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In 1951, Grouse Mountain put in a chairlift to whisk skiers from the base of the mountain to the Grouse chalet. The chalet was owned by the Cromie family, which owned The Vancouver Sun, and the paper often carried ads promoting the chalet, the chairlift, and the free skiing lessons The Sun offered to its readers. 

In the summer, Grouse would lure the masses up the mountain to dine and dance at the chalet, which featured music by “Canada’s favourite pianist,” Hugo Sartorello. A Sun ad on July 13, 1954 featured stylish cartoon skiers relaxing on the chairlift, which offered a 40-minute ride along 2,700 metres of cable “and each minute a change in scenery.” 

Sartorello played atop Grouse from 1952 to 1961, when he left town for many years to play in the States (he had a long residency at the Camelback Inn in Scottsdale, Ariz.). The 86-year-old was born in Venice, Italy and immigrated to Canada in 1950. His first local gig of note was at The Penthouse nightclub in 1951; his last was at Ciao Bella restaurant in the West End. 

In the late 1950s, Sartorello also appeared in one of Vancouver’s most unusual TV shows, Night Cap. CBC archivist Colin Preston recently discovered an episode for the show, which starred local DJ Monty McFarlane as a swinger whose bachelor pad came with a “manservant” and a house band (Sartorello, Charles ‘Luigi’ Knott, and Tom ‘Pasquale’ McConkey). It was supposed to be set in a beach house, but Sartorello says it was actually shot in a garage. 

The original Grouse chalet burned down in 1964, and the chairlift was replaced by a gondola in the 1970s. The Sun hasn’t been associated with the chalet since the Cromies sold the paper in 1964. 
John Mackie with Carolyn Soltau, Vancouver Sun

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Please be aware, Altitudes Bistro is undergoing renovation. Lunch service with the Altitudes menu will be available in The Observatory beginning at 11am. Grouse Grind coffee bar open 7:00am-10:00pm and Grill board menu available from 11:00am. The Observatory will be open 5:00pm - 10:00pm.