Skiing Interests

 

In 1960, I left Halifax and all my boating and canoeing fun to work in Montreal for Canadian Marconi’s television station, CFCF TV. 

It didn’t take me long to learn that the big winter sport was skiing with the Laurentian Mountains just an hour drive from the city.  I had never been on a pair of skis before but it looked and sounded like fun.  Some of my work colleagues were skiers and invited me to give it a try.  To me, there was only one type of skiing and that is “downhill” or Alpine as it’s correctly called.  I later learned of Cross Country (XC) skiing which I’ll get to further on. 

Just like you see in cartoons, you learn that downhill skiing can be very thrilling!!!!  Especially, if you lose a ski halfway down the hill on Mont Tremblant and the ski takes off at high speed threatening to kill all in its path with everybody screaming “watch for runaway ski”.  You learn fast also that you can’t quit and get off your skis and walk back down the hill in the snow which is up to your hips!!!  I also learned of snow blindness.  To me the hill was one flat plane of snow, but all of a sudden you’re up and over a mogul and in the air.  Some friends remarked how fast I learned.  It was thrilling alright!!!!  I compare it to being on one of those rides in the dark at Disneyworld where you don’t know what’s going to happen next.  Going up the tows as a beginner was frightening.  One time a new ski area known as Avila opened, and we were there on the opening day.  With the weight of all the skiers on the tow, the cable came off one of the large drive wheels and dragged all the skiers a hundred feet or so down, terrifying all!!!

For whatever reason, whether it was the cost, the extra distance to go to Tremblant, or the coziness of the old Bellevue Hotel in Morin Heights with less challenging hills that we kind of favoured Morin Heights.  Here is a picture of the old “J-bar” tow at the Bellevue ski centre in Morin Heights circa 1961. 

 

Here is a close-up pic of the Bellevue Hotel itself.

 

One interesting note here, it was at this hotel that I first saw the broom handle, rope and washtub combination to make a bass. 

If I thought the skiing was fun, I soon learned that the après skiing times in the hotel were even greater fun. 

I don’t seem to have many pictures of Alpine skiing but here is one of some of my friends at the time, Bruce Wilson is the chap second from left. 

 

And now to Cross Country Skiing:

I don’t know when exactly I got involved with Cross Country skiing, but I believe it was through my model railroad friend John Beacham who had been “trail skiing” as it was formerly called for many years.  He and his long time co-worker at Imperial Tobacco, Stewart Partridge didn’t have fancy Cross Country skis nor fancy clothes, they just enjoyed skiing through woods, across lakes etc, using topographical maps as Cross Country skiing wasn’t marketed yet as a new sport and trail maps were almost unknown. 

There was only one shop in Montreal at that time that sold XC ski equipment.  The store was operated by a Finnish family, Sirens. 

Each winter, the first time out for our warm up runs, we always went to Mont Saint-Hilaire which is just minutes outside of Montreal.  Here are some pics from there.  The group includes me in the red ski jacket, John Beacham, his son Peter, Stew Partridge,

 

After the annual early outings at  Mont-Saint Hilaire, we went to the areas of St. Saveur, Christian Brothers, the Far Hills Inn, La Sapienere, etc.  Sometimes we looked out of place with our non-classy ski clothes and rucksacks on our backs.  We carried our lunches, and extra clothing if necessary, and even a spare ski tip.  The latter would prove to be a necessary item when one of the group broke a tip, and it’s impossible to ski any distance without a tip on your ski. We belonged to a ski club, it may have been the Viking Ski Club. 

We termed Cross Country Skiing as “Uphill Skiing” as there seemed to be more uphill than cross country!!!

Here are some pictures of us, the ski club house, etc.

 

Here’s what happens when you’re using a 35 mm camera on time delay and you have only a few seconds to get yourself into the picture on a slippery surface!!!!

 

 

For somebody that was never on a pair of skiis before I moved to Montreal, it was a super fun sport while I lived there.  In 1977, Montreal Engineering (MONENCO) moved us to St. Catharines, where snow is basically just a nuisance in this banana belt!!!!  I reverted to my summer sport, bicycling!!!