Supporting and Developing the Ski Community for over a Century.
There have been many changes since the Ottawa Ski Club was first formed in 1910. The Club originally focused on jumping. The first primitive jump tower was built at ‘Suicide Hill’, Rockcliffe Park. The Club’s activities were suspended during World War I and in 1919 the Ottawa Ski Club (OSC) was reorganized and incorporated.
Cross-country racing predominated for more than a decade after the Club’s reorganization. 1920 marked the acquisition of Camp Fortune. Trails were cut, lodges were built and the Ottawa Ski Club grew in numbers becoming the largest ski club in the world with a membership of over 10,000. The focus of the OSC moved towards alpine events.
The ski area has seen major changes in management over the years. John Clifford became area manager in 1953, opening many new trails and developing the Skyline and Meech areas. Unfortunately, later under the management of John Graham, the Ottawa Ski Club went bankrupt. The National Capital Commission purchased Camp Fortune in 1991 and the area was managed for three years by Jeff White.
The Fortune Ski Club was formed in 1991 to carry on the competitive programs at Fortune, and reverted to its former Ottawa Ski Club name in 2000. In 1994, the Sudermans took over long term management of Ski Fortune and the area has seen a major revitalization and a return of many skiers. In 1994 Fortune Race Academy was formed for the next decade two competitive racing programs were in operation at the hill. In 2006 both racing organization decided to merge and Camp Fortune Ski Club was formed.
Ski racing has been a tradition at Fortune and the measure of the competitive standing of the Fortune Racing Programs is found in the record of its achievements in divisional, national and international competitions. In 1951 the Midget program started with volunteer instructors. Children aged 6 to 12 participated and a racing schedule was a prominent part of the program. The Mini Midget program was created for 4 and 5 year old children. It was a 10 week program of 1 hr. sessions. The Midget ski school provided free instruction for 8 consecutive Saturdays.
The Nordic (jumping and cross-country) events were open to all competitors. In 1961 the scope of the midget program expanded to include a school for instructors which was made available to all clubs in the Gatineau Ski Zone. This school gave technical advice and assistance in the formation of new schools such as those at Vorlage and Edelweiss. The objective was that each Club should assume the cost of operating its Midget school in order to ensure free instruction and training for children.
In 1969, the chief instructor for the Midget School at Camp Fortune, Roland Beaudry, reported attendance as high as 716 with an average attendance for 8 lessons of 604. The number of instructors averaged 68.
Another important development was the introduction of a new juvenile program. Experience had shown that the
better midgets needed more challenging courses. The Juvenile division was started by John Fripp for children 13-15 and Dr. Bruce Lang was a major force in its organization.
Herbert Marshall remarks ‘One very noticeable result of the Midget Program was a great increase in what has been called Family Skiing. The eagerness of children to learn to ski and attend classes has brought the parents with them.
Some former enthusiasts took up the sport again and many took it up for the first time. The very wholesome
development of family skiing is now an outstanding feature of activities at Camp Fortune. The continued success of this program is due to the many members of the Ottawa Ski Club and later the Fortune Ski Club who contributed voluntary assistance.
The Nancy Greene program began in 1969 in the Gatineau Ski Zone. The program provided an opportunity for the younger skiers to start their racing career. In 1971 there were 100 skiers and the numbers grew to over 200 under the guidance of Judy Rawley.
Excerpts from KEN READ’S WHITE CIRCUS
‘As I learned at Camp Fortune the size of the hill is not the most important element in the development of a racer. What is important? Skiing must be enjoyed for what it is. An enthusiastic program in which participants enjoy lots of camaraderie and bonhomie, can go a long way towards making up any shortcomings in vertical drop.’
‘They may not have had the mountains of Europe or the North American West, but Camp Fortune and the Ottawa Ski Club had a structured racing organization which involved hundreds of kids …… the kids at Fortune were divided so that no child ever felt at a disadvantage because of his weight. Best of all I got to know a bunch of kids who loved to bomb down the hill. We built bumps and executed spreadeagles in masses of 10 to 15 kids. We chased one another everywhere. To test our mettle, we’d schuss slalom, ….. out of such foolishness are formed the skiers, who become racers and the racers who become champions.’
‘The Fortune program was varied. We were not obliged to concentrate solely on Alpine skiing, but we were involved in a regime which also included ski jumping, slalom, downhill and cross-country.’
‘For a time this small club in the Gatineau Hills may have run the best racing system in Canada. It turned out racers such as Currie Chapman, who now coaches the women’s team, and the Clifford sisters, world champion Betsy, and former national team member, Susan.’
‘Mr. Graves* and Mr. Livingstone* (Fred and Doug were always “Mister” to this 10 year old) were my first real coaches. They encouraged me alot about the rudiments of the sport, but most of all they made skiing fun. The gratitude of a 10 yr old is fleeting. Their reward for so many weekends with frozen hands and feet was to see my beaming face and then my back as I took off down the hill.’