This is the first “guest writer” 2oldguys has published. Due to interest realized in Ranger’s You Can’t Go Back , this is a more personal account of the creation of the Camborne Ski Club. It was provided by Pat and Carol’s grandchild in a prize-winning grade school speech. We’ve left it as written.
Doctor, vet, dentist, firefighter, ski club owner and operator, nurse… Wait – ski club owner and operator… I’m pretty sure that’s not on the top ten most common job’s list! Teachers and students today I’d like to talk to you about my grandparents ski club.
Imagine the year is 1964 and some exciting things had happened. The Beatles made their first appearance on the “Ed Sullivan Show” (Apparently he was as popular as Ellen DeGeneres is now). People were tuned into the 9th Winter Olympic Games, and in 1964 also happened to be the year the best ski club in the world opened. It was called The Camborne Village Ski Club and it was owned by my grandparents.
So, this story begins with my grandpa coming home from a hard day’s work as a brick layer and kicking back to relax with a Popular Mechanics magazine. It was then that he read an article on how to make a ski rope tow built from an old car engine. He said, “I think I could make that and we could have a lot of fun with it!” Well, you have to know my Grandpa. He’s not like other people in a lot of ways. He had a bad case of the 3D’s – a dream, determination, and the dedication to make it all happen.
Since my Grandpa’s work in masonry was mostly “good weather” work he thought a ski club might not only be a good way to collect a winter’s pay cheque but also a pretty exiting job. So with instructions from a magazine he found himself an old Pontiac car motor and began building his first ski tow.At this point building a ski club was no more than a hobby. They did a little bit of advertising in the local paper and crossed their fingers that somebody would come.
To prepare, the two of them strapped on their skis and side-stepped up and down the hills to pack down the snow. Boy, we’ve come a long way now when you see the huge snow groomers at ski resorts today! Well anyway, people did show up and those people told their friends, who told their friends… and the Camborne Village Ski Club gradually grew.
With the ski club growing in numbers that meant it would need to be growing in size too. So my grandparents bought 14 new acres of land, and they moved to the location they live in now. My Grandpa built them a house first and in the upstairs of their house, he built a chalet. The previous ski club had 1 run this one had six. The runs were called: Grist Mill, Witches Wind, Spillsville, Camel Back, Gambler’s Flight and the Junior Hill.
When I think of being a kid growing up at a ski club, I think my favourite part would be…the SNACK bar!! Close your eyes and imagine row after row of chocolate bars. Imagine, being the taste tester for new types of potato chips. Imagine, sneaking behind the snack bar counter to help yourself to a big glass of pop and since your parents owned the place it would practically all be for free! And that’s how life was for my Mom and Uncle. In those days the cost of a ski ticket was $2.25 for a child and $3.25 for an adult!
Anyway, as business got busier and the lift lines at their 2 rope tows got longer, they realized they needed another way up the hill. So In the summer of 1973 they head to Maine to buy a T-Bar. It arrived on the back of a flat-bed truck in hundreds of pieces! My grandpa, being the handyman that he is, with the help of many other clever, helpful interested friends put it together.
OK now let’s fast forward a year. This brings us to the winter of 1975. Now the ski club successfully had used the T-bar for a full winter and with everything going smooth they decided to contact the local elementary schools to set up an after school ski program. What do you know 3 years… later most schools from the Port Hope and Cobourg area were participating in this program. Also, lighting had been installed which made night skiing possible, and between 20-25 people were now employed.
In 1977 they purchased a snow maker which would extend their season and help out Mother Nature. Wow we’ve come a long way – in the start of this journey 2 people owned and ran the ski club and only about 9-10 people came per weekend and at this point in the story there were up to 200 per weekend!
With the skiing being such a fun family sport, most people wished it would last until March. But at Camborne Village Ski Club that wasn’t possible……….. Yet. This was because all the snow was natural and they didn’t have the ability to make artificial snow. So in 1977 they purchased a snow maker.
They had many good years of skiing and business was steady. My Grandma and Grandpa never imagined how many people would learn to ski at their club and how many people would make family memories on their slopes. After 27 years of business my grandparents made the hard decision to close the Camborne Village Ski Club, in 1988.
My Mom and Uncle had headed off to university and even with snow making it was a struggle to beat the weather. However, the adventures my grandparents had, the people they met and the stories they have to tell are amazing.
So, as I said in the beginning – doctor, vet, dentist, firefighter, and yes even teachers… may be great jobs but I really don’t think any of them could top off owning your own ski club. Next time you glance up at those, old faded photographs in a ski chalet, think of the adventures those people had!
I hope you learned a little bit about my grandparents ski club and thank you for listening to my speech.
2oldguyswalking wish to express our gratitude to the Doyle Family for sharing this with us … and our readers. This is a warmer, more personal approach to an historical account as could only be provided by a loving grandchild.
The 2 Old Guys Walking