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The remnants of Hamilton’s once thriving Chedoke Ski Hill

December 2020

The footprints we leave behind

For almost 40 years, Hamilton was a popular skiing destination for those in the Hamilton area.

The Chedoke Winter Sports Park, once called  “Hamilton’s own Sun Valley,” was a popular choice for skiers, especially those wishing to stick close to their Hamilton-area home. Officially opened on 7 January 1964 by Hamilton Mayor Victor Copps, father of future Deputy Prime Minister Sheila Copps, and Hamilton Parks Board head, Thomas Newlands, the ski facilities initially featured a single ski run, with a 900-foot tow rope carrying skiers to the top.

Later, two more tow ropes and a longer run from the top of the escarpment would be added, with a chair lift taking skiers up the top of Hamilton Mountain. Sled runs and lights for night skiing were other additions.

Chedoke was also the home of the Chedoke Ski Racing Team, with its medal winning team members regularly excelling on the Ontario alpine circuit. 

As the decades went on, increasing costs and declining attendance resulted in Chedoke losing money year after year; up to $250,000 in its final years. As a city run facility, the City of Hamilton covered the losses, but with the poor snow conditions going in to the winter of 2002-2003, the city decided to keep the ski hill closed for the first time in 38 years. It never re-opened.

Over the next 6 years, the lift poles & chairs and the tow ropes were removed. The main wheel and drive assembly remains inside its shed at the bottom of the ski run, minus the lift cable, silently rusting away.

Some of the light poles can still be found amongst the growing vegetation that is consuming the ski hills. The only part of the ski runs that still resemble what skiers once used are the portions used as fairways for the Chedoke Golf Club.

Some concrete pads for the lifts and PVC pipes for the snowmaking equipment can also be found.

Runners and cyclists now ride across the former ski runs along the Chedoke Radial Trail, a six-mile trail that follows the former tight of way of the Brantford and Hamilton Electric Railway, many oblivious to this once thriving winter sports destination.

Sources: www.hikingthegta.com/2019/12/08/chedoke-ski-hill, www.stories.thespec.io/2015/01/30/flashback-chedoke-winter-sports-park, www.thespec.com//sports/hamilton-region/2012/12/29/chedoke-racing-team-takes-last-downhill-run.html, https://www.ontariotrails.on.ca/index.php?url=trails/view/chedoke-radial-trail, https://www.thespec.com//sports/hamilton-region/2012/12/29/chedoke-racing-team-takes-last-downhill-run.html.

About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

Permanent link to this article: https://militarybruce.com/the-remains-of-hamiltons-once-thriving-chedoke-ski-hill/

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