Tag Archives: history

Ads for Skiers from Last Century

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Break a Ski?

Back in 1931 if you broke your ski you would buy a single replacement, as shown in this ad from the Ottawa Ski Club News.

I’ve been scanning the entire collection of old OSC newsletters into PDF and I’m almost done. Lots of fun history in there!

Trail #11 and its Names

Skiers who have been around Gatineau Park for some decades will know that trail # 11 was once known as the Merry-Go-Round Continue reading

Mort’s Cairn

In Gatineau Park, on the spot where the Camp Fortune main lodge used to be, there stands a pile of rocks. Continue reading

Keogan Lodge and the Rise and Fall of the Cliffside Ski Club

I’m told that the NCC rebuilt Keogan again in 1963, the same year that the Ottawa Ski Club main lodge at Camp Fortune burned down and was replaced by what’s now called Chalet des Érables.

From 1923 Cliffside annual (which was a 3 panel pamphlet compared to that first year’s 78 page book):

Keogan’s Clearing (to use the name left by the original settler many years ago) has long been known to skiers and others who have roamed the Gatineau country, as one of the most delightful spots of this nature in a district noted for scenic beauty. On an knoll in about the centre of this old time clearing and surrounded by half grown pine and spruce, rests what is now known as Keogan ‘s Lodge. The clearing itself is about one hundred and fifty acres in extent and is formed of gently rolling slopes and knolls. Surrounding it on all sides are wooded heights heavily interspersed with large fir. The ski trails from Wakefield, Cascades, Kirk’s Ferry, Chelsea and Kingsmere all converge at this point, and the run leading from Dunlop’s Farm on the Meach Lake Road passes directly over Fortune Lake, which latter is about one half mile from the ‘ lodge.

The building itself of which a photo is given here in the early days of construction, is large and bright and of substantial character. It is most comfortable and will be thoroughly heated. As the view is very interesting on all sides, good window space has been provided for. From the East end of the Club skiers coming up from Kirk’s Ferry or Chelsea may be seen half a mile away down the valley. Winding in from the North around the base of a big hill and through country heavily timbered with fir trees can be seen the hikers taking the journey from Wakefield or Cascades via Alexander’s. The trail from McCloskey’s comes in from the West via several smaller clearings, while parties leaving Keogan’s for Kingsmere, the Pink Lake trail and Fairy Lake may be followed for half a mile over onto the shoulder of the slope opposite the lodge. As well as its strategic position from the point of view of convenience to nearly all the best trips, the clearing itself will be a wonderful play-ground for beginners and juniors as well as for the more experienced. We venture to say that every member who comes to see the Club property at Keogan’s will be so enthusiastic as to bring his friends on the very next occasion.

From Canadian Skiing Magazine 1931:

Cliffside Ski Club

IT is early morning, say about five a.m., and twenty below. Muffled snores, groans and complaints are to be heard simultaneously from beneath piles of blankets. How about someone putting some more wood on the fire! The die-hards are spending the week-end at Keogan’s-in-the-Hills. One thinks of home with its warmth and comfort and wonders … Home has its advantages, of course, but what is it compared to this? In a few hours we will be away on our trusty blades .. to explore and test out nature’s silvery-white playground. Eight o’clock; my! We have overslept. “Hey, you fellows,” someone shouts, as he withdraws his sleepy head from without the window. “Take a peek outside.” A few of us arouse ourselves and answer his call. What a spectacle! It has been snowing and the weather has moderated considerably; trees and branches are heavy-laden with the new-fallen snow. The sun shines brightly down on a world in all its glory, encircling the valley in a sheen of splendour.

The day begins; steaming pots of coffee, sizzling pans of bacon and eggs are rushed about here and there to feed hungry mouths, and all stoves in the lower floor of the lodge are lighlted in readiness for the day-travellers who will begin arriving from ten o’clock on.

Breakfast over, the dormitory and bunks are tidied up, blankets folded and stored away, and we are about ready for the trail. The usual questions of which way will we go today, and what wax will we use, if any, take up another fifteen minutes.

Some go their way, others go their way, and some stay right in the valley. For a vigorous cross-country run, in any direction, the possibilities are unlimited, but for thrills and spills, right in the valley is the place. One trail leaves a lofty summit above the lodge, whizzes you past the clubhouse, crosses a creek and deposits you gracefully up in the higher ground again. This is a tricky one for the seasoned thrill hunter. For the more modest disciple, there are easier and longer slides. Everyone to his taste.

We ski about until hunger overtakes once more, and what an appetite you do get! Back to the lodge we ski again for dinner, and also to greet the new arrivals, mostly white spectres steeped in snow, many of which have been seen from a distance, manoeuvering with various dexterous methods the difficult turns of the trails down into the valley. What an animated scene the lodge is in now! Amid hearty greetings and shouts of laughter, someone is thawing out an ear; while a few unfortunates who have taken many tumbles are hanging up clothes and mitts to dry. The mingled odours of steaks, bacon, onions, coffee, beans and hot soup tickle the appetite to the highest degree.

