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Frontier justice

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One of the favourite stories long-time locals love to tell relates to the early policing of the town of Whistler, or Alta Lake, or whatever the transition phase name of this place was long before it was a resort municipality. In that long ago time the town pretty much consisted of Whistler Mountain, two bars, two gas stations, L'Apr├Ęs and a couple of other seminal businesses meeting the relatively modest needs of 800 or so people living here. Just about anything that didn't revolve around gas, alcohol or food served on a plate required a trip down the valley on a road only recently paved.

One of the two business establishments serving beer and burgers in this early 1970s time period was the Boot - we shall now observe a moment of silence. The Boot pretty well established the northern limit of Whistler then and it wasn't too much further up the road to where the pavement ended.

Bracketing the other end of commercial life in Whistler was the Cheakamus Inn, right about where Vale condos are. As is the case today the bars in those pioneer times were fairly close knit... only without all the tourists. It was a simpler time, after all.

Missing from the early Whistler scene was a policing presence. There were no local RCMP officers, no Bylaw officers, no sheriff Andy and deputy Fife. What there was instead to keep the peace was RCMP from Squamish who would rove up to the end of the road to make sure the peace was being kept and no one was getting too far out of line. Absent a call for help, policing could have been called casual in those days.

The story, at any rate, involves drinking at the Boot. Before the Whistler Television Society brought the Beverly Hillbillies and Mannix to town, drinking was pretty much the extent of entertainment during the long dark nights of winter; ditto for the long light nights of summer. While many patrons of the town's watering holes walked or hitchhiked, many more drove, there being no public transportation at the time and only a nascent movement to convert drunk driving from an activity about as unusual as breathing into one of moral turpitude. Very few mothers were MADD. You had to be more or less blind in both eyes to consider leaving your truck in the parking lot and risk freezing to death walking home.

But discretion being the better part of keeping your license - assuming you had one to begin with - no one relished the idea of accidentally stumbling upon the RCMP boys while they were making their nightly visit to Whistler. To deal with this minor annoyance, and as a public service to their patrons, there evolved a rather sophisticated communication system between the Cheakamus and the Boot.

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