The Valley Ski Hill north of Castor celebrated a significant mile-stone over the weekend.
In 1947, 75 years ago, a group of volunteers came together and established a small ski-hill in the Heatherly Valley, northwest of the community.
Starting with a single tow-rope and a small lodge, the club grew, eventually out-growing its space and moving to its current location nestled into the Battle River Valley which separates the counties of Flagstaff and Paintearth.
In 1968 the tow-rope was moved to another part of the ski-hill and a T-bar was installed. With the increased ski-hill capacity, work soon began on an expanded lodge as well.
To help create a longer, and more consistent, ski season, the volunteers running the hill were able to fundraise, purchase, and install snow-making equipment in 1976.
While the snow making equipment helped lengthen the season, the conditions on the hill still ended up being less than consistent. More fundraising was done, and in 1985 a slope groomer was purchased allowing the volunteers to keep the slopes in better condition than ever.
The ski hill faced its first of several setbacks in 1989, when the lodge was destroyed in a fire. The community came together, however, and rebuilt the lodge “bigger and better than ever,” according to the ski hill website.
Another setback occurred in 1997, when some of the terrain near the top of the hill began sloughing away. Over the years, the sloughing became worse, forcing the closure of some runs. However, thanks to fundraising efforts and support for Paintearth and Flagstaff Counties, the hill underwent a process to have the top stabilized and rebuilt.
During the ski season, a pair of clubs including the Battle River Ski Club and the Nancy Greene Ski Program make use of the facility that is open from Thursday to Sunday.
In honour of the ski hill’s 75th anniversary, the club was open for skiers all day on Feb. 25, with the runs open from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and then again 5 p.m. until 10 p.m. for night skiing.
Presentations were held at 1:30 p.m., with games following from 2-4 p.m. A special presentation was made to Roger and Betty Spady, whose family provided land at the current site of the hill.
A 50-50 draw was also held at 7 p.m., followed by a light parade at 8:30 p.m. and then fireworks at 9 p.m.