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There was also the small detail of falling in love and making a child (the other Tom Thomson in the valley), as well as the groundbreaking moment Tom senior first bought a house at Whistler. "Everyone kept telling me: 'You now have a job in skiing. Now you need a place in the mountains.' Well, I didn't have a lot of cash then, but one realtor told me he had just the place for me." A short pause. "It was a beautiful lot at Nesters. But the moment we opened the door, we were engulfed by this plague of pack rats..."
Thomson refused to be deterred however. "I eventually took the leap and bought a small A-Frame on Toni Sailer Lane." He laughs. "And once that got too small for us, I built this house." When Thomson retired from teaching in the late '90s, the new "weekend" home became his full-time museum, er, residence... and he's really never looked back.
So when his friends encouraged him to put his name in the electoral hat last year, Thomson stepped in once more 'for the team'. "I didn't take this running for office thing lightly," he tells me. "I sat at my easel and did some serious soul-searching. Do I care enough? Am I committed enough? Am I bright enough? Am I tough enough? And finally - do I have the intestinal fortitude for the job?" He stops speaking. Looks long and hard in my direction. "Only when I could answer these questions in the affirmative could I be sure that my election would be something positive for the community."
As it turns out, Tom Thomson got the most votes of any candidate in last year's election. Just last week he was voted "favourite Whistlerite" by Pique readers. So how does he feel about the job now? "Going into this," he says, "I was very concerned about who ran the town. Now I know that Whistler is served by a very talented administrative staff. I mean, there is a tremendous amount of good work being done here." One last smile. "And that makes me really excited for Whistler's future. You know, 'liven'er and given'er.'"