First Tracks, Florence Petersen’s book about the history of Whistler, now available 

Book culmination of years of work and interviews, completed shortly before Petersen’s death in August

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On the very day friends and family gathered in Whistler to celebrate her life, historian Florence Petersen's book, First Tracks: Whistler's Early History, arrived from the printers.

Over 200 people attended Petersen's memorial, held at the great hall foyer of the Whistler Conference Centre on Oct. 31 and heard friends, colleagues and her husband, Andy, tell stories of the woman who, among many other things, founded the Whistler Museum & Archives.

Petersen, who first came to Alta Lake in the 1950s and passed away on Aug. 28, 2012 at the age of 83.

Jeff Slack, the museum's programs and marketing manager, said 117 copies were sold at the memorial service after arriving that day.

"The book wasn't anticipated as being available so it was really a surprise when they showed up at 10:30 in the morning. We were anticipating it a week from now, though we'd told the printers why we wanted it available at this point," he said.

First Tracks is about the pioneer era of the community first known as Alta Lake and then eventually Whistler. It is a 100-page updated version of Whistler Reflections, which was written by Florence Petersen, Sally Mitchell and Janet Love Morrison and first published in the 1990s.

"The new book is much more detailed, and quite a bit longer than the previous book, at about 200 pages," Slack said.

"Florence spent much more time building on the research that she'd done for the first book, she researched more extensively, there was more oral history and also more research done by the museum staff in the intervening years.

"So there was a larger body of knowledge to draw on. There was also a lot more effort put into the layout, many more photographs and higher quality printing. We think Florence would be really happy with the way it turned out."

Slack said Petersen had seen the manuscript before she died, along with proofs of four chapters.

"She'd given the thumbs up on the look and layout of those four chapters," he said.

"We're just thrilled that it was able to be here for the ceremony, because it was the best chance to get it out there and distribute it among people who wanted a copy. We sold a lot," he said.  

Recommended donation price for First Tracks is $20, and copies can be purchased now at the Whistler Museum on Main Street.

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