Best Places to Inspire Your Next Masterpiece
I’ve got a little thing with words. I like ‘em. The way my husband likes Porsches (ooh, so shiny) or my best friend’s son likes the garbage truck (Stop everything! Chase it down the street!) or local trailbuilders like mineral soil (Stuff of Trail Life, Ultimate Raw Material.)
My designer colleagues tease me: write us a headline, they say. Pretty, small, clever words, please. And I find it marvelous that words can be all these things. And, that you can pluck them out of the ether from any-old-place, armed only with a notebook and the sense of wonder that makes two year olds want to chase garbage trucks down the street.
Still, some places are more conducive than others for word-fishing expeditions. And Whistler has always had good fishing.
Where Other Writers Gather. Start on the shores of Alta Lake, where Commonwealth Book Prize and Giller Prize nominee This Cake is for the Party author Sarah Selecky will take up Official Residence in September as Whistler’s Writer-in-the-House. (If Brian Brett, Wayne Grady, Merilyn Simonds were less civic-minded, she might find their names etched on the back of the toilet door of Station House from their recent stints there.)
Selecky will spend the fall at Alta Lake Station House, writing, working with local writers and finally, presenting workshops at the October 14-16 Whistler Readers and Writers Festival, alongside Miriam Toews, Wayne Johnston and a line-up of 20 other international authors.
Docks, Beaches, Parks The dock outside Station House is a spot where dragonflies aerial-tango, fish belly-slap themselves out of the lake, and the approach along the Valley Trail kickstarts little idea-bubbles so fast you spill the contents of your bag to get to a pen and pad. Along the trail, industrial relics bleed rust and memories. Tucked away at the edge of the water, Joan Baron’s Poets Pause sculpture features poetry commissioned anew each year, oversized chairs that make you feel as if you took the blue pill and three chimes that invite you to let the Muse know you’re here and she can hustle her derriere in the direction of your waiting page.
Wireless, Coffee, Conversations If your notebook is the wired kind, local cafes have you covered, as Whistler authors Leslie Anthony (White Planet) and Stephen Vogler (Top of the Pass) can attest to, with their “The Fonz”-like relationships with Starbucks Creekside and Pasta Lupino, where they have unofficical (wireless, caffeine-fuelled) “office” space. Gone Bakery and Hot Buns also offer free wireless to customers, hang local art on the walls, and can guarantee great conversations to eavesdrop on, all the better to keep the ideas flowing.
The Cultural Establishment From first cultures to counter-culture, the Squamish Lil’wat Culture Centre, Whistler Public Library and The Point (a new artist-run experiment at the former Youth Hostel near Rainbow Park) are three of the best places to corner Inspiration and wrestle it to the page. Free entry to the downstairs, wireless-outfitted café at the The Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre matched with the spacious energy of the place make it an amazing place to approach creative problems with a fresh perspective. The grassroots Point Artist Run Centre is offering summer-long programming and workshops in leather-making, guitar-playing, photography, a songwriters’ circle and creative writing. Every Saturday, 11am – 5pm, until September 3, Saturdays at the Point features a small artist and artisan market, live music, art exhibit and bookshop café, and a variety of artist workshops. Access the site by bike, boat, paddleboard or foot. Get directions or register for workshops at thepointartists.com.
Ultimately, the energy that makes Whistler a magnet for mountain bikers, hikers, endurance athletes and stand-up-paddlers is the same energy that fuels creative practice – a just-do-it kind of exuberance that simply rubs off.