When you have been around since 1950, you've done and seen a lot and the High Park Ski Club is no different. Our club has changed over the years, but one thing has never changed - our commitment to our members.
high Park Ski Club - A Brief History
1950s: A New Golden Age
In the era of leather boots, ‘bear-trap’ bindings, wood skis and rope tows, a group of ardent downhill skiers at the High Park YMCA held their first meeting in 1950.
Club downhill ski trips were word-of-mouth excursions in car pools to local hills.
In December 1951, the members proposed the election of a president and a board. Herb Houston became the first president. School buses picked up members along Yonge St. Annual membership was $3, $2 of which went to the YMCA.
The first trip to Collingwood cost $5.25 for the bus and two tickets. In February 1952, members went on the first overnight trip to Sundridge.
The Skier’s Delight Dance in January 1952 was the club’s first social event.
High Park was the first club in Canada to bring in Warren Miller to show one of his now-legendary films as part of a gala fundraiser.
In the winter of 1952-53, one of the most important steps in club history was taken - the downhill ski school was born. The club arranged a fund to allow one of the club’s best downhill skiers to attend a course given by the Canadian Ski Instructors’ Alliance (CSIA). Club racing also began in the same season
The club’s first three CSIA-trained instructors were Ray Morito, Frank Hatanaka and Don Bell. Don remained active with the club into the early 1980s.
Late in the decade, a group of cross-country skiers began helping blaze trails at Medonte.
1960s: The Club takes shape
Membership reached 400 in 1963!
The club left High Park. In 1965, the clubhouse was shifted north to the Westwood YMCA on Robina Ave. Meetings were held at the Maple Leaf Ballroom on St. Clair Ave. W.
Long trips began taking root. The first New Year’s Eve trip went to Mt. Tremblant in 1966-67. The next season, the first charter trip went to Europe.
In 1969, the club took the shape it still has today. The first by-laws were drawn up, and High Park was incorporated as a not-for-profit adult ski club.
The club went on the move again. Meetings and social gatherings were held at the Masonic Temple at Yonge and Davenport.
1970s: The Swinging Ski Club
The club rented chalets at Sutton, Tremblant and Blue Mountain.
Membership grew so rapidly that the club mandated a cap of 3,000 members. There were long lineups when the October deadline to join approached and many had to be turned away.
Cross-country skiers made up about 30% of the members. Marlene Bradley and Bob Radford organized High Park Ski Club’s first cross-country Ski School in 1974 and got their first director, Bill Davidson.
By this point, the club had so many members and brought in so much money, the auditors warned it could lead to a Revenue Canada investigation and the loss of our not-for-profit status. So the club brought in famous DJ “Wolfman Jack” from California and threw a party at the St. Lawrence Market!
People had lots of fun, on and off the slopes. It was the ‘70s!
1980s: Back to the basics
Social membership was cancelled and the membership has declined.
Snow schools have decided to focus on basics of ski lessons and races.
Innovations in the ski equipment have influences new methods of skiing.
1990s: Recession and Rebuilding
The club responded to recession-era drop in membership to under 1,500 by forming the marketing committee to lure back former members and recruit new ones.
Smoking was banned on all HPSC buses.
Ron Dean taught the club’s first snowboarding classes in 1994. He was soon joined by Herb Hoff, who introduced protective padding for beginners.
The club migrated again – leaving behind the Masonic Temple, first for Estonian House, then Lithuanian Hall in 1997. The office moved to the 1669 Bloor St. West storefront.
Don Yeaman’s annual Valentine’s Day trip to Kissing Bridge southeast of Buffalo regularly filled six or seven buses—the record was 10!
The first High Park Ski Club web site came to life in 1998-99 and so did the first e-mail newsletter, SnoBytes.
By decade’s end, membership rebounded back to almost 2,000.
The 21st Century: High Park Ski Club shines on
Membership has started to grow again after being steady for years.
The ski schools re-evaluated lessons and steps & levels systems.
Helmets became mandatory for the downhill lessons.
Cross country skiers make up about 20% of the members.
Online registration became the standard for day and long rips.
The club continues to offer very popular long bus and charter trips.
Majority of overnight trips sell out in the record time under 1min.
Snobiz, the electronic newsletter & blog keep members informed.
Ski Fit & Brunch and CrossFit get members moving in the fall.
"Climb every mountain" tradition is returned to test winter readiness.
Snowshoeing joined the ranks of club activities.
The Award in memory of one of the founders Oscar Hatashita was established and presented to Denise Janssen at the "Let it snow!" 65th Anniversary Gala for the outstanding leadership and dedication.
"Snow Globe" and other Awards are presented to the stellar volunteers every year for running the club as a not for profit organization successfully.
New mission statement is approved at the 2019 AGM.
Meetings turned into popular social events that draw people together over a mutual love of winter.
The clubhouse moved to its current home at 2238 Dundas St. West.
One question remains the same about our club through decades:
"Do you ski in High Park? " And our answer is: "We ski everywhere!"