Whistler mountain in winter.

A Chance Encounter with the PM in the Mountains

Famous people ski and ride in Whistler all the time — actors, billionaires, royalty. This is where they all come to play.
You’ve got more “Whistler cred” if you can last all day on your skis or board than if you can make millions by lunchtime. These mountains have a funny way of levelling the playing field, stripping away the normal social barriers.

Perhaps that’s why our Prime Minister came back for a visit a few weeks ago. He remembers how Whistler made him feel when he lived and worked here years ago, how he could be just another snowboarder, spending a day on the hill. Justin Trudeau understands the magic of Whistler just as Whistler understands the magic of our Prime Minister. You could sense it over those brief days when he was back on our mountains.

I think something wonderful happened over the Trudeau family visit. We had a chance to see Whistler through Justin Trudeau’s eyes and it reminded us that Whistler is a truly special place.

Of course, he wasn’t just another snowboarder, but you could sense how happy he was to be here. You could see it in those selfies and in the time he took with people on the mountain. Whistler, in turn, embraced him in its own unique way. There was a vibe of excitement running through the town. I experienced it myself when I shook his hand at a chance encounter while I was having lunch at Christine’s on the top of Blackcomb Mountain.

As soon as Trudeau walked into the restaurant that day, the energy changed, radiating off him as he shook hands and patiently stopped for pictures in the room. He had a powerful presence that transcended his job title. You couldn’t forget that this was the Prime Minister of Canada but at the same time he was disarmingly… “local,” for want of a better word. I could feel his connection to the mountains; I could feel his connection to Whistler.

Joey Gibbons and Justin Trudeau

Still, what do you say to the Prime Minister of Canada when he comes over to your table to shake your hand? Well, it was simple really. I said “thank you.”

Thank you for representing our little town so well all over the world.

Thanks for putting Whistler’s name on the world stage when you were talking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Thanks for coming back here with your family and showing the world why you love it here.

Thank you for being a part of our magic, for understanding what Whistler is all about.

It was interesting to study our leader in his natural environment, for he is very much at home here. I’ve met Trudeau a few times in the past through his work with the Canadian Avalanche Association. This time it was different. You could feel the strength of his leadership, his command of the room. And it was invigorating, just as it was invigorating to see how Whistler makes others feel when they come to visit, even the Prime Minister.

It’s a good reminder of how lucky we are to live within these magical mountains.

Joey Gibbons

He has been throwing great parties in the mountains ever since he was in high school. Now, as CEO of Gibbons, he is showing the world Whistler’s magic. Joey is passionate about his business and about his community, always looking for new ways to fuse the two together. He knows there is no better place to work and play and raise his family.