Pique's Best of Whistler 2022 - Pique Newsmagazine

2023-01-03 16:37:21 By : Mr. Zijing Diao

If it comes as a surprise that Mayor Jack Crompton is this year’s Favourite Whistlerite, well, you’re not alone. Local government being a thankless job if ever there was one, it’s not an overstatement to say that the recently re-elected mayor was completely and utterly stunned at the news of his razor-thin win in this category. 

“Wow, I’m speechless,” he said with a laugh.  Chair Portable Massage

Pique's Best of Whistler 2022  - Pique Newsmagazine

A Whistler local for most his life, Crompton grew up in Kelowna, and would often visit family at the cabin his grandfather built in Alta Vista throughout his childhood. 

It wasn’t until near the turn of the millennium that Crompton would settle down in Whistler with his wife, Carolyn, where he made the most of that first epic winter. 

“Like many Whistlerites, my first bed was in a big shared house in Alpine. I lived in a closet, but there was snow every day in 1999, so I stayed. It doesn’t feel like that long ago,” Crompton said. 

After a couple of years working as a snowboard instructor on the mountain and at the Whistler Community Church, he started his first company, Whistler Resort Cabs. 

After a few successful years running the taxi business, he sold it and started RideBooker (and Whistler Shuttle), an online transportation concierge service that he ran until his first term as mayor in 2018, a position he has often said is the best job in town.  

“There is nothing I find more interesting than Whistler and Whistlerites. I’ve said it many times. It’s the highest privilege of my life to be able to serve this community,” Crompton said. 

Crompton believes he was voted Favourite Whistlerite because of the work put in over the challenging last few years. 

“I did spend the last three months through the election running around town asking for votes. Maybe people thought I was talking about Best of Whistler,” he quipped. 

“The truth is we have all been through a really difficult few years. We pulled together and took care of each other. I’d like to think picking a politician indicates our shared commitment to this place and responding with the same community care to the huge challenges we all face right now,” he added. 

“I couldn’t be more grateful to have gone through what we have here. Whistlerites are a special group of people.”

So if Jack Crompton is Whistler’s favourite person, who is Jack Crompton’s favourite person? 

“Mike [Douglas] is obviously the forever champ, and I thought last year’s pick was bang on [physician Karin Kausky], but [91-year-old artist and bon vivant] Isobel McLaurin is my favourite Whistlerite. Izzy is the spirit of this place,” Crompton said. 

Coming in second was Jeremy “Stinky” Peterson, owner of the popular Olympic Plaza sports bar, Stinky’s on the Stroll, while “Grateful” Greg Reamsbottom from Whistler’s perennial favourite band, The Hairfarmers, took third. 

It’s the third time overall and second in a row that Denise Wood has been recognized as Whistler’s Favourite Volunteer. A self-described animal lover, Wood has volunteered with Whistler Animal Galore (WAG) for 13 years, helping hundreds of animals over her time find loving homes. 

“I’m really proud and humbled to be voted [volunteer of the year] just because Whistler is full of so many volunteers, so to be voted is really humbling,” Wood said. 

“I’ve always been passionate about animal welfare and just love animals, and WAG has always done outstanding work, so I just wanted to be part of that.” 

Wood puts a great deal of time into helping WAG. She does it all, be it walking one of the many dogs, doing social media for the organization or participating in long board meetings. 

One volunteer activity she leads every year is the creation of dog bandanas to raise money for the organization. Sold at Happy Pets and the Whistler Farmers Market, 100 per cent of the proceeds go to WAG. 

Over the last year, WAG, like many animal shelters across Canada, has experienced a surge in the number of animals coming to the shelter, as many people acquired pets during the pandemic and, as restrictions eased, have given them up for various reasons. 

On top of having more animals in the shelter, WAG is also dealing with a record number of critical care cases.

