Page 40 - Escarpment Magazine - Winter 2012

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With the closing of Talisman Mountain Resort last spring I felt a cer-
tain amount of nostalgia and regret. Nostalgia recalling the times
my family and I spent cruising down Talisman’s wide runs on sunny
winter weekends. Regret for not taking advantage of skiing there
one last time before the lifts stopped… possibly for good… which
has been the fate of many smaller ski operations in the region.
Last winter I took up a quest to find the lost ski hills around
our region — to see if there was anything left that would
remind me of the “old” days… or maybe encounter a
ghost or two making feathery turns through the deep
Harrison Park sits on the south end of Owen Sound.
The ski hill had only about 80 feet of vertical, but
seemed to be fairly steep at the top (for a begin-
ner hill). If you managed two or three turns be-
fore coming to a stop at the bottom you were
lucky. The great thing about the park was that
the lift was free! We could ski until the kids’
were too shivery, then go to the Harrison
Park Inn for hot chocolate before heading
home. When my oldest son, Ben, was in
high school, he was the weekend lifty at
the park. His biggest headaches were dealing
with constant breakdowns and chasing tobogganers off
the ski-hill. Eventually, the toboggans won out and the City of Owen
Sound removed the lift.
The history of skiing at Harrison Park goes back to the 1930s and
an athletic teenager named Louis Georgas. Louis read a book on
learning how to ski that he had bought for 75¢.
The idea so intrigued him that he would gather his siblings in the living
room to study ski technique which they put into practice on the hills
around Harrison Park, sporting their new Canadian Tire skis.
By 1937 the Georgas boys and a number of other local ski enthusi-
asts formed the Owen Sound Ski Club. They cut trails and built jumps
around the Mile Drive. The boys trudged up and skied down until
they mastered every turn. By 1938 Louis entered and won the On-
tario men’s slalom and downhill championships, which were held at
the long forgotten Kimberly Ski Club hills in the Beaver Valley. He
followed that by winning the Canadian combined downhill and
slalom events the following year. He was chosen to be on the Cana-
dian Olympic team in 1940, but the war changed that and the
Olympics were cancelled for 1940 and 1944 — Louis and his broth-
ers enlisted to fight the Nazis. Back home after the war ended, the
Georgas brothers, along with a number of other neighbourhood
boys rekindled their ski passion, cutting new runs and erecting a rope
tow on the west side of the Harrison Park. After experimenting with
a few small ski jump designs they constructed a large jump on the
east side of the park. The daredevils among them would take big
air, but were then forced to make a sharp left turn and ski over the
park bridge. Otherwise they could end up taking a cold swim in the
Sydenham River. The spectacle was a huge hit with the crowds that
gathered on Sunday afternoons at the park.
Louis, always the entrepreneur, purchased land above the park on
Highway 6 & 10. He built a motel on the land and called it Bay Ski
Motel (Today it has morphed into Stone Tree Golf Club). He and his
brothers constructed a new lift on the east side of the park on Thom-
son’s hill, which was closer to the motel. That was the handle towmy
family used in the seventies.
Escarpment Magaz ine Winter
of Ski Resorts Past