During the 1930's, ski facilities in the Oshawa area were limited; however, nothing could keep the dedicated skiers off the slopes. They used any hill they could find including the gentle slopes of the Oshawa Golf Club and the Downsview Golf Club, as well as some small hills in Raglan.
A Club is Formed
In 1937, a small group of these skiers came together to form the Oshawa Ski Club on a small piece of land in Raglan. Today, this property is known as "Trillium Trails."
The current property in Kirby, was discovered in the 1940's and was originally called Brimacombe's Hill. While most of the activity remained in Raglan, Brimacombe's Hill was often used to hold races. Some of these races included exciting guests such as a team from the army!
In the late forties and early fifties, more and more activity began taking place at the Brimacombe site, with an official move occurring in 1954.
That same year, the first family memberships were offered for only $10. This price included both parents and all children, up to 18 years of age. To raise money for improvements at the new location, life memberships were also offered for just $100 each. A $300 loan was arranged to finance the construction of the first tow.
Our First Lift
The first rope tow was constructed using an old car. The tire was removed from its rim, and a system of wooden posts and wheel rims was used to drive and guide a large rope up the hill.
Today, many of you may doubt the efficiency of such a rustic system, but the Oshawa Ski Club's tows were noted for moving skiers up the hill at rather exciting speeds. In fact, Canada's World Champion skier, Nancy Greene, visited our club after her victory and later remarked, "Oshawa is the only ski area in the world where you went up the hill faster than you could come down."
Over the years, more rope tows were built, before slowly being replaced by t-bars, chairlifts and a Magic Carpet.
Today, we easily transport thousands of skiers up-hill each hour using 4 quad chairlifts, 3 t-bars and a Magic Carpet.
The Need for Snowmaking
It would not have been possible to get to where we are today without the many developments in snowmaking. From having the ability to cover thin spots to being able to completely cover a run in less than a week, snowmaking has become an important and very necessary tool.
Our first snowmaking system was little more than portable air compressors and water pumps, pushing air and water via aboveground aluminum irrigation pipes through small guns. You can only imagine the struggles during early mornings in the frigid cold, with freezing water and airlines.
Today, we draw water from a sizeable man-made reservoir. The water and compressed air travel separately through vast systems of piping, now located underground. Different types of snowmaking guns are now used based on the area that is being covered. Each season we blow well over 20 million gallons of water converted to snow, over 100% of our terrain.
Advancing in Grooming
Would you believe that in the 1940's, grooming was little more than the dedicated members "side-stepping" with their skis up and down the slopes!?! Another idea that was put forward was for the purchase of 12 pairs of snowshoes. It was thought that these could be used to pack slope by walking up and down the hills in a line... would you apply for that job today?
Grooming has advanced from these humble beginnings. Even our first hill groomer, purchased in 1961, pales in comparison to the three groomers used on-site today. Special blade-studded rollers called "tillers" spin at high speeds, cutting and chewing up the top couple inches of snow and then laying it out like a smooth corduroy carpet. Our whole hill is groomed at least once per day, usually before most of us are awake.
The more things change, the more they stay the same...
Today, the small group of avid skiers has grown from 137 members in 1937 into a present day membership of approximately 3,000 skiers and snowboarders with 150,000 visits annually... yet we remain true to our values of family, fun and safety as well as quality and affordability.
As a not-for-profit organization we continue to be led by a dedicated group of membership-elected, volunteer board members. The income we receive from our members and valued visitors continues to go directly back into the operation and growth of the facility.
And even though, as of 2009, the facility is no longer named after the Oshawa Ski Club, the new name, Brimacombe, has not only opened up a new and exciting future, it has taken us back to our roots and made prominent our rich and vibrant history.
Board of Directors
As a not-for-profit facility, Brimacombe continues to be led by a dedicated group of membership-elected, volunteer board members
- Steve McGill - President
- Ken Vaillancourt - Vice President
- Robert Partington - Executive Director
- Benjamin Suter - Treasurer
- Gail Short - Past President
- David Proskin
- Don McKenna
- Roberta Gjatema
- Tim Stezik
- Tony McCraw
- Ian Mackey
- Chris Hunter