“WAG has had 26 critical care cases this year, which is higher than normal. WAG is quite a unique shelter that takes in animals that many organizations won’t take on and provides them with that clinical care so they can have the medical care they need and be on their way to a better life,” Wood said. 

While Wood is happy to receive the Favourite Volunteer honour once again, she pointed out that all the volunteers and staff of WAG make the organization what it is today. 

“The WAG team, like the amazing staff there, is another part that I enjoy about volunteering, just because there is a group of individuals who are so committed to the animals and their care—and it’s really hard work,” Wood said. 

Fellow WAGer Imogen Lowery came in second this year, while Whistler Health Care Foundation vice chair Jennifer Black was third. 

It’s clear: Whistler loves its fur babies. For the 10th year in a row, the resort’s only animal shelter, Whistler Animals Galore (WAG), has taken the title of Favourite Non-Profit. 

Founded in 1982, the organization has grown into one of the largest non-profits in Whistler, and has helped connect hundreds of pets to their furrever homes in that time. 

The Whistler Community Services Society, the local social-service provider that operates the food bank, Re-Use-It and Re-Build-It centres, along with dozens of community programs, came a close second this year, followed by Zero Ceiling, dedicated to ending youth homelessness. 

Best Decision by Whistler Council

According to Pique readers, Whistler’s mayor and council made many a good decision in 2022, from increasing fines for parking in handicapped spots and implementing red-tape reductions to adopting a new Wildfire Resiliency Plan that will guide how the municipality prepares for wildfires over the next decade. 

Yet the best decision by Whistler council, as voted by you, was supporting the 2030 Olympic bid, which would have seen the Games return to Whistler and Vancouver, for the most part using existing facilities built for the 2010 Games, with a few events planned for Sun Peaks as well. 

News of the bid went public at the end of last year, and quickly became a contentious topic in the province. A critical difference between the 2030 bid and the bid from 2010 was the proponents leading the charge to bring the Games back. 

Four coastal First Nations—the Squamish, Lil’wat, Tsleil-Waututh and Musqueam—led the bid, optimistic for the opportunity to share their communities’ stories, and the story of Canada’s First Peoples and recent efforts towards Truth and Reconciliation, with the wider world, along with the development and economic opportunities that would have come with hosting the event on their traditional territories. 

The bid gained support from the Resort Municipality of Whistler, the City of Vancouver, the Mountain Resort Municipality of Sun Peaks and the City of Kamloops. Yet when it came to the provincial government’s desk, it was abruptly quashed, with Victoria ultimately deeming the Games’ high-price tag a dealbreaker. 

Coming in second was council’s decision to finally adopt a new Cannabis Retail Policy and related bylaws that, once fully approved, will allow up to five cannabis shops in the RMOW. This decision was followed closely by the RMOW ending COVID-19 vaccination requirements for municipal employees. 

Worst Decision by Whistler Council

According to Whistlerites, council’s biggest misstep in 2022 was inaction on the public transit strike, which paralyzed most commuters’ ability to get around for months. 

The 137-day transit strike that started Jan. 29 made history by being the longest transit strike in B.C. history. Precisely what council could have done is a good question, as negotiations were between BC Transit contractor and Whistler Transit operator Pacific Western Transportation and B.C.’s largest private-sector union, Unifor. 

Other than a few urgent letters and taking supportive pictures with the striking bus drivers, the perception was that council needed to do more to get buses back on the road. 

While Councillor Ralph Forsyth proposed a “nuclear option” that would have terminated its cost-sharing contract with BC Transit, cancel lease fee payments to the operator, and launch an RMOW shuttle service, council struck it down. 

Whistlerites’ second least-favourite decision from the council table in 2022 was elected officials voting to give the next mayor and council a substantial raise in salary. 

Council moving forward with the controversial 43-unit Nita Lake housing development ranked as the third worst decision in readers’ minds. 

The biggest headline to hit Whistler this year was the fatal double shooting that shattered an idyllic summer day in the village. 

