December 2020 will mark the 20th Anniversary of the opening of Kicking Horse Mountain Resort and I thought it might be interesting to share a bit of the story of how it all began.
The Golden area has a long history of skiing, first just for transportation but eventually just for the sport of it.
The first ski hill in the area was located a mile south of Golden on property owned by the Vachon brothers, Alfred and Henry. They had adjoining quarter sections in the area that today include the cemetery, gravel pit and all of the rodeo grounds. Below the rodeo grounds among the trees at the edge of the water, there are still a couple of apple trees which is where the house was built. The Vachon property was home to Golden’s outdoor recreation area and included a ski hill, toboggan runs, access to water sports on Phantom Lake (Reflection Lake) and there was a small golf course there in later years.
The “Selkirk Ski Runners Club,” was formed in Golden in March 1938, after an enthusiastic group met at Lady Grey School to discuss how events could be held in Golden. At this meeting not only the name was chosen but discussion took place about where they could lay out a slalom course and a downhill jump. The slalom course was going to be set up on the west side of the Columbia, but the area was inaccessible so the courses and downhill jump were performed on the Vachon property. This hill developed on Vachon’s property was the first time that volunteer efforts were used in our area to build a ski hill.
The first event was held on February 19th, when a large number of people turned out to witness the progress being made by the newly formed club as they staged a fine exhibition of downhill races and slalom.
The next real mention of a ski hill was in Moberly, BC. The art of skiing as a sport really took off there when the Schiesser family moved to Moberly. Members of the community started out skiing on Sunday afternoon and eventually the Moberly Ski Club was formed and skiing took place on Galsted’s Hill.
After the war, the roads in the Moberly area was being plowed and sanded year-round which meant that skiers from Golden were making the trip out to enjoy their Sundays there as well. Before too long, a hill was developed on the Morris farm, near the Swiss Village and in 1956 the Moberly Ski Club amalgamated with the Golden Ski Club.
Many happy hours were spent on the Morris Hill but for many years local skiers were looking for a piece of land that would be dedicated to the ski club. In 1967, plans were drawn up showing the proposed new ski area on Mount 7. Soon work was underway and a clubhouse built. The hill was in operation until the late 1960’s when the Golden Ski Club made an application to buy the property so that further expansion was possible. Unfortunately, the sale of the land fell through and this left the area with no ski hill.
In 1974, the group was looking at seven different areas eventually eliminated all but the Cedar Ridge site. The Cedar Ridge property was Crown land and it seemed to have everything that they would require. This was the early days of the new development and the committee was not about to give up finding the perfect location and from all the information that I could find it appears that the development was always intended to be a destination type hill.
In the early 1980’s a new ski society was formed and the decision to look to the Whitetooth area was made. On March 11, 1986 a public meeting was held showing the proposed Whitetooth ski area and events progressed from there. Soon fundraising was happening and through the excellent efforts of volunteers, Whitetooth officially opened on December 26, 1986.
It was reported in the Golden News, March 12, 1997 that the first steps had been taken towards the potential sale of the Whitetooth Ski Hill. The proposed sale of the hill to Golden Peaks Resorts Inc., was taken to public referendum in the early fall of 1997, with the project receiving a yes vote of 93.8%. The final master agreement was signed for Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in January 2000.