Whistler Mountain is set to open ahead of schedule November 17, and meteorologists are predicting an epic powder season. Although ticket prices continue to skyrocket and the current mayor is openly hostile to visitors who don’t also want to spend their money on wildly overpriced restaurants and hotels, the B.C. ski town still holds a special place in a lot of people’s hearts.
It’s arguably the best alpine resort on the planet but it’s worth keeping in mind that to a huge chunk of the world’s population, the word “Whistler” is apt to mean something else entirely.
10. Whistler’s Mother
Art lovers might think of American painter James McNeill Whistler, or more likely his 1871 masterpiece “Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1” better known as Whistler’s Mother. The iconic oil-on-canvas painting, currently on display at the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, of his elderly ma sitting in a chair has become so entrenched in popular culture that – like the Mona Lisa, American Gothic or Edvard Munch’s The Scream – it’s often referenced and parodied.
A quick Google search turns up images of Mrs. Whistler as Minnie Mouse, a ninja turtle, a jedi knight and even Paris Hilton. The painting has also shown up on a U.S. postal stamp during the Great Depression, several episodes of The Simpsons and even played a starring role in a Mr Bean movie.
9. The Whistler
West Africans who like to keep up with current events would probably first think of The Whistler newspaper. Based in the capital city of Abuja, “Nigeria’s finest news source” boasts an impressive 71,000 Facebook likes and is a go-to source of breaking information in the former British colony best known for being a major exporter of oil, Islamic extremism and unsolicited emails from cash-strapped princes.
8. Abraham Whistler
Comic book nerds are likely to associate the word with a Marvel character devoted to hunting vampires. Whistler first appeared in the 1998 film Blade and was played by crusty country singer Kris Kristofferson. Random fun fact: His rarely mentioned first name is a nod to Abraham “Bram” Stoker, creator of the novel Dracula and its stake-wielding hero Abraham Van Helsing.
Blade’s cantankerous sidekick isn’t the only fictional Whistler known to tangle with the undead. Fans of Joss Whedon’s cult classic Buffy the Vampire Slayer will be familiar with yet another Whistler (this one played by Max Perlich), an enigmatic demon fond of fedoras tasked by the Powers to create an equal balance of good and evil in the world.
6. The Whistler
Connoisseurs of early crime dramas and/or antique podcasts may recall The Whistler, an American radio series broadcasted from 1942 to 1955 now available online. A mysterious character known only as the Whistler, who also happened to favor fedoras, was the narrator of more than 600 tales of criminals typically undone by their own stupidity. The Whistler, who was played by multiple actors over the years, was later adapted into a several films and a TV series.
Some may recall a more recent series called Whistler, a two-season CTV drama that debuted in 2006 set in Whistler, B.C. although most of the first season’s scenes were actually shot in Langley. The slopeside soap focused on the relationships between three families following the mysterious death of a local blond-haired, blue-eyed snowboarder who won a gold medal at the Winter Olympics. CTV was promptly sued by Ross Rebagliati, an actual local blond-haired, blue-eyed snowboarder who won a gold medal at the Winter Olympics, for having “misappropriated his character.” The suit was settled out-of-court for an undisclosed amount.
4. Whistler/The Whistler
Whistler was the name of a minor gangster in Season 1 of the gritty biker drama Sons of Anarchy, a show that also featured a lot of songs by alt country artist White Buffalo, including the atmospheric track “The Whistler” during the scene when (spoiler alert!) Hellboy gets his gang tattoos covered up after being booted out the club.
3. The Whistler
Lovers of flute-flavored prog rock will perhaps recall “The Whistler,” the second single from Jethro Tull’s 1977 album Songs From the Woods. The album reached No. 8 on the Billboard album charts while the song itself peaked at 59.
Followers of the U.K. indie music scene in the late nineties and early aughts may recall a trio (former EMF guitarist Ian Dench, singer Kerry Shaw and violinist James Topham) named Whistler who released two albums on the Wiiija label, including their self-titled debut in 1999 recorded on Pete Townshend’s famous barge studio moored on the River Thames.
Last and certainly not least, others may immediately think of Hoary marmots (Marmota caligata), whose distinctive shriek of alarm earned them the nickname whistlers and whose healthy numbers in the Coast Range caused the former London Mountain to be renamed as the much more marketable Whistler Mountain in 1965.
There’s probably still only one Blackcomb though.