Meninder Dhaliwal, an affiliate of the Brothers Keeper gang, was shot dead on the steps of the Sundial Hotel in the middle of the afternoon on Sunday, July 24. His friend, Satindera Gill, unaffiliated with the gang, was shot and later succumbed to his injuries at Whistler Health Centre. 

The shooting shocked the resort community on several levels. Given Whistler’s distance from Vancouver and the sheer number of civilians in the Whistler Village, brazen daylight shootings like this are exceedingly rare. 

Those allegedly responsible were caught heading south on the Sea to Sky highway shortly after the shooting, and are now facing murder charges, which have not yet been proven in court.

The aforementioned, 137-day Sea to Sky transit strike was the second biggest story of the year, according to Pique readers, while a string of rare in-bound avalanche deaths last winter was deemed the third biggest headline. 

No huge surprise here: after a year marked by extreme weather events throughout the province, Whistlerites voted the climate crisis as the community’s most pressing environmental concern. Given the community is not on track to meet its ambitious climate targets, urgency will be crucial if council hopes to reverse the trend. 

The logging of old growth was named the second biggest environmental concern, while a closely related issue—wildfire—came in a close third.

Restaurants and Cafés

Bringing East Coast pizza to a West Coast fan base, one slice at a time 

Leigh Scott of Functional Pie has got a thing for the perfect slice of East Coast pizza. 

Since opening in 2018, the Function Junction restaurant has been dishing out a sort of hybrid between the heavily-sauced, foldable crust of New York ‘za, with the cheese-all-the-way-to-the-edge style popular in Detroit, and Whistlerites have taken to it like ducks to water, naming it the Best Pizza in town for the third year in a row. 

“It’s true appreciation for East Coast, American-style pizza,” Scott said. “There’s lots to be said for it and not a lot of it to be found.” 

Scott added that Functional’s distinct crust is “probably the most called-out thing our customers enjoy,” modelled in part off the so-called “grandmother pie” that originated in Long Island, N.Y.

“That New York piece would be the style of the sauce and the crafting of the dough. Back east they call it a grandmother pie, and we’re not necessarily doing it in a square pan, but that’s what a Nonna from New York would do,” Scott said. Ever the tinkerer, Scott is always looking to improve upon his award-winning pie, and he’s hopeful to install a new addition to the kitchen next year that would help towards that goal. 

“We want to get better at it,” Scott said. “We want to move away from the electric ovens and get to gas stone deck ovens.” 

Located in the heart of Function from which the pizzeria gets its name, Scott said Whistler’s southernmost neighbourhood has been full of loyal fans since Day 1. 

“That’s the tremendous thing. When my wife and I were discussing the opportunity to lay roots for a pizza shop, it was Function Junction from the get-go,” he recalled. “If I was going to take a jump off the deep end, I wanted to do it in a smaller, community-focused place … It’s the same lovely, amazing and friendly faces we see all the time—everyday some of them! It’s really a treasure to be down here.”

Bars, Pubs and Clubs 

A proper pub for a proper good time 

Like any good manager, Dubh Linn Gate GM Diane Rothdram credits her staff first and foremost for Whistler’s only proper Irish pub taking home the title of Best Bar in this year’s Best of Whistler poll, a feat it has accomplished several times over the years, including in 2021. 

“The staff uphold the quality and we have some people that have been here for quite a long time and we’re really choosy when we bring people onboard,” she explained. 

So, what qualities does Rothdram look for in a Dubh Linn devotee? Well, considering it is one of the busiest pubs around—the pub still serves more Guinness than any other bar in Western Canada—a calm demeanour and enduring stamina go a long way. 

“It’s high volume and takes a lot of endurance—and somebody that can maintain a cool head and a high quality of service no matter what’s getting thrown at them,” Rothdram said. 

In a town awash with cocktail bars and fine-dining spots, a proper Irish pub, with its dark-wood interior, regular fiddle music, and portraits of Irish literary giants like Yeats and Beckett and Joyce adorning the walls, certainly helps to stand out from the crowd. 

