It's late September and a bright, sunny day in Whistler. I've arranged to meet with Jayson Faulkner at his store, Escape Route, in MarketPlace. When I walk in, I notice how much the store has expanded; once a tiny, cramped space with an old Whistler Guide's Bureau desk in the very back, around which groups of excited guests would squeeze while they waited for their guide's instructions and collected their backcountry gear, it's now a spacious split-level store with lots of room for merchandise.
Jayson is late - a mix up at the printers - so I wander over to the bookshelf and pick up a peculiar title: Strange and Dangerous Dreams: The Fine Line Between Adventure and Madness , by Geoff Powter, a collection of short stories that explore the driving force behind extreme adventure. As I'm reading it, I notice a loud creaking sound, the screech of metal on metal and I look out the window and discover the culprit. An aged, ungreased, yellow bulldozer is creeping across Lot 1/9, preparing the foundations for Celebration Plaza. Jayson walks in and invites me to his office, and I reminisce about the forest that once stood on the lot.
"It seems a shame to be losing it," I say.
Jayson is diplomatic about it. "The area was always intended to house a public space," he says.
Okay, I think, and mentally pull up my socks before asking the first question.
Inspired by surroundings
When people speak of Whistler's past and present, they tend to simplify what it is about this place that they are drawn to. Books like Geoff Powter's glorify the excitement of extreme sport and more straightforward histories tirelessly return to two central themes: Whistler's closeness to the expansive and awe-inspiring beauty of the surrounding mountains, and the problem of how to turn one's passion for wilderness into a profession. How to make a living doing what you love.
The founding and development of Whistler as a World Class Resort is the result of the relentless efforts of a handful of people who, believing in the concept, pushed it through to partial realization. The generation who inherited the dream want to defend against over-simplifying the process. It is difficult for the many tourists, seasonal residents and members of the younger generation to imagine what Whistler was like before it became the finely-
nestled labyrinth of stores and hotel rooms it is today. A time before alpine quads and avalanche control. The transition wasn't easy and it's not surprising that the people who negotiated through the early conflicts and hurdles resent the assumption that turning Whistler into today's seasonal community was a piece of cake and that it was accomplished at the expense of the natural environment.