I have just returned from an extended vacation sailing around the B.C. coast, and although I had a wonderful time, Iím very happy to be back in beautiful Whistler. Something that made my homecoming even more special was seeing the brand new Florence Petersen Park outside the Museum finished, landscaped and verdant.
I was really hoping to be back in time for the opening ceremony on Aug. 28, but as often happens on sailing trips, we were delayed by the weather and I wasnít able to make it. The Museum staff tells me it was a great event with over 100 people coming to celebrate Florence and her contributions to the community.
The transformation is incredible. Until construction began it was little more than an ugly dustbowl, but now it is one of the nicest spots in the village, with picnic tables, green grass and flowerbeds. I will certainly be enjoying my lunch breaks there as long as the good weather lasts, and I see lots of people out there every day doing the same.
There are also historical features in the park that we hope to add to over the years. Of course there is a large memorial plaque for Florence herself surrounded by flowers symbolic of her long-time role as local marriage commissioner. There is also a bench made out of Whistler Mountainís first chairlift: the Red Chair. People can now sit on the chair and imagine what it was like to be a skier in the 1960s. The clearing away of brush also uncovered a fantastic example of a nurse tree that will be of interest to all you natural history buffs.
The park is beautiful and a fantastic asset to the Museum, the Library and the Village as a whole. I would like to thank Kathy Macalister, whose good idea it was to name the park after Florence Petersen. I would also like to thank Council who adopted the idea so readily and approved the funds to make it happen and Kevin McFarland and his team at the RMOW who came up with a beautiful design and put in the hard work to make it happen. Appropriately at least two members of the construction team were wed by Florence, which is a nice example of how she touched the lives of so many of us in this community.
Finally, I would like to thank Florence herself, for having the foresight and the energy to set up a museum and preserve the history of this valley, for all her support, knowledge and advice, both to me personally and to all of the Museumís staff over the years, and of course for being such a wonderful, thoughtful and vibrant person who is greatly missed by all who knew her.