In this fast-paced, modern world of ours, we tend to compartmentalize social functions. Thus, the local museum (and/or the library) becomes the official “institution” to warehouse community memories. And in that respect, Whistler is no different. But like any small town, there are countless unofficial memory-keepers at Whistler who cherish and preserve what they believe is important about the history here. Whether Florence Petersen or Bob Barnett, Toulouse Spense or Rob Boyd, we are blessed in this valley with a surfeit of individuals who value the quirky, kooky tales that made this place what it is today.
And it doesn’t really matter how these tales are manifested. Old skis or old pictures, long-ago stories or obscure memorabilia, Whistler residents have always shown pride in their roots. But even among these folk, Colin Pitt-Taylor stands apart.
He’s not a big self-promoter. Nor is he a success-at-all-costs entrepreneur. And he would rather listen to someone else’s stories than tell his own. But for nearly 40 years now, Colin has been welcoming locals and visitors into his kitchen and making them feel comfortable with his down-home décor and vast photo collection on the walls. Consider his most recent dining venture, the Riverside Junction Café. “It’s like he’s inviting us into his home,” says a long-time Whistler patron. “You get a sense of intimacy at the café that you don’t get anywhere else at Whistler. Maybe it’s because Colin has been around for so long. Maybe it’s because he still truly believes in this place. Whatever. I wouldn’t go out for breakfast anywhere else…”
Quite an endorsement. But given a local clientele that includes the likes of Peter Alder, Hugh Smythe, Brad Sills, and a host of past and present Weasel Workers, the Riverside is indeed a unique Whistler institution. And more than anything, it is Colin’s quiet charm and easy-going smile that makes people return to the café time after time. “I think I live in one of the greatest places on earth,” says Colin in his most matter-of-fact tone. “Just look around you. The potential for playing outdoors and having fun is virtually limitless at Whistler. Why would you ever want to wear a frown around here.”
Vintage Pitt-Taylor. And it’s not like he doesn’t walk his talk. “Look,” he adds. “I’m turning 60 this year, but I feel like I’m 40. We have this incredible network of trails. It’s right there on our doorsteps. Every day of the year, I try to get outside for two or three hours. Whether mountain biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or even hiking, I can step outside my home in Function Junction and be on a trail in a matter of minutes. Fantastic!”