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Alpine Wildflowers Whistler

Whistler History

The Whistler area is not only a place of scenic wonder, but also a region that is rich with a fascinating history and cultural background. Before becoming a ski area and Host Mountain Resort for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, this was a place that drew visitors from far and wide.

The Coast Salish First Nations people inhabited the land around Whistler for many thousands of years, hunting and gathering and living a nomadic lifestyle long before European settlers arrived.

The Whistler area was often a waypoint for First Nation trading routes between the Squamish and Lil'wat Nations, as it was rich with wildlife and resources. At one time, tens of thousands of Coast Salish First Nations people lived, traded and thrived in the areas between Vancouver, Howe Sound and Lillooet.

In fact, some of the hiking routes between Howe Sound and Deep Cove (east of Vancouver) are the traditional routes travelled by the Coast Salish First Nations peoples.

The award winning Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre in Whistler is a beautiful space to learn about the history of First Nations people and how they lived and continute to live on the land. Rich culture, different perspective on landscape, well worth a visit.

From its humble beginnings as a fishing lodge in 1914, to being centre stage for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games — Whistler was always considered a special place and outstanding destination for adventurous spirits.

Significant Events

1877
The Pemberton Trail is completed linking the Pemberton valley to the Pacific coast, north of Vancouver.
1900
Trappers and prospectors settle in the area. Alta Lake was the original name of Whistler but the settlers start calling the area "Whistler" because of the shrill whistle sound made by the western hoary marmots who live among the rocks.
1910
Myrtle and Alex Philip arrive in Vancouver from Maine. They hear about Whistler's spectacular beauty.
1911
Myrtle and Alex take the three-day journey to Whistler: a steamer ship from Vancouver to Squamish, overnight in Brackendale, and a two-day horse trek to Whistler. The journey from Vancouver to Whistler these days takes just 2.5 hours on the beautiful Sea to Sky Highway.
1914
Myrtle and Alex buy ten acres of land and build the Rainbow Lodge on the shores of Alta Lake. The Pacific Great Eastern Railway (now BC Rail) is built to Alta Lake and links the valley to the outside world. Whistler becomes a base for logging and mining. Myrtle and Alex's Rainbow Lodge is the most popular resort destination west of Banff and Jasper.
1950s
Other lodges open throughout the valley. The abundant fish stocks make Whistler a summer resort destination long before it is considered a winter destination. Winter travel becomes possible when a gravel road to Squamish is carved from the cliffs of Howe Sound.
Early 1960s
During the early 1960s a group of Vancouver Businessmen formed the Garibaldi Olympic Development Association (GODA) to develop a site to host the 1968 Winter Olympic Games and selected London Mountain (Whistler Mountain’s original name) as the preferred venue.
1964
The single-lane road is extended to Whistler because of the ski area development, and to Pemberton later that same year. The trip from Vancouver to Whistler took 5-6 hours.
1965
Whistler Mountain finally gets the name "Garibaldi Whistler Mountain". Development of the ski area on the south side of Whistler Mountain began. What is now called Creekside was once the original Village and featured a four-person gondola to the mountain’s mid-station, a double chairlift to the alpine tree line, and two T-bars.
1966
Whistler officially opens for skiing.
1969
A two-lane gravel road built in 1965 is paved to Whistler and then to Pemberton.
1977
The new municipality is given 53 acres of Crown land to develop a town centre.
1978
Construction begins on the new town centre that will eventually become Whistler Village.
1980
Blackcomb Mountain (right next to Whistler Mountain) opens creating one of the largest ski areas in North America.
1985
Blackcomb Mountain expands its terrain and becomes North America’s only "Mile High Mountain".
1992
Snow Country Magazine votes Whistler the "Number One Ski Resort in North America" and the trend continues through to today with the resort earning the top spot for destination resort and its incredible skiing in numerous industry magazines and readers’ polls.
1998
Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains merge under Intrawest Corporation.
1999
This summer saw the official opening of Whistler Mountain Bike Park, a lift-assisted network of trails for mountain bike enthusiasts.
2002
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) shortlists Vancouver/Whistler as a Candidate City for hosting the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
2003
Vancouver/Whistler win the bid to host the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
2008
The peaks of Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains were linked with the opening of the brand new PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola. This multi record-breaking lift allows skiers, snowboarders and, in the summer, hikers, faster access to the award-winning terrain on both mountains.
2010
Whistler took part in the Winter Olympics as an Official Olympic venue. Although the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games have come and gone, Whistler's spot on the world stage was firmly established. Fanstastic Olympic legacies like the Whistler Sliding Centre, Whistler Olympic Park and Whistler Medals Plaza as well as the Mountain Bike Park and the record-breaking PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola make Whistler a world-class, year-round destination.
2012
Top of the World Trail opens in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park.
Skiing Blackcomb Mountain in 1990

Skiing Through the Generations:
The Whistler Insider

Whistler has become a tradition for many families over time. Insider blog editor Feet Banks looked back to a memorable ski day from his youth.

Live Art Demonstration

More Than Mountains:
Whistler's Arts and Culture Scene

There's a thriving community of artists and musicians that call the Coast Mountains home - dive into the unique mountain culture on your visit.

Summer Room Offer

Summer Accommodation Offer
Moderate Rooms from $99 per night

Valid for arrivals from Now - Nov 20, 2014