From the Early Years
Everyone over a certain age has a story about how and why they decided to make Whistler home. For Doug Wylie, it also includes what he gave up to make the move. “I gave up an RCAF career modifying jet fighter ejection seats in Ottawa to troubleshooting a malfunctioning sewage digester in Ladysmith.”
While Ladysmith was only a stopover on his way to Whistler, Doug also played a very large role in making sure you get good, clean water when you turn on your taps and everything goes as you might expect when you flush your toilets here.
A Hamilton, Ontario native, Doug first glimpsed Whistler in 1971. It took him 10 more years to finally make it home.
Trained as an engineer, Doug had a choice of two jobs after grad school: Downtown Toronto or Victoria. He had been a ski racer in university and gotten a taste for skiing big mountains in 1969 while attending a wedding in Calgary and enjoying a day of spring skiing at Sunshine. With that introduction the choice was easy. He headed west.
Moving to Whistler
Career took him to Prince George in 1979 but he kept his eye on Whistler. In 1980, he saw a job posting for a municipal engineer in the recently created Resort Municipality of Whistler. Al Raine interviewed him, he got the job, moved into a rental in Alpine and bought that building lot… for $95,000! After having a house framed, he decided to finish the job himself. “A sensible man will only try this once in a lifetime,” he remembers.
Notwithstanding the recession and crippling interest rates of the early 1980s, there were a lot of fundamental municipal projects underway — an expansion of the sewage treatment plant, upgrades and connections to water supplies and an embryonic system of parks and trails to plan and build. With no Parks department yet established, the work fell under Engineering to get a start on the Valley Trail and Whistler’s first park, Meadow Park.
While he was helping build a town, Doug and his wife were raising two daughters. It was a great place to raise a family, with lots of healthy activities and a meaningful link to the past. Myrtle Philip still visited the school to inspire the youngsters with stories of pioneering in the valley. And, of course, there was the “rugged geography of the Coast Mountains, their year-round beauty and everything at your doorstep that make this a most desirable place and underscores everything else I love about Whistler.”
Whistler Grows Stronger
Whether at work or community building, the small-town nature of Whistler was inspiring. Friends from all walks of life, socializing on the mountains and creating some of the social structure of the town made it easy to be a part of the community. “In a town like this, making it your home is a no-brainer,” Doug thought.
There was so much to do. Helping start the Blackcomb Ski Club, working World Cup races as a Weasel Worker, volunteering with Whistler Search and Rescue and the Fire Department, exploring and working on trails with the Whistler Section of the Alpine Club of Canada, and, more recently, working with the Mountain Hosts and Whistler Adaptive Sports Program and joining Karl Ricker in studying the Wedgemount and Overlord glaciers have more than filled Doug’s non-working hours and well-deserved retirement.
In a lifetime of working with outstanding people who helped build Whistler, one of Doug’s favourite memories is spending the winter of 1981/82 discovering Blackcomb mountain with long-time friend Cliff Jennings. With few lifts the second year of Blackcomb’s operation and copious snowfall, it was truly a matter of hiking up and discovering what the now-familiar mountain had to offer.
Happily retired and still finding ways to contribute, Doug’s hope for the future is for the town that he helped build to find a way to manage growth in the coming years.
Doug as a Weasel Worker in 2000 at the NorAm Cup (above). Doug getting adventurous at the Canadian Championships in 2008, again as a dedicated Weasel Worker.
To support Doug’s legacy give to the Community Fund.