Share

AutoMatters & More: The ‘good old days’ — Alberta’s Rocky Mountains in the 1970s

Mount Norquay ski area in Banff National Park
Mount Norquay ski area in Banff National Park

Last week I was excited to go out on my first of hopefully many major photo shoots since I began to shelter in place for the coronavirus pandemic in March 2020. I missed taking pictures and, judging from feedback that I received, you missed seeing them.

However, it occurred to me that I am already sitting on a treasure trove of my old photos that you might also enjoy seeing: Can-Am racing from the 1970s, travel around the world, visits to places and events that no longer exist, and so much more. In addition to the photos, I have vivid memories that will enable me to tell you their stories, but there has been a problem: how can I efficiently and affordably digitize them to show them to you?

Skiing at Mount Norquay ski area in Banff National Park
Skiing at Mount Norquay ski area in Banff National Park

Back then my pictures were in the form of prints and color slides, not digital. I tried to digitize a few of them a few months ago using a 20-year-old flatbed scanner and a photo adapter, but digitizing just four negatives took me forever to do, and they required a lot of painstaking editing. I have thousands of old slides and negatives. I needed to find a better, much quicker and affordable way to digitize my photos — or they would remain hidden, probably forever.

Thankfully, I am now able to quickly take digital photos of my old images using one of my high resolution Nikon cameras, ES-2 digitizing adapter and 60mm lens, as well as a bright LED light. Then I edit the images quickly and easily using Adobe’s Lightroom.

The old motor coach entrance to the Banff Springs Hotel
The old motor coach entrance to the Banff Springs Hotel

My first ‘good old days’ journey back in time takes us back to the Canadian Rocky Mountains in the 1970s.

As a boy, I used to go skiing to the Mt. Norquay, Sunshine and Lake Louise ski areas in the vicinity of Banff, Alberta. We stayed at the majestic Banff Springs Hotel and the Chateau Lake Louise, and the rustic Timberline Hotel.

The upper runs on Mt. Norquay were particularly steep and difficult — black diamond runs.

I was what you might call an advanced intermediate skier. I could ski down almost any steep run — as long as it was covered in packed (not deep powder) snow — through a combination of traversing back and forth across the slope, and then turning on either side on the steep moguls with Stem Christie turns; or snowplowing straight down especially steep, narrow parts.

Chateau Lake Louise
Chateau Lake Louise

Stem Christie turns were the 1960s predecessor to parallel turns of the 1990s, which were facilitated by the advent of parabolically sculpted sides of skis.

My first pair of skis were wooden Gresvig Jets. Their “rat trap” bindings consisted of a coiled metal cable that was positioned by metal guides around the base of the (lace-up) ski boots, going up and over the back of the boot’s sole, along a groove molded into the sole. The tension of that cable was tightened by pressing down on a lever located just past the front of each boot, until it snapped into place on the top of each ski. If a ski released during a fall on a steep, black diamond run, it could be quite difficult to put the ski back on.

To go skiing at Sunshine, we had to ride a Brewster Rocky Mountain Gray Line bus from Banff, because from the midpoint of the mountain on up, the narrow gravel road was slippery and barely passable. On one very steep section with very sharp turns, the bus had to back up one of the switchbacks, because there was not enough room to turn. Heavy chains were mandatory.

Inside Chateau Lake Louise
Inside Chateau Lake Louise

I fondly remember two of the old railroad-built hotels in Alberta: the beautiful and stately Banff Springs Hotel, and the Chateau Lake Louise. Long ago, the rear of the Banff Springs Hotel had a grand motor coach entrance, leading inside towards a beautiful, rustic, soaring interior, complete with taxidermy animals on the walls. Sadly, when I last visited, that classic hotel entrance had been replaced with a ‘brass & glass’ entrance at the front of the hotel.

The Timberline Hotel, at the foot of Mt. Norquay, was known for the wild deer that would walk right up to the windows of the dining room as they ate grass.

To see additional photos, visit www.drivetribe.com, click on the magnifying glass, select “POSTS” and enter “AutoMatters & More #693” in their search bar. Please send your comments to AutoMatters@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2021 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #693


Advertisement