Franz Wilhelmsen is fondly known as the “Father of Whistler” for good reason. His pioneering vision and development of Whistler Mountain shaped and designed a little known mountain into one of the world’s finest ski resorts.

The vision began in 1960 when Wilhelmsen and friends sought to bring the Winter Olympics to British Columbia. The group formed Garibaldi Lifts Ltd., which subsequently became Whistler Mountain Ski Corporation, to map out and develop the mountain’s potential, and the Garibaldi Olympic Development Association to promote the idea.

Translating the dream into reality was an uphill battle which took six frustrating years. But on January 15, 1966, Whistler Mountain, with its unique gondola system, chair lift and two T-bars, welcomed its first group of enthusiastic skiers. Over forty years later, the Whistler resort averages millions of skier visits per year.

A true visionary, Wilhelmsen retired in 1983 but his lifetime contributions have been recognized several times over including the prestigious Queen’s Medal in 1977 and induction into the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame.