The people and Pique 

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For a couple of decades I've filled space writing about abstract, mundane concepts like bed units and employee housing. Over and over again. It's been my stock in trade.

My stock in Pique, however, has ended. If you hadn't already heard, I've sold my interest in the paper to Glacier Media. They have committed to keeping everyone employed and continuing to operate the paper as a separate entity from their other publications. And Glacier brings substantial resources to Pique that will provide new opportunities for the paper and the staff.

But that's the future, which the new owners should comment on. I can't help but reflect on the past and the hundreds of people who have contributed to and helped build Pique over the last 18-and-a-half years. Their efforts and commitments have been amazing and humbling.

Right from the beginning, in November 1994, there were people willing to help and support us. People like the Whistler Real Estate Company who bought ads in a publication with no track record, just a promise that the paper would be circulated.

There were people who worked long hours for little, and often long-delayed, pay. Dozens of illustrators, writers, graphic designers and photographers contributed on a freelance basis, showing more faith than judgment.

I think of the BBC reporter who was staying with friends in Whistler for a few weeks on her way home from Australia. She phoned one day and asked if we'd like some help. She came in when she had time, wrote some stories and then continued her journey home.

It was probably obvious by the uneven quality of stories in the paper that we were short of staff. But having a professional journalist volunteer to work — while on vacation — for what was then a pretty amateur publication was manna from heaven.

Whistler attracts talented people from around the world, and Pique has always benefitted from that. A number of Australians, Kiwis, Brits and others have worked for the paper over the years. Each one has brought skills and perspectives that refreshed the publication and the office.

Many people who have been a part of Pique have used their talents to go on to bigger and better things. People like Kat Phillips, who recently completed a CGA program, Jesse Ferreras who is now with the Huffington Post and Aaron Baggio, a successful artist in Vancouver/Australia.

One of my best memories is from last fall when Alison Taylor won a Jack Webster award for her stories on the Whistler Health Care Centre. Alison was most deserving of the award for an important series of stories that led to some real change. But I think of the award as validation of the many years of work she has done — building relationships, understanding issues that are important to the community, doggedly pursuing answers, all the while remaining calm and reasoned even though others around her may be apoplectic.

Those are the types of ideals I'd always hoped Pique could aspire to on the editorial side. Other reporters and writers over the years have shown the same qualities, but Alison's Webster was public recognition from her peers. Her work is her own, and all credit should go to Alison, but the award made me proud she was a part of Pique.

And almost from the very beginning, there has been Max — a voice, a personality, an opinion, something every newspaper needs. In the early days, when there may or may not have been any "news" in Pique, Max's column was reason enough for people to pick up the paper.

But more than a great writer, Max has been a steadfast supporter, a wise counsellor on many occasions and a tremendous friend.

Another image that will remain with me was the Pique Christmas dinner party in December 2007. The old folks sat at one table, Max and Marlene, Michel Beaudry and Wendy Ladner-Beaudry, Kathy and me. Who knows what we talked about, I just recall the evening as engrossing, built around the shared commitment to Pique.

Two-and-a-half years later all three women were gone.

Since Kathy died, Darren Roberts has stepped in and has done far more for Pique, and me, than could reasonably be expected. Darren has managed the business and kept an eye on the future, always with an understanding of the principles Pique was founded on. His commitment and friendship have been enormous.

Andrew Mitchell, the longest serving Pique employee, Clare Ogilvie, who has brought a new level of professionalism to the editor's chair, Susan Hutchinson, who's back for her second term, and Grace Blok have all been faithful, tireless supporters of Pique.

As have many others, including the community of Whistler. There are very few towns where a handful of people could start a paper from scratch and the paper still be around more than 18 years later. We could have had Hemingway, Tolstoy and Faulkner writing for us but we wouldn't have survived without the support of the community.

That is humbling, and very much appreciated.

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