The Ski Ties that Bind Us
Back in 1970, in the early days of Skican, my father, Robin Nasmith, arrived at Whistler to meet with Franz Wilhemsen. Norwegian-born Wilhemsen is famously known as the founder of Whistler Blackcomb and the Garibaldi Lift Company. In those days, the mountain was accessed from Creekside, accommodation was limited, and the Village was a landfill. Robin was hoping to strike a partnership to get more eastern skiers out to experience the BC Rockies.
As the story goes, the meeting was over almost before it got started. For whatever reason, Franz was simply not interested. Later that day, Robin and his long-time friend, Bruce MacDougall, headed to the only restaurant in town. The only other people in the restaurant were Wilhemsen and his wife, Annette. In that intimate, and somewhat awkward setting the diners got to know each other better and before long Robin and Franz made a discovery.
During World War II, Franz had been based at a Norwegian air force training camp on Oxbow Lake, not far from Huntsville, Ontario. On this very same lake, Robin’s grandfather, my great-grandfather, spent the winter in a small log cabin on the only island on the lake. Heinz recalled going for a cross country ski on the lake and seeing the cabin – a trail of smoke betraying its inhabitant. Heinz knocked on the door and, as he told the story, had a great chat with a fellow engineer (my grand-great father).
This simple connection led to a friendship and opened doors to what would become Skican’s most popular resort destination for the next 5 decades.
I love this story because it reflects how I feel about the ski community. It doesn't take much for us to find common ground and develop lifelong relationships built on a mutual passion. And I love picturing the founder of Canada`s most iconic ski resort gliding across a frozen lake where 5 generations of Nasmiths have spent countless hours enjoying the stillness of the Canadian Shield. The very same stillness we experience on the ski hill, even while navigating a steep descent.
Kind've makes you want to go for a ski, doesn't it? Have a fantastic year everyone!