JARS v44n3 - Western Regional Conference - 1990

Western Regional Conference - 1990
Two Centuries of Rhododendrons From Macrophyllum To Micropropagation
October 12-14th -Chateau Whistler Resort, Whistler, British Columbia

Ray Talbot
West Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

British Columbia's District One, American Rhododendron Society, invites you to sail on a voyage of discovery to the Tenth Annual Western Regional Conference which will be held at the Chateau Whistler Resort, Whistler Mountain, B.C. from Friday, October 12th until Sunday, October 14th, 1990.

Canada's internationally famous Whistler Mountain Resort lies just 75 miles north of Vancouver, B.C. It boasts not one, but two separate ski resorts, Whistler Mountain and Blackcomb Mountain, both renowned for their dramatic ski runs which are the longest in North America. Whistler Village joins these two mountains at their base. Quite apart from the magnificent skiing which goes on here for three seasons, this enchanting European-style village has an exciting diversity of outdoor activities during spring, summer and fall. There is a par 72 championship golf course designed by Arnold Palmer, and fishing, mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, mini golf, water parks, windsurfing, sailing, kayak and canoeing, white-water rafting are just some of the diversions to choose from in this lovely valley with its chain of lakes and rivers surrounded by snowcapped mountains. Paved bike and hiking trails lead from the village around the golf course and along the lakes for pleasant walking and biking that everyone can enjoy.

Chateau Whistler Resort
Chateau Whistler Resort, Whistler Mountain
Photo supplied by Ray Talbot

The Chateau Whistler Resort is the very latest of the famous Canadian Pacific Chateau Hotels. It features the customary Canadian Pacific Chateau tradition of "Luxury in the wilderness" combining modern deluxe accommodation with sumptuous public lounges, restaurants and bars. There is a beautiful indoor/outdoor spa/pool and health centre, plus boutiques and ample parking for guests. The hotel is situated on the Benchlands beside the lower terminal of the Blackcomb Ski Resort, just five minutes walk from the main village. No cars are allowed in the village and you can stroll unhindered by traffic along the cobbled pathways as you visit the quaint boutiques, sidewalk cafes, shops, and restaurants.

The conference theme - two centuries of rhododendrons, from macrophyllum to micropropagation - ties in with Captain George Vancouver's voyage to the west coast in 1792. With Vancouver on this voyage of discovery was botanist and surgeon, Archibald Menzies. One of the many species that was discovered by Menzies during this exploration was R. macrophyllum .

Now, nearly two centuries later, we invite you to come and celebrate two centuries of rhododendrons with us. Our voyage of discovery starts in downtown Vancouver at the Harbour Ferries dock at the north end of Denman Street, close by the entrance to Stanley Park. Our ship will be the M.V. BRITANNIA, 150 feet in length and 669 tons. She is a modern deluxe vessel with three public decks, two completely enclosed with huge picture windows, comfortable seating, and a bar on each deck, plus ample outside observation decks for casual strolling and sightseeing.

M.V. Britannia
M.V. Britannia
Photo supplied by Ray Talbot

M.V. BRITANNIA departs from the Harbour Ferries dock in Coal Harbour at 12 noon on Friday, October 12th. The location is one of the most picturesque waterfront areas in the city. The three hour cruise takes us from the Inner Harbour in Vancouver past the dramatic sails of Canada Place with its backdrop of downtown skyscrapers, out under the Lions Gate Bridge past Stanley Park into English Bay and up into scenic Howe Sound. Here you can marvel at the breathtaking mountainsides as they plunge into the sea and admire the forested islands of the sound. At the head of the sound lies the logging town of Squamish with the majestic peaks and glaciers of Mount Garibaldi in the background. Lunch will be served on board and there will be ample time to renew old friendships and make new ones. We arrive at Squamish at 3 p.m. Here buses wait to take you on up the Sea to Sky Highway, past towering Mount Garibaldi, through the Cheakamus River Canyon and on to Whistler Village arriving at the doors of the Chateau Whistler Resort at approximately 4 p.m.

If your schedule does not fit in with our cruise, you can drive, take the bus or train. You will have a spectacular journey. From Seattle, take I-5 to the border, then Highway 99 through Vancouver and north on the Sea to Sky Highway as it follows the magnificent Howe Sound north from Vancouver through Squamish to Whistler. It is approximately two hours driving time from downtown Vancouver to Whistler. There are regular buses from the Vancouver bus station to Whistler Village. There is also a train run by B.C. Rail from North Vancouver. It is one of the most spectacular train rides on the continent, however, there is only one train per day leaving at 7:30 a.m. each morning, returning from Whistler each day at 6:10 p.m. The journey takes two-and-a-half hours.

This year's Western Regional Conference will give you a fascinating insight into the development of rhododendron culture in the Pacific Northwest over the past two centuries. From the discovery of R. macrophyllum to the growth of the earliest rhododendron nurseries, our speakers will go on to discuss various topics of vital interest to rhododendron lovers today with an exciting look at possible future developments that promise great things for tomorrow.

The conference program commences Friday evening when Ian McTaggart-Cowan will tell us the fascinating story of the Buchanan Simpsons who arrived in Cowichan Lake on Vancouver Island in 1914 and went on to develop one of the first nurseries for rhododendrons in this region.

