Ski Trails in the Canadian Rockies…1977 edition

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Two hundred kilometres of ski trails in Kananaskis Provincial Park!

Skiers can receive last minute updates by listening to radio ski reports!

If you are a history buff, there’s some great reading and photos here. Thank you to Dean Dolph for sending these historical documents for everyone to see. 

On the Moraine Lake road description it warns, “the open slide paths along Mt Temple should be traversed as quickly as possible.”

I found this on Wikipedia:

By the 1970s, the eastern slopes of the rockies faced more pressure as people from Calgary searched for recreation outside of the city. Key people in creating the park were Bill Milne, a Calgary architect and environmentalist and Alberta Highways Minister and area MLA Clarence Copithorne. Copithorne was a rancher and planned to upgrade the road access into the Kananaskis Valley to direct people away from ranchlands. Bill Milne challenged the provincial government to consult the public about the highway upgrade, and a resulting survey showed public support for a large protected area. Legend says Premier Lougheed created the park in 1977 after a single helicopter flight over the area arranged by Milne and Copithorne. The park was dedicated on September 22, 1977.


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  1. Great way-back referencing! I’ve got the revised ed. in my library aside David Rees’ xc compendium and Savage’s Ski Alberta. Question: what of these old gems? Whitehorn Loops; Sundance & Sunshine nordic trails; Johnson Lake Loops; Chester/Sawmill & Kananaskis Golf Course networks —some easy light touring trails that a new generation of skiers can explore.

    • Here are some other books with interesting history of sking in Alberta/Kananaskis and overall history of the Kananaskis valley:

      Powder Pioneers by Chic Scott
      The Valley of Rumors by Ruth Oltmann (Ruthies Trail)
      Kananaskis Country Ski Trails by Gillean Daffern

      Gillian Daffern’s book (1991) has maps of PLPP with some of the older trails that no longer exist or have been renamed. For example what we refer to as the “Back Door” trail today was part of the Lionel Trail that included a section of Highway 40 and a short link that connected Highway 40 with Pocaterra trail near the Rolly Road Jct. She also gives some history of what these trails originally were.

  2. Hi Bob,

    It is so fun to read these precious articles. Really appreciated. Thanks for sharing.


    Peter Lougheed was the only quasi decent Premier in my life time who expanded Alberta owned oil and gas infrastructure to generate non tax revenues. Back in his day as Premier oil royalties were at least 43% higher which enabled Albertans to have so many more government services with less oil production. Today, with oil prices higher than the Lougheed days, most of the royalty reduced public oil wealth is being funneled to supporters of the Conservatives rather than the owners of the resource- you. This is one of the reasons why there is a reduction in the quantity and quality of ski trails in Alberta today as compared to the last century.

    If we lived in a real democracy where you are given the legalized right to vote on government bills as well as having citizen-initiated legislation, you can bet Albertans would utilize their resource assets in a superior way to the neo conservatives and we would have an expansion of our parks not a decrease. That is why we need to Make Alberta A Democracy- for the betterment of Alberta and our future. Ski trails not pipelines to no where.

  4. And now, thanks to our latest version of politicians, we have parking fees at trailheads, a closed Barrier Lake Information Centre, etc. Time does not always improve matters.

  5. Wow, so different from the current crop of Alberta politicians, who do not give a hoot about the environment unless they can make money from it. Can you imagine the Jason Kenney Provincial Park? I can’t!

  6. I met Bill Milne in a professional capacity in his later years when he sat as a member on the Calgary Planning Commission. I didn’t know at the time his involvement in the protection and creation of kananaskis. It would have been fantastic to thank him personally and directly for the immense value it has provided.

    • I wish we would honour people like Bill Milne while they were still alive. The trail in Kananaskis named after him was originally known as the Evan-Thomas trail. It was renamed after his death. I wrote an article Thank you, Bill Milne back in 2016 which shows the plaque along the Kananaskis River.

      • I’m curious – who was Evan Thomas?

        • Admiral H. Evan-Thomas (1862-1928) was a Rear Admiral who fought in the Battle of Jutland that occurred on May 31, 1916. Mount Evan Thomas was named in his honour in 1922. Got this information from: Place Names of Alberta, Volume 1: Mountain Parks and Foothills.

  7. Excellent bit of trivia Bob. Including Sandy McNabb, WBC, Mt. Shark, and PLPP, there are approximately 200kms of groomed trails in Kananaskis today.

    • Recently re-calculated by Alberta Parks – total groomed trails in PLPP, Ribbon/Kananaskis Valley, Mt. Shark and Sandy McNabb = 190km.

      • According to Alberta Parks brochure on xc-ski trails, 80 km of trails in PLPP alone. Does anyone have a better number measured by a GPS device?

  8. I thought everyone had a copy of this!

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