Page 41 - Escarpment Magazine - Winter 2012

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On a day bright with new snow last winter, I set out to find those original ski trails at Harrison
Park. Equipped with short bushwhacker skis I climbed the steep slope near the swimming
pool, where I knew the Georgas boys had placed the original lift and runs. I had to fight
my way through the tangle of grape vines, briars and sumac and after several wrong turns
I spotted an old post with a rusty truck wheel attached to the top. There it was… the remains
of the old rope tow. Continuing to climb, I spotted the next “lift tower” at the top of the
ridge. This, according to Louis’s younger brother Earl, was known as Humphrie’s Hill.
Though overgrown with brush I could still make out the lay of the old run. My friend,
Bob McMeekin, who skied there as a youth, related that skiers had to make a very
sharp left turn on their descent or they would end up in the rocky ravine below. So I
gingerly skied down in the deep virgin snow avoiding a grove of sumac, slowly made
the turn and headed down through a stand of large pine trees. There I spotted the
remains of hydro lines and an old light tower still hanging from one of the big trees.
At the bottom, the run ended abruptly on the Mile Drive where throngs of people
milled about on a cold Sunday afternoon. Up on the old ski hill I was so isolated
from civilization it gave me a cold shiver down my spine. Could that have been
Louis on his old Arlbergs cutting an invisible turn around me and racing to the bottom?
Louis Georgas continued to search the region for the perfect ski resort. He finally settled on a
spot just northeast of the village of Chatsworth. After purchasing the land, he and his family
began clearing the trees along the scenic ridge for ski runs for the new Bay Ski Village. They
built a dorm, a row of quaint little chalets and an outdoor heated pool. In the fall he would
head off to the Toronto and Detroit Ski Shows where instead of renting a booth, he walked
around the show handing out flyers advertising his new ski resort near beautiful Georgian
Bay. In the 1970 book ‘The Canadian Ski Scene’ the Bay Motor Inn and Ski Village is adver-
tised as having a vertical drop of 225’ with six lifts including a T-bar and 2 chairlifts. For a few
years throngs of skiers from the city came to the little resort. I found an old newsletter from the
1930s where it was referred to as Kimberley Ski Club (I don't think it is the same Kimberly Ski
Club that had raced out of Talisman in recent years). Jim Georgas and Pete Peterson built a
sanctioned ski jump where the Ontario Ski Jumping Championships were held in the 1960s.
By the late 70s when I took my son there to ski, the resort was on its last legs— Louis had fol-
lowed a new dream in the Caribbean Islands and his younger brother Earl remained to op-
erate the Bay Ski Village. I remember the effervescent Earl greeting us and inviting Ben to ride
“TheWorld’s Smallest Chairlift”. This was a piece of novelty equipment that Louis had bought
during the resort’s heyday. It consisted of two small towers and what looked like a fewwooden
egg crates hanging on a cable. Earl fired up the engine and Ben gingerly sat in one of the
crates — up he went… for about 25 feet. Earl hit the brake and Ben skied off and down the
little slope. Though the T-bar did go right to the top of the ridge, the 225’ vertical did not come
close to the higher and better-equipped resorts at BlueMountain, Talisman or Georgian Peaks.
The resort closed for good when the land was sold to a religious group. All traces of the lifts
were removed and the tranquil setting was transformed and used as a spiritual retreat.
In researching, I found an old newsletter from the 1930s that referred to a ski destination
called Kimberley Ski Club - (I don't think it is the same Kimberly Ski Club that had raced out of
Talisman in recent years). After talking to Earl Georgas about his brother Louis’s achievements,
in races that were held at Kimberly Ski Club - my curiosity was piqued. Where were these
runs that held such a prestigious past? I explained my plight to the former owner of Bud’s Place
Cross Country Ski Centre, Bud Hoffman, who eagerly jumped in with, “I know exactly where
they are!”
Winter 2012
Escarpment Magaz ine
I have endeavoured in this Ghostly little story, to
raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my
readers out of humour with themselves, with each
other, with the season, or with me…
~With apologies to Charles Dickens
Local ski pioneer,
Loui s Georgas ,
enjoy ing spr ing
ski ing at Harr i son
Park in the 1950s .
Ski ing by the book