Skiing in Rossland entered a new era when the Trail and Rossland ski clubs amalgamated to form the Red Mountain Ski Club (RMSC) in 1947. Before 1947, the Rossland Ski Club (RSC) and Trail Ski Club (TSC) operated independently, each maintaining their ski fields and cabins separately. However, many RSC and TSC members dreamed of larger-scale projects, which their clubs could not support alone. For example, Ches Edwards surveyed three possible runs up Red Mountain to develop after the Second World War. He pitched the idea to the TSC but was turned down due to a lack of funds. However, by February 1946, the members’ dreams started to turn into reality. The Rossland Junior Board of Trade proposed the construction of a ski chalet, road facilities, and additional hill developments to the TSC. The Trail Ski Club endorsed this proposal. However, they stated, “a major development of this nature [was] only possible if the two ski clubs combine activities and act as one body.” As such, the TSC executives reached out to the RSC and suggested plans to amalgamate.
The RSC executives had their concerns but ultimately supported the proposal for four reasons:
1) to make the organization stronger,
2) to prevent a loss of Rossland members to Trail,
3) the TSC had a greater chance of obtaining grants from Trail-based Consolidated Mining and Smelting Company of Canada Limited (CM&S),
4) there would be more help and mentoring available.
On May 29, 1947, the Red Mountain Ski Club was formed after a vote at the general meeting.
The Red Chair
Immediately following the amalgamation, the Red Mountain Ski Club got to work building more skiing facilities. Their first goal was to build a chairlift, despite the fact many members had never ridden or seen one before. Luckily, several members were engineers at CM&S, and thus had the expertise to design a chairlift inspired by the technology behind aerial mining trams. They were even able to re-purpose many parts from old mines around BC. In fact, the 10-foot bull wheel and 8-foot pulley systems used for the lift were salvaged from the aerial tramway of a northern BC tungsten mine. Their hard work paid off. On December 26, 1947, the Red Chair was opened to the public. It was the first chairlift in western Canada and the longest in the country, spanning 1158 metres (3800 feet) in length and 427 metres (1400 feet) in elevation. The 12 tower lift was also designed for skiers to unload at towers 5, 10, and 12.