The father of Whistler
The mountains and spectacular scenery have always been there. But until the 1950s, the Whistler area was just a small collection of lodges and cabins. Then a group of Vancouver businessmen with big dreams built a ski hill. Despite some troubles along the way, Whistler Village was built and became one of Canada's best-known resorts. CBC Digital Archives takes a look at the still-bumpy road to Whistler's international success.
• By the 1950s, the area was home to numerous lodges, hotels and cabins and was a popular summertime tourist destination, due to the spectacular setting and excellent fishing. Rainbow Lodge, completed in 1914 on the northwest corner of Alta Lake, was among the most popular resorts west of Banff and Jasper. • In the early 1960s, a group of Vancouver businessmen - which included Wilhelmsen - changed the Whistler landscape forever when they formed the Garibaldi Olympic Development Association (GODA), which was geared toward eventually bringing the Games to Whistler. • At this time, the community (which was still called Alta Lake) had no road, no electricity, and no piped water or sewer. • Garibaldi Lifts Limited, with Wilhelmsen as president, was formed in 1962. Over the next three years the south side of Whistler Mountain (known also as Creekside) saw the development of a gondola and chairlift, a day lodge and several ski hills. • Despite its business success, GODA was unsuccessful in each of its four attempts to bring the Olympics to Whistler. In 1968 Vancouver/Garibaldi won the Canadian nomination for the 1976 Winter Games, but Montreal won the rights to hold the Summer Games that year and the International Olympic Committee would not allow both summer and winter games in the same country in the same year. • Whistler was opened for skiing in 1966, but there was no plan for community development until 1974. According to whistlermuseum.com, that's when the province's NDP government instituted a land freeze and initiated a development study to identify crucial community issues. As a result of the study, the Resort Municipality of Whistler was created on Sept. 6, 1975. It was the first resort municipality in Canada.
Program: CBC News
Broadcast Date: Oct. 21, 1996
Guest(s): Franz Wilhelmsen
Reporter: Eric Dwyer
Last updated: February 15, 2012
Page consulted on September 10, 2014
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