Unlocking North Vancouver History

Wilderness on the Doorstep: Vancouver’s Mountain Playground

Snowboat Hauling Toboggans

In the early days, local residents flocked to Grouse Mountain for various wintertime activities, which included skiing, tobogganing, skating, snowshoeing and renting dogsled teams to go for a ride. At this time, the mountain was in its infancy as a winter resort. By the mid-1930s, the mountain had its first rope tow, but, as this picture shows, limited skiing infrastructure meant other activities were just as popular. In 1951 Joan Greenwood, a writer for The Standard (probably a newspaper that began publishing out of Hope, BC, in the 1940s), summed up the peak’s popular appeal: “Going up Grouse Mountain isn’t just something to do. It’s a way of life. Once you’ve tasted it… you’ll never entirely forget it. Because there’s something about being on top–whether you hike or ski or just stand and stare–that makes you and the mountain belong.”

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WHAT
This “snowboat” powered by a motor-driven winch pulled young-adult tobogganers up a slope on Grouse Mountain.

WHERE
The snowboat was set up to transport tobogganers to the tops of the toboggan runs.

WHEN
This photo was taken in 1927. Toboggans of that era, often almost 2 m long, were made of steam-bent hardwoods such as maple, with sculpted breastplates and side ropes.

WHO
Young people used the wooden toboggans hitched to the back of the snowboat to slide back down the hill.

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