“That could be it, for sure,” Rothdram mused on the keys to Dubh Linn’s continued success. “We just had the World Cup on, so we were seeing lots of expats and tourists from England and Ireland coming in for a pint. I think if people don’t know where to go, they always know the pub’s going to have the game on. There’s familiarity there.” 

Along with winning the Best Bar category, Dubh Linn also won Best Nachos, a recipe that hasn’t changed in a dog’s age, Rothdram said. 

“We haven’t tweaked the recipe in all the years that I’ve been here, which has been many,” she added. “It must be the right ratio of cheese to chips.” 

Coast Mountain Brewing goes back to the basics 

This year marks the fifth year in a row that Function Junction’s beloved microbrewery, Coast Mountain Brewing, earns the title for Best Beer Selection. If we’re talking sports terms, that would easily be considered a dynasty on the magnitude of the ’80s Oilers, the ’90s Bulls, or the 2000s Patriots, but co-owner and brewer Kevin Winter doesn’t necessarily see it that way. 

“I don’t know if we consider it a dynasty,” he said. “We’re humble and we love what we do and I hope it shows in the beer. We’re always so fortunate that the community supports us the way they do and that’s what enables us to brew the beer we do. If we go six, if we go seven in a row, it’s just as exciting as the first year.” 

Known for its small-batch brews across a variety of styles along with its core stable of regular beers—it’s Hope You’re Happy IPA is as ubiquitous in Whistler as snow pants and unaffordable housing at this point—Coast Mountain weathered the lean pandemic years to come back stronger than ever in 2022. 

“The business is just flourishing now and we’re so fortunate,” Winter said. 

The wider industry has taken note as well. Its well balanced, North American-style Woodnutt Brown Ale is a two-time national award winner, while just this year, its juicy and floral Valley Trail Pale Ale won big at the BC Beer Awards, and its crisp and refreshing Crystal Chair Pilsener took home gold at the Canada Beer Cup. 

“It’s pretty humbling to be mentioned among some of the top beers in Canada,” Winter said. 

So what’s on tap for 2023? Winter said suds lovers can expect Coast Mountain to lean further into traditional, old world-style brews after the trends hewed more towards hazy and sour beers the past few years. 

“We’ve seen Coast Mountain turn a bit more toward traditional beers of an older age—the pre-haze craze, if you will,” he said. “These are beers that are staples and the styles themselves have seen successful for years: Red ale, Doppelbock, a stout coming in bottles here. Tried and true recipes that folks enjoy and a little less of the trend of the day.” 

Arts, Media and Culture 

Two decades of community love 

For The Hairfarmers, 2022 was a bit of a comeback.

Of course, love for Whistler’s favourite band (21 years running) has never wavered, but after contending with pandemic restrictions, a table-saw injury, and a motorcycle accident, they’re looking ahead to smoother sailing. 

“It felt so good to be back to ‘normal,’” said “Grateful” Greg Reamsbottom, singer for the band, of their shows this year.

On top of the backlog of weddings and corporate events the duo played—all over the world—one highlight was a series of shows up the Sea to Sky Gondola that might just have earned them Best Music Group/ Band in Squamish for the first time as part of the Squamish Chief’s Reader’s Choice Awards. 

“Every time we play up there [on the gondola], it’s such a stunningly gorgeous venue,” Reamsbottom said. “The whole community gravitates up there for those shows. They’re all memorable.”

The pair, of course, is happy to be back to their usual five-day-a-week schedule onstage in Whistler this winter as well. 

It’s been a long road in particular for “Guitar” Doug Craig, who sliced his index and middle fingers on a table saw (not ideal when you’re a guitarist) before being hit by a pickup truck on his motorcycle after the driver swerved over the centre lane. 

