Unlocking North Vancouver History

Wilderness on the Doorstep: Vancouver’s Mountain Playground

Early Skis

Early skis were of the Nordic type, which had the boot mounted to the ski at the toe only, leaving the heel free to move up and down for cross-country skiing or going up slopes. This pair, made in Vancouver in the late ’20s or early ’30s, was of a hybrid style that could trap the heel of the boot for downhill runs. Once lifts became established, the design of boots and bindings changed to deal with the increased speed and steepness of the terrain. This led to the birth of Alpine equipment, which has the boot mounted to the ski at both the toe and heel. Early Vancouver skier Roy Howard remembers: “Skis were quite rare [in the 1920s] … I bought about 10 pairs of hickory skis for 10 bucks each. The harness was $2.50 extra … and the poles, I think, were $1.50, and that was quite a lot of dough! I sold them to all the members of the [BC Mountaineering Club] and we were in business.”

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This pair of hickory skis was made by Hamish Davidson, a woodworker who kept a ski shop in downtown Vancouver. His made-to-order skis were popular in British Columbia.

These skis, which look well worn, were very likely used on the North Shore mountains.

This pair of skis could have been made anytime from 1929 to the mid-’30s, before the advent of tows and lifts.

These skis belonged to a North Vancouver family living at the foot of Grouse Mountain.

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