Relief will soon be coming for those nostalgic for the heady days of 1970s Whistler. The Whistler Museum and Archives Society will digitize the entire collection of the satirical Whistler Answer for inclusion on its website.
The Answer was a local alternative newspaper catering to the town's hippie-ski-bum culture during the late '70s. It was revived in the early '90s, but has since been relegated to novel curiosity in the annals of Whistler history.
"We're going to scan the entire thing, both editions, the '70s one and the '90s one, and we're going to have it up online," says Sarah Drewery, Whistler Museum's acting director. Readers will be able to click through the pages as if they were reading the hard copy.
The Answer was created in 1977 by Charlie Doyle, Robin Preboy and Tim Smith as a comedic response to the hard-nosed Whistler Question. The early issues were done completely by hand — hand drawn and hand pasted with Scotch tape and white glue. It stopped publication in 1981, only to be revived for a few short years in the early '90s.
The first revived issue attracted a front-page story in The Province for nudity and drug references, which spawned the formation of the Mothers for Morality Whistler branch. A later issue featured a photo of a nude Rob Boyd riding a motorcycle, which Drewery says cost him some Japanese sponsors.
Both eras of the Answer harnessed an irreverence and free-spiritedness has all but been abolished from Whistler's media today. No longer will you see pictures of nude women jumping into lakes, nor men clutching monstrous bushels of marijuana plants printed on the front cover. The Answer defined and celebrated the alternative culture, much like Vancouver's infamous Georgia Straight did at the same time.
"When I was planning to do this, I spoke to Charlie Doyle and he said that he showed it to young people today and they just find it hilarious. They really love it. It has not gotten old. It's still really entertaining," Drewery says.
Doyle could not be reached for comment for this issue. In Whistler: History in the Making, a Pique publication commemorating the RMOW's 25th anniversary, Bob "Bosco" Colebrook, who came on as an editor after several issues, says, "The essence of the Whistler Answer for me personally was not serious journalism, it was good friendship, camaraderie and trying to identify and relate the spirit of Whistler at that time."
The museum received a $5,700 B History Digitization Program grant through the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre at the University of British Columbia.
The museum will match the contribution with staff time to complete the project, which will be up and running by fall 2012.