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 winning accolades as a world-class resort, and
before welcoming the world for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games,
this was still a place that drew visitors from far and wide.
First Nations History of Whistler
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. Whistler itself 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
The Modern History of Whistler
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.
The Pemberton Trail is completed linking the Pemberton valley to the Pacific
coast, north of Vancouver.
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.
Myrtle and Alex Philip arrive in Vancouver from Maine. They hear about
Whistler's spectacular beauty.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Whistler officially opens for skiing.
A two-lane gravel road built in 1965 is paved to Whistler and then to
The new municipality is given 53 acres of Crown land to develop a town
Construction begins on the new town centre that will eventually become
Blackcomb Mountain (right next to Whistler Mountain) opens creating one
of the largest ski complexes in North America.
Blackcomb Mountain expands its terrain and becomes North America’s
only "Mile High Mountain".
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.
Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains merge under Intrawest Corporation.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) shortlists Vancouver/Whistler
as a Candidate City for hosting the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
Vancouver/Whistler win the bid to host the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
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.
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, four season destination.