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High sales lead to quick second printing for museum's book on Whistler's history

420 copies of First Tracks by late historian Florence Petersen snapped up since October

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The Whistler Museum and Archives is planning to print a second edition of its book about the history of the resort, which was first published last October.

About 380 copies of First Tracks: Whistler's Early History have been sold from an initial print run of 500, with a further 40 copies given to supporters, said executive director Sarah Drewery.

The books arrived from the printers on Oct. 31, the day of the memorial service for its author, local historian and the museum's founder Florence Petersen. Peterson, who passed away in Aug. 2012 at the age of 83, had worked extensively on First Tracks — the culmination of decades of information gathering, photos and stories — and had been able to check the manuscript and proofs of several chapters prior to her death.

"We've had loads of people coming in for just the book, asking for it, which is so great to see," Drewery said.

The Whistler Museum and Petersen decided to self-publish the book, which they did through the Hignell Book Printing. This has allowed smaller print runs as needed.

"We were really pleased with the way it turned out. It allowed us to do exactly as we wanted, and it wasn't horribly expensive to get the first 500 done and we've definitely been able to make money on the book," Drewery said. "This was all just luck. It was something we found online."

The book is filled with stories about the characters who came to first Alta Lake and then the region in the era before the ski resort was established — many of whom were known by Petersen personally.

Drewery said the photo-heavy book would not have come out without the efforts of graphic designer Holly Walker, who did the layout, and former Whistler Museum staffer Karen Overgaard, who "worked with Florence for many years" getting the information into a computer. Both donated their time. (Editor's note: Cathryn Atkinson, the writer of this article, also donated time to edit the final draft of First Tracks.)

"Florence, bless her heart, didn't know how to type. Karen did a huge amount of work, especially before the museum became involved this time, just helping her type everything out. She also did a lot of work at the end... After Florence had passed away, it was me, Holly and Karen that worked to get it done," Drewery said.

"And obviously Florence put in an enormous amount of work. If we'd had to pay a member of staff to do it, it would have been prohibitive. We're so pleased that Florence did this for us."

Already the book has had some impact in the community. Spring Creek Community School used it as a resource for their recent play "Christmas at Rainbow."

Alison Hunter, a teacher at Spring Creek, bought the book as a teaching tool "to supplement what the students were learning while rehearsing the play."

She said she found it helpful.

"Using the book and showing the pictures helped the students to understand that the story (in the play) was about real people and real events," Hunter said.

"This book would be a great addition to the libraries in all our local schools. It helps to make our local history very clear and entertaining and it's important that our kids know our local history."

Since the museum controls the means to publish First Tracks, it is likely the book will not go out of print in the future.

"The money that we've raised, a lot of it will go straight back into printing more books. We print more according to demand," Drewery said.

The book is available at the Whistler Museum on Main Street and at Armchair Books in the village. Payment is by donation ($20 recommended) for the final 80 copies, and will be sold for $20 for the second edition.

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