Whistler has a history of re-using buildings. You may remember from a previous column that before today's museum buildings were the museum they were the post office, and then the library. You may not know that before municipal hall was municipal hall, the building was a popular restaurant.
In the 1970s, the building began on the Adventures West Village, which was to provide reasonably priced recreational homes and facilities for families year-round on the north end of Alta Lake. The original plans for the development were impressive, including 250 condominiums and many amenities. The full plans were never realized, but in the summer of 1974 its most notable amenity opened, a Keg 'N Cleaver restaurant.
The building was designed by William Dunn and Associates and included a cafeteria meant to serve breakfast and lunch. The Keg menu included prime rib, sirloin and New York steaks, salmon and lobster, all within a price range of $5.25 to $6.75.
The Keg quickly became one of the social centres of Whistler. The restaurant doubled as a nightclub with a DJ booth in the rafters and a dance floor below. Live entertainment was brought in some nights, and rumour has it that the Keg was the birthplace of Doug and The Slugs, a band who would continue to play in Whistler through the 1980s.
When construction began on Whistler Village, plans were made to open a new Keg in the Whistler Village Inn building. The Keg at Adventures West closed and the building began preparing for its new life — as municipal hall.
The first step in the change of buildings was to move the old municipal hall down to Function Junction. Over the May long weekend of 1981, the 27-metre-long muni hall building was removed from Blackcomb Way. According to The Whistler Question, staff was still working right up until moving day despite no longer having any power or telephone services. They were out, however, by the time Nickel Bros. Moving lifted the building off its foundations later that day.
On Tuesday, May 19, the town hall reopened in Function Junction, with power but no water or telephones.
Next step was to get the Keg building up to the municipal hall site — this had to be done in three sections.
On Thursday, May 21, Lorimer Road was closed from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and BC Hydro shut off the power in neighbourhoods lining the route. Crews had even blasted off some of the rock on the side of the road, but it was still a tight fit. Telephone lines were taken down and a BC Hydro employee perched on the roof of each section to move the overhead wires as needed. As the sections moved slowly up the road throughout the day municipal crews stood by to cut down trees if necessary.
The three sections were left at the entrance to Lorimer Road until 4 a.m. when, just before sunrise, the Keg was moved across the highway and down Village Gate Boulevard and installed next to the Public Safety building. The move was successful but more work needed to be done before the old Keg reopened as our current municipal hall.
The new Keg was expected to open in 1982 but was delayed when the building caught fire. It would be another two years before it was rebuilt and the Keg finally opened in its current location in February 1984.