Grande Prairie Ski Club and Wapiti Ski Lifts Ltd. fonds. — 1962-2010. — 4 cm of textual records. — 1 photographs. — 19 blueprints.
Skiing in the Grande Prairie area began with ski jumps in the 1920s. In 1951, a hill was started on the north side of the Wapiti River with a tow rope powered by an old car. In 1953, a new hill, with a tow rope and hill-top chalet, was established on the eastern banks of the Smoky River near the bridge.
The Grande Prairie Ski Club was incorporated as a society on November 10, 1960 and at first members used the Smoky River hill. Early members included: Marv Loberg, Ken Hanson, May, McIntosh, Dr. Dobson, R. Wilson, R. Pirker, G. Wilson, Pitt Payne, J. May, G. Simpson, Dave Frevalia, J. Pirker, Werner Camenzind, Ernie Harrison, Hal Tipper, Harold Ayre, Dave Johnson, C. Macdonald, Mrs. Brown, R. Voss, Van Gitzel, T. Matheson, John Barilko, the Bormans, Caroline Stierle, Bill Bowes, and Rick Campbell. The Ski Club moved their operations to the south side of Wapiti River valley, near the bridge on Highway 40, in the winter of 1961-62. A 30 x 30 foot chalet was built and a tow rope powered by Ford chassis motor was put in place. Various other improvements were made to the hill in succeeding years, including reshaping the hill, replacing the tow rope, adding a toboggan hill, and adding an access road. Ski lessons, sponsored in part by the Herald-Tribune, were offered.
Wapiti Ski Lifts Ltd. was formed by members of the Ski Club in June 1965 as a separate company, to provide a ski lift for the Ski Club. To finance the lift, a cost of approximately $40,000, the group obtained a loan from the bank and sold shares and debentures. People involved included: Dr. Dobson (first President), Gerald Card (first Treasurer), Ken Hanson (first Secretary), Mervyn Lewis, Gordon Wilson, J. J. Ouellette, Ernie Harrison, Griff James, G. Simpson, Joe Pirker, W. Borman, R. Norton, Ed Forner, G. Patterson, Dr. Pitt Payne, Ernest Radbourne, Robert Wilson, Wayne Anderson, and J. H. Bennion. The t-bar style lift was installed in 1965.
In 1972-73, the ski area was moved to its current location west of O’Brien Provincial Park on Highway 666. A new chalet was built at the base of the hill and a t-bar lift erected. The old chalet was moved to a site 1.5 miles north of the Grovedale general store, becoming Grovedale Baptist Church.
Over the years, the Ski Club purchased snowmaking and grooming equipment and created and expanded the available runs. In 1987, the chalet was moved to the top of the hill, new runs were created, and a platter lift built in the beginners’ area. In 1994, a triple chair lift was installed and by the 1996-97, the old t-bar had been taken out and sold. In 1997, the Ski Club took over ski and snowboard lessons and rentals from Pro Ski Adventure, who had had been providing lessons and rental equipment since 1980. Financial difficulties due to a large loan for the 1987 renovations caused the hill to be closed over the 1997-98 season, but it has since reopened and additional facilities added.
In 2004, a new maintenance facility was built. In 2005, the Peace Country Luge Association built a natural luge track at the site. The Swan City Rotary Wilderness RV Park was opened in 2006. In 2007, the Gravity Mountain Bike Park was created.
The ski hill is now called the Nitehawk Recreation Area, and continues to be owned and operated by the Ski Club. Throughout the years, the Ski Club has organized various fundraisers to maintain and develop the hill, including ski marathons, raffles, bingos, and casinos, as well as accessing grants. Other Ski Club events have included tournaments and ski swaps and trade shows.
Sources: “Grande Prairie Skiing – Downhill”, http://www.discoverthepeacecountry.com/htmlpages/skiing.html, retrieved October 31, 2014. “Nitehawk History”, http://gonitehawk.com/about-us/nitehawk-history/ , retrieved October 31, 2014. Daily Herald Tribune articles March 14, 1961, December 15, 1961, January 14, 1962, November 12, 1963, June 8, 1966, January 16, 1968, October 21, 1983, June 20, 1991, June 18, 1992, March 15, 1993, November 1, 1994, November 11, 1994, December 16, 1996, and November 11, 1997.
Material was preserved by Ken Hanson, an executive member of the Grande Prairie Ski Club, and donated by his son-in-law, Harvey Pearson, to the Archives in October 2010. A couple of sheets appear to have been added by Ken Belke (another club member) in 2010.
Scope and Content
The fonds consists of records of the Grande Prairie Ski Club and Wapiti Ski Lifts Ltd. The two organizations are closely linked and some of the records are inseparable. Records include minutes, financial records, correspondence, lists of members and contributors, ski lift plans, a ski school photograph, and Canadian Ski Patrol manual.
The fonds is divided into three series: Grande Prairie Ski Club, Wapiti Ski Lifts Ltd., and Canadian Ski Patrol.
The order of the files was imposed by the Archivist in an attempt to separate the Ski Club records from those of Wapiti Ski Lifts Ltd., as much as possible. The original order within files was maintained in some cases, although loose documents and miscellaneous documents within other files were inserted in the file the suited them best. The correspondence was also compiled into one file and organized in reverse chronological order.
Table of Contents
|Series 590.01||Grande Prairie Ski Club series|
|Series 590.02||Wapiti Ski Lifts Ltd. series|
|Series 590.03||Canadian Ski Patrol System|
|Series 590.01||Grande Prairie Ski Club series. — 1963-2010. — 0.5 cm of textual records. — 1 photographs.The series consists of records of the Grande Prairie Ski Club as they carried out their activities running the Club and the Wapiti ski hill. The records include meeting materials such as an amended ski lift proposal, statements of income, expenditures, assets and liabilities (1966-67, 1968-69), rough notes, a ski school financial statement (April 1969), member and executive lists (1960s, 2010), balance sheets (1963-65), Dawson Creek Ski Club and Bear Mountain Ski Lifts Ltd. financial statement (1964-65), a newspaper clipping (1974), a photograph of the Pro Ski Adventure Ski School (ca. 1985), and historical notes.|
|Series 590.02||Wapiti Ski Lifts Ltd. series. — 1962-1978. — 2.5 cm of textual records. — 19 blueprints.The series consists of the records of Wapiti Ski Lifts Ltd. as they purchased, had shipped, assembled, and paid for the Dopplemayr t-bar. The records include the ski lift proposal, lists of contributors, donors, and shareholders (ca. 1965-69), meeting minutes (1965-1971, 1975), correspondence (1962-1978, some overlap with Ski Club), financial statements (1966-70), ski lift shipping documents such as the bill of lading, invoices, customs forms, offer, confirmation of order, certificate of insurance, and rough notes, ski lift specifications, and nineteen ski lift plans (ca. 1965).|
|Series 590.03||Canadian Ski Patrol System. — 1966-1967. — 1 cm of textual records.The series consists of Canadian Ski Patrol System material, including a letter of introduction to new members, schedule of first aid courses, on the hill training program synopsis, supply list, and training manual.|