Our keynote speaker for Saturday night's banquet is R. Roy Forster, Curator, VanDusen Botanical Garden, Vancouver. He will tell us of his thirty years experience working with rhododendrons in Canada. Roy came to VanDusen Botanical Gardens in 1972 and was responsible for the design and planting of the collections there. Researching and building the VanDusen collections had Roy travelling all over the world. He was a member of the Sino-Canadian Botanical/Horticultural Delegation - 1981 visiting S.W. Sichuan, studying flora in the area of Omei Shan, seeking experience for the building of the Sino-Himalayan Garden at the VanDusen Botanical Garden. More recent trips have taken him to many countries including Great Britain, a second visit to China, Hawaii, Portugal, and the Azores. Roy studied at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, obtaining his certificate from there in 1957. He came to Canada that same year and worked as Research Horticulturist at the Horticultural Research Institute at Vineland in Ontario. Included in his work there was extensive plant breeding in Rhododendron , Clematis and Lilium , and several new cultivars of rhododendron resulted from this work. In 1989 Roy received the Hybridizers Award from the Canadian Rhododendron Society. Some of his cultivars include 'Vivacious' ('America' x 'Dr. Ross'), 'Veesprite' ( R. impeditum x R. racemosum ) and 'Vinestar' ( R. keiskei x R. racemosum ).

The Saturday morning program opens with an introduction to our first rhododendron discoverer in the Pacific Northwest, Archibald Menzies. The following sessions will cover a wide range of topics and give us a look at the entrancing world of dwarf rhododendrons, introduce us to bench grafting, then a fascinating glimpse of adaptations made by rhododendron leaves to the environment and different climate conditions. An exciting discussion of new species recently discovered in China rounds off the Saturday morning session.

On Sunday we will learn of the trials and tribulations experienced by two expert rhododendron growers when they started a completely new garden in a hostile environment. Talks on fertilizers and their reactions on different soils, basic hybridizing, and micropropagation will be rounded out with a talk from one of our west coast specialists on the experiences he has had in twenty years of rhododendron growing on the coast.

Join us then as we explore the voyage from macrophyllum to micro-propagation. Our experts and hobbyists will describe their experiences and share tips and advice to help us grow better plants and increase our enjoyment of the wonderful world of the genus Rhododendron. Plant, book and craft sales, early bird walks, breakfasts, luncheons, dinners and a selection of tours have been designed to round out your conference entertainment.


Your day starts at the Harbour Ferries dock in downtown Vancouver located at the north end of Denman Street, between the Westin Bayshore Hotel and Stanley Park. Passengers should plan to be at the dock no later than 11:45 a.m. for boarding. The majestic M.V. BRITANNIA sails out of Coal Harbour past Stanley Park and under Lions Gate Bridge into the outer harbour of English Bay with its spectacular views of the Vancouver shoreline and the north shore mountains, thence into scenic Howe Sound with its dramatic fjord-like scenery. You will arrive at the Port of Squamish at 3 p.m. where you will transfer to waiting busses and continue your journey to Whistler Mountain along the Sea to Sky Highway arriving at the doors of the Chateau Whistler Resort at approximately 4 p.m.

SCENIC VALLEY TOUR - Saturday afternoon, October 13th.
This is a one hour bus tour of the Whistler Valley. Your tour guide will point out log home architecture unique to Whistler, elegant luxury mountain hideaways and unusual art forms. Stops at many points of interest with personal narration by our guide will give you an interesting view of Whistler that only a local would know.

BRANDYWINE FALLS TOUR - Saturday afternoon, October 13th.
Spectacular is a word often heard upon arriving at the Falls. Brandywine Falls is a horseshoe shaped waterfall that has a straight fall of almost 300 ft. Combine this with the volcanic origin of the area and you will not only see one of the most amazing waterfalls in Canada, you will also learn about the creation of the area. The tour also stops at the "column rocks" for an informative talk on the unique rock forms to be found here.

SUSHI COOKING DEMONSTRATION - Saturday morning, October 13th.
Just in case there is anyone who is not quite as enthusiastic about rhododendrons - here is a different angle to explore on Saturday morning! A hostess will meet you at your hotel and walk your group over to the village for your Sushi experience. This class includes an instructional movie, as well as a live demonstration on the art of creating Sushi. A lunch is also included with assorted pieces of Sushi and for those who are not inclined to eat Sushi, Teriyaki Chicken or Beef will be served.

LUNCH AT MERLIN'S - 1 p.m. Saturday, October 13th.
Because the ski lifts are closed for annual maintenance at this time of year, we are unable to offer tours up Whistler or Blackcomb mountains. However, Blackcomb Mountain is offering the next best thing. They will open their Daylodge Restaurant - MERLIN'S - (right alongside the Chateau) for our Saturday lunch. This will be a buffet-style meal and a great opportunity to socialize in the ski lodge atmosphere before heading off for the Saturday afternoon tours.

Anyone interested in staying on at Whistler may be interested in the B.C. rail trip from Whistler to Lillooet in the B.C. interior. The train departs from Whistler at 10:30 a.m. and takes you through some dramatic country in the Seton/Portage Valley. A morning snack is served, and you arrive in Lillooet at 1:30 p.m. You have two-and-a-half hours to explore the small town of Lillooet with its shops, museum and historical sites. The train leaves Lillooet at 3:30 p.m. arriving back at Whistler at 6:30 p.m. Cost per person approximately $50.00 including bus to and from Whistler Train Station. Booking arrangements can be made at the hotel on arrival.

Anyone interested in staying over in Vancouver and visiting the Van-Dusen Botanical Gardens and the Botanical Garden at the University of British Columbia should indicate this on the registration form attached to the insert in this journal. The Hotel Vancouver is offering a special rate of $125.00 a night to any conference delegate who would be interested in staying on in Vancouver. The Hotel Vancouver is one of the city's finest downtown hotels, and the rate offered is well below the customary nightly rate. There are, of course, many other hotels in the city and close by the Vancouver International Airport with varying rates.

Ray Talbot, Vancouver Chapter member, is a professional writer and serves on the chapter's newsletter committee.