Aboriginal Culture

Vancouver and the Coast Mountain Range regions are the ancestral home of the Coast Salish people, including the Squamish, Lil'wat, Sto:lo, Musqueam, and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations bands.

Whistler specifically is home to two native cultures, the coastal Squamish Aboriginal people and the mountain Lil'wat Aboriginal people, whose ancestral territories overlap there. The Squamish Nation territory extends from North Vancouver through Squamish to Whistler. The Lil'wat Nation territory starts in Whistler and extends north to Pemberton to Mount Currie. The nations have traditionally lived together in peace, respecting the land.

Aboriginal culture in the area includes a rich heritage of music, drumming, dancing, and intricate artwork. The First Nations people also had distinct methods of hunting, fishing, and preserving food.

Whistler Discovery Tours is honoured to be able to offer a tour that highlights some of the local aboriginal culture, history, and archaeology.

The first British survey of the area took place in the 1860's. The surveyors named Whistler "London Mountain" due to the heavy fog that gathered in the area. Later, "London Mountain" became "Whistler," thanks to the call of marmots that make the mountains home.

The area attracted trappers, prospectors and loggers who established small camps and four mills in the area in the early 1900's.

In the 1900's, the Rainbow Lodge was built and completion of rail lines reduced the travel time from Vancouver to the Whistler area. The area gained a reputation as a vacation destination. In contrast to the enormous skiing and snowboarding industry in Whistler today, the area started as a primarily summer destination, offering boating, fishing and hiking.

Until the 1960's, the Whistler area was very quiet and even lacked basic infrastructure such as water, electricity, and a road to Vancouver. Then, in 1962, four Vancouver businessmen explored the area and eventually built a ski resort. The Garibaldi Lift Company was formed and in 1966, Whistler Mountain opened to the public. In the 1970's, the Whistler area was incorporated as a Resort Municipality.