Celebrating 50 years of fun in the snow!
Erin Curley considers Brookvale Winter Activity Park home – and not just because she’s skied there since she was three years old.
What is now Brookvale sits on land that was once owned by the Curley family. Erin says her grandmother Rose Curley always wanted her community to thrive. So in 1966, Mrs. Curley sold the land to Ken Judson, Lloyd Miller, Laurie Coles, and Creelman MacArthur, who had a loan guarantee from the province and an understanding that government would eventually assume ownership.
“My grandmother believed so much in helping her community that, even though it broke her heart,” Erin said, “she gave up her family farm so the ski park could grow.”
It’s in her blood
Erin says the ski park, its staff and customers are like her family.
“My mother died young, and my father was a massive influence on my life,” says the 37 year old. “My dad, Vernon Curley, dedicated his life to two things: his daughters and Brookvale Ski Park.”
She spent many years sitting next to her father while he groomed the hills. She volunteered at Brookvale until she was old enough to apply for a job and then started working at the Nordic site when she was 21.
At 27 – encouraged by her father -- she applied for a job as the ski school coordinator. Today, Erin Curley is the coordinator of the Brown's Volkswagen Snow School, helping 400 skiers and snowboarders learn or fine-tune their skills every year.
“From my grandmother's sacrifice to my dad's dedication, I am who I am today because of them – and I work every day to make Brookvale better than it was the day before,” Curley says. “Skiing and snowboarding change people's lives; I've seen it a million times over the years and I'm just grateful to be a part of it.”
What’s planned for the 50th anniversary?
Saturday, January 28, 2017, staff, officials and outdoor enthusiasts will mark the day 50 years ago when Premier Alex Campbell opened the province’s only ski park to the public (that was on January 28, 1967).
There will be indoor and outdoor activities for everyone. The hill will be open regular hours from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. At 2:30 the official ceremonies will get underway honouring some of the park’s founders and long-term dedicated employees.
Activities throughout the day will include:
- Party – enjoy cake, ice cream, face painting, spider dogs, hot chocolate and prize draws
- Bring Back Retro – bring in your ski memorabilia and dress in your old ski outfit; there will be a prize for the best retro outfit
- Fill the Truck - bring a non-perishable food donation for the Upper Room Food Bank and receive 25 per cent off a lift ticket
During winter months Brookvale Winter Activity Park offers alpine and nordic skiing, snowshoeing, and tubing. During the spring, summer and fall months, mountain biking trails are open.
- 1966 – Trails were cut, a double rope tow was installed and a bunny hill was provided for beginners. Two army huts were set up to provide a lodge, ski shop and restaurant.
- January 11, 1967 – Brookvale opened for alpine skiing. Allan Holman, of Holman’s Department store, opened a ski rental shop on the premises.
- January 28, 1967 – The hill was officially opened by Premier Alex Campbell.
- 1968 – The Nancy Greene ski school was started under the leadership of Tom and Pat Richardson.
- 1969 – The provincial government assumed operation the ski park. The intermediate run, a toboggan area and a T-Bar were added.
- 1970 – Due to lack of snow the hill opened for only two weeks, February 23 to March 7. This was the shortest ski season for Brookvale.
- 1973 – The trail system was expanded. A new professional snow groomer, a Bombardier, was purchased.
- 1974 – A new, updated ski rental facility owned and operated by the provincial government opened. The first groomed, cross country trails were added. These trails were on private land, courtesy of the owners.
- 1978 – CBC and the PEI Ski Association co-sponsored a ski day at Brookvale which attracted over 6000 alpine and cross country skiers, along with many snowmobilers.
- 1986 – The first snow making machine was tested on one trail at Brookvale.
- 1989-90 – A new base lodge was built and a 15 metre extension was added to increase the height of the hill.
- 1992 – A quad chair was installed to more efficiently and comfortably transport skiers to the newly renovated trail system.
- 2007-2008 - A new maintenance shop was completed. The PEI Ski and Snowboard School was purchased and taken over the provincial government
- 2009-2010 – The T-Bar was removed. A new nordic snowmobile and tow behind grooming system was added.
- 2015-2016 – Upgrades to the snowmaking equipment included a new 150 hp water pump, two new portable stick snow guns and an additional portable stick gun.