Friday, January 22, 2010

THE NEED FOR SPEED in the WINTER in FORT WILLIAM, Ont.....

THE WINTER NEED FOR SPEED WAS SATISFIED BY DOWNHILL SKIING HERE IN FORT WILLIAM!
This first photo(taken in the summer months in the 1940's) shows the building of the newer club house shown in the little film at the end of this post, the rope tow shack at the bottom of the picture, and also the bustling Great Lakes Paper Company, on the Kaministiquia River.
In the summer months in the 1950's here in Fort William, there was always hot rodding, jalopy racing, push mobile racing, bicycle racing, etc.....but with the snows we have here in the Lakehead cities, and not much in snow mobiles as yet(or we just couldn't afford them when they came upon the scene), we took out our need for speed on the ski slopes.
Note: Some of these items are not in chronological order and will be noted as such.

Here on the left is a Mount McKay Ski Area Inc. brochure from about 1964. Our mother saved this for us with personal notes attached(Thanks Corey). The Mount McKay Club was formerly named The Fort William Ski Club and that's how I remembered it most, even until it sadly closed a number of years ago now. This was The ski club in Fort William from the 1920's until the Irwin family started Loch Lomond(another story later) in the mid 1950's. The next photo is an unknown skier at the Olympic Trials and National Senior Championships in 1955 at the Fort William Ski Club.

This is a photo of the Gaspedoc, a ship at the Great Lakes Paper company(many guys who worked at GLP will fondly remember loading this baby many times).....It has nothing to do with skiing but this angle was the only way to show where the FW Ski Club was in the summer...yes....directly across from the present day Abitibi/Bowater mill(formerly Great Lakes Paper). The next photo shows the first Chair lift that was installed at the club. When I was a kid there were only a couple of rope tows and after a winter of yanking yourself up the hill, even then, I had some pretty good biceps. The memories of our young skiing days at Mount Mckay and Loch Lomond cannot be compared to any others. Basically skiing kept myself and my friends out of trouble all winter long...well not completely!!

Here are some ladies lined up to go for a run maybe late 1940's(sorry for the poor quality here). The next one is a 1933 photo of two jumpers going off the large jump side by side, Knute and Erling Hansen. You can also see the GL Paper mill across the Kam River again. I distinctly remember in the 1950's, smelling the sulphur used in the paper mill process, depending on the wind direction. It was so potent, it would give you a sore throat.

This first photo could have been taken at the same meet as above. This next photo is of Fred Hagglund in 1940 with his #23 attached to his chest. Up in the distance you can see the large jump. Thanks to Roger Rickards for some of these vintage B&W photos.

Here is another B&W photo of the out-run of the jump hill. Sadly this is what is left of the old club-house where we attended dances, had bean feeds....whew...., warmed up around old wood stoves after our White Falcon Ski School lessons, and made many long lasting friendships which continue to this day.
Thanks to Matthias Wandel for the colour photos. If you want to see more photos of abandoned or closed ski areas go to Matthias Wandel's site here http://matt.wandel.ca/mount_mckay/index.html It is very sad to see what has become of some of the ski hills around our area. Don't forget to see the great little film clip at the end!
Here is photo of a couple of abandoned chair lift shacks taken in the last few years.
The final photo is actually taken at Loch Lomond Ski Club in about 1958. From right to left is Scott McCallum(who, years later was an usher at my wedding), Myself, Dwight McIntosh(who years later was my best man at my wedding), and the little bit younger guy on the far left is John Ritchie, who became a famous skiier in his own right and as well was the Canadian Alpine ski coach of the famous Crazy Canucks so popular around the skiing world in the late 1970's. Dwight's brother Lyn McIntosh was a sprint car driver from here and raced throughout the midwest with great success, and his winter need for speed was also satisfied on the ski slopes here in Fort William as well. Lyn was also head coach for Canada's women's ski team for the 1976 Winter Games in Innsbruck, Austria.
Finally a very short film showing the rope tow and the original club house at the Fort William ski club in the 1950's. The film clip was borrowed from the curling one shown in a prior post.
Click on all photos to enlarge!
Click on the tiny arrow above to start the film!

5 comments:

Mr Matrix said...

Love all the pictures. I spent my youth at the ski club. I grew up in westfort on Frederica st. so it was easy to get to the hill. Spent summers working on the trail crew as well for the club to pay off my membership.
Thanks for the memories.
Ian Bruce

Dave said...

Thanks for the comments Ian....seems like everyone I knew loved the sport so much that we were all willing to work, just to ski...great times. D.

Anonymous said...

My friends and I also skied the hills at Mount McKay, we worked on the hills to pay for our memberships ($65 for the winter if I recall right), took lessons at the White Falcon Ski School and participated in the club races and the LSSD races representing our club. Remember the Molson's races?

Jim Walker

Dave said...

Thanks Jim...and yes, I remember it all. I still have my White Falcon Ski School badges from the 1950's. Dave

Anonymous said...

ahh you guys gota go still!! walk up slow and ski down, its fun after a fresh snow fall.