December 04, 2009 Features & Images » Feature Story

Making friends in Whistler 

Making a home means starting over


Whistler is home to many outdoorsy individuals and has an ebb and flow of 10,000 people per season, most of which stay a year or three and move on.

It's understandable why so many try out life in Whistler. This transient little mountain village we call home combines the small town feel with some of the best recreational opportunities in the world and many of the big city amenities that many of us grew up with.

Aside from the housing issue and maybe the cost of living, one thing that is important to making Whistler home is having friends. Good friends can bring you up when you are down, share an epic day on the mountain and scream just as loud as you do when startled by an unexpected bear sighting.

One of the most challenging aspects of living in Whistler is finding the right friends. No, I don't mean finding friends whose coattails you can ride to the top of the Whistler socialite scene (which, by the way, looks more like pro athletes opening boxes from sponsors full of freebies and not paying for drinks than formal dresses and debutant balls). I mean finding solid friends who will be there when they say they will (and on time too, give or take the 15 minutes "Whistler time" allowance) and who you want to help when they are in need.

If we can all agree that good friends are important to being happy, where should we look first?

In my experience here I've learned that there are three main types of people who live here and after polling them it has become clear that there are surefire ways to meet each type.

Please excuse the stereotypes.


The first type is the "Lively Local". They are (usually) in their early 20s and have come to Whistler to experience their first taste of freedom; their rite of passage into the world of working for nothing and living for everything. They make up a larger percentage of our transient society and are known to fill those jobs that make most of us thankful. I'm thinking specifically of the poor liftees sitting at the top of the mountain shivering, putting on a brave smile to ensure tourists enjoy their mountain experience). They love to party, live the bar scene and are stoked to hit the slopes. Friendly in nature, easy to spot walking the village stroll in the latest and greatest fashions, they're here for a good time and (Trooper notwithstanding) sometimes even a long time.

Next we have the "Long Time Local," those who have been here for 10 years-plus. These people have grown out of the bar scene and are seeking something more. A lot of them are local business owners and operators, have serious jobs and mortgages to pay. Maybe it's the smell of the groomers in the morning, or perhaps the skunk cabbage while walking their WAG pooches, but these folks are here for the true mountain lifestyle. They love to get out into nature; hiking, biking, skiing and any other sport ending with "ing." On occasion you can find them out for a wee pint reminiscing over what Whistler used to be about or sharing a hearty laugh with an old acquaintance with whom they once worked with. But life is busy for them, they have a job to do, and they work hard to be able to play hard.

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