Beaver Lake QC - circa 1968!!!

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Beaver Lake QC - circa 1968!!!

Postby Patrick » Wed Dec 22, 2010 12:31 am

The original TR was published with a few pictures on Ski Mad World.

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One of the ideas behind starting Ski Mad World was to tell the story of skiing, of the sport in general and my particular relationship with the sport. Gathering my hundreds of trip reports of my ski outings along with my other tidbits scattered around the internet.

I also wanted to relive the trips that never made it online, either the recent ones or those beautiful trips from many years ago, recreating the atmosphere of the times. Some of those nostalgia trips would involved trips from my youth.

I found out that my favorite ski mag had a great idea, The Ski Journal had a first day ever essay contest. The submissions are to be judged by Warren Miller himself. A great topic that falls right where I want to go with this nostalgia series, however I wasn’t expecting to go that far in the past.

So here goes...the first in the Ski Mad World’s nostalgia series:

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Beaver Lake, circa 1968

I don’t clearly recall my first time on skis. I’m not even sure how old I was. As far as I can remember, skiing has always been part of my life. It’s like asking someone if they remember their first steps. Probably common in avid skiers’ kids.

Background

My mother grew up in a large French Canadian family in the Laurentians within 20 miles from Gray Rocks Inn and Mont Tremblant Lodge, I was told that my grandfather groomed the runs at Tremblant with snowshoes in the 40s. My mom really got into skiing once she moved out and left for Montreal in 1953. I recall her telling stories about taking the ski trains as a young adult.

My father, of Irish descent, grew up in Montreal and as a kid skied on Mount Royal where he would take the tramway to get to the mountain and ski back down the street at the end of the day. Skiing would become a major part of his life, as he would drop everything to move to the hills as soon as snow would fall. He was an instructor for close to 15 years under the skier like Ernie McCulloch, Réal Charette and Bob Richardson. Skiing in the Laurentians at places like Gray Rocks, Villa Bellevue and Tremblant, eventually ending a at new ski area in the Eastern Townships.

It’s there, at Glen Mountain, where my parents would met. A few years later I was born and I would ski a few more years later.

Skiing recollection

My earliest recollection of skiing was at Beaver Lake at Mount Royal Park in Montreal. Judging from the pictures in the Family Album, I would have just under 3 year young. so it would have been the Winter of ‘68. This might not have been my first time, but it is definitely my earliest memory of it.

At that time we lived on Fort Street in downtown Montreal and only a couple blocks of the old famed Montreal Forum. Montreal has a rich history of skiing on it’s mountain an surrounding slopes within the island. At one point in time, there was even a ski jump on Côte-des-Neiges, but the jump was long gone when I was born as urbanization had spread since that time.

There were still a few ski hills with tows or t-bars within the city limits in the late sixties. Places like Beaver Lake, Cabrini Park, the park where the Stadium would be build for the Montreal Olympic Games in 1976, all of these were City of Montreal Parks which had lifts. There was also the more serious skiing at l’Université de Montréal ski slope on the other side of Mount Royal.

I don’t remember if my father was there at that time or how we got to the hill. I just know that my mother didn’t have a car back then and we often took the city bus to get around. Mount Royal Park was only one bus ride away up la Côte-des-Neiges (Hill of Snow - in fact the meaning of Côte here would be more like Coast, but I prefer Hill of Snow for this text). I recall going to Mount Royal throughout the seasons.

Beaver Lake was one of the most popular places in Mount Royal Park in the Winter time. There was skating and the open slope on the next to the lake was divided between the tobogganing and the skiers. There was hill was serviced by a t-bar.

There was one small slope with a T-bar on the southern edge of the Beaver Lake. Fifty-six vertical feet with one large slope. I knew that hill, as we tobogganed it a few times. I recall that there was always a good number of people either sliding or skiing. On this day, it was going to be different, I was going to ski.

From the chalet I needed to cross the snow-covered pond with my skis to reach the T-bar. The nature of the terrain was of course pretty limited, but ideal for beginners from the city. I vaguely remember going up the T-bar. The only thing I really remember was that my mom was holding me as I was staring down mostly at my skis between her skis and we were sliding further away from the T-bar, not far from the fence and toboggan side of the hill. My skis were red and her skis looked like some old Rossignol Stratos and she had laced ski boots, or were those mine? Somehow I knew this moment was important; I felt like a grown up, practicing a sport that my parents loved. Maybe I had a feeling on how much skiing would mean to my life.

Image

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My ski day probably didn’t last that long, maybe a few runs, that is all I remember and my parents are no longer here. I remember bringing my oldest daughter here when she was 3, driving across the mountain from my favorite ski shop with her ski equipment while I was in Montreal for the Holidays. My mom had told me the T-bar was still active. So once at the parking lot, I decided to put my skis and my daughter's skis and we skied down some really rough snow. When we got to where the lift was...nothing. I had to carry my daughter in my arms while climbing uphill. I mentioned this today, because when I asked my daughter if she remember her first day, she told me about this experience. It wasn't her first day, but what she thought was her first day.

My mom loved the mountain; she loved walking and skiing here, especially cross-country skiing. She wanted it to be her final resting place. Last Spring we placed her ashes one mile away from that defunct T-bar and Beaver Lake. Although I’ve skied over forty years, over a thousand times at a hundred areas across the East, the West, the Alps and the Andes, I’ll always cherish these memories.

Dedicated to my mom who would have turned 75 today. Merci Maman.

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Image
Mount Royal and part of downtown Montreal in 2010. This aerial view includes Beaver Lake and the slope, Fort Street and my mom's final resting place. source: Bing


Image
Beaver Lake and the slope in 2010. source: Bing
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Re: Beaver Lake QC - circa 1968!!!

