From the archives: the history of Sunshine Village
The history of Sunshine Village, found in one of the world’s most recognized parks—Canada’s Banff National Park—is a storied one. With the 'Shine opening Nov 11, 2023 for the 2023-24 ski season, here's a quick look back.
In the early 20s Sunshine Meadows, which is now home to Sunshine Village, had been a popular camping spot. There were so many tipis found up here during the summer months, that an area of Sunshine took on the name, Tee Pee Town (insider tip: get in here for some outstanding glade skiing).
For the owners of Sunshine Village—brothers Ralph, John and Sergei Scurfield—these stories provide plenty to talk about.
Brewsters had the vision
“The story about the history of this place is an exciting one,” said Ralph, over a brew on the deck of Sunshine’s Mad Trapper’s Saloon. “It was the Brewster Brothers who started bringing people up here for camping.
The area was discovered years before that by surveyors. A trail brought people right through this village taking them up to Mount Assiniboine.
But it was the Brewsters who really laid the foundation and the discovery of the resort. They saw how much snow they received up here and said something like, ‘Man this would be a great place to ski.’
As far as we can tell, this cabin (Mad Trappers) dates back to 1928 and acted as a hunting lodge. Today we showcase this history in a lot of the names of the runs.”
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Since taking ownership of the resort in 1981, the Scurfield family has invested heavily in the resort, to the tune of $40 million through the 90s and the beginning of this century. From those years of investment, I asked Scurfield what he was most proud of.
Goat's Eye lift expands terrain
“Goat’s Eye Mountain and the installation of the lift system there, as it really opened up a whole new world for skiers and snowboarders."
The ’95 installation of a high speed quad chair on Goat’s Eye almost doubled Sunshine’s ski and snowboarding terrain, delivering a ton of stellar black and double black options.
“The other thing we are most proud of is the access system we have created,” continued Scurfield Sunshine’s president. “We were early adapters to the snowboard generation,” said Scurfield.
“We appreciated how much effort it was to use a t–bar with a snowboard, so in the mid 90s we removed our last surface lift, installing the Wawa Quad chair.”
Delirium Dive jacks adrenaline factor
The addition of the backcountry access area, Delirium Dive, added yet another advanced level of experience to the mountain in 1999.
A first of its kind for Western Canada, it allowed skiers with proper avalanche equipment to access a technically challenging terrain off the backside of the Divide. (Here's a handy guide from SkiBig3, if you're up to the challenge).
Match all this history, terrain and lift access with over nine metres (30 feet) of snow in a season, and three mountain, it’s no wonder Sunshine Village welcomes around half a million visitors annually from around the globe.
For the 2023-24 ski season, Sunshine Village is open as of Nov 11. For more information on Sunshine Village or to book your ski, snowboard, or winter getaway to Banff, Sunshine Village, or Lake Louise, check out the SkiBig3 website.
More early season stoke
#DYK Sunshine Village was the first to open for the 2022-23 season on Thursday, November 3, 2022? For 2023-24, Sunshine Village opening date is Nov 11.
The ski season is on now! Let us help you get into it.