Whistler’s Mother?

Let’s face it; there are two types of skiers/riders, those that have been to Whistler and those that want to go!! Whistler is awesome with great slopes, great nightlife, great food, great cycling, easy accessibility, you name it. Since we’re on that subject, where did Whistler get its name?

Whistler's Mother by James McNeill Whistler

I was in Whistler in early May, it’s the perfect time to enjoy the slopes and mountain bike trails. I wanted to find out how it got its name. I heard stories about a train whistle being blown before entering a tunnel, small furry creatures who whistle to one another like 19th century sailors and finally one that made sense to me, named after a (local?) artist. It seems that an artist, named Whistler, created a great painting of his mother sitting in her favorite chair. Legend has it that she sat in that same spot through one particularly long winter. Every day, she would sit silently staring out the window looking at what is now Dusty’s Bar & BBQ in Creekside. Each sunset, she would get up silently and begin to prepare dinner. One day in late March, she broke her silence and yelled, “There. There would be a great place for a world class ski resort.” And that’s how Whistler got its name.

After 5 great days and nights, I returned home with great memories and a deep unanswered feeling in my head. Named after an artist? Whose mother picked the spot for a ski resort? Why doesn’t it make sense? I remembered the painting “Whistler’s Mother” from school, but is that the background story for a ski resort. Wait, Whistler first opened in 1966 and the painter, James McNeil Whistler died in 1903 and painted the portrait of his mother while in England. I think I was the victim of some tall-tale telling. No worries, I loved the story and the experience of hearing it told from some fun-loving locals. It turns out that the furry creature story is the accurate one!! They’re called Hoary Marmots. I’m sticking with the Whistler’s Mother story, it kinda works for me.

– Kevin Kennedy, Destination Expert






Kevin K (4 Posts)

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