SQUAMISH

Ad­ven­ture Awaits

Whistler Traveller Magazine - - TRAVELLER I CONTENT - STORY BY DAVID BURKE IM­AGES BY JOERN ROHDE

Lo­cated be­tween Van­cou­ver and Whistler on the scenic Sea to Sky High­way, Squamish is a top-rated des­ti­na­tion. In 2015, the New York Times tabbed it as one of the “52 Places to Go” that year, and if you look at its sur­round­ings, it is easy to see why. For starters, there is the stun­ning scenery, punc­tu­ated by the jaw­drop­ping gran­ite mono­lith Stawa­mus Chief that looms over the town and the iconic peak of 2,678-me­tre (8,787-foot) Mount Garibaldi to the north. The com­mu­nity of al­most 20,000 lies at the north­ern end of Howe Sound, one of North Amer­ica’s south­ern­most fjords. The town’s name — “Sk­wxwú7mesh” in the lan­guage of the Squamish peo­ple who have in­hab­ited the area for thou­sands of years — means “mother of the wind,” from the brisk winds that blow on sum­mer af­ter­noons, and there­fore a pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion for en­thu­si­asts of sail­ing and other win­dand-water sports. Squamish was mostly a forestry town un­til 2006, when the nearby Wood­fi­bre pulp mill closed. Forestry is still part of the lo­cal econ­omy, but even be­fore the mill closed, many re­al­ized the town’s tourism po­ten­tial. Known for a time as the “Out­door Re­cre­ation Cap­i­tal of Canada,” the com­mu­nity has adopted the slo­gan “Squamish: Hard­wired for Ad­ven­ture.” In 2014, the open­ing of the Sea to Sky Gon­dola re­ally put Squamish on the in­ter­na­tional tourism map. The 10-minute ride in eight-pas­sen­ger cabins whisks guests to a ridge be­low Mount Habrich, 885 me­tres (2,903 feet) above sea level. En route, vis­i­tors en­joy views of the Chief and 335-me­tre (1,099-foot) Shan­non Falls. At the Sum­mit Lodge, vis­i­tors en­joy mag­nif­i­cent views of shim­mer­ing Howe Sound to the west and south, and 2,031-me­tre (6,663-foot) Sky Pi­lot to the east. Guests can re­lax on the ob­ser­va­tion deck while en­joy­ing re­fresh­ments from the lodge’s café or marvel at in­ter­pre­tive dis­plays about the area’s en­vi­ron­ment and vi­brant First Na­tions cul­ture. The Sky Pi­lot Sus­pen­sion Bridge is a pop­u­lar at­trac­tion, as are nearby hik­ing trails, some of them wheel­chair ac­ces­si­ble.

Those look­ing for a phys­i­cal chal­lenge can skip the ride up and hike the 7-kilo­me­tre (4.35-mile) Sea to Sum­mit Trail, en­joy a cel­e­bra­tory drink at the Sum­mit Lodge, then take the gon­dola down (down­load ticket re­quired). On Fri­days from June 9 to Sept. 22 at 6 p.m., the Sea to Sky Gon­dola hosts its Moun­tain Mu­sic Se­ries, fea­tur­ing live acts from the Sea to Sky Cor­ri­dor and be­yond. The lineup for the 2017 se­ries in­cludes a va­ri­ety of mu­si­cal styles, from Celtic to clas­si­cal and ev­ery­thing in be­tween. For in­for­ma­tion, visit seatosky­gon­dola.com.

The Bri­tan­nia Mine Mu­seum, a Na­tional His­toric Site, of­fers vis­i­tors a chance to take an un­der­ground train into what was once the most pro­duc­tive cop­per mine in the Bri­tish Em­pire. For in­for­ma­tion, visit bri­tan­ni­amine­mu­seum.ca.

Train buffs will en­joy a visit to the West Coast Rail­way Her­itage Park with its vin­tage and re­stored lo­co­mo­tives and rail cars. For in­for­ma­tion about the park and the many events it hosts, visit wcra.org.

Since the up­grade of the Sea to Sky High­way be­fore the 2010 Win­ter Olympics, Squamish has ex­pe­ri­enced a real es­tate boom. Be­tween 2011 and 2016, it was the fastest-grow­ing com­mu­nity of more than 10,000 in B.C. It boasts Quest Univer­sity Canada, a branch cam­pus of Capi­lano Univer­sity and Coast Moun­tain Academy, a univer­sity-prepara­tory school for grades 7-12. The Ocean­front de­vel­op­ment, which is to in­clude a wa­ter­front park as well as res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial com­po­nents and pos­si­bly a branch cam­pus of the Univer­sity of B.C., is just one of the projects that’s ex­pected to help drive Squamish’s econ­omy into the fu­ture. Squamish’s big­gest and long­est-run­ning an­nual event is the Squamish Days Log­gers Sports Fes­ti­val, a five-day ex­trav­a­ganza in­clud­ing a pa­rade, a wacky bed race, fun run, pan­cake breakfast and the ever-pop­u­lar Log­gers Sports com­pe­ti­tion. Log­gers Sports 2017 — fea­tur­ing top ath­letes com­pet­ing in events such as bir­ling (log rolling), tree fall­ing and ob­sta­cle pole buck­ing — roars to life Aug. 3 to 7.

You can also take in the fun of moun­tain bike races in­clud­ing the new Sp’akw’us 50 ( June 17); run­ning races such as the Squamish 50 Trail Race (Aug. 18 to 20); wind sports events such as the Kite Clash/Cana­dian Na­tional Freestyle Kite­board­ing Cham­pi­onships ( June 30 to July 3) and Squamish Wind Fes­ti­val ( July 27 to 30); and the Squamish Triathlon ( July 16). The Squamish Farm­ers’ Mar­ket, which runs on Satur­days from May to Oc­to­ber, is a ter­rific place to meet and min­gle, and if you’re into the suds, check out the Squamish Beer Fes­ti­val on July 8.

For more in­for­ma­tion, drop by the Squamish Ad­ven­ture Cen­tre near the down­town turnoff from High­way 99, or visit ex­ploresquamish.com.

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