About seven kilometres south of Whistler is a tiny settlement known as McGuire. Now a handful of residences, this area of land has been settled for as long as the Whistler Valley.
It was one of the “whistle-stop” stations on the Pacific Great Eastern (PGE) Railway. According to some sources (this is yet to be confirmed), it was at one time the largest settlement between Squamish and Pemberton.
It appears that in its earliest history, from around 1910 to 1915, it served a base camp for the construction workers building the PGE Railway, with about 150 people living in tents in the area. Once the railway was built, McGuire became home to the logging industry, with several small sawmills milling cedar, fir and balsam.
However, soon after 1938 when the McKenzie family moved into the area, the logging industry moved out. James McKenzie, his wife Mildred and baby daughter Dalphine set up a homestead built of materials salvaged from old sawmill buildings. They stayed in the area, living off the land and prospecting for gold — a pretty isolated existence that was dependant on the PGE Railway for essentials such as flour.
The land they owned was large — approximately 73 acres stretching all the way to Brandywine Falls. For many years, their nearest neighbours were Ken and Edna Stockdale, who lived five miles down the track and serviced the steam engines and worked for the railway by installing ties along the track.
After the Second World War, the area was regenerated with the appearance of a small shake mill operation, which produced squares of shakes for the Vancouver market. In the 1950s, 100 people worked at a sawmill that shipped out a carload of lumber to the coast each day.
By 1961, when the Biggin-Pound family bought land in McGuire, this flurry of industry had all died down and the area was once again a quiet place, with only the McKenzie family around as neighbours. It took a couple of years to construct a cabin, travelling up every weekend on the PGE, but by 1963 they moved up full-time and stayed for seven years.
This is pretty much all that we know about McGuire at the Whistler Museum currently, and we would love to know more. If anyone has more information or stories to tell, please do get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sarah Drewery is the executive director of the Whistler Museum.