Monday, August 8, 2016


Last week we took a drive up the mountain to the top of Mount Agassiz, where the Agassiz ski hill used to be.

I had not been there since I was a teenager in the early 1970's.  Back then it was a thriving winter destination for Manitoba skiers, touted to be the best ski hill between Thunder Bay Ontario and Banff Alberta.

Agassiz's humble beginnings started in 1958 when Parks Canada leased 142 hectares  for the development of a ski area.  In 1961 Mount Agassiz opened with a few ski runs.

It continued to grow and expand - touting a vertical of over 500 ft, adding more runs until there were 15 runs in total, the longest run 1.6 km ( 1 mile).

In 1979 Mount Agassiz was the site for the Alpine events of the Canada Winter Games.  It was at it's peak - at it's best.

A year later the owners were bankrupt.

The ski hill closed.  No one ever considered that it would never be reopened again - but that is what happened.  It was left to decay and ruin before it was demolished and taken down completely, leaving only memories to those who had remembered it from earlier days.

As I stood in the open field to the right of where the lodge once stood, I felt a lump in my throat as I remembered white slopes filled with happy people skiing on a bright cold Manitoba winter day some 40 yrs before.

  All that is left now is a vacant valley, a part of a building that used to be part of the lodge, a picnic table and an outdoor  toilet.

Some 40 yrs ago I did not know that I would be living in the town that considers Mount Agassiz theirs.  We are the town that grew much beyond what a farm town should - because of a ski hill across the road and up the mountain.  We have Alpine Archie - the  mascot of the Alpine portion of the 1979 winter games.

 We have the Agassiz lodge on the highway just before the turnoff to Mount Agassiz - built to accommodate overnight and weekend skiers.  We are the town that has lost much with the closing of the hill, we are the town that still is fighting for the chance to see the ski hill area re-opened to the public once again.

And Still Archie Waits... 

The trip back down the mountain was much quieter than the one going up.  No one spoke, we just sat quietly watching the overgrown forest pass us by.  The gravel road has not been graded in some time, so it was a slow ride back down.

As we crested a small hill, we were shown a glimpse of the beauty that all skiers must have enjoyed from the top at one time or another.  So we stopped the car, got the camera out, and took this small piece of Agassiz to take home with us.


  1. Sad. If it started out under Parks Canada, how and when did it fall into private ownership?

  2. I believe Parks Canada owns the land and they leased it to a private party who created the ski hill. Parks Canada controls it once again.