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Take a trip back to the days before Whistler existed

New Garibaldi Lifts Ltd. shirts are available in the North Shore News's Vintage Shop
The Garibaldi Lift t-shirt is one of many nostalgic offerings available at the North Shore News Vintage Shop. Photo via North Shore News.

There was a time when it wasn’t altogether inconceivable to drive across the Lions Gate Bridge without passing a single other motorist in either direction.

The first Super Bowl hadn’t been played yet, the NHL was still in its Original Six phase – which meant no Canucks – and Vancouver was still largely considered a logging town at the end of the line.

The year is 1964.

Before Blackcomb, Whistler or Vail, there was Garibaldi Lifts Ltd.

Garibaldi Lifts Ltd. was established to construct and operate skiing facilities at Whistler Mountain, where the first ski runs opened in 1966.

A cup of coffee at the time went for 15 cents.

In paying homage to that era, the North Shore News’s Vintage Shop is releasing a pair of T-shirt designs harkening back to the very early days of skiing culture on Canada’s West Coast.

Emblazoned with the classic, stylized “G” from the company logo, the Garibaldi Lifts Ltd. shirts are an ideal fit to get the stoke levels up before hitting the hills and carving the powder.

One design is simple and to the point, featuring the company logo and name; the other design has the words “Skiing is Good” across the front of the shirt. Both come in numerous colours – black, red, dark heather and Kelly green – and the sizes range from small to 3XL. 

The T-shirts are printed in and shipped from Vancouver. The North Shore News has partnered with custom clothing company, Coastal Reign, whose twentysomething co-founders, Eddison Ng and Boaz Chan, have printed more than 200,000 shirts for their Canadian customers.

All T-shirts are 100% cotton, preshrunk jersey knit, and available in a variety of colours and sizes, priced at $35 plus tax. Shipping is free.

And here’s the kicker: all proceeds go to support local journalism at the North Shore News.

The Garibaldi shirt is one of many nostalgic offerings available at the Vintage Shop, where you need not wait until Throwback Thursday to re-connect with days gone by.

More than a dozen shirts in a range of sizes and colours will instantly transform you back to your youth, or to a time when your parents were young. Long-time community fixtures featured on those shirts include the Lions Gate Tennis Club, Lynn Valley and the Norvans hockey team, among others.

Five different collector totes are also available online, each featuring art and insignias dating back to the 1960s. Those totes include artwork featuring the B.C. coat of arms; The Seven Seas Floating Seafood restaurant; West and North Van Varsity throwback designs and a fifth design proclaiming “I Heart North Van.”

Each tote is 100 per cent cotton, with 20 1/2" self-fabric handles and a 9 1/2" handle drop.

And with more municipalities across the region banning single-use plastics, they’ll be invaluable for any trip to the grocery store.

And that’s just the start - the Vintage Store’s roster of cool and quirky collectibles will be ever expanding in the coming months.

The Whistler of the 1960s was a far cry from the chic, world-class destination that it is today. In fact, the community was named Alta Lake until the official name change in 1976.

Until the 1960s, the area was without basic infrastructure: there were no sewage facilities, water, or electricity and no road from Squamish or Vancouver.

In 1962, Franz Wilhelmson, President of Garibaldi Lifts Ltd., began the construction of a lift system to support ski operations on the south side of Whistler Mountain, known today as Creekside.

The whole kit and kaboodle was officially opened to the public on Jan. 15, 1966 and featured a four-person gondola, a double chair lift and two T-bars. The Sea to Sky Highway was first paved that same year.

The Whistler Museum’s website offers a treasure trove of information linking back to the days when Garibaldi Lifts Ltd. was still in its infancy.

At a subsequent 20th anniversary party in 1985, reporters from the Whistler Question newspaper were able to catch up with those who were there from day one.

Wilhelmsen told the paper:

“I think it’s fantastic. It has fulfilled everyone’s wildest dreams I think.”

The exclusive shirts and totes can be purchased online, at