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Hours: Wednesday to Saturday 12pm to 5pm
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Skiing was first introduced to Rosslanders by the Scandinavians who came to the area to work in the mines. The most famous of them was Olaus Jeldness, a mining engineer, who came to Rossland in 1896. At that time, skiing was mainly jumping and what was called ski running, but there was also a form of cross-country. Skijoring was yet another form of skiing where the skier was pulled by a horse.

The Norwegian Ski Club was formed, and it held the first recorded competitions in Canada. These were held as part of the annual Winter Carnival – held from as early as 1898 until 1918. The Carnival continues to this day!

The first downhill race was held in 1896 from the top of Red Mountain down the south side to the site of the present museum. Jeldness won it. The first Canadian (“Dominion of Canada” at the time) ski championships were held in 1898 in Rossland, as part of the first Winter Carnival. Olaus Jeldness won both the downhill and the jumping events. The downhill trophy was presented by the Honourable C.H. Mackintosh and the jumping trophy by the War Eagle (mine) Co. Jeldness won both events three years in a row. In 1908, Jeldness donated another trophy for the “Championship of Canada”- the jumping event. This trophy is known as the Jeldness Cup. Other prominent ski jumpers and runners in the early years were two other Norwegians, Torgal Noren and Minnie Engen.

The famous “Jeldness Tea Party” was held on the summit of Red Mountain. Olaus Jeldness invited 25 guests to hike up, and he would provide skis for the descent. The guests were “fortified” on the way up and at the top. Jeldness had the foresight to arrange for Dr. Bowes and his ambulance to be waiting at the bottom. He received a lot of business!

The Norwegian Ski Club folded by 1918, but people from Trail and Rossland were hooked and continued to ski, though there was no organized skiing until 1929.


The arrival in Rossland of another Norwegian skier in the late 1920’s, Trygve Nora, sparked increased interest in the sport. He became well-known for his ability in jumping and cross country. His interest turned also to slalom, and it was mainly his influence that produced the skiers that would build the ski area at Red Mountain after World War II.

In 1929, the Trail-Rossland Ski Club was formed. In 1933 the Club split to form the Trail Ski Club (TSC) and the Rossland Ski Club (RSC). Jumping was still foremost in competition, and by 1934, the TSC had built two hills, one north of the reservoir and one down in the Trail area. In 1934, the RSC built a cabin and a jump on Monte Christo, north of the reservoir.

In addition, members from the TSC and RSC got together to install a gas-driven rope tow on the present lift line on Red Mountain – approximately towers 2 to 5. This was installed in 1941.

Skiers from both clubs used the cabins as a base for touring up to the higher peaks and ridges. For even easier access, cabins were built in the Squaw Basin. The first was the Klister Klub cabin, built by TSC members. RSC members built one a few hundred yards down the creek. The Yodel Inn was then built in 1945.

In 1943, the RSC hosted the first Grey Mountain Grind – a race starting at the top of Grey, down through Squaw Basin, across Indian Flats, on to Red Mountain road, along the reservoir, and ending at the top of Spokane Street. Originally, it was an attempt to keep the sport of skiing alive during the war years, however, the race was run for four years in a row and cancelled in 1947 due to lack of snow. It was not run again for many years, likely because all attention was on Red Mountain.


Talks between the TSC and the RSC resulted in the amalgamation of the two clubs, forming the Red Mountain Ski Club (RMSC) in 1947. The immediate objectives of the club were to build a chairlift up Red, build a lodge at the base, and to extend Red Mountain Road to the base area, from the TSC cabin where the road ended at that time.

There was only one chairlift in Canada at that time – at Mont Tremblant in Quebec. The single chairlift at Red was designed and built by people who had never ridden one, nor actually ever seen one! It was built by volunteer labour where possible, with the acquisition of equipment from old mining tramlines in the area and the use of on-site lumber. The club also received extensive help from Cominco (now “Teck”). The first ride up was on December 16th, 1947.