“That pretty much took me off the road for two months,” Craig said. “I’m just happy to have a left arm and right leg.”

While he’s still working on his dexterity with his instrument, he’s been grateful for the support, from fans, the community, and loved ones. 

“When I’m onstage it helps me,” he said. “I don’t think about my injuries. It’s going to take me some time to recover … I’ll be able to rebuild and get things going again. The Hairfarmers have a really good fanbase, too. They’re pretty forgiving.”

And, judging by their decades of winning Whistler’s Favourite Band, they’re not afraid to heap on the love either.

“It’s always exciting,” Reamsbottom said of the win. “You can never take it for granted. As soon as you start doing stuff like that is when things start going in the wrong direction.” 

‘I’m very, very happy to be in Whistler’ 

Rob Perry took a risk when he decided to move to Canada.

Whistler’s Favourite Photographer for 2022 had earned a master’s degree in fine arts, with a specialty in photography in the U.K., then launched into work there for several years, shooting for brands like Rolls-Royce. 

“I was learning at the time, so I took any job that came up—weddings, events, what have you,” he explained. 

But despite his upward trajectory, eight years ago, he decided to pack up and move to Whistler. Landing a job at Coast Mountain Photography shooting on the mountain, it wasn’t until 2017 that he decided to strike out on his own and launch a business. 

“I’ve very much always been into mountain biking, but these past few years, I’ve started concentrating on [that],” he said. “I shoot as much as possible and work with as many mountain bike brands as I can.”

He hit a major milestone this year when he was invited to participate in Crankworx’s Deep Summer Photo Challenge. (For the uninitiated, that event selects from the industry’s best sports-action photographers, who are each given three days to collect mountain bike photos and create a slideshow that screens for hundreds in Olympic Plaza.) 

“It was a crazy experience,” Perry said. “The three days then the week after doing Crankworx, I had a lot of people asking if I was free to do work for companies. All in all, it was great to have a platform to exhibit my work. Often on shoots, I shoot [for a brand], but this purpose was to exhibit my own work in my own way. That was my main takeaway from it.” 

Whistler might be filled with talented photographers, but Perry added that his experience has been one of support and collaboration rather than competition. 

“Honestly, I see it as more of a collaborative thing,” he said. “Every photographer, videographer, or creative I meet in Whistler is always so helpful and kind … The scene is competitive, but, to me, I see it as a smaller sub-community of people helping each other.” 

As for his new Best of Whistler title, he says he was “very surprised.”

“I’m very, very happy to be in Whistler,” he said. “I enjoy it more than words can describe. I’m incredibly grateful for all the kindness that clients, friends, and other photographers have towards me.” 

Marielle Thompson may have won an Olympic silver medal this February, but she can’t seem to dethrone Stan Rey as Whistler’s Favourite Winter Athlete. Neither can anyone else, for that matter. 

For the third consecutive year, Pique Newsmagazine readers have named Rey as their most beloved winter athlete, even though he hasn’t skied competitively in a long time.

“It’s just super cool to be able to connect with the community and have them supporting me and liking what I do,” said the 34-year-old. “I try to be the happy-go-lucky guy that I am, so it’s good that I’m able to inspire others. People like my personality, I guess.”

Though he was born in a small Swiss ski village called Crans-Montana, Rey has lived in Whistler since he was seven years old. Conquering pristine powder is in his blood: his grandfather was a two-time Olympian and 13-time alpine skiing national champion in Switzerland, while his father spent two years on the Swiss national junior team. 

Rey tried following in his grandfather’s alpine footsteps beginning at age 10, later switching to ski cross. In his three years on the Canadian national team, the longtime Whistlerite twice competed at the X Games (finishing fourth in 2011) and added a Canadian title to his resume. 

Yet, freeskiing and filmmaking ultimately stole his heart. 

“When I got to [age] 24, I was kind of over competing and wanted to do my own thing, and I always knew freeskiing was an avenue I would love to explore down the road,” said Rey. “I’ve had more fun doing it than I’ve ever had on skis.”

