A Downhill Slide to Winter Popularity

Canadians hold mixed feelings when it comes to winter. For skiers and snowboarders, winter brings possibilities for outdoor activity and adventure. The official, documented, birth of skiing in North American wasn’t until the 1800s when Scandinavian prospectors used wooden “gliding shoes” for travel and downhill racing competitions.

Over the next century, the equipment improved and popularity of the sport increased, thanks largely to crowd-drawing ski jumping competitions. World War II brought the next major boost in popularity when large quantities of equipment were mass produced and many soldiers were given ski training. The introduction of buckled boots and stretch pants in 1955 helped the sport hit mass popularity all throughout Canada.

In 1965, West Castle Ski Resort was opened and was a site for the Canada Winter Games 10 years later. Located about a two-hour drive from Lethbridge, the resort was the newest in the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The resort had overnight accommodation for about 60, with and without baths, and additional rooms available within 10 to 15 miles. The resort offered ski instruction and had a ski shop for rentals, sales and repairs. The resort was owned by a number of Lethbridge and southern Alberta businessmen and managed by Fred Batke, a resident of Pincher Creek. This recreational site has been a destination for Lethbridge residents every winter.

While ski families wait for fresh powder and outdoor enjoyment weather, why not join the Galt Museum & Archives for an old-fashioned Christmas. Drive, ski or snowshoe your families over to Fort Whoop-up from 1–4 pm on Fri DEC 23. Admission is free and visitors can enjoy hot chocolate, s’mores, themed crafts, and more.

Your old photos, documents, and artifacts might have historical value. Please contact Galt Museum & Archives for advice before destroying them.

ArticleKayla CraigComment