The base lodge was built in the fall of 1947, using the timbers of the Black Bear Mine Compressor House located near the present museum site. What is now the Rafters Lounge was set up as overnight accommodation – bring a sleeping bag, rent a cot!

The 1950’s saw more area cleared for skiing, and a Ski Patrol was organized. As well, a Ski School was started, including special instruction for promising kids – the birth of Red Mountain Racers.

In 1960, a poma lift was installed from the Lodge up to the Back Trail. The operation had grown to the point that a full time manager was hired in 1961. When Highway 3B was put through in 1964, the ski area became one of the most accessible in BC.

Installation of the Granite Mountain chair in 1965 opened up a huge amount of skiable terrain, but also put Red into the big leagues of ski areas. Main Run was cleared the same year, and Jumbo and South Side Road the following year.

The first World Cup Race to be held in Canada was hosted by the RMSC in 1968. Around 7000 fans cheered Rossland native Nancy Greene as she won the giant slalom (start gate at the top of the cliff, course down the face!). This win clinched Nancy’s second World Cup (1967 and 1968).

There would be a second World Cup race at the mountain: a downhill and Super-G were held here in 1988. Many other top-level races have been held at Red Mountain over the years, and Red Mountain Racers have put more racers on the National Team than any other club in Canada. Kerrin Lee-Gartner, who won the gold medal in the downhill at the Olympics in Albertville, also grew up in Rossland, and was a Red Mountain racer.

The T-bar was installed in 1971, the Red Mountain chair replaced in 1973, and the Paradise triple chair installed in 1976, opening up yet more skiable terrain. Alongside the lift improvements, more runs were cut and the Lodge was upgraded.


By 1987, it became obvious that RMSC could not continue to operate without an injection of capital. In 1988, Directors and members decided to sell the facilities of the Club, which had grown too big to be run by volunteers. On May 3, 1989, after 42 years, ownership passed to Red Mountain Resorts Inc. The 42 years of RMSC is the longest any ski area in North America has been operated by a ski club!

Since the sale in 1989, a good amount of summer grooming has been done, allowing opening of operations with less base snow. Paradise Lodge was built in 1991, and the Granite Chair was replaced with two triple chairs, Silver Lode (1994) and Mother Lode (1995).

The ski area was sold once again in 2004 to Howard Katkov and associates from San Diego. Under new ownership, further summer grooming has been done, new runs cut and a new quad chair has replaced the old Silver Lode, opening up much-needed beginner and intermediate terrain. Along with these kinds of improvements, real estate development has also arrived, transforming Red Mountain into a true destination resort ski area!

Compiled by Libby Martin (January, 2008

updated October, 2017)

For further information:

“The Hills Around – 75 years on skis in Rossland” by Jack Mitchell

The Ski Race” by Sam Wormington

“Rossland – The Golden City” pub. Rossland Miner, 1949

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Hometown: Stangvik, Norway / Rossland, BC / Spokane, WA
Date of Birth: 1857
Date of Death: 1935
Inducted to the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame: 1988

Olaus Jeldness pioneered the establishment of competitive skiing in western Canada. Born in Stangvik, Norway, in 1857, he caused a stir there when, at the age of 15, he ski jumped a distance of 92 feet heralded as a world record at the time. He emigrated to the United States at the age of 16 to pursue a successful career in mining. He returned to Norway in 1882 to develop a mining operation in the north until 1896 when he left to come to Canada and the mining community of Rossland, British Columbia.

Shortly after arriving, he began to foster skiing. Jeldness brought his skis, his love of the sport, and a single long steering pole. It was reported that he would frequently delight his gallery “…by flashing down the hill holding the pole high above his head, in exultation, to the delight of the throngs of spectators that flocked to witness his daring exploits on skis.” (Rolf Lund, Nordic World, March 1978)

The first recorded Canadian ski competition took place at Rossland in 1897, an event which he organized and promoted. He won this first downhill on Red Mountain on March 6, 1897. Early racing might be considered a free-for-all and clearly dangerous by today’s strict safety standards as the racers all started together at the summit, hurling themselves down the mountain to the finish line on the main street of town. The racers controlled their speed by using their single long pole as both a rudder and brake, choosing their own route down the mountain.