For about eight years, Rey and business partner Alexi Godbout have operated a film company called Blank Collective Films. Their latest production, Feel Real, encapsulates the reasons why Rey loves freeskiing. 

“It’s about having fun with [skiing], the camaraderie we share with our buddies out there,” he explained. “You cheer on your buddy to stomp a sick line instead of being like, ‘Oh, I want to beat them.’”

The easygoing Rey hopes to keep connecting with his fellow Whistlerites through his YouTube channel, which he started last year to share practical skiing tips with viewers. He and Godbout are also ready to make a new movie despite the departure of longtime partner Jeff Thomas. 

“The main reason we make [films] is to inspire people and get people stoked for winter,” he said. 

Rey could write a lengthy book about all the things that skiing has taught and given to him, but were he to pick just one, it would be the importance of respecting nature. 

“The mountain doesn’t care if you’re a professional or a beginner, it’ll treat you the exact same,” he said. “And I think that’s a lesson that can actually apply to life, too. No matter if people are short, tall, have different skin colours or come from different places in the world, I think you should treat everyone the same.” 

Wei Tien Ho was surprised to be named Whistler’s Favourite Junior Athlete last year. He wasn’t expecting to win the recognition a second straight time either, but he did. 

“I guess I’m surprised again,” he admitted with a chuckle. “I’m honoured. There’s a ton of great athletes just in Whistler alone, so there’s always good competition around. It definitely means a lot.” 

At 18 years old, Ho will soon join the senior ranks in his preferred sports of mountain biking and freeride skiing, leaving the door ajar for someone else to take 2023’s Favourite Junior Athlete crown. It’s become more challenging to balance both, especially since he competes in two separate mountain bike disciplines: enduro and downhill. Ho formerly put his bike away after the fall, but he aims to ride all winter this year—and not at the expense of skiing.  

Other young two-sport athletes, like Best of Whistler runner-up Marcus Goguen, realize that they may have to pick one. Ho will cross that bridge if necessary, but he wants to keep biking and skiing for as long as possible. 

“My dream is to do both,” he explained. “I’m kind of at that stage where if I’m going to pick, I should pick, but I can’t. I don’t know many people that have done it to the top, but I really just want to be one of those who does both at the top of the game.” 

Ho has only seriously competed in downhill since 2021, but continued to prove he belongs this summer, adding three top-10 World Cup DH finishes to his resume. An ill-timed crash forced him to miss the last two World Cup events on the calendar. Meanwhile in enduro, the format where he feels “the most at home,” Ho bookended his season with podium results in the 2022 Norco Canadian Enduro Series: second place on May 29 and first on Sept. 25. 

The Whistlerite had intended to make a ski film with one of his coaches last year, but hectic schedules and less-than-ideal snow conditions caused him to delay the project to this season. Ho wants his first movie to highlight his own story on the slopes and how the Whistler Freeride Club played a pivotal role in his development. 

“I want to add a bit of creativity and art, rather than just [make] a ski edit,” he said.

Ho also aims to accumulate points on the Freeride World Qualifier circuit this winter to qualify for the Freeride World Tour (FWT), the highest level of freeride ski competition on Earth. Connections through his sponsor, Peak Performance, will allow him to be a forerunner in FWT events at Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in Golden, B.C. and overseas in Andorra. 

At Creekside Market, it’s all about the customers

Have you ever walked around a grocery store looking for a specific item or brand, but no dice? 

Now imagine the next time you walked into that grocery store, that item was sitting on a shelf.  

That’s the kind of service customers at Creekside Market have come to expect. 

“We’re limited in space—we’re only 8,000 square feet, so we’re not a big store—but we’re pretty diversified in what we carry,” said Creekside Market owner Jerry Marsh. “We don’t have to carry six kinds of canned peas, say, but we have one or two, and if we don’t carry something we can certainly get it in for a customer.” 

