Moving on 

An owner with a face gets a proper send off

What: Farewell to Ben Horne featuring Soulstream

Where: Boot Pub

When: Saturday, Oct. 18

Tickets : $15

Just over a decade ago a British dive instructor who had been working in Australia came up this way, as so many before him have done and so many continue to do.

The difference in Ben Horne’s case however, was instead of simply bedding down in local budget accommodation, he bought it.

The real estate in question was called the Fitzsimmons Creek Lodge at the time, what Horne describes now as two star accommodation built circa 1966 with a rather sleazy bar attached on six acres of land at the intersection of Highway 99 and Nancy Greene Drive. But Horne and his Canadian partner knew that the place could be a backpacker’s haven in the rapidly developing resort community.

"We both thought it would be an excellent thing to turn into a budget resort based around the backpackers’ idea, having a place where you sell accommodation by the bed, by the night, as opposed to by the room," says Horne in animated Britspeak. "It had a bar and a restaurant and with those facilities it meant we could establish it as a sort of ‘budget resort’ as opposed to a hostel.

"Whistler was a new resort, expanding, and all the hotels that were being put up were destination hotels. There were other hostels, but we recognized that people do go skiing on a budget and they can’t afford to stay in the kind of hotels Whistler had to offer. That clinched it, seeing there was a hole in the market and a viable business opportunity there."

The viable business opportunity became known as the Shoestring Lodge. The property also included a restaurant, liquor store and a small, unassuming bar with an abnormally large stage. Renamed the Boot Pub, in honour of the lodge’s original name, the Ski Boot Motel, and spurred on by Horne’s interest in hosting live music, the bar re-emerged as one of the most active venues in town.

Over the past decade scores of touring bands, many on the cusp of superstardom, have taken the Boot’s stage, resulting in the type of quirky character that bar-in-a-box franchises attempt to copy with pre-fabricated pieces of decorative flair. The wall of fame has too many autographed faces on it to list. As Rich Martin of Vancouver jam band Slammin Jack so eloquently put it before a Monday Madness performance last month: "It’s not the biggest place but there’s something about it. You know there’s been some serious players up on that stage. You can kind of feel it. The walls definitely have a lot of stories."


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