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A History of Whistler, BC

Oct 12, 2007
Whistler is one of the most magnificent as well as sought after resort towns in the world, situated about 75 miles north of Vancouver, in Whistler. Built around the base of two imposing mountains, accessible by a highly sophisticated trail system - Whistler is truly a mecca for skiing and snowboarding in the winter.

Apart from these, Whistler is a great summer holiday destination, providing opportunities for a plethora of activities, from rafting, mountain biking, and fishing to heli hiking, canoeing and kayaking. Whistler is also highly regarded for its incredible natural surroundings consisting of splendid snow-covered peaks, lush green forests, dazzling lakes and rivers, and an upmarket. However, Whistler has a long history for its transformation into a highly sought after resort destination.

For many thousands of years, the area comprising Whistler was believed to have been inhabited by the people of the Coast Salish First Nations, who lived, traded and flourished in the areas of Vancouver, Lillooet, and Howe Sound. Later, the Whistler valley was frequented by the people from Lil'wat Nation and the Squamish Nation.

Since it was abundant in wildlife and natural resources, Whistler became a First Nation trading route between the Lil'wat Nations and the Squamish Nation. In deed, many of the hiking routes between Deep Cove and Howe Sound are believed to have been the same route voyaged by the First Coast Salish First Nations People.

However, the history of Whistler as a renowned tourist destination dates back to 1800s. At that time, Whistler was known as Alta Lake, which itself was originally named Summit Lake, because of its rivulets flowing out of north as well as south, thereby forming a series four connected lakes, namely, Alta, Alpha, Green, and Nita. The valley was actually a part of the Pemberton Trail - a traveling route.

In 1858, the area was examined by Hudson Bay's people, who in turn were looking for a route into the Caribou area. In the 1860s, what is today's Whistler Mountain was named London Mountain by the British Naval Officers and Surveyors. After some times, London Mountain got its present name, as a result of the strident whistle made by the Western Hoary Marmots who lived among the rocks.

The construction of Pemberton Trail, connecting the Pacific Coast to the Pemberton Valley north of Whistler, was completed in 1877. It was actually constructed for the purpose of cattle driving. But, the trail turned out to be inhospitable and many cattle were lost. However, the opening of the trail led to the arrival of many prospectors and trappers such as John Millar, who opened a stopping house on the Pemberton Trail nearby today's Function Junction.

In 1911, on his tour to Vancouver to trade furs, John Miller met Alex Philip and his wife Myrtle, and Miller invited them to experience the unrivalled beauty of the place as well as enjoy fantastic fishing on the lakes near his cabins. Accordingly, they visited the place, and inspired by the stunning surrounding of the region, they purchased ten acres of land in the superb valley in 1913, and built a fishing lodge and resort, namely, Rainbow Lodge Fishing Lodge, with four bedrooms, a large living cum dining area, and a kitchen.

One of the greatest events in the history of Whistler is the arrival of the Pacific Great Eastern Railway (PGE) in 1914, until which the journey from Vancouver to the valley took almost three days. The opening of railway led to the popularity of the place. As a result, Philip's lodge amid spectacular setting became much famed, and it was expanded to accommodate 100 people.

Accordingly, the resort became the most popular resort west of Banff and Jasper. In 1977, the main lodge was destroyed by fire. However, today, the area has become Rainbow Park, where one can find some original cabins as well as a range of important replicas. After sometimes, understanding the importance of destination as a tourist center, a series of other hotels and resorts were established here. Apart from tourism, the area also served as a base for many other businesses, the evidence of which is the Barrs at Parkhurst Mill on Green Lake and a mink and marten farm.

During the 1960s, some enterprising business people from Vancouver came here and took steps to develop Whistler Mountain as a skiing destination, and accordingly, it was officially opened for skiers in 1966.

In 1975, a town site was erected over the area which was once dumping area for garbage. Soon after, the Blackcomb Mountains were also developed and opened as a ski resort. As a result, Whistler gained popularity as the number one tourist destination in the North America. Al though, three bids made by the GODA (Garibaldi Olympic Development Association) for the Winter Olympics were unsuccessful, Whistler, in association with Vancouver, eventually won the bid on July 2, 2003 to host the much coveted 2010 Winter Olympics.
About the Author
Skiatwhistler.com offers real time bookings of premium properties in the world class ski resort of Whistler, British Columbia. Our business is to market property rentals in Whistler to high end vacationers in order to maximize property owners' return on investment (ROI).
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