Mont Saint-Sacrament, c1950
by Bernie Monaghan
The first steps were taken to form a ski center in Valcartier, when in the autumn of 1945, Timothy H. Dunn, sportsman of Quebec City, decided to purchase some properties on the Fourth Range which were considered ideal for skiing. The purchase included : Part of Lot 241, from Mrs. Arthur Lewin, Part of Lot 241 from Thomas Murphy , and part of lots 241, 242 and 243 from Albert Monaghan.
The winter of 1946 saw the operation of a cable ski-lift on one of the slopes. As the roads at that time were inadequate and parking scarce, the tow was used on weekends only. Most of the skiers were guests staying at the Chateau Frontenac, Quebec. During the summer of 1946 the first section of Valcartier Lodge was built, as well as two cable tows and an Alpine Lift, 2600 feet long to go to the top of the mountain. Also in 1946, additional land was bought from Henry Roarke, Lots 244, 245 and 246 in their entirety. In January of 1947 Valcartier Lodge was officially opened.
The summer of 1947 saw further development, an immense hotel was added to the Northwest side of the lodge, a third cable tow was built, the artificial lake was deepened and the slopes leveled with a bulldozer.
The first part of Valcartier Lodge was built at a cost of $88,271.00. Then, in 1947, Timmy Dunn was associated with a millionaire, Bob Holt, who was also his father-in-law. While the new wing was under construction in 1947, at a cost of $353,546.00. The cost of the ski-tows amounted to $122, 296.33, a ski jump of 210 feet was also built. Messrs. Dunn and Holt also at that time acquired as ski Instructor the services of Emile Allais, ski champion of the world, so the future of Valcartier Lodge seemed to promise a brilliant future.
The highway which leads from Clark’s Bridge to Mont Saint-Sacrament today was begun in the autumn of 1947 and terminated in 1948. It was built by Peel Construction, owned by the Armstrong Bros. of Brampton Ontario. The worked in Quebec under the name of Montcalm Construction. The road was paved in 1953.
But difficulties were in store for the owners of Valcartier Lodge. While at this period everything looked favourable, the national Ski Team of Canada undertook their training under the able direction of Emile Allais, the new ski center was becoming known all over Canada and the United States, when in the summer of 1948, Mr. Bob Holt died suddenly. While Mr. Holt was a millionaire there was nothing in his will to propagate the development of the Valcartier. The Royal Trust, executors of the will, would not permit any money to go to the development of as yet, an uncertain project.
The property was subsequently put up for sale, Mr. Allais and other important ski people left and it bore a deserted aspect. The Canadian and American skiers had disappeared as quickly as they had come. Finally on November 30, 1949, the Lodge was sold by auction to Mr. Thompson of Chanteclerc Hotels, for the sum of $440,000. Mr. Thompson was unable to terminate the construction of the hotel, and after several years it was again put up for sale. This time the financiers seemed to be less interested to risk their money, so the proprietor began to offer the domain to the Religious Communities.
Was this what they today call Le Centre Castor?
No it’s on the military base just beside it. Today the Valcartier Ski Lodge is a high school.