BY: Lori Knowles PHOTOGRAPHY: Morden family & Chris Speedie.

What does it mean to live, work, and raise your family in a Canadian ski town? What are the joys? The sacrifices? The consequences of committing your work and family life to the sport of skiing? In this series, Lori Knowles interviews generations of families living “the dream”. This week she talks with Nancy Morden, Mayor of Whistler, and her daughter Sarah — part of a prominent family working, living, playing in Canada’s most notorious ski town.

IT WAS WHISTLER’S SUMMER OF LOVE. 1973. The age of streakers, ski bums, Trudeau and Nixon in office, Lighthouse and The Guess Who on 8-track, Kojak on TV. Two Ontario kids — Nancy Wilhelm and Ted Morden — ditched university to set up camp in a squatter’s cabin in Whistler, a hot bed of hot doggin’, summer glacier skiing, and “live and let live.” Who could guess this hippie adventure would lead to respected careers in law and real estate, raising a family on the slopes, and a run at the ski town’s top job: Mayor of Whistler?

This classic Whistler family story starts with Ted Morden’s flight from Kitchener to Whistler the moment he graduated from high school. His sweetheart, Nancy Whilhelm, followed for a two-week vacation, promising her parents she’d be back in time for university’s start in the Fall of ’73. But when the time came to return, says Nancy: “I called home and told my parents I wasn’t coming back. I was 18, there wasn’t a heck of a lot they could do.”

Ted and Nancy picked up odd jobs logging, pumping gas, bartending at The Boot back in the day when patrons would ride up to the bar, literally, on horseback to order a brew. It was the same year Chris Speedie snapped his iconic photo of hippies posing naked in front of Whistler’s Toad Hall. The town’s first robber had already towed Whistler’s entire bank away on a trailer. And, as luck would have it, Whistler Mountain had a record snow year in 1973/74. These two Ontario kids who’d never skied anything higher than the Niagara Escarpment embarked on the ski time of their lives.

Spool the film reel forward more than 40 years and you’ll find Ted and Nancy Morden, 61, still skiing and still living in Whistler. A lot has changed. They have two kids who love the sport. Ted is one of the community’s best known realtors; Nancy runs a law practice, plus … she’s the Mayor of Whistler. They owe it all to a love for skiing.

Anything But Boring
Squatting rent-free in a rustic cabin Ted built in the forest in 1975, the couple saved enough dough to put Nancy through law school in Vancouver. Through it all, Ted was steadfast about staying in Whistler. Once law school was done, Nancy gave up on her aspirations as a big city trial lawyer to rejoin her husband. Launching a law practice in Whistler Village, “I figured it was the end of an inter