Then and now: Kinosoo Ridge

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Kinosoo Ridge: A time-saving delight for the locals 

Bonnyville and Cold Lake, AB., are almost 800 kilometres from the closest mountain ski resort. That didn’t deter the ski bums at CFB Cold Lake in the late 1970s. They built their own ski resort at the back gate of the military base. A single tow rope took skiers to the top of two runs. 

The original chalet at Kinosoo Ridge

By 1981, it was apparent that the two trails weren’t going to service the surrounding communities so the ski resort was relocated 14 kilometres east to the shores of Cold Lake at French Bay Provincial Recreation Area and named Kinosoo Ridge, honouring the local Dene nation legend. 

Dene legend 

According to the legend told for many generations, a young Dene brave who lived on the shores of Cold Lake (“Luwe Chok Tuwe” in Dene) was in love with a young girl across French Bay.

Knowing that the open water of Cold Lake could be whipped into choppy whitecaps by the wind, he’d paddle the shoreline all the way around French Bay to visit her. One night however, he threw caution to the wind and the wind won. He set out on calm waters but in the middle of the bay, the waters began to swirl. His girlfriend could see from shore that he was having difficulty. Suddenly a big fish called Kinosoo leapt from the water and bit the canoe in half. The brave tried gallantly to beat off the fish but sadly, his girlfriend watched as he submerged. To this day, the sad legend is told to remind Dene to avoid crossing the large expanse of water in canoes. 

Dene Nation has a rich history that helped form Kinosoo Ridge

Kinosoo Ridge ski resort is nowhere near the middle of the lake so there’s no fear of a big fish leaping up. Snow snakes, however, are another story. 

Crowd-pleasing changes 

Cold Lake Skiing Society were the operators of the resort then and they worked hard to create a family-friendly resort. Ten runs were cut on the north-facing slopes. A lodge was built at the bottom with two lifts for a T-Bar and a triple chair was installed. Getting off the chairlift, riders were and still are greeted by a sign that reads, “Welcome to Saskatchewan.” That’s something you don’t expect at a ski resort in Alberta!

During the 1995-96 season there was a change in ownership. The Municipal District of Bonnyville took over and have made some outstanding improvements over the years. 

A photo of the old T-Bar before installation of the new Quad Chair.
Photo by Kinosoo Ridge

Improved snowmaking machines were installed to blanket most runs better. New carpet lifts were installed to take beginners to two new bunny slopes and the T-Bar was removed and replaced by a quad chairlift. 

Kinosoo Ridge is home to some amazing snow guns.
Photo by Kinosoo Ridge

The resort proves to be a crowd pleaser and the numbers prove it. In 1995, there was an annual visit count of 7,000 visits. Now almost 50,000 annual visits are made by people travelling from as far away as 1.5 hours. Each year over 60 schools bring students to learn how to ski and snow board. 

To handle the crowds a beautiful new lodge was created in 2010 where the food is rumoured to be outstanding. 

The blueprint for the new chalet was impressive!
Provided by Kinosoo Ridge

Today, there are four lifts, 13 trails and a sweet terrain park to challenge the adventurous. Recently a tube park was added and is open all day, and like the rest of the resort, is lit for Friday and Saturday night visits. 

Enjoy night tubing with the entire family.
Photo by Kinosoo Ridge

For more information about Kinosoo Ridge, head to the official Kinosoo Ridge website.

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