Hetherington, John "Bushrat"

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Type of entity


Authorized form of name

Hetherington, John "Bushrat"

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Description area

Dates of existence

fl. 1950s-


John "Bushrat" Hetherington is a heli-ski guide, former owner of Whistler Heli-Skiing, former Whistler Mountain ski patroller, and a former alderman of the first Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) Council. He is originally from the Toronto area in Ontario. He studied economics and political science at the University of Toronto and graduated in 1966 before moving to Whistler. He was involved in the "ski bum" scene of the late 1960s and early 1970s in Whistler, having lived at both Tokum Corners and Toad Hall - infamous squatters cabins in the Whistler area. Hetherington joined Whistler Mountain's ski patrol during the 1967/1968 winter season, and eventually became head patroller. Among others at the time, he pioneered early avalanche control on the mountain, including the use of explosives to pre-empt avalanches and the use of the Avalauncher (an avalanche control gun). In 1978, Hetherington and Chris Stehem, a former patroller then working as Whistler Mountain’s Safety Supervisor, wrote “Whistler Mountain Avalanche Control Programme,” a technical memorandum describing the methods then used by Whistler patrollers. In 1975, John was among the first RMOW councillors to be elected when Whistler was incorporated as a municipality by the Province of British Columbia. On August 6, 1976, he married Joyce Hetherington (nee Neilsen), with whom he has several children. In 1987, he began working for Whistler Heli-Skiing. He retired from Whistler Heli-Skiing in 2012. On May 16, 2017, he was awarded the Sovereign's Medal for Volunteers by the Governor General of Canada for his work volunteering for Whistler Search & Rescue (which he has done since 1988), chairing the board of the Whistler Museum & Archives Society, and being a member of the board of the Canadian Avalanche Association (CAA). The ski run "Bushrat", a technical chute off Chainsaw Ridge on Blackcomb Mountain, was named in his honour.


Toronto, ON

Legal status

Functions, occupations and activities

Heli-ski guide
Ski patroller
Mountain staff

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Internal structures/genealogy

General context

Relationships area

Related entity

Hetherington, Sean (fl. 1970s-)

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Hetherington, Sean

is the child of

Hetherington, John "Bushrat"

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Authority record identifier


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Rules and/or conventions used

RAD, July 2008 version. Canadian Council of Archives.


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Dates of creation, revision and deletion

Catalogued October 2022.



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