A Brief History of Cedar Springs Ski Club

The two photos below were copied from a book “The Prints of Burlington” by Gary Evans, North Shore Publishing. This got us started on our history lesson.

The text from the book reads,

“There’s little trace of the fact these days, but for some years Burlington had one of the busiest ski clubs in Southern Ontario. Started in 1935, the Cedar Springs Ski Club had the second largest membership in the 24-member Southern Ontario Ski Zone with more than 2,000 members. Located in the Cedar Springs community, the club had challenging ski hills as well as an 85-foot ski jump on the site. In the early 1970s, the land was sold to developers the ski lifts were purchased by the Glen Eden Ski Club. The photograph above shows a panoramic view of the ski hills, while [below], instructors Jack Beldham, Dan Lawrie, Robert Low, Aileen Jamieson and Whitney Lapp were photographed for a 1954 news story.”

Photo courtesy Murray Girt

Back in 1935 when the Club was established, there were not a lot of people who had cars, but the ski club ran a chartered bus (or two) from Canada Coach Lines, out of the old bus terminal in Hamilton, on Saturdays and Sundays. The bus terminal was located downtown on Catherine Street, between King and Main (where Terminal Towers now stands). To get there from any part of the city you had to carry your skis on the old HSR belt-line street cars, with many warnings from the conductors about not hitting the overhead light fixtures, as the skis at that time were quite long.

At the bus terminal the usual driver was Ken Yates, a jovial white haired guy who seemed to enjoy being with young skiers, though he did not ski himself. There was a second driver on another bus named Harley who was also quite friendly.

This photo shows Ken Yates the one bus driver.

This photo shows two young guys playing around on the shuttle bus circa 1950.

These two gentlemen were my main source of photos and info for the earlier period. Bill Watson, currently living in B.C., is on the left. Most of this write-up is taken from a letter that Bill sent me as he reminisced about the good old days that he experienced with the club from 1946 to 1960. Bill donated many of the photos on this page. For that I thank him very much!

The gentleman on the right is Murray Girt, currently living in Welland, ON. Murray also donated many photos to the club, some of which are shown here, to help us fill in some of our history. Many thanks to Murray as well!

These photos are from a period of about 60 years ago.

Photo courtesy Murray Girt
Photo courtesy Bill Watson

This photo was taken in 1946, shows the Clubhouse in the centre of the picture. The upper half of the barn was not used as it was not heated but the lower stone foundation, with large fireplace at one end, was quite warm and cozy. To the lower right are the entrance gates to the Cedar Springs private Community. This Community, still there to this day located on Cedar Springs Road just north of Britannia Road, had a private 9 hole golf course that Cedar Springs Ski Club rented each winter season, using the fairways as the ski runs. Just outside the clubhouse was an artesian well that flowed continuously. This picture was taken from Foster’s Hill, the expert hill across Britannia Rd. from the clubhouse.

This group of pictures shows other views of the clubhouse.

All photos courtesy Murray Girt

Behind the clubhouse was a steep hill running down to this bridge over the creek. Ahead is the long wide gradual slope of one of the fairways, known as Echo Hill. This was the beginner hill, where most of the teaching occurred. You will notice that there is no lift, so the only way to the top is the old herringbone fashion of walking up the hill. This photo is taken from the rear of the clubhouse.

From the top of Echo Hill you could hike across a fairway to another ski hill, which was another fairway in a valley. It was called the Punchbowl and was more fun for skiers as it had more deviating terrain and steeper. Again no lift, so you had to walk up hill again.

In 1948 or 1949, the club obtained permission to install a rope tow up the middle of the fairway, but it had to be removed each spring and reassembled each fall, as during the spring, summer and fall months this area was used as a golf course. All this work was done by volunteer club members.

Photo courtesy Bill Watson
Photo courtesy Bill Watson

The following year the club was allowed to install flood lights and a warming hut for night skiing. This is a photo circa 1950 of the construction of the warming hut, again by volunteers.

Across the road from the main gates was the “expert” slope known as Foster’s Hill, which had a good steep pitch but short with no runout (the road was a nuisance)!! Further along the road was the Jump Hill, (85′ ski jump) with same steep pitch but not as wide as Foster’s Hill. Since these two runs had nothing to do with the Community, it is assumed that the Ski Club either leased or purchased the land from a farmer, and the rope tow serving both runs was indeed a permanent fixture.

This picture is taken from the top of Echo Hill in 1947, with Echo Hill in the foreground, Cedar Springs Road running across the middle, Foster’s Hill in the middle, and Jump Hill just off to the left of centre.

Photo courtesy Bill Watson
Photo courtesy Bill Watson

This photo shows one of the many clubhouse parties arranged by the social committee. This photo was taken in 1949.

As well as clubhouse parties, there was the annual Spring Dance usually held at the Brant Inn in Burlington. There were also corn roasts and an annual Movie Night at a theatre in Hamilton with Warren Miller or other notables including Ernie McCulloch present.

There were also ski trips by bus to Bradford Pa. and Limberlost near Huntsville. There was also a trip to Saint Sauveur P.Q. by ski train.

With a steadily growing membership and the quest for ski terrain that was more challenging, the Ski Club’s directors arranged to purchase a partly wooded property with some good hills in the Hockley Valley, near Orangeville. This was in 1948 and work started immediately to develop a ski area. An entrance road was built, a chalet (warming hut) was built, trees were cut and some grading formed ski runs. All this work was done by the membership.

This 1954 photo is a sign for the Orangeville portion of Cedar Springs Ski Club.

Photo courtesy Bill Watson
Photo courtesy Bill Watson
Photo courtesy Bill Watson

There was also a very active racing group and the members competed in races (downhill and slalom) sanctioned by the Southern Ontario Ski Zone, and held at other ski clubs including Oshawa, Kitchener, Barrie, Collingwood and of course Cedar Springs. Cedar Springs also held their annual Club Championship races open to all members, usually held in February.

The photo on the left above shows the race team in 1950. On the right is one of the racers in action.

With the purchase of the land near Orangeville and growing membership numbers (in the area of 2000 members), it was felt that the Club should be Incorporated. A couple of directors at the time of Incorporation were Ada Emily Hull and John Hamilton Hull. It was this couple who sponsored the HULL Merit Award. This award is awarded by the Board of Directors, to a non director volunteer, who they feel has supported and helped the club throughout the year. It has been awarded 48 times since 1950.