That is also part of the reason the local grocery store was voted as having the best customer service in town in this year’s Best of Whistler survey, winning the honour by a wide margin for the third consecutive year. Creekside Market was also named Whistler’s second-best grocery store in 2022, edged out slightly by Nesters Market. 

Being independently owned gives Creekside Market “a leg up” on some of its competition, Marsh explained. 

“We can we can source out and buy anything we want from anybody, any retailer or any wholesaler, small or large, where a lot of the bigger chains are restricted to what the corporation wants them to carry and what they carry in their main warehouse,” he said. “We can talk to whoever we want to that comes in the store; like small, independent producers that are coming up with new ideas. “

That independence also enables Creekside Market to source an abundance of B.C.-made products and locally grown produce throughout the seasons. 

Marsh and his wife Sana have owned the market since it opened near the base of the Creekside Gondola in 2004, after previously operating a smaller across the street. Some of Creekside Market’s customers have been shopping at the Marshes’ businesses since the very beginning. “We do have a lot of loyal customers that we have seen for years,” Marsh said. 

Even throughout the difficult months when COVID-19 restrictions were at their strictest, Creekside Market’s staff have” always been good at taking care of the customers and looking after their needs,” said Marsh. “That’s something that we all stress, especially our general manager and all the management pass on to their group, to look after the customer. They’re the No. 1 thing … They’re the ones that pay the bills at the end of the day, so [our staff] take that quite to heart and do a great job.”

Curated keepsakes nets 3 signing birds dual honours

For years, 3 singing birds has been recognized as the best place in town to find unique, thoughtful gifts for loved ones.  

With its small-batch candles, handcrafted pottery and beauty products, surrounded by racks of timeless, cozy, slow fashion pieces, it has surpassed the countless other village gift shops filled with bright-coloured, Whistler-branded apparel to win Whistler’s favourite place to shop for gifts for the last three years running.

Now, the store is being recognized for its carefully curated jewelry selection, dethroning perennial winner Keir Fine Jewellery to win the dual honour of Best Jewelry Store in 2022—even though jewelry is just one of many different categories of goods the boutique stocks on its two locations’ shelves. 

“We’re so appreciative and excited,” said manager Annie Farrell, who has worked at the store for five years. 

Owner Paula Jeffers opened the doors to 3 Singing Birds’ original Marketplace location, shared by the Green Moustache, just over nine years ago. 

A textile designer by trade who originally hails from the U.K., Jeffers often found herself sending gifts homes to family after moving to Whistler, but grew “kind of tired of sending very generic … stuff when there was so many great artisans in Canada,” Farrell explained. “She saw this gap in the market and wanted to make a store out of it.”

The team followed up the Marketplace storefront with a second location that opened in the Fairmont Chateau Whistler five years ago.

The boutique sources its products from a variety of avenues, from trade shows to social media to referrals. Though there’s a few staple items and brands that remain in 3 Singing Birds’ rotation all year long, the store tries to switch up its inventory to showcase as many artisans as it can. 

“The hardest bit is trying to choose because there’s so many great companies and we’re such a small location, even with both stores, so it’s so hard and so tough to tell brands, ‘we love your stuff but we just don’t have the space right now,’” said Farrell.

When it comes to 3 Singing Birds’ jewelry selection, Farell said its collection over the last year and a half or so has trended towards dainty pieces with a modern twist, as well as Indigenous-made beaded jewelry or wooden earrings, with higher-end pieces (like Grainne Morton’s one-of-a-kind charm earrings that Farrell called “works of art,” for example) mixed with more affordable pieces.

Whether you’ve stopped by 3 Singing Birds for a candle or a sweater or jewelry or just to browse, “We want to say thank you to everybody who supported us, especially during COVID. In the last few years, it’s been really difficult with staffing and people have been so lovely and patient and understanding,” said Farrell. “So honestly, thank you to the whole community.”

