Posted by: Feet Banks
The Canadian national identity has never been all that easy to nail down and a town like Whistler, with a population woven together with people from all over the globe, might not be where you’d expect to find the answers. But it is, because multiculturalism is an integral part of the fabric of Canada and Whistler’s random concentration of fun-loving Aussies, Brits, Chileans, Japanese and kids from Quebec only helps to make us all feel more Canadian. The more the merrier, so long as everyone is having a good time.
But the truth is there is more to being Canadian than just the people of Canada, our national identity is also intrinsically tied to the Canadian landscape– and Whistler has some pretty incredible landscape. So to celebrate Canada Day The Insider is putting forth a list of reasons, places and events that make Whistler iconically Canadian.
Happy Canada Day, eh bud?
The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre
There would be no Canada without the indigenous people. They have been living on these lands for thousands of years and when the first settlers arrived the First Nations acted as guides and passed key knowledge onto many of the early explorers and settlers. Whistler has one of the best First Nations museums in the world and a visit to the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre is a must-do for anyone trying to understand what makes a Canadian.
Rivers were the highways upon which this country was first traveled. The Canadian landscape is riddled with high mountains, dense forests and thick muskeg. A path of water, regardless of how meandering or rush-roaring, often provided the easiest means of passage. Whistler has great rivers to both the north and south and to be out on the water, seeing the land from an entirely new perspective is a fantastic way to appreciate the Canadian wilderness. Whether it’s the exhilarating rush of a jetboat mission or whitewater rafting tour on the Green River or just a mellow canoe trip down the River of Golden Dreams, time on a river will make anyone feel more Canadian.
One of the most obvious tenets of Canadian culture (alongside hockey and manners) is Beer. Canadians love beer and with more public patios-per-capita than probably anywhere else in the country, Whistler is perhaps Canada’s best place to drink beer. Besides sun, views, and brews Whistler also has a Brewhouse Pub, a local brewery and a end-of-summer beer festival showcasing over 150 beers from 50 breweries. Welcome to Canada, drink up.
Canadians are people of the snow and even though Canada Day falls in the summer there is still plenty of snow to be found in the alpine. What’s more Canadian than summer skiing or throwing snowballs while on an alpine hike?
Bear Viewing Tours
You wanna talk about the real locals? The Whistler valley has been home to black bears since pretty much forever and what can be more Canadian than driving up a ski hill for a way-closer-than-you-think look at Whistler's black bears with a guy who has been studying them for decades. Whistler bear viewing tours are one of those quintessential Canadian experiences you just don't get in too many other places. The Insider even made a weird bear watching video last summer.
The public skating rink at Whistler Olympic Plaza is closed (melted) for the season but there is still a beautiful sheet of ice at the Meadow Park Sports Centre and Whistler is home to some great hockey camps and tournaments all summer long. Plus the Vancouver Canucks will be hosting their training camp here in the fall.
With such a massive country (Canada is the second largest country in the world for land area) and a relatively small population, we Canadians don’t bump into people as often as other nations. So when we do we like to celebrate. Whistler Village is teeming with festivals and special events all summer long but one of the best will be the big Canada Day celebrations that start Saturday June 28, 2014 with free concerts at Whistler Olympic Plaza and crafts and entertainment for kids all the way through until the big parade kicks off Canada Day proper.
As well, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra is throwing down huge free concerts on both Canada Day and American Independence Day. In Whistler, we don’t mind stretching our Canada Day festivities and extra half week to include our neighbours to the south. How’s that for friendly Canadian hospitality? The Insider Tip is don't miss the July 4 symphony because the Orchestra will be playing a Star Wars Suite that includes the classic Imperial March! As well as both the Canadian and American national anthems, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra shows are always among the best of the year.
Other great Canadian-defining things to do in Whistler include eating poutine, fishing, drinking Caesars, a Canada Day pancake breakfast beside the Whistler Public Library, hiking into the wild, being overly polite, eating Beavertails, and watching fireworks at the base of the Whistler Village Gondola on the night of July 1.
Being Canadian is about much more than the list above. It's about being proud of where you are and how you got there, its about learning to love the wilderness that makes up our great land and helping others enjoy it too. It's about "please", and "thank you", and "see ya next time eh bud."
Happy Canada Day.