Drayton Valley Brazeau Ski Club History
The Ski Hill was started in the early 60s (1963), and it received Society status in 1965. Became registered as and Alberta Society April 14, 1965.
The first chalet was little more than an old granary type of building and it was placed at the top of the hill in the area where the top of the east T-bar is now. The second chalet was a bit bigger and it was plaaced close to the top of the present west T-Bar.
The hill itself had a lot more trees than it does at the present time. The runs ran through the trees and there were few open areas. At the time the only means of moving people from the bottom of the hill to the top were by pulling them up behind a old snow machine which was replaced, in due time, by a 2 seater Bombadier.
In the 1976-68 ski season. opening weekend was free skiing. Then they were required to buy a membership or pay the day fees. They were: Family- $30.00, Adult- $20.00, Student- $10.00. Day Fee for Adult- $1.50, Student- $1.00. You could buy your membership at Donald McKenzie Men's Wear or Al's Sport Shop as well as in the Chalet at the ski hill. In order to ski with your membership, you were given a crest which needed to be worn somewhere conspicuous. Ski hill was open Sat 10:00 am to 4:30 pm and Sunday 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm. There was a Drayton Valley Junior High School ski Team and they got exclusive use of the south ski hill on Saturdays from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm for their practices and training. Other skiers were asked to use the north run and main hill only during that time.
Over the years, most of the things which have been done to improve the hill were done by volunteers and many of the larger items were donated. The oil companies and pretty much all of the service companies in the area have been very generous in donating their items, equipment, expertise and money to help the ski hill grow.
In due course, it was decided that this location was the most suitable and therefore, it was time to start opening it up to make it more useable. Brisebois brought in their big cats and the process of opening up the hill was started. The area behind the current Bunny Hill was, back then, a deep gully which was filled in with the cats to what it is now. The process of removing trees to open the hill continued for a number of years and may well continue into the future as well. Grooming was an issue which needed to be addressed even in the early years and it was addressed by using the things that were available and adapting them to make it work. The firs tgroomer was build out of 4 barrels which were pulled by a snowmobile. This was a monumental task as the machine did not have enough power to actually pull the groomer up the hill if there was any amount of snow. It had to be loaded, along with the groomer, in the back of a pickup and hauled to the top of the hill then unloaded, and grooming would commence going downhill. It was hard, back breaking work but it worked. This took 17 hours over 3 days to get the hill groomed and ready for the next ski day. The Ski Hill purchased a snow cat from Pigeon Mountian Ski Area just outside of Canmore, AB when it shut down. This newer equipment made grooming a delight. With the new groomer it only took 3-4 hours to do all the grooming on the hill. As the hill expanded and the groomer had worked its many hours it was getting time to look for a newer groomer. With a grant from Parkland County and money raised in the community, another groomer was purchased (1987). This groomer is still serving the hill today. Another groomer was purchased from George Cook (2010).
There was great excitement when it was decided to put the first rope tow on the hill. This was then followed by another further down the slope, which allowed the skiers to come back up without the need for pulling them up behind a snowmobile. The shorter rope tow was placed from the area close to the top of the current West T-Bar and down to cover about the top 1/3 of the hill. This covered the area which was, at the time, used as the bunny hill and it ran where the green run currently comes off the top of the west t-bar. When the second rope tow was put in, it ran in approximately the same line where the current wst T-bar now runs. These rope tows werer a bit different from the current rope tow in the they moved, occasionally, either very slow or very fast depending on which gear the motor was started in. The motor was a tractor gear box with 4 gears.
After a few years, it was decided that having the chalet at the top of the hill was not the best location so a new chalet was built, complete with a cement floor and fireplace, at the bottom of the hill just behind were the currently used chalet stands. At the annual general meeting in the Amoco Hoall, Nov 18, 1971, Kevin Goble reported the new chalet at the bottom of the hill would be ready by Dec 12, 1971, however the fire place could not be built this year owing the lateness of the season. The grand opening as well as a ski swap were slated for that day. Al McKillop, equipment manage teported all the buildings had been removed form the top of the hill to a location next to the new chalet. The bottom tow on the new bunny hill has been completely rebuilt by Emil Hagman. New safety regulations are in force and pull out sfety switches have been installed at either end of the tow. There had been many generous donations made toward building costs and the county had made donation.
On November 21, 1972 The devastating loss of the new chalet to fire was discovered early on that day when propane was delivered to the club house. Braidnor provided a 10 x 50 bunk trailer and it was moved to site by Dec 6, 1972. In the spring of 1973, Amoco donated a metal building. Volunteers moved it to the hill and reassemble the metal building. Project completed by fall 1974.
The first T-bar was installed in 1975, and the Second T-Bar was installed in the early 90's
In the fall of 1973, 26 acres of land the ski hill was leasing was purchased from Grace Erickson. Then October 6, 1983, the Ski hill purchased 17 arces of land from John Gauch.
In the 80's Snowboarding was being introduced at the ski hill. There was request for "a half pipe" to be built. Also at this time the ski hill put in towers and lights for night skiing.
In the 1990 Ski season, Nancy Green Ski Program came to the hill. Over 90 children were enrolled in the program and it ran for several successful years. The hill hosted several races, some with outside clubs attending. There was a learn to ski program 1992 which saw approx 800 school children from grades 3-9 in Drayton Valley and surrounding area attending yearly. Rentals had to be purchased to cover the number of uses at the time. Lack of qualified instructors stopped the program from running.
In year 2000, Chevron had a office building located west of Cynthia, they were no longer using so they donated to the ski hill fo be used as the new chalet. In the spring of 2003, two carpenter were hired to renovate inside and out. Volunteers also worked hard through the fall to build a deck and connect the old building to the new. Project completed for Season 2004/2005.
The first Ski patroller at ski hill was Nick Urchyshyn. Nick was a member of the CSPS, Edmonton Zone at the time. He selected several other to help him after they took a St. John's first aid course. They were recognizable on the hill by the armbands, which they wore while on patrol. In 1969, CSPS Drayton Valley Zone was established with Dave Ellery and Dave Harrison as the first 2 patrollers in the new Zone. Over the first few years, much of the training was done in Edmonton until they were qualified to teach the courses here to other patrollers. The early years required that a patroller be very strong to handle an accident on the hill because they had to move the injured skier up to the top on the rope tows, to get them to where they could be transproted to medical care.
The DVBSC was closed for the 2015/16 season. All cylinders are firing for 2016/17 and things are looking very promising for a successful rebound year!