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

The Pemberton Trail is completed linking the Pemberton valley to the Pacific coast, north of Vancouver.
Trappers and prospectors settle in the area which was originally known as Alta Lake. They begin calling it "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. The journey from Vancouver to Whistler these days is a short, 120 kilometre (75 mile) drive on the beautiful Sea to Sky Highway.
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.
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 former 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 Pemberton.
The new municipality is given 53 acres of Crown land to develop a town centre.
Construction begins on the new town centre that will eventually become Whistler Village.
Blackcomb Mountain (right next to Whistler Mountain) opens creating one of the largest ski areas 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.
This summer saw the official opening of Whistler Mountain Bike Park, a lift-assisted network of trails for mountain bike enthusiasts.
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. Fantastic 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.
Top of the World Trail opens in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park.
The Audain Art Museum opens its doors to the public. Located by the Village, the iconic building houses a permanent collection of artworks from British Columbia as well as rotating exhibitions from leading museums around the world.
Whistler Blackcomb Holdings is purchased by Colorado-based Vail Resorts Inc. for $1.4 billion.
Vail Resorts, Inc. invests $66 million in three new lifts for Whistler Blackcomb for the 2018/19 season. Upgrades include a new 10-passenger Blackcomb gondola, a new six-passenger high-speed lift on Whistler Mountain and a four-passenger, high-speed lift on Blackcomb Mountain. The changes create the first three-gondola connection in the world, allowing guests to upload, connect between the mountains via the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola and download in a gondola for a weather-protected experience.
In the summer of 2018, Whistler Blackcomb unveils the new Cloudraker Skybridge. It stretches 130 metres (427 feet) from the top of Whistler Peak to the West Ridge, crossing over Whistler Bowl at 2,182 metres (7,160 feet) above sea level. At the far end is the Raven’s Eye lookout, a 360-degree platform for uninterrupted views of the surrounding mountains.
Whistler adopts First Nations territorial statement which speaks to the 2015 Truth and Reconciliation report and helps to increase awareness about Indigenous Peoples in Canada, and also encourages both those making and listening to the statement to learn more about whose territories they reside upon. The Resort Municipality of Whistler is grateful to be on the shared, unceded territory of the Lil’wat people, known in their language as Lilwat7úl, and the Squamish people, known in their language as Skwxwú7mesh.
Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex, Founding Patron of the Invictus Games Foundation, announces that the bid for the Invictus Games 2025 has been awarded to Vancouver and Whistler, in partnership with True Patriot Love Foundation. The Games will take place in February 2025 and incorporate winter adaptive sports for the first time. Bringing together over 500 competitors from 20 nations to compete, the Games in Canada will also be held in partnership with the First Nations, in the spirit of truth and reconciliation with indigenous communities.
The 2023/24 season is the debut of the newly upgraded Fitzsimmons Express chairlift, a high-speed, eight-person chair – the first of its kind in North America across Vail Resorts. It cuts back on wait times, improves uploading efficiency, and serves to significantly support Whistler Mountain Bike Park operations.
Local rider in the Whistler Mountain Bike Park

Whistler Bike Park: 25 Years
of Progression

How the Whistler Mountain Bike Park was a catalyst to mountain biking's meteoric rise in the world of outdoor sports.

Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre in Whistler

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.

Whistler Vacation Rentals

Vacation Rentals Direct
Available on Whistler.com

Choose from a wide range of privately owned and managed condos, homes and apartments for your next Whistler Vacation.