History of Sunshine Village Banff, Alberta

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Home > Alberta > Banff > Sunshine Village > History    [ bookmark this page ]

Page Title: History of Sunshine Village Banff, Alberta
Page Synopsis: Information about the history of Sunshine Village Ski Resort, located in Banff, Alberta, Canada.

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SUNSHINE VILLAGE CELEBRATES 75 YEARS OF "Mankind and Nature in Harmony"


Sunshine Village has had the privilege of introducing even more for skiers and boarders traveling from throughout Canada and around the world to the incredible scenery and experience available in Banff National Park. The transformation of our three mountains into a world ski resort is the hallmark of the Scurfield era.

With 7 Quads chairlifts and a high-speed gondola, all skier guests at Sunshine Village can move about the resort with greater ease, comfort, and quickly accessing the varied terrain of this unique mountain resort. The Sunshine Inn lobby, restaurants and guest facilities have been expanded and transformed to extend a quality experience for all guests at Banff National Park only ski-in ski-out hotel accommodation.

In recent years the Scurfield family have spent more than $40 million - more than all other national ski resorts combined - on capital improvements to ensure an unmatched first-class experience for skiers and boarders. Future improvements and projects are proposed and will be incorporated into a new 15 year long-range plan for Sunshine Village jointly with Parks Canada.

The Early Years: 1928 to 1951
Banff's world-famous resort began humbly with a single log rest cabin built 75 years ago in 1928 by the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR), a stopover for horse trekkers traveling to towering Mt. Assiniboine. The cost: $300.00. The situation: travelers were spellbound by the magnificent scenery and the beautiful mountain powder snow from November till May. A reputation that is now synonymous with Sunshine.

Back in 1934, two runs a day was more than enough to handle. Sunshine's first owners Pat and Jim Brewster recognized the potential, leased the cabin for the CPR, expanded the cabin and charged guests $30.00 for a week's stay on the mountain, meals included. It would take an entire day to travel by Model-T, horse and then sled from Banff in those days.

Just four short years later, the Brewster's hired their first Swiss ski guides, including the infamous Bruno Engler, whose exploits are legendary. "The horses would be belly deep in snow, so the final trek was on skis or snowshoes while dragging sleds," Bruno used to recall. In 1941, the Brewster's built a rope tow up Strawberry, ushering in a new era and offering a respite for skiers after a long day of Nordic skiing. Today the original CPR rest cabin is known to guests as the Mad Trapper's Western Saloon with Bruno's Pub located on the upper floor. Fondly called the "OSL" (Old Sunshine Lodge) by longtime Sunshine employees, the cabin is a tribute to the early adventuresome skiers, providing an "authentic" experience that is the hallmark of Sunshine Village.

The Middle Years: 1951 to 1981
On the heels of a world war, multiple owners worked to secure a future for Sunshine Village, given that name finally by George Encil, a rival ski resort operator at Mt. Norquay and eventual owner. Cliff White and his wife Beverly purchased Sunshine Village in 1960, just as the Trans-Canada Highway into Banff National Park was completed, meaning more skiers were driving up to Sunshine in search of powder. The White's became the driving force in the development of the resort. Although successive owners such as Power Corporation and Warnock Hersey International were involved, White continued to managing the improvement and expansion of the resort. The present Day Lodge and Sunshine Inn were built under his tenure, providing Banff National Park its only ski-in ski-out lodging experience.

Cliff White hired Brewster Transport to provide shuttle buses traveling up the present ski-out right into the Village, installed a high-speed T-bar at Wah-Wah (old spelling). The defining moment of the middle years was the construction of a $12 million gondola, an almost five-kilometer long lift linking the Bourgeau parking lot to the main Village, and ending the need for buses to transport skiers to the Village.

The Scurfield Years - 1981 to Present
Since being purchased by the Scurfield family in 1981, Sunshine Village has developed into a world-famous resort that celebrates the special environment and unique recreation opportunities found only in Canada's first national park.

Led by Sunshine Village president Ralph Scurfield, Jr., and brothers John and Sergei, the Scurfield's have realized a number of firsts and a commitment to provide the best possible experience for skiers and boarders.

The first new lift built at this time was Wheeler in 1984. Angel Express followed in 1988 and was the first high speed quad in Banff National Park.

Amazing snow conditions continued at Sunshine Village allowing for skiing on the July 1st weekend in 1991.

In 1995, Goat's Eye Mountain opened. This marked the largest amount of new terrain opened anywhere in the Rocky Mountains - dramatically increasing the scope and range of runs at Sunshine Village and providing a major boost to yearly attendance.

In 1996, the Continental Divide double chair was replaced with a high speed quad.

In 1998, the spectacular Delirium Dive terrain re-opened after 17 years - a true testament to the skills of skiers and the Sunshine safety and avalanche control experts.

Wheeler Chair and Fireweed T-bar were both replaced in 2000 with new quad chairs, Jack Rabbit & Wolverine.

The world's fastest eight-person gondola opened in November 2001, replacing the aging one built one year before the Scurfield purchase of Sunshine. It is the largest investment in the history of the resort, clearly demonstrating the Sunshine commitment to excellence in service.

2002-03 Sunshine Village continued to expand in cooperation with Parks Canada, WaWa Quad Chair was constructed, along with chair replacement of TeePee Town Chairlift. The "Skier Services" area was constructed on the 2nd floor of the Bourgeau Gondola Building, with a new group area providing warm seating recycling the chairs from TeePee Town, offering over-night ski storage, washroom and locker facilities. Goat's Eye Station was also modified making the stop fully disabled accessible.

The Sunshine Inn lobby was relocated and redesigned in the summer of 2002 to greet guests at the Village level. The Chimney Corner Lounge was expanded to offer spectacular views of the Canadian Rockies to complement the quality dining experience. Bruno's Pub was also expanded offering an authentic location for the resort's weekly toboggan party, "The Sundowner" along with dining daily.

Sunshine Village was runner-up for the Silver Eagle Award, the highest honor given to environmentally progressive ski resorts across North America; cited for significant environmental improvements in buildings its 8-passenger gondola.

2003-04 Sunshine Village introduces more extreme skiing in Delirium Dive as well as an undiscovered area of Goat's Eye Mountain - The Wild West. Renovations continued in the Sunshine Inn upgrading guest as well as restaurant facilities. Bourgeau Base is also receiving a facelift with additional dining space in the convenient Creekside Restaurant, better Guest Service facilities and a new locker room for our fabulous volunteer Snow Hosts. Washroom facilities have also been upgraded throughout the Village.

Our quad fleet increased to 7 with the replacement of Standish Chair, with 8 SUPER LIFTS the skier and boarders are offered an incomparable winter experience. Sunshine Village reflecting its motto "Mankind and Nature in Harmony" celebrates its 75th year in 2003 continues to offer year-round, one of the most unique visitor experiences in Banff National Park.

2008 - Sunshine Village will celebrate its 80th Anniversary.

2033 - Sunshine Village will celebrate its 100th Anniversary.

Home > Alberta > Banff > Sunshine Village > History    [ bookmark this page ]

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