Of all the industries that were conducted out of the Whistler area in our history, from mining to logging, the tourism industry was by far the most successful. And back in the 1950s, the tourism industry was based on recreational fishing, with operations centred on Alta Lake.
In those days it was a big deal when the ice finally broke up. Residents in the area watched the lake closely at this time of year.
Almost 50 years ago tradition was started in the valley whereby a 45 gallon drum was placed on the ice at the south end of Alta Lake. People could buy raffle tickets that entitled the purchaser to guess when the drum would drift past Cypress point, where the hostel is currently located.
The skaters and cross country skiers have all but disappeared from Alta Lake in the past weeks as the ice has started to thin. The only person that could be seen on the ice this week was Whistler resident and Alta Lake School teacher Stephen Vogler, who was dragging a drum out onto the lake. "It was a little late in the season, but we managed to get it out there without going for a swim," he said.
His goal is to revive the Ice Break Up tradition, and in the process raise money for the Alta Lake School.
Long-time Whistler resident Florence Petersen used to run the original raffle as a fund-raiser for the fire department. According to her, the earliest float-by took place on March 13, and the latest was on May 11.
She should know she was winner of the first ever Ice Break-Up raffle back in the 1950s.
Raffle tickets are available for $3, or two for $5, at Behind The Grind, and from individuals around town. The ticket holder guessing the closest time will receive half the proceeds, and the other half will go towards Alta Lake School.