Nita Lake Spa is Whistler’s favourite beauty, aesthetics, and massage provider and the second favourite spa in the resort, coming second to Scandinave Spa. 

The spa offers various services, from waxing to sugaring to laser treatments and massages. There is truly something for the indulgent in us all.  

“We are thrilled to receive this recognition again this year,” Nita Lake spa manager Rebecca Mullan said in an email. 

“I believe we have an amazing group of genuine, skilled estheticians and massage therapists that put their heart and expertise into every client.” 

The spa opened in 2009 as an ashram spa and changed into its current setup after new owners bought the Nita Lake Lodge in 2012. Since then, the spa has expanded from four treatment rooms to nine and added a champagne nail bar. 

Mullan believes the key to the spa’s success is the continuous investments the company has made into its facilities, improving the guest experience, and creating a healthy working environment that encourages staff retention.  

“The current owners really listen to our team. They see the potential and believe in the spa. Year after year, they invest and continuously put money into improving the overall guest experience,” Mullan said. 

“We have created a family and culture where we listen, learn and communicate with each other with respect and honesty. As our team continues to grow, we are able to retain our staff due to these qualities and the working environment we are provided with.”

Long in the tooth 

Creekside Dental Clinic is Whistler’s favourite place for dental work, continuing a winning streak several years on. 

“It’s always an honour,” owner and dentist Dr. Julian Truong said. “I mean, we never expect it, but we definitely welcome it, and we’re very grateful that the community voted for us.” 

Creekside Dental has been a fixture in Whistler for almost 40 years, opening to the public in the early 1980s under the ownership of Dr. John Roberts, who passed away earlier this year. 

Dr. Truong believes the key to the business’ success is the team’s straightforward, honest approach, which aims to make the dental experience as enjoyable as a visit to the dentist can be.  

“I think it just comes down to honesty. We just do honest dentistry here. We treat everyone as if they were our own family, and I think it just shows through our work and how we treat people. So hopefully, that’s why they remember us,” Truong said. 

“We’re not trying to make a quick buck out of anyone. We’re just trying to help people. So that’s my reward when I see someone walk out of the chair, and they’re just happy with their smile and teeth.”  

Over his long career, the Whistler Medical Clinic’s Dr. Thomas DeMarco has seen thousands of patients in 52 different communities in every province and territory in Canada. Working in the health-care system might be stressful for some, but the 64-year-old loves the work. 

“For me, it’s almost more of a hobby than a job. It’s just something I really enjoy,” DeMarco said, welcoming the affirmation of his work in Whistler. 

“It’s always a thrill and an honour to be recognized that way by the local population. So I take that as a compliment. That’s an affirmation of what I’m doing, so I’m obviously very pleased.” 

DeMarco’s commitment to the people in his care is evident in how he makes himself about available for patients even when he should be off work or on holiday. 

“It’s fulfilling and sometimes challenging, but it’s certainly not a stressful job. I find it’s something that I find relatively comfortable to do, so I don’t mind being available to my patients,” DeMarco said. 

“In fact, a lot of them have my personal contact information, almost 1,000 people. So even on my so-called days off or even when I run away to Florida, I often treat patients from home. I stay in touch and try to be available and help whenever and wherever I can.”

Health-care in Whistler is in a difficult position these days. At the beginning of May, Town Plaza Medical Clinic in Village Centre closed after 25 years of operation, citing various issues, including difficulty finding physicians to continue running the practice, leaving Whistler Medical Clinic as the family practice standing in town.  

DeMarco believes some of the issues around the doctor shortage will be addressed in the new year as Whistler Medical Clinic is planning to expand and take over the Town Plaza space and bring on two more nurse practitioners and, eventually, another family doctor. 

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6d massage chair “I think in the coming year, we are going to be in a better position to satisfy some of the unmet demand in the local population in terms of full-service family doctor practice, so that’s exciting,” DeMarco said.