July 22, 2005 Features & Images » Feature Story

Quintessentially Whistler 

A random, incomplete, irreverent sampling of what it is that makes this place unique

"I think Whistler should be called Alpine World — you know, after the movie Westworld. Alpine World — where nothing ever goes wrong. Plastic place. I feel alienated in Whistler. It’s a sophisticated alpine mall. It’s all sterile and suspicious to me."

– Marc Emery (the "prince of pot" and Vancouver mayoral candidate for the Marijuana Party), Vancouver Sun, Feb. 8, 2003


Every place has its faults, and every town has its critics. Whistler may differ only in that it sometimes seems to have more critics than other towns of 10,000 — just as it seems to have more Type A personalities than most towns of 10,000.

But for all its faults, critics and Type A personalities, there are a number of things that make Whistler special. There is no definitive list of what these things are; they may be little eccentricities, mannerisms, the cute way Whistler wrinkles its nose that sends hearts racing or leaves a lasting impression. Alternatively, they may be grand gestures, well-reasoned positions or something left entirely to chance.

Last year the Whistler Museum gave disposable cameras to a cross-section of Whistler residents and asked them to go out and explore through photography the word "local" and what it meant to them. The exhibit — Picturing Whistler: Local Faces, Local Spaces — is still up at the museum (and the museum is still open, behind the construction hoarding on Main Street) and still provides some insight into what makes Whistler special, at least for those photographers.

What follows is a random, incomplete compilation of some of the things that make Whistler Whistler.


Going to the dogs

Animals are held in high esteem in Whistler. For confirmation one only has to look at WAG (Whistler Animals Galore) and the no-kill policy it has held for many years.

WAG’s adoption procedure is also one of the most stringent policies to be found in Whistler. To ensure that adopted animals go to good homes prospective "parents" have to go through an interview and background check, and then are subject to follow-up interviews after the animal has been adopted.

Other signs that man’s best friend presides over man’s best resort municipality can be seen at Lost Lake, where there is a beach specifically for canines, and at Nesters Market, which features a dog hitching post.

But perhaps the most striking sign of pets’ status in Whistler are the dog obituaries that appear in the local papers. Some Whistler dogs are as well known and as recognizable as some Whistler people, so it’s appropriate that the town be made aware when a member of the community joins the dearly departed.

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