X
2-6996-Whistler-Village-summer-RM
Whistler Village
(Insight Photography photo)

Whistler

Culture & History

In a land of remote wilderness, the Coast Salish inhabited much of the area in and around Whistler. They criss-crossed the landscape via an overland route, the basis for today's Highway 99.

European arrival

Before the world-famous slopes, resorts and high altitude action, Whistler Valley had a fascinating pioneer history.

In the 1860s, British Naval Officers arrived to survey the area, and gave Whistler Mountain the original name of London Mountain. In the early 1900s, the region became a base for trappers, loggers and miners. They named the area "Whistler" because of the shrill whistle sound made by Hoary Marmots living among the rocks.

The area would take on a new dimension with the arrival of two fearless pioneers, Myrtle and Alex Philip. When the couple arrived at Alta Lake, site of present-day Whistler, there was no road and no railway. The couple made their way by ferry, two-horse buckboard stage, and on foot.

They settled near Alta Lake, bought 4ha/10ac of land, and built Rainbow Lodge on the lake's shores in 1914. The "Whistler dream" began to take shape. The first tourists drawn to Rainbow Lodge came to cast for trout.

Two years later, railway expansion helped link Whistler Valley to the outside world. The Pacific Great Eastern Railway (now BC Rail) was built to Alta Lake in 1914. By the early 1920s, Rainbow Lodge became the most popular summer destination west of the Rocky Mountains.

Trace Whistler's fascinating history, from early pioneers to the present day, at the Whistler Museum.

Hitting the slopes

In 1962, Vancouver businessmen launched plans to develop Whistler Mountain as a potential site for the Winter Olympic Games. Roads to the region were extended, and after the construction of a four-person gondola, a double chairlift, 2 T-bars and a day lodge, Whistler was officially opened for skiing in 1966.

Through the years the resort expanded with additions to Whistler Village. In 1980, Blackcomb Mountain opened, making Whistler Blackcomb one of the largest ski complexes in North America. Some 25 years later, Whistler would be considered among the top ski resorts on any continent.

In July 2003, Vancouver was named the host city for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games; a number of venues for the games were located in Whistler. That same year, Whistler Blackcomb was voted the "Number One Ski Resort in America" by Skiing Magazine.

Skiers and snowboarders from around the world continue to descend on these pristine peaks and their two mountains, three glaciers, 12 magnificent bowls, 200 marked trails and 3,306ha/8,171ac of skiable terrain.

From its origins as a wilderness summer resort, Whistler has transformed into a world-renowned, four-season resort destination.