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History of Whistler

From the Coast Salish First Nations who first populated the area, to humble beginnings as a popular fishing destination, before finally becoming the resort we know today, Whistler has an incredibly rich history.

The Squamish and Lil’wat Culture Centre in Whistler celebrates and educates visitors on the First Nations who first inhabited Whistler.

But Whistler’s modern day history begins in 1915 when Alex and Myrtle Philip first opened the doors of Rainbow Lodge, the most popular destination west of the Rocky Mountains. The area quickly became famous for its fishing, hiking and abundant natural surroundings. It was widely known as a place for explorers, adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts to experience the ultimate summer getaway in Mother Nature’s backyard.

In 1962, Franz Wilhelmsen and a group of Vancouver businessmen began exploring the rugged Coast Mountains just north of Vancouver with the idea of hosting the 1968 Winter Games. This search led them to the then-named London Mountain, however, it would be another 50 years before the Olympic dream was realized.

But, out of the bid was born the newly renamed Whistler Mountain (after the call of the hoary marmot). The development of Whistler just 14 years later and its successive growth into an award-winning, international resort is unparalleled in ski history.

The Resort Municipality of Whistler was incorporated on September 6, 1975 and locals quickly began to plan for expansion into the international marketplace. It was then that the decision was made to move the town centre from its original location, known today as Creekside, to the site where both Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains converge.

To complement Whistler Mountain, Blackcomb Mountain opened for business on December 6, 1980. With the opening of the new ski terrain and the Village, the planners and builders experienced speedy success as the World came to visit.

Over the years Whistler had made several bids to host the Winter Olympics, but it wasn’t until 2010 when that dream was realised. Hosting the 2010 Games events isn’t just a national honour and international accolade. The Games left a lasting legacy in Whistler that includes new facilities and new sporting venues like the Whistler Olympic Park and Whistler Sliding Centre, as well as new neighbourhoods like Cheakamus Crossing.

Whistler today is a four-season resort not only famous for its skiing, but for mountain biking and as a destination for all those who love adventure and the outdoors.

For more information about the history of Whistler, visit The Whistler Museum.