When you think of Canada, what comes to mind? For many, images of Canadians in ski suits and park maps of the mountains will pop up. But have you ever wondered who actually owns the ski resorts that we love so much?
In the 1950s, Canada’s ski industry was booming. The country’s first ski club was founded in Calgary, Alberta, in 1950, and Canada’s first ski trails were built that year as well, with the Canadian Rockies being one of the first spots for skiing in the nation. The following year, Canada’s then-premier, Ernest Manning, was at the forefront of an initiative to build a brand new ski town on Vancouver Island.
In 1953, Manning’s dream of a new community featuring a ski town became reality when the first official ski run in British Columbia, Canada, was officially opened. The municipality of Port Hood now boasts over 20 km of trails and a new hotel complex that serves as the gateway to the stunning island. Today, Canada’s west coast is one of the world’s biggest and most popular ski destinations, with British Columbia leading the way in terms of trails and resorts, followed by Alberta and then the rest of Canada.
But it wasn’t always paradise. The Canadian ski industry suffered greatly in the 1980s. Due to a lack of government support and corporate interest, many resorts closed down, and the industry itself almost collapsed. But today, the industry is back, and better than ever.
If you’re itching to explore Canada’s ski scene, here’s a list of the top resorts, which you can tailor to suit your needs.
Whistler – Blackcomb
Whistler – Blackcomb is, without a doubt, Canada’s top resort and one of the largest and most popular ski resort destinations in the world. If you ask any skier or snowboarder about this legendary place, they’ll practically give you the famous ‘double-take’ due to its breathtaking views. It is, in fact, Canada’s most photographed resort. If you’re looking for a quick getaway or just want to pop the question to your partner, you can’t go wrong with Whistler. The village’s main street, which is aptly named Broadway, is lined with a number of luxury resorts and boutiques. You’re bound to find what you’re looking for.
Located in the Southern Interior of British Columbia, Whistler is a hub for adventure tourism, featuring a variety of activities, including golfing, kayaking, fishing, and hiking. The mountain is actually made of two volcanoes, and the trails interconnect the two, offering skiers and snowboarders a true paradise. In the summer, the temperature can rise above 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit), so you know, be careful out there!
The resort is well-known for its amazing nightlife as well. With over 50 bars and clubs tucked away in the mountain’s many buildings, you’re sure to have fun whatever the weather. The village’s main street, lined with restaurants and bars, boasts an après-ski scene that continues all day long, featuring live music and dance parties. At night, the village turns into a stunning ‘city of lights’ boasting spectacular views and twinkling ski trails.
Summit Lake is one of the largest artificial ski resorts in the world, with 22 trails ranging from easy to expert and featuring breathtaking views. It is also one of the newest resorts, having opened its doors in 2009. This year, it will welcome its first Canadian ski team, the Summit Lake Cats, to the Paralympics.
Another great resort to discover is Kootenay Ski Resort, located in the northern part of British Columbia. Boasting 125 trails, it’s not hard to find something suitable for any level of skier or snowboarder. In the summer, kayakers, rafters, and anglers can enjoy the area’s many lakes, while in the winter, the trails offer an amazing opportunity to explore the region’s breathtaking backcountry. In addition to the region’s biggest and most popular resort, you’ll find a small, private resort tucked away in the woods.
Located in the majestic Canadian Rockies, Lake Louise offers a variety of outdoor activities in the summer and winter including skiing, snowshoeing, and skating. The area also features an indoor-outdoor pool which gets heated in the winter, making it perfect for a relaxing day by the fire, complete with a barbecue.
This year will mark the 118th anniversary of the Lake Louise Ski Club. Since its inception, the club has grown to include over 90 members, many of whom are still actively involved with the club today. The area’s most prominent feature is undoubtedly its magnificent mountains, which are a part of both the Yoho and Canadian National Park. It would be a shame to visit Canada and not make the most of this majestic playground. In the winter, skiers and snowboarders can enjoy 12 trails, ranging from easy to expert, and features breathtaking scenery, along with historic buildings that have been re-opened as hotels and chalets.
Mont Tremblant, located in the Laurentides, is one of Canada’s most popular resorts. In the summer, hikers, bikers, and skiers can enjoy the area’s 23 trails, ranging from easy to expert. The trails wind through the forest and connect to more than 10 other resorts, giving visitors a truly world-class ski experience. This year will also see the opening of the brand new Gondola Pass, which will allow for more adventurous outings and provide faster access to the heart of the mountain. The new pass is set to revolutionise the way we enjoy our skiing in the region.
Jackson Hole is another one of Canada’s premier resorts. Home to the renowned Jackson Hole Ski Resort, the town itself is a hub for adventure tourism, with over 50 shops and galleries, as well as a variety of restaurants and hotels offering guests a taste of the local mountain environment. The main street, which is aptly named Ski Trail, is lined with boutiques, galleries, and locally based businesses. In the summer, the temperature can climb, reaching 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in the shade, so be careful not to overdo it!
The skiing and snowboarding season at Jackson Hole starts in the middle of June and continues through to October. The resort itself features 26 trails, ranging from easy to expert, with the Supertrail serving as the hub for beginners and intermediates. Expert skiers can enjoy the resort’s heliport and the aerial tramway, while the town’s vibrant après-ski scene offers excellent dining, drinking, and dancing opportunities.
One of the largest Canadian ski resorts, located in Quebec, is Mont-Sauvin. Sitting in the heart of the Laurentides, this year has seen the opening of two new chairlift buildings, the Thirouettes and the Mont-Sauvin Express, increasing the overall slope capacity by 5 per cent. The resort features 72 trails, ranging from easy to expert, as well as a snow park with rails, boxes, and an off-piste heli-slalom run. There are also a number of accommodation options available, including the brand new Château Mont-Sauvin, set in a historic estate.
The Northern Lights
One of Canada’s most popular and exciting resorts, Val d’Eynard, is also one of its newest. The village was founded in 1874 and has grown throughout the years, with the main street boasting over 170 stores, galleries, and restaurants. The village’s unique claim to fame is its Midnight Sun Festival, which takes place between mid-June and mid-August.
This year will mark the 50th anniversary of Val d’Eynard’s premier ski festival, the Midway Sun Festival, which features an alpine music and craft beer garden, mountain stage for concerts, and fireworks on the Friday and Saturday nights of the festival. The resort’s 50-metre high volcano, Mont Blanc, provides a spectacular backdrop for the fireworks, and the whole scene is illuminated by the midnight sun, offering a truly picturesque scene, perfect for a romantic night or vacation with your family.
Another great resort to discover is Moraine Lake, located in the northern part of Manitoba. Boasting 19 trails, ranging from beginner to expert, as well as a sand-polo beach, kayaking, and fishing, the area is beautiful all year round and even more so in the spring, summer, and autumn. The trails interconnect with other local resorts, including the nearby Canoe Club, allowing for an adventurous ski weekend away with your family and friends.