In search of culture 

This article was inspired by a commentary that recently appeared in The Globe and Mail entitled, "Why Whistler is my idea of Hell." The author, John MacLaughlan Gray, is not a skier or boarder.

" There is no public art gallery, no library… no music, other than chainsaw guitars piped in with the beer ," writes Gray. That statement left me scratching my head. Perhaps I sound defensive of the town I’ve called home for six years, but my goal this week is to highlight a growing artistic community and perhaps open the eyes of other cultural cynics who visit the resort.

So I decided to start this exploration by asking a few unsuspecting locals if they could point me in the right direction of the "non-existent" library. The twenty-somethings sitting at the bus stop cheerily give me directions not only to the library, but also to the museum, three art galleries and suggest I check out this paper for music listings.

Despite its humble lodging, the Whistler Public Library boasts a very current and thorough selection of resources.

"I've received many compliments," says Library Director Joan Richoz, "not only from patrons but from other librarians."

Richoz explains their resources are also up-to-date, including an on-line magazine and newspaper data base, CDs, and a video collection which includes everything from the popular snowboard vids, to award-winning and hard to find foreign films. And that's just the start. The library has become an important piece of the cultural community with its ongoing story-times for children, and authors' readings for adults and teens.

"That's a difficult age group to capture," notes Richoz.

The library also houses frequent slide shows and special interest courses. Richoz says the possibilities are endless and many will be realized at the future library facility in the works.

Feeling reassured that the library is actually there, I only need to walk a few steps next door to The Whistler Museum and Archives. It's here that something important dawns on me. This isn't a museum in the traditional definition. You won't find any Michaelangelo's or statues to fallen heroes. What you will find is a large corner dedicated to local faces that have made it big in the world of sport; another corner dedicated to the pioneers of recreation who established themselves long before there were ski lifts. And what I realized is that a community's culture can only be shaped by the people who create it.

"Whistler actually started in the Alta Lake area with Alex and Myrtle Phillips who built Rainbow Lodge," says Museum Director, Meaghan McKie. "They built a summer recreation resort... and recreation has always been a central theme to Whistler. Sport is part of the culture."


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