The First 50 years history of Big White Ski Resort
It all began with two local Kelowna men:
- December 7th, 1963 — Cliff Serwa and Doug Mervyn opened a mountain called Big White.
- 1965: The skiers discovered the first snow ghosts — now considered Big White icons.
- 1968: The ski area’s first on-mountain accommodation was constructed.
The 1970’s saw a huge amount of development at Big White with the construction of four chairlifts:
- 1971: Ridge double chair was installed.
- 1975: Alpine Centre was constructed.
- 1976: Easter Triple Chair was installed
- 1979: Powder Triple Chair was installed.
The 1980’s brought continued expansion:
- 1985: Schumann Family purchased Big White Ski Resort Ltd. The goal was to build a world-class ski resort focusing on customer convenience and service, while increasing capacity, and offering new skiing terrain.
- 1986: First quad chairlift in BC installed: The Plaza.
- 1987: Moved and lengthened the Alpine T-Bar.
- 1987: First Snowboard-only event held – The Inland Snowboard, and the 1st Annual Banked Slalom.
- 1988: Cliff Platter installed to service this double black diamond area.
- 1989: First high-speed detachable quad lift installed: the Ridge Rocket.
More additions to the lift system, expanded terrain, and improvements throughout the village took Big White into the ‘World Class Ski Resort’ title:
- 1990: Second high-speed detachable quad lift installed: The Bullet.
- 1990: Ridge Day Lodge was constructed, increasing food services facilities.
- 1990: Snowpine Estates subdivision started.
- 1992: Falcon Double Chair added in the Whitefoot Bowl, opening acres of powder bowl, glade and tree skiing
- 1994: Big White Ski Resort invested more than $5 million in improvements to continue its growth.
- 1995: Third high-speed quad, the Black Forest chairlift was constructed, opening up 150 acres of new intermediate terrain.
- 1995: The White Crystal Inn opened; a European style hotel offering deluxe” accommodation and dining.
- 1996 – 1997: More than $75M invested in development at Big White Ski Resort, including: The Village Centre Mall, Ski School Desk, Ticket Office, Ski Rental, Ski Dazzle, Central Reservations, The Big White Kid’s Centre, Gem Lake Express Quad chairlift: the longest quad chair vertical quad rise in Canada.
- 1,200 acres of new terrain in the Westridge areas increases total skiable terrain to 2,075 acres.
- 1997-2006: Focus begins on better grooming, slope management, and expansion in accommodation developments.
The new century heralded massive expansive of infrastructure amenities and accommodation developments:
- 2000: $125 million Gondola Woods at Happy Valley project begins.
- 8 passenger Gondola installed, Happy Valley parking area built, Happy Valley Day Lodge constructed, and Happy Valley Adventure Centre built with Mega Snowcoaster tube ride,Kids and beginner learning area, Outdoor ice skating rink, Snowmobilin, Cross country and dog sledding trails
- 2000: $39M value of accommodation construction took place in the White Forest Estates & Snowpines with a mix of houses, single-family, duplex, fourplex, and
sixplex chalets and a variety of condominium buildings such as
Black Bear, Timber Ridge and Treetops.
- 2001: 100 acres of newly gladed terrain increases the total skiable terrain to 2,565 acres.
- 2001: Construction begins – Stonebridge Lodge
- 2002: New Super Olympic Sized Pipe 2nd one in Western Canada as part of new terrain park development, and new skier bridge linking the village to Happy Valley
- 2003: Glading in the Black Forest area and skating rink expansion
Accommodation Developments totaling $150M: Sundance, Copper Kettle Lodge, The Forest , SouthPoint and Glacier Lodge
- 2004: Installation of the Cliff Chair, Building of TELUS Park and TELUS Park Chair and 6 new runs at Gem Lake
- 2005:The Snow Ghost Express, a state-of-the-art six-passenger chairlift, was installed. Named after the legendary snow covered trees that decorate the mountain, this is currently the longest six passenger lift in Canada, carrying skiers 6,190 feet in under six minutes right here at Big White Ski.
- 2010: Big White ski introduced North Americas ONLY Resort Ice Climbing Structure
- 2011: Big White and Kelowna Host the International Children’s Games, with more than 1000 athletes competing
- 2015: Black Forest Day Lodge constructed and we said farewell to Cyril’s Perogy’s Van
- 2018: Replacement of 3 seater Powder Chair with fixed grip quad chairlift, and upgrade of skier’s tunnel.
- 2020: Resort undergoes major infrastructure & amenities upgrades to meet COVID-19 safety requirements