Camborne Ski Hill Revisited

Has it really been 30 years since the Camborne Village Ski Club closed? Most of us remember when the Club started its life in Camborne in the early 1960’s on what was then known as Lean Road, now Doyle Road. Jus’s Hill was an imposing one, very steep and fairly short. A young couple from Cobourg with the help of a lot of friends created an amazing enterprise here. On a recent visit to the area to view the dedication plaque on the new Camborne Pedestrian Bridge, “The William Hore – James Ford Bridge” my sister Barbara and I (with permission) took a tour of the former Ski Club property now the Doyle home located in a beautiful park-like setting. The following are some memories experienced there.

The original rope tow comprised of an old Pontiac car frame and engine enclosed in a wooden shack at the top of the hill. From the rear drive wheel ran several hundred feet of rope in a loop all the way to the bottom of the hill and returned to top of the hill with several skiers enjoying the ride up almost as much as the ski down. I think almost every kid in the village had their first part time job at the ski hill from tow operator or at the chalet. From the tow shack at the top of the hill I remember as a one- time operator there, putting that Pontiac’s transmission in a drive gear to start the lift process, pressing the accelerator just enough to keep the loop running at a smooth, constant speed to keep the skiers happy.

For the younger generation reading this “a rope-tow consists of a cable or rope running through a bull wheel (pulley) at the bottom and at the top of the hill, powered by an engine at one end. In the simplest case, the passengers grab hold of the rope and are pulled along while standing on their skies and sliding up the hill.” It must be mentioned here that for a smooth ride said skiers must stay in a well-defined groove all the way up the hill.

Now I am not saying that some of those patrons had a bit of a challenge ascending the hill. It is no secret that some tow operators would recognize a couple of friends getting ready to grab on to the tow rope for dear life for the ride up the hill. It is said that if the tow operator suddenly stopped the rope when it was in motion, those unsuspecting friends now half way up the hill could end up creating ‘snow-angels’. If you think that sounds like fun, try getting to your feet with poles and skis, getting them into the ‘groove’ while trying to grasp a moving rope to finish your ride to the top of the hill. Fortunately there was never any serious injuries and the tow was a very safe way to the top of the hill. Okay, I admit I may have brought some skiers up that hill faster than they ever went down it.

Growth led to the 14 acre expansion of property directly below the ski hill and the single run grew to six with exotic names like the ‘Grist Mill’, ‘Witches Wind’, ‘Spillsville’, ‘Camelback’, Gambler’s Flight’ and the Junior Hill. Interest in skiing kept growing and lines at the two original rope tows were getting longer, a better way was soon needed to move the growing crowds of patrons.

By the late sixties, the Ranger had moved from high school (and skiing) into the working life, so the rest of this story I never personally experienced but those who did have many stories to tell and I am sorry to have missed out on them. Updated information is thanks very much to Pat & Carol’s granddaughter and is from a prize winning speech she penned in grade school. Note: photographs in this post are remnants of the T-Bar system that still stand today keeping memories alive.

By the summer of 1973 management was off to Maine and returned with a Tow-Bar system that after intensive labour to install made hill climbing much faster and easier. I had to ask Google how this system operated as I had never experienced a T Bar. According to Google, “A surface lift is a means of cable transport that transports skiers (or snow boarders) in which the rider remains on the ground as they are pulled up a hill. The T-Bar works by coming up behind you and catching your bum as you squat on the handle of the lift. Unlike the rope tow it doesn’t matter what side of the lift you approach from.” A much smoother ride is achieved when two ride each T to keep it balanced.

By 1975 a very popular school program was established to give all children for miles around a chance to enjoy skiing. By now lighting was installed for evening skiing and the Club had 20 – 25 employees. In 1977 a snow maker was purchased and set up to give Mother Nature a hand in extending the ski season a little longer.

After almost 30 years, the hard decision was made to close the Camborne Village Ski Club in 1988. Climate change and the east facing hill were just too much of a challenge. Another quote from Pat & Carol’s granddaughter…”My Grandma & Grampa never imagined how many people would learn to ski at their club and how many people would make family memories on their slopes.” What more can I say.

Regards, Ranger

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6 comments

  1. Anonymous · · Reply

    Thanks for the Memories I used to work for my Uncle and aunt Carol when I was young it was my first job out at the ski hill I did hot chocolate and hot dogs what a great adventure and I actually learned to ski a little bit no thanks to their son Brad who was 3 at the time and kept trying to cut me off LOL once again thanks for the Memories

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    1. Anonymous, Thanks for the great memories! A lot of young people had their first job at the Camborne Ski Hill. It was a half-century ago that I worked there, but the memories are still very clear.
      Ranger

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  2. Anonymous · · Reply

    I just wanted to know, I have always been very curious about the cambornr ski club was 1988 the last season for the hill if so when in 1988 did it close down. Im just curious about the closing date.

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    1. Anonymous, the Camborne Ski Club’s last season of operation was 1988, no official date available but likely in May of that year.
      Ranger.

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  3. Anonymous · · Reply

    When in 1988 did the hill close?

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    1. Anonymous, The Camborne Ski Club opened in 1964 and closed in the Spring of 1988.

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