Movie Monday: Wapiti Ski Hill

Image: A film still depicting two people riding a T-bar ski lift (SPRA 1974.74.22C, Fonds 138: Griff James fonds)

Movie Monday highlights videos from the Archives’ film collection. Every week, an archival film will be featured on our YouTube channel and here on our blog. The Movie Monday project is made possible with the generous funding support of Swan City Rotary Club of Grande Prairie.

Today’s featured video focuses on the Wapiti Ski Hill near Grande Prairie. When this film was taken circa 1965, the ski hill boasted a newly installed T-bar lift. In fact, the video appears to document the construction and opening of the ski lift.

Over the years, a number of ski hills have been established along the banks of the Wapiti and Smoky rivers south of Grande Prairie. In 1951, a hill was started on the north side of the Wapiti, and two years later a new hill was built on the eastern banks of the Smoky River. Both of these hills had a tow rope (the one at the Wapiti being powered by an old car), and the Smoky River hill offered a chalet as well.

The Grande Prairie Ski Club was formed in 1960 and utilized the ski hill at the Smoky River for its first year. The next winter, they moved to a hill on the south side of the Wapiti River, near the bridge on Highway 40. A chalet was built and a tow rope installed in the first year of operation, and improvements were made regularly. The hill was reshaped, a toboggan hill was added, and in 1965 the T-bar lift replaced the tow rope at the cost of approximately $40,000. The hill remained in operation for seven more years until the ski area moved for the final time in 1972, to what is now known as Nitehawk Adventure Park.

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