Jewett talks arts, natural history, traditions and heritage 

Feature excerpt: The RMOW Files

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Coun. Cathy Jewett was a fresh-faced 19-year-old spending her first Christmas in Whistler when she ended up having dinner seated next to local legend Myrtle Philip, one of Whistler's original pioneers.

She couldn't have asked for a better firsthand history lesson.

"I asked her to tell me what it was like coming up to Whistler ... I think her horse's name was Prince, and it was a long haul up the trail from Squamish, because of course there was no roads, no railroad—nothing, " Jewett recalls.

"So a boat to Newport or Squamish, and then a packhorse from there, so it was pretty amazing to have had that opportunity to have sat next to her and had a meal with her."

Stories like those—and the people who tell them—are at the heart of Jewett's new portfolio: the wide-reaching Arts, Natural History, Traditions and Heritage file.

In approaching the file, Jewett says she turned to Whistler's Official Community Plan.

"I've looked at the three key components of that and thought, for me to feel like I am moving this along and doing what I hope to do, which is very community-based, generally speaking, (I need to) look at the three main topics and the vision, which are community, environment and tourism," she says.

"With the community, (it's about) 'enriching community life,' to use some words from the (Whistler) 2020 vision. So how can we, with arts, culture and heritage, enrich life for the people that live here?"

Through her decades of volunteer experience, Jewett has often found herself working directly with the arts community, whether at the Audain Art Museum or through her work as chair of the Parent Advisory Committee.

While she hasn't fielded too many meetings from local artists since assuming the portfolio, she's got a good sense of the challenges they face.

"Money is always a challenge. Space is a challenge for artists that have media that takes up space—sculptors, potters, even painters need a certain amount of space and light," she says, noting that getting publicity, or being able to showcase their work can also be a challenge.

"They need a venue, and actually, Arts Whistler has done a really great job with the Maury Young Arts Centre showcasing different artists."

The RMOW will look to revive its Public Art Committee as a way of further engaging artists, Jewett says.

"We'll certainly be talking about more pieces of art out in the community, and seeing who those artists will be I think will be very interesting," she says.

In terms of heritage and natural history, Jewett's file will encompass two big projects in the coming years: landing geopark status in Whistler (see related story on page 15) and finding the Whistler Museum a new home.

The museum board has previously eyed Lot 21, a plot of land in Florence Petersen Park next to the Whistler Public Library, for the museum's new home.

"We haven't got anything concrete, but we're working together to find a solution for their location," Jewett says.

"The old part of Whistler is really in me, and I hope that we can get the museum a home and start letting people know what those stories are."

You can reach Jewett at 604-935-8227 or

Read the full-length feature 'The RMOW Files' here.


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