In addition to being a great competitor, Olaus Jeldness was also a teacher of skiing, sharing his skills and his joy of skiing with others in his community. He was instrumental in creating the Rossland Winter Carnival which began in 1898. Included in the carnival were competitive events which included a race called the Canadian Champion Ski Race which descended 2,000 vertical feet over a 1.5 mile course. He won this event as well as another, the first Canadian Championship Ski Jumping contest. He would repeat his successes, now called the Dominion Ski Championships, winning both Downhill and Jumping events in 1899 and 1900, his last year of competition. When he retired from active competition he also retired the MacIntosh Trophy which he had won for the third time. He was 44 years of age.

In the autumn of 1898, he organized the clearing of three separate downhill runs and organized and formed what was, arguably, the first ski club in Canada.

He also donated two historic trophies, the first in 1900 which would become the permanent possession of a skier who could win it three consecutive times. (This was achieved by Torgal Noren who won the ski jumping championship in 1904, 1905 and 1906.) The conditions accompanying the second Jeldness trophy, donated in 1908, stipulated that it would be a perpetual trophy awarded from year to year. This important trophy was given eventually to the Rossland Historical Museum where it remains.

As successful in his mining ventures as he was in skiing, he was able to retire to a comfortable life in Spokane, Washington in 1909. Even in retirement, he remained active in the development of the sport and he is reputed to be the originator of skiing competition in the western United States when he organized a ski jumping event in Spokane.

It would seem appropriate that for his considerable contribution to competitive skiing that he should be known as the “Father of Competitive Skiing in Canada”.

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Booty Griffith (born 1916) arrived in Rossland in 1937. By 1946 he was busy selling the first X-country skis and promoting the sport in this area. In 1973 Booty and friends ( The X-C Runners) began exploring the Ben Shaw trail and newly opened Seal Creek road. In 1974 they built the Ben Shaw shelter. This plastic covered A frame became the prototype for some 16 more shelters built across the upland area. Later in 1976 they located, SE of Ben Shaw, the Sunshine cabin and Adventure trail.

The Cabin Builder

From –

“Years and years ago, Booty Griffiths ran a ski shop in Rossland,” Les Carter says. “He was a great ski racer and worked as a ski boot company rep. He was a general hell raiser. Booty built years ago a little pole and tarp shack. It wasn’t far out of town, but at the time there wasn’t much beyond the Red Mountain base.”

It was called Booty’s cabin. The community used to ski out to Booty’s cabin for lunch.

The Forest Service considered the hut illegal because it didn’t have a permit of any kind and was on Crown land and so were going to burn it down. But the whole community got incensed and a some people went down and picketed in front of the Forest Service’s office.

The Forest Service agreed to let it stand under the conditions that it was public and couldn’t be called Booty’s cabin.

Griffiths didn’t like that, so he and his buddies went out and built another 10 cabins.

“That’s how the cabins developed in the past,” Carter said. “A bit of an outlaw feeling to them. Over the years they have kind of become part of the community scene. They’re scattered, about a dozen of them, around the Nancy Greene Pass area.”

He said one of the great games in the winter is to see how many of the huts you can visit in a day. The huts are just for day use and are designed to be temporary.

“They’re not permanent, they’re not on foundations, they’re not built out of great stuff,” he added. “Over the years we’ve developed a bit of a practice of putting a decent roof on. They are mostly A-frames and a lot of the roofs are getting converted over to recycled aluminum.”

The huts have become popular, with tourists coming from out-of-country to experience them.

Chinese Gardens in Rossland

The following are short excerpts, presented in their original form, from the Rossland Miner (a newspaper that published from 1895 – 1973).

Date: Sept. 23, 1897 – Rossland Miner
Title: A Lone Chinese Woman

Although there are over 200 male Mongolians in Rossland, there is only one Chinese woman, Chin Fung by name. When asked why there are no more females of his own race here, one Chinaman replied, “One woman too muchee. Have hundled woman, make too much fussee, allee time. Woman alee same no good.” The 200 Chinese in Rossland are employed as cooks ar house boys. Several run wash houses, cultivate truck gardens or raise pigs. There are a few merchants viz. Li Mong, Mah Hong, Fo King, Mah Wing and Mah Sho, a pigtailed fantan expert.

