ski hill

History

History of Toronto Ski ClubThe TSC was formed in 1924, and grew steadily through the 1920's and 1930's. By 1940 it was the largest local ski club in the world, with over 7,000 member skiers. The home base for the TSC was at Summit, which was then on the northern edge of Toronto, but the club had also developed facilities at Dagmar, Caledon, and eventually at Blue Mountain.

Meanwhile, in the 1930's, local enthusiasts became the first to use the escarpment here at Blue Mountain in the fledgling sport of downhill skiing. They climbed up and skied down the hills of what were then the Carmichael, Doherty and Goodchild farms. These pioneers formed the Blue Mountain Ski Club (the predecessor of the Collingwood Ski Club) in 1935. During the first years, they rented a room at the rear of the Goodchild farm and used it as a clubhouse. In 1938, the club bought the neighbouring Doherty farm for the princely sum of $1,200.00.

The early trails were reportedly quite treacherous. Rocks, stumps, ravines running across the middle of trails, and some trails that ended in the middle of a forest - all of these were apparently common things to encounter. During those early years, the TSC provided needed technical assistance to many ski clubs in southern Ontario, including the Blue Mountain Ski Club.

Among the leaders of the TSC at that time, who pushed outward into the areas north of Toronto, and into the Blue Mountain area were men such as Sam Cliff, Fred Hall, Ross Larway and Tom McGoey. The Blue Mountain Ski Club benefited from the leadership of enthusiastic local business people such as John Smart, Norman Boadway and Bert Brydon. Together these men saw the great potential for skiing in this area, and the benefit of working together to improve and expand the facilities.

Between 1936 and 1939, the two clubs engaged the services of a Swiss ski instructor by the name of Fritz Loosli, to organize the improvement of the trails, and to provide instruction. During these years, an arrangement developed whereby the TSC would pay Loosli, and second his services to the Blue Mountain Ski Club in exchange for ski privileges for TSC members, at the facility owned by the Blue Mountain Ski Club.

History of Toronto Ski ClubMuch of the labour for the trail cutting was performed by unemployed workers assigned to the job by the Town of Collingwood, which administered a relief program for higher levels of government. During the late 1930's, the Granny, Schuss and Kandahar trails were developed, and they remain the principal trails in the north end of the resort to this day.

In addition to owning the land on which the trails were established, the Blue Mountain Ski Club had access to some talented workers at the Collingwood Shipyard and the Collingwood Grain Terminals. With their expertise the first “lift” was built, and installed on the Schuss in 1937. The Red Devil, as it was named, was reportedly an unreliable and sometimes dangerous piece of equipment, but it served as the main method of uphill transportation on the trails for almost 20 years.

The close association of the TSC and BMSC lead to the formation of Blue Mountain Ski Club (1940) Incorporated, in 1940. The company is owned equally by the TSC and the CSC (formerly the Blue Mountain Ski Club). Upon formation, the new organization assumed ownership of the original 150-acre Doherty farm, and immediately purchased another 200 acres approximately two miles to the south - the land on which the Big Baby, O-Hill and L-Hill runs are located.

While the two clubs owned the land and facilities together, they have remained separate entities, with the Blue Mountain Ski Club (now the CSC) drawing its members mainly from the Collingwood area.

Around the same time that the TSC and BMSC were pooling their resources for the development of skiing in the Blue Mountain area, a young man by the name of Jozo Weider had emigrated to Canada with his wife and young family, and was searching for the right opportunity to apply his energies to. In the winter of 1940-41, he was the Chief Ski Instructor at the Alpine Inn in Ste. Marguerite, Quebec.

Jozo happened to have a lunchtime conversation one day with a Toronto lawyer by the name of Peter Campbell. Campbell was familiar with the development of skiing on Blue Mountain through one of his clients, Norman Boadway, who was the owner of the Collingwood Grain Terminals, and one of the people I had mentioned earlier as being instrumental in the Blue Mountain Ski Club. Campbell kept in touch with Jozo, and both he and Norman Boadway encouraged Jozo to come to the Blue Mountain area, which he did at the end of the 1940-41 ski season.

Campbell recognized that Jozo was a hard worker, and a tireless promoter, and he arranged the necessary financial backing for Jozo to establish a winter ski resort. Campbell and Jozo formed Blue Mountain Resorts Limited, and acquired land for the construction of a lodge at the base of the hill.

1970s skiierHowever, the struggles and financial setbacks of the 1940's presented a tremendous challenge for Jozo. The war years meant that travel and recreational pursuits were limited, but Jozo persevered. With the end of the war the outlook improved, but one of the biggest obstacles that Jozo still faced was the lack of any long-term arrangement for the use of the land that was used for skiing.

By 1948, Jozo was determined to secure the long-term stability that he needed to develop the resort. He arranged what was a vitally important meeting with the Blue Mountain Ski Club (1940) Incorporated, and his powers of persuasion prevailed. He emerged from that meeting and the subsequent negotiations with a commitment for a 999 year lease, and the basis for building his resort development.

The rest, as they say, is history. And since that time, Blue Mountain Ski club (1940) Incorporated has not played any operational role in the resort, but it remains a significant entity, not only because of the ownership of the land, but also because of the pivotal role that the founders of both of our clubs played in the development of Blue Mountain Resorts and in the development of skiing on the escarpment.