Sports

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Rosslanders, past and present have always indulged being in the great outdoors. Escaping into nature, soaking up the sun, and sharing the beautiful weather and adventures with family and friends. Together Rossland grew into a community that celebrates nature, encourages active living, and embraces the surrounding landscape. Outdoor activities in the 1900s were not much different from those of present day. Fishing, hiking, and swimming were among some of the most popular summer activities. Visit the museum’s new display located at the Rossland Public Library to learn about some of Rossland’s popular summer activities, such as…

When the Rossland community came together in the Summer of 1932, to support the construction and opening of the Rossland Pool. Coming together to play, competing in competitions, and enjoying a refreshing dip on a hot summer’s day. Generations of citizens have created lasting memories at this heritage site.
Come take a closer look at a 1944 swimming trophy won by children.

Gifted with a remarkable backyard, Rossland is surrounded by an extensive network of high quality trails and paths winding through forests and ending with breathtaking views. Hiking has always been popular in Rossland. One of the most popular and an annual tradition is the hike up Mount Roberts to celebrate Canada Day. Want to know what hikers wore in the early 1900s? It’s all revealed in our new display. Join the museum for the hike this year and be part of this long lasting tradition! Carpooling 8am from the museum parking lot.

Some of the most popular fishing spots from the 1900s are still popular among Rosslanders today. Fishing spots such as Trail Creek, Big Sheep Creek, and Nancy Greene Lake. Come take a look at a handcrafted bamboo fishing rod made circa. 1920s.

Are you more of a behind-the-scene picture taker during the summer? Have you ever heard of a Brownie Camera? Ever wondered why it’s called a Brownie? Come see this artifact in its original 1920s leather case with lens and read all about it.
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Want to learn more about other popular summer sports? Stay tuned for the Museum’s next display on golf and tennis at Mountain Town Properties – downtown location.

The following essays have been researched and written by Ronald A. Shearer, Professor Emeritus (Economics), The University of British Columbia.

Yes, there was skiing in Rossland before we built the chair lift.

The Chinese and Chinatown of Rossland – Fragments From Their Early History

Mid-Winter Mardi Gras: Rossland’s Original Winter Carnival

Olaus Jeldness, Pioneer Mining Man and Father of Skiing

Ross Thompson (2016)

 

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By 1942 skiing activity was low and membership in both Ski Clubs had decreased drastically. It was considered that a race from the top of Grey Mountain all the way into Rossland would revive the skiers’ spirits and enthusiasm.
The first race was held on March 1, 1943. Racers were sent off at 1 minute intervals and had to climb to the top of Grey Mountain. From there, they skied down the slopes of Grey into Squaw Basin, and down the trail to Indian Flats. Skiers then headed to Red Mountain Road and the reservoir, with the finish at the top of Spokane Street.

The race was held once a year for four years but had to be cancelled in 1947 due to lack of snow at the lower levels.

The Grey Mountain Grind became a thing of the past with the amalgamation of the Rossland and Trail Ski Clubs to form the “Red Mountain Ski Club”, and the building of the Red Mountain Chairlift.

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 ORIGINS

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.

POST WAR

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.

RED MOUNTAIN SKI CLUB

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.

A NEW ERA

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