Grouse Mountain's 90th Anniversary
Celebrating 90 Years of Passion, Persistence and Play.
Recognized today as one of Canada’s longest running ski clubs and the largest of its kind in B.C., the award-winning Grouse Mountain Tyee Ski Club has a rich history. It dates back to a time when mountain enthusiasts ascended on foot what is now known as The Peak of Vancouver to enjoy their favourite pastime, be it hiking, ski touring or alpine skiing. The Club was officially formed through the mid-1950’s merger of two older clubs: the Grouse Mountain Ski Club and the Tyee Ski Runners. The Grouse Mountain Ski Club started in the early 20th century as a rally point for serious mountaineers. Members would gather at the base of what is now the Peak Chair, where the current club cabin still sits.
Another group of ski enthusiasts based out of the original Grouse Mountain Village, at the bottom of the Cut, enjoyed socializing just as much as they liked to ski. They preferred the comfort of their cabins. In 1935, following the refusal of the Grouse Mountain Ski Club to move its headquarters down to the village, the cabin owners decided to form their own club, the Tyee Ski Runners, with the original ski village as their base.
During the 1930s and 1940s, before Vancouver slowly began developing its entertainment and leisure offering, the Tyee Ski Runners Club gave its members the socializing opportunities they longed for, and a place to enjoy them.
For all their socializing, members of the Tyee Ski Runners also developed a fondness for ski racing in their Club’s formative years. It enriched the mountain experience for younger adult members and their children. The formula initially worked well, but the Club eventually began to face some challenges.
By the mid-1950s, the Tyee Ski Runners and the Grouse Mountain Ski Club merged to form the Grouse Mountain Tyee Ski Club. The Club’s official mission was to “establish and operate a Club for persons desirous of skiing and engaging in other winter, mountain and outdoor sports; and to purchase, lease or otherwise acquire and provide grounds and clubhouses for the purpose of engaging in said sports.”
The old village started to fade in 1966, when the original Grouse Mountain Skyride began operating. The lift made it easier for Tyee members to stay at home during the week and commute to the Mountain on weekends to ski. A decision was made to make the Grouse Mountain Ski Club Cabin the home base for the merged club so the Tyee Ski Runners Cabin was then moved up the Cut and connected to the Grouse Mountain Ski Club Cabin. This is still the home base of the Grouse Mountain Tyee Ski Club today.
The Tyee racing programs really took off in the 1960s, with Ron Williams joining the club in 1967 as its first professional coach. In 1969, the Nancy Greene Ski League was established on Grouse Mountain.
Today, the Grouse Mountain Tyee Ski Club remains focused on its racers and on ensuring their development on and off the slopes, while providing a social atmosphere that is enjoyable for all members, young and old.
Vancouver Adaptive Snow Sports
What began as the brainchild of Sue Hamilton and Val MacMillan, local physiotherapists working with amputee patients who saw an opportunity to share their passion for skiing, has grown and flourished over the years into the Vancouver Adaptive Snow Sports (VASS) program we know today.
The provincial movement around adaptive skiing really started right here on Grouse Mountain. Originally established as the Disabled Skiers Association of British Columbia (DSABC) in 1974, the program was conceived to make the mountain experience accessible to people with physical disabilities. As it evolved, the Provincial organization – now called BC Adaptive Snowsports – began to take on programming at a number of ski resorts around the Province. A group remained focused on the local adaptive snow sports program based on Grouse Mountain and later evolved into the current VASS non-profit organization.
Now in its 43rd year of operation at Grouse Mountain, VASS has provided approximately 30,000 ski and snowboard lessons to people with physical and cognitive disabilities. Operated by a group of dedicated volunteers, their mission is to make the Mountain accessible to all. While now operating at other Lower Mainland mountains as well, about 90% of VASS programming is still conducted at Grouse Mountain. According to Anne Bethune, President of VASS “Grouse Mountain has been fantastic at facilitating what we call the ‘VASS Magic’. The entire Grouse Mountain community, from management right down to the front line staff, are so supportive of what we do.”
VASS Magic is not only about what happens on the Mountain, but the impact that the program has on both the students’ and volunteers’ lives. VASS truly makes a difference in the local community. Many of the VASS community members have gone on to great achievements, including becoming Paralympians, Special Olympic National Ski Team members, ski/snowboarding instructors, award winning athletes/coaches/volunteers, and torch bearers during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Games