Let us see who is here. That big husky chap with the big smile is the President of the Cliffsides, Dave Kirby; and talking to him in animated tones, at the moment, is the Vice-President and Membership Secretary, Gordon Beresford; while his brother Donald is expounding enthusiastically the merits of a new racing trail which he and his committee have completed for a coming competition. Numerous old-timers are also in evidence, as well as many new faces. The secretary, Miss Rosemarie Watson, has just come in the door, covered with snow, followed by How-about-those-fees Gordon Ross, our Treasurer. The chairman of lodges, Paul Horsdal, is discussing with the trails committee, Ernie Brockington and his axe men, the possibility of a new trail in from Tenaga. Ernie’s wife and Isobel Seaton, the ladies’ committee, are talking about social functions, past and future, no doubt, over a hot stove.

We eat hearty meals and begin to think of the homeward trails. Again the party splits up; some claim they are in a hurry, but are in reality only lazy, and take the short trail to Chelsea and embark on a bus for the city. The real enthusiasts go south, and the majority take the thrills and spills down our famous Sunset Trail to Kingsmere, and from thence on to Birch Valley Lodge, situated in a valley predominated by trees from which it derives its name.

Here we meet many members who have skied up from the city, a nice run for an afternoon or morning. We rest here for a while. talking and smoking; someone strikes up a tune on the club piano and we spend a pleasant hour before leaving on the last leg of the journey to Fairy Lake Lodge, via the Hill and Dale trail. Here we meet the Chairman of Moonlight Hikes, Grant Garrioch, and Phil Wright, in charge of jumping, instructing some juniors on the fine points of ski-ing.

A short rest, and away we go, to be home in time for tea and church, perhaps. Tired? Yes, but happy and brim full of the great outdoors. Oh, what a life! GHB

Transcript of the YouTube video:

Keogan shows how short our memories are. Keogan lodge was first built in 1923 and represents three points of forgetfulness. First of all the lodge was named because it commanded a lovely view of Keogan’s clearing.

John Keogan had been a farmer who got the land in 1870 and tried to coax bounty from the scanty arable land near Ridge Road. What people forgot even in the 1920s was that Jeremiah Sheehan had been there before Keogan and moved on. Also forgotten was the relocation of Keogan Lodge to land that had belonged to Patrick McCluskey. Keogan is now near Ridge Road but at first it stood further north, just beyond where trail #11 now crosses the Fortune Parkway. Most gloriously forgotten is who built Keogan Lodge—twice.

The Cliffside Ski Club started with a bang. Their first publication was 78 pages long and as they said themselves “profusely illustrated.” They tried to cap their membership at 300 but were overwhelmed to the point of 500 members. Their honorary president was His Excellency the Duke of Devonshire, Governor General of Canada.

This is hard to compare with the Ottawa Ski Club who are believed to have had 19 members in 1919 after a 4 year hiatus for WWI, but 1,006 members by 1924.

Through the 1920s ski jumping was the big thing and the Cliffside club had a jump at Lac des Fées and worked with the Ottawa Ski Club and their jump at Rockliffe to holding jumping competitions that drew competitors from around the world and thousands of spectators.

By 1931 though the Cliffside’s records show that the club was in decline. One of the secret weapons that might have helped kill the Cliffside could have been the Ottawa Ski Club’s 1933 new, much improved jump at Camp Fortune.

By the early 1940s the Federal District Commission—forerunner to the NCC—was appealing to the Cliffside Club to allow them to take over Keogan, which their letter states was “not now being used.” It might be indicative of how low the Cliffside had sunk that several of the letters sent by the FDC seem to have been returned to sender, the addressee having moved. But eventually the letter did get through and in November 1944 Keogan Lodge was turned over (without charge) to the FDC for use by the general public (which at that time mostly meant Ottawa Ski Club members).

History of Brown Lake

At the end of January 2011 Ken Bouchard on behalf of the Friends of Gatineau Park led about 30 people into the woods; and back through time. We all trooped in on snowshoes to discover the origins of Brown Lake Cabin.

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Friends of Gatineau Park Wants YOU

The Heritage Committee of the Friends of Gatineau Park is looking for new members to join the Committee and help in building a heritage interpretation program.

The main qualification is an interest in the history and cultural heritage of Gatineau Park.

Contributions could include: Continue reading

The Making of the 1967 NRC Ski Map

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Ottawa Ski Club and as a fundraiser for the Canadian Ski Museum, I organized a reproduction of a 1967 Gatineau Park cross country ski trail map.   Continue reading

We Three Kings

Some people make the mistake Continue reading

Willson Ruined

This video being re-edited to accommodate copyright concerns.

It seems that one of the most photographed places in Gatineau Park is the Carbide Willson Ruins. They say that some people like to sunbathe nude there but Continue reading