Date: April 10, 1897 – Rossland Miner
Title: Opium Joint

Lee Wah Lung was brought up on the charge of keeping an opium joint on Sour Dough Alley and selling opium without a license. The cost of license being $250.00, the justice of the peace fined Lee Wah Lung $250.00 and IO costs or, in default, 6 months in prison.

Date: September 21, 1891 – Rossland Miner
Title: Funeral of a Chinese

The funeral of Lee Foy, a Chinese aged 21, took place yesterday afternoon at 3 o’clock from Li Yuen, in the alley near the Rossland Opera House. It was attended by a dozen of his countrymen, who, on the way to the cemetery, scattered oblong slips of paper along the route for the purpose of scaring away the evil spirits. All of his personal effects were buried with him. A 25¢ piece was placed in his mouth in order that he may pay his way into the other world. In order that his departed spirit not want for something good to eat during the first few days of his residence in the other world, four roasted chickens, a bottle of Chinese whiskey, a bowl of cooked rice and a pot of tea were provided for him. Lighted tapers and incense sticks were stuck into the newly made mound. There were 50 Caucasians at the cemetery curiously watching the proceedings. The body of Lee Foy will be allowed to remain in its present resting place for a period of three years and then it will be disinterred and the bones sent back to China.

Date: May 2, 1903 – Rossland Miner
Title: Chinese Gardens Now a Scene of Pastoral Fairness

A visit to the southeastern section of the city, where the Chinese gardens are located, is a revelation to the citizen who has paid no attention to the possibilities of this country from the agricultural standpoint. It is genuinely surprising to note the remarkable results attained by the sons of the Flowery Kingdom in what was regarded as a district of little promise.

…The Chinamen have cleared and cultivated an area of 50 or 75 acres and, with all their faults from other standpoints, the Celestials must be given credit for unswerving perseverance and energy. These lands are clear of brush of every description, and innumerable cairns indicate the patience with which the cultivators have gone over every inch of the soil and removed the impediments to vegetation. The fields are comparatively tiny plots, but the richness of the soil makes large holdings unnecessary. Irrigation is arranged for, and the Chinamen appear to have regulated the use and drainage of water without the clashes and appeals to the courts that have cropped up where irrigation has been instituted elsewhere.

Date: April 7, 1904 – Rossland Miner
Title: Chinese Plant Fruit Trees

Last summer and fall, several Chinamen leased a parcel of land south of the slaughter house and cleared the ground. This spring they will set out a quantity of fruit trees, principally apples of the earlier varieties. The industrious purpose to raise roots among the fruit trees for 3 or 4 seasons, until the trees come to bearing. At the end of 5 years, they estimate the trees will come into full fruition.

Date: January 6, 1946 – Rossland Miner
Title: Old Timers Among Chinese Residents

The old Chinese Mason Hall which has been a sort of club for the Chinese residents since the early days, where throughout the week Chinese residents gathered to hear one of their number read the Chinese papers in order that they may keep well informed on the war, came to life Sunday, December 23 when the annual Chinese Christmas dinner was given. An occasion which for the past ten years has been provided by Mr. W.K. Esling.

The hall has a kitchen with all equipment and the dinner consisting of chicken with rice, roast turkey, roast pork, and desserts, was prepared by Leung Youe who for many years has been a restaurant cook. Some of the sixteen present have been residents of the City for nearly half a century. Heading the list is Mow Fong, who is over eighty years of age. The order of the rest is not taken in respect of age; Leung Youe, Loui Pow, Loui How, Lin Koo, Wai Gun, Loui Joe, Loui Tong, Leung Hook, Wai Dow, Chung Kee, L. Jim, Hop Chonge, Chow Moon, Chong Bing Shoue and Gar Poo.