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A local’s history

Harbour to publish Stephen Vogler’s history of Whistler

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Eighty-seven women to three guys: now this was living back in 1940s Whistler.

Curly Crosson parked his flatbed logging truck at Rainbow Lodge on Alta Lake. Wild child Alex Philip would be waiting inside, along with a handful of other outdoorsmen who gave up World War II frontlines for tree lines and fishing lines.

The historic scene plays out as author Stephen Vogler looks up from his computer screen out the window at present day Alta Lake. He feels like he is living with the characters he pens for his new book Top of the Pass: Whistler and Sea-to-Sky Country.

He sees pioneer Myrtle Philip tending her gardens. He watches drunken teams splash around in a canoe at the defunct Great Snow, Earth, Water Race and he witnesses little more than sheds dissolve into multi-million dollar homes.

He chuckles to himself.

As a 12-year-old boy Vogler moved with his family to Whistler in the 1970s to get away from a rural Richmond steadily becoming blockaded by shopping malls. The soon-to-be-weekend-warriors-no-more skiing family drove up the then “death trap” of Highway 99 to get away from it all.

More than 30 years later, a wilderness hideaway no more, Vogler writes about the days before condos became the brick foundation of Blackcomb Mountain.

“In a place characterized by change, I sometimes looked for the things that don’t change and that thread that runs through the change,” Vogler said from his writing desk at home. “The geography and the people it attracts who are looking for things that are unique and have a real appreciation for life in the mountains, is the thread that carries it through all the changes.”

Both changes and constants wend their way through Vogler’s newest book, a hardcover coffee table book/visitor’s guide/humorous local perspective on Whistler’s history, to be published in October as part of a B.C. history series by Harbour Publishing. In addition to Whistler, history buffs can leaf through books on other parts of the province, including Tofino, the Sunshine Coast and Bella Coola in the B.C. series.

Vogler’s 114-paged book is illustrated by the colourful images of local photographers Toshi Kawano of Pemberton and Bonny Makarewicz of Whistler. Kawano was the lens behind Tourism Whistler’s “Real Whistler” marketing campaign, and Makarewicz’s photo credit is no stranger to publications all over the world, including the New York Times.

Vogler hasn’t seen the images yet, but he is excited. The team of three has attended every Whistler event and activity imaginable over the past year for the book.

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