1913-1996

A man’s character is his fortune.
                           Polish Proverb
 
Wladyslaw Zebrowski was a man with a vision.  In the mid-60s he fell in love with Whistler Mountain.
 
Having immigrated to Canada in 1948 after the end of World War II, Captain Zebrowski found himself the owner of a chicken farm, a far cry from an army career!  He had had an illustrious war career as a soldier in the Polish Army under British Command and had visited many place with exotic-sounding names like Dzalalabad, Arkangelsk, Uzbeckstan, Monte Cassino.  He had been awarded numerous medals for bravery, having been a prisoner of war on a few occasions.  He was idealistic, hard-working and dedicated.  He had no interest in returning to a Poland under communist rule and so decided to come to Canada in search of freedom and a new life.  He always remained proud of is Polish roots and traditions.
 
In the mid-60s, Walter, as he was known to his English friends, decided to move to Whistler.  Whistler barely existed.  There was no highway, no electricity, no running water, no sewage system.  There was only this big beautiful mountain waiting to be discovered!
 
Walter had always loved the mountains.  Having had enough of city life, he decided to leave Vancouver.   He found the idea of settling in this virgin territory exciting.  He wanted to be a pioneer, to experience the beauty of the Canadian wilderness.  As a child I remember him trying desperately to find a partner to join him in the adventure of developing the crown land that he had purchased in the valley.  There were no takers.  So alone he accepted the challenge.
He lived at Whistler for 30 years.  During that period he founded Garibaldi Whistler Development Company Limited, developed his land, built condominiums and homes with Arthur Erickson, created a park with a trout-filled lake, founded the Whistler Water Works, the Whistler Volunteer Fire Department, was a charter member of the Whistler Rotary Club, was co-founder of the Chamber of Commerce, and even succeed in bringing television to the valley, against all odds and much criticism.  Today, the television receiver still stands on Sproat Mountain bringing television to people at Whistler, thanks to him.
 

Walter on Sproat Mountain
In 1971 he was named Citizen of the Year.
 
He became the community watchdog, often protesting vociferously when he did not agree with Municipal or Provincial politics.  He was respected and appreciated for his determination and energy.  Walter knew how to get things done.
 
Walter saw Whistler evolve from a quiet ski hill to a world-class ski resort.  He himself often remarked that the changes were unbelievable!  He was proud of Whistler.
 
In later years I often heard him speak about how important he felt it was to give back to one’s community.  For him, Whistler had represented a dream.  He liked the idea of belonging and contributing to a new, vital and growing community.  He liked the idea of making a difference.  He felt he was part of Whistler’s success, of Whistler’s history.
 
On June 26, 1996, Whistler Mountain lost its oldest citizen and I lost my dear father.
 
Article contributed by Ewa Zebrowski Walter's Daughter.
 
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