Postby rfarren » Wed Dec 22, 2010 7:31 am

That's a very heartfelt and beautiful story. Thanks for sharing it with us.

I wonder, does that little hill still have snow over it the whole winter long?
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Re: Beaver Lake QC - circa 1968!!!

Postby Patrick » Wed Dec 22, 2010 10:45 am

rfarren wrote:I wonder, does that little hill still have snow over it the whole winter long?


Winter are definitely shorter than they once were. Besides this April/May, I wasn't been at the mountain much since I moved to Ottawa 15 years ago. I know my mom would go cross-country ski there fairly often, she would go pretty much everyday at Maisonneuve Park (across the street north of Olympic Stadium) that was 5 minutes from her home. Flatter which would be a 5km loop (she would do two) and would require less snow I would think. Not sure how many times she went to the mountain last year as he didn't have much snow compare to the average. This being said, if I base myself on the snow on the ground at my home in Ottawa (similar to Montreal), I would think that they would be snow on that hill for 3-4 months/year.

Below is a bunch of good sources on the mountain.

Everything you wanted to know about Beaver Lake and were afraid to ask. :-D

Here is a great picture on Mont Royal Park, the lake and downtown Montreal in the background.

You can see the main parking on the upper part on the picture. This is the parking I was talking about when I skied with my daughter toward Beaver Lake only to discover there wasn't a T-Bar anymore.

source:www.ashrae-mtl.org
Image

Information from Images Montreal website : The reference about Montreal's skyscrapers and historical buildings. Here is the text on the Beaver Lake Pavillon build in 1955. I remember getting my tongue stuck on the metal railing outside. 8-[

A piece on Skating on the lake.
Skating in Montreal at Beaver Lake on Mont Royal
Mount Royal Outdoor Ice Skating at Lac des Castors
By Evelyn Reid, About.com Guide

Picture of the area on a busy Winter day.
Northernbud: This photo is selected for Google Earth
Image

Picture of the slope.
Roencanada.
Image

Website on Mount Royal, A Territory to Discover runby Les amis de la montagne. This is the 'source' on the mountain. Everything you wanted to know is here.

Here is the specific section on Beaver Lake, it includes pictures (some that I've included below) and a small video.

Montreal Tandem Club drive, ). vers 1890
W.J. Gage & Co. Ltd; Toronto
Old postal card numéro 737
CP 2927
© Collection BNQ
Image

Montreal Tandem Club drive, around 1890
W.J. Gage & Co. Ltd; Toronto
Old postcard numéro 737
CP 2927
© Collection BNQ
Image

Cross country skiing at Mont Royal Park.
© Collection Les amis de la montagne
Image

View from Jeanne-Mance park.
Photographer : Samuel Montigné
© Les amis de la montagne's Collection
Image
Sleigh ride, Mont Royal Park
Photographer : Andrew Dobrowolskyj
© Les amis de la montagne's Collection
Image

Snowhoers, Mont Royal Park, 2007
Photographer : Samuel Montigné
© Les amis de la montagne's Collection
Image

This last picture is taken from the top of the hill approximately where the T-Bar was at the time.

Tobogganning, Mont Royal Park
Photographer : Samuel Montigné
© Les amis de la montagne's Collection
Image
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Re: Beaver Lake QC - circa 1968!!!

Postby jamesdeluxe » Wed Dec 22, 2010 2:20 pm

Sorry, had to laugh about this one:

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"This exceptional building is included in Québec’s heritage register of modern architecture (DOCOMOMO international)."

It looks like something that was teleported out of 1970s East Berlin! :lol:

The summer I lived in Montreal (2000), the t-bar was still there, and I used to hang out at the top of the hill a couple times a week during my daily bike rides, trying to imagine people skiing, tubing, or doing whatever there.

The following winter, I started downhill skiing. Coincidence?!? I think not. :bow:
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Re: Beaver Lake QC - circa 1968!!!

Postby Patrick » Wed Dec 22, 2010 11:12 pm

jamesdeluxe wrote:The summer I lived in Montreal (2000), the t-bar was still there, and I used to hang out at the top of the hill a couple times a week during my daily bike rides, trying to imagine people skiing, tubing, or doing whatever there.

The following winter, I started downhill skiing. Coincidence?!? I think not. :bow:


Mont Royal Park is one of the great urban parks of North America.

Summer 2000? I have a few days I didn't take down in my stats, one of them is when I went to Beaver Lake with Morgane to ski from the lot to the bottom of the hill. Morgane had skied one day on rented gear in March 2000 and this would have been the following season. I pretty sure we rented skis again for her first day in January 2001 at Mont Cascades. Looking at the 2000-2001 Calendar, I would say that I picked up her skis at the ski shop I know and stop on the mountain on Saturday January 27 as I would have been in Montreal on that weekend as I skied Cannon the next day.

The T-Bar station was still there, not sure if the cables were still up. I just know that when I came back at my mom's, I said that it looked like the lift hadn't run for years.
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Re: Beaver Lake QC - circa 1968!!!

Postby jamesdeluxe » Thu Dec 23, 2010 7:08 am

Patrick wrote:Mont Royal Park is one of the great urban parks of North America.

Agreed. Another classic from Olmsted, although the rap is that the city cut a lot of corners on his plans. One mile from where I live in NJ, we have a 2,000-acre Olmsted park (more "sauvage"/less urban), and we go there all the time.

Patrick wrote:The T-Bar station was still there, not sure if the cables were still up.

I think you're right; I don't recall seeing any cables, although my memory is fading. Wasn't it painted light blue?
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Re: Beaver Lake QC - circa 1968!!!

Postby Anthony » Thu Dec 23, 2010 9:28 pm

Good story , I also started out on Mount Royal and other hills on the island of Montreal ( 1966) . The hill is now used for tubing . Park still full during the winter season .
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