canada. Themes are good, such as the musical sounding names of the peaks, Piccolo, Flute and Oboe.

Historical names, used by locals such as First Nations, are also preferred.

The ultimate test is whether or not the name has, or will, stand the test of time.

The following names for Whistler features, mostly within the Spearhead Traverse, were suggested by a variety of people in a variety of contexts. Some of them mean something, and some of them mean nothing – the geographical feature resembles something, or the name goes with other names in the area.

Blackcomb Mountain

According to the legends, the name was coined by Alex Philip shortly after his arrival in Whistler in 1913. He remarked that the vertical curtains of black granite hanging from the peak resembled the comb on the head of a rooster. (Whistler Reflections, 1995)

The Spearhead

The name Spearhead was first used by the Don and Phyllis Munday group circa 1928 – at night, Phyllis commented that the dark vertical rock resembled spear heads sticking up out of the snow.

Whistler Mountain

The first settlers at Alta Lake called the area "Whistler" because of the shrill warning sounds that the resident western hoary marmots made when people came around. A 1928 map of Garibaldi Park called it London Mountain, but to the locals it had always been Whistler. A geographic name committee led by Karl Ricker corrected the error by making a submission to the federal government in 1964.

Burnt Stew Trail

In August of 1958, local hikers Don Gow, Kelly Forster and Florence Strachan took a trip on Singing Pass. On the second night, they were too busy swimming and enjoying themselves that they forgot to stir the pot of stew on the fire. A cairn was built to commemorate the occasion, and they christened the area "Burnt Stew Basin." (Whistler Reflections, 1995)

Phalanx Mountain

"This mountain resembles a Greek flying wedge of soldiers (solid body of men in triangular formation when viewed from the southwest or southeast. The flying wedge is correctly termed a ‘phalanx’. The name also provides group conformity with the "Spearhead" association. The peak was first ascended by Neal Carter and Charlie Wheatley in 1922." — Karl Ricker, in his written submission to the Canadian Permanent Committee on Geographical Names, 1964.

Decker Mountain

This mountain, just east of Blackcomb, appears to have two decks, and has a flat top. (Ricker, 1964)

Tremor, Shudder, Quiver and Shatter Peaks

Tremor Mountain was named by Garibaldi Park surveyors in 1927 when they experienced a small earthquake near the peak. Shudder, Quiver and Shatter are variations of Tremor, and were coined by the Ricker party in 1964. (Ricker, 1964)

Fissile Peak

The Ricker party named this post-volcanic, red slate peak fissile, after the geologic force – fissility – that formed it. An alternative name considered was "Russet" for its reddish tinge. (Ricker, 1964)

Russet Lake

Early visitors have marvelled at the reddish reflection of Fissile Peak on this tranquil lake. It might have been called Miner Lake at one point in reference to its proximity to a mine operated by Bob Fitzsimmons. (Ricker, 1964)

Mount Overlord

This name was used locally as early as the 1920s, but was left off the original park map for some reason. Mount Overlord is the most prominent peak visible looking up the Fitzsimmons watershed from the alpine of the nearby mountains. (Ricker, 1964)

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