Whistler is known for being one of the most visited ski resorts in the world, but this has not always been so, since in its beginnings it was a small mountain village that went unnoticed. Learn a little more about the great urban transformation of the place that is home to Canada’s most famous ski slopes.
Why is it called Whistler?
Whistler, often referred to as Whistler Blackcomb, is a town located in the mountains of the British Coast. Formerly, in 1932 its famous ski mountain was called London Mountain due to a British mining operation located in this area. Years later, in 1965, it was renamed Whistler. The current town of the same name, before the 70’s, received the name of Alta Lake due to the lake located in the region. The reason for adopting the name Whistler was due to the native marmot that inhabits its mountains and forests, since this animal emits a very characteristic high-pitched whistling sound.
History of Whistler
In the past, Whistler Village was a wilderness area where the Coast Salish First Nations lived around it for many years as a trading post. Its British influence originated in the 1860’s when explorers arrived in this unknown land, dubbing it London Mountain. John Millar was one of these first settlers, who built a kind of hotel of the time for traders who traveled the forest roads.
An event that favored the transformation of this place was the construction of the Pemberton Road in 1877, which connected the valley of the same name with the coastal areas of Vancouver.
After these settlers, in 1910, the Americans Alex Phillips and Myrtle Phillips moved to this small town to live, being the first inhabitants after John Millar. This couple built the Rainbow Lodge, a hotel for hunters and traders in the area. Later, the Great Eastern Pacific Railroad was built, turning Whister into a perfect destination for logging and mining, making the Rainbow Lodge a major attraction. A curious fact is that Whistler Village became a summer tourist destination, and it was not until years later when it became a major winter tourist attraction.
In 1980, Blackcomb Mountain was built, creating the merger between the two slopes years later (Whistler-Blackcomb). In 1992, the popular Snow Country Magazine, awarded the first place to Whistler as the best ski resort in North America, following leader in the following years. Today, the biggest tourist attraction that has created this ski resort is the Cloudraker Skybridge, a bridge with 2000 meters high, linking the peaks of Whistler and West Ridge.
Sports in Whistler
In 1962, some businessmen presented Whistler’s bid to host the 1968 Winter Olympics with the aim of creating a ski slope in Whistler. This bid was unsuccessful, and it was not until 1966 that Whistler officially became a tourist destination for skiing.
It was in 2010 when Whistler managed to participate in the Olympic Winter Games and the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Games as an official Olympic venue, thus confirming Whistler as a world-renowned tourist destination. These Olympic Games have left in the village great tourist attractions such as the Olympic Park, the Medal Plaza or the Peak 2 Peak.
Christmas in Whistler
As a great winter sports village, the celebration of Christmas in Whistler is another important event. In addition to snow sports and activities such as skiing, car rides in the mountains or snowboarding, Whistler fills its streets with light and color, with big trees and music all around. Vallea Lumina is a great spectacle of lights and Christmas decorations, where a unique experience takes place in the Cougar Mountain Forest. In it, legends about the village are told while taking a night walk.
Culture and tradition in Whistler
If you want to delve into Whistler’s past and history, the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre and Whistler Museum are a must-see. You can learn about the history and culture of the first settlements that inhabited the area, with impeccable reconstructions of instruments and homes of the time. In addition, there are exhibits about skiing and the small town of Whistler.
As can be seen, Whistler is a territory full of history and tradition, which is not only focused on sports. It has great centers of art and culture, great restaurants, nightlife and a very young atmosphere.