The Brooks Connection: A 50-Year Spring Ski Tradition in Banff & Lake Louise

Travel to Canada - What to Expect

The Brooks Connection: A 50-Year Spring Ski Tradition in Banff & Lake Louise

[vc_row fullwidth=”false” attached=”false” padding=”0″ visibility=”” animation=””][vc_column border_color=”” visibility=”” width=”1/1″][vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxHIM8cSij4″][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”center” margin_bottom=”0″]

What is the Brooks Connection?  50 years ago, a group of buddies started a spring ski tradition that has grown into a multi-generational reunion on the slopes of the Canadian Rockies.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row fullwidth=”false” attached=”false” padding=”0″ visibility=”” animation=””][vc_column border_color=”” visibility=”” width=”1/3″][vc_single_image image=”27025″ border_color=”grey” img_link_large=”” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”400X300″][/vc_column][vc_column border_color=”” visibility=”” width=”2/3″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]

Manitoba’s vast flatlands seem an unlikely setting to sow an enthusiasm and dedication for alpine skiing, let alone in the 1950s. But it’s here that a Christmas present of wooden skis, complete with bear trap bindings, gave Grant Johnson a taste of a thrill that would eventually be shared for generations in Banff National Park’s ski resorts.

Johnson did what he could with the Manitoban landscape, logging negative vertical laps in coulees and creek beds near his childhood home and taking ski trips to Holiday Mountain ski resort in La Rivière. But, it wasn’t long until he sought bigger trips to bigger hills. Just shy of 20 years old, Johnson and the two older brothers of a friend living in Edmonton piled into his father’s Ford in 1966 to cross the prairies for their first taste of the mountains. They would all meet in Banff, Alberta.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row fullwidth=”false” attached=”false” padding=”0″ visibility=”” animation=””][vc_column border_color=”” visibility=”” width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]

This marked the inaugural year of what they now fondly refer to as the “Brooks Connection,” a yearly spring ski trip of close buddies crossing three provinces for a weekend of antics both on and off the slopes. They have unwavered with their annual Banff reunion, never missing a beat in 50 years.

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row fullwidth=”false” attached=”false” padding=”0″ visibility=”” animation=””][vc_column border_color=”” visibility=”” width=”2/3″][mk_fancy_title tag_name=”h2″ style=”false” color=”#333333″ size=”20″ font_weight=”inherit” font_style=”inhert” txt_transform=”” letter_spacing=”0″ margin_top=”0″ margin_bottom=”18″ font_family=”none” font_type=”” align=”left” animation=”” el_class=””]

Why call it the Brooks Connection?

[/mk_fancy_title][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]“I wish I had a better story for you,” Johnson says with a laugh. “That first trip was a long drive, and I let my friends take the wheel for awhile while I slept. I’d wake up every 30 minutes or so and ask where we were, and the response I’d always get was ‘just this side of Brooks,’ [the town in Alberta]. It became a running joke, and we needed a good name to promote the trip to our friends, so it worked.”

They established only two rules to take part in the trip: no girlfriends (it was a guys-only kind of weekend), and the expenses were shared evenly by all who joined.

“The trip has evolved a bit from the first days when it cost $50 for the whole trip and we were piling five or six guys into an RV,” says Johnson. “Now we’re staying in chalets and some of us are flying in.”

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column border_color=”” visibility=”” width=”1/3″][vc_empty_space height=”40px”][vc_single_image image=”27016″ alignment=”right” border_color=”grey” img_link_large=”” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”400X300″][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row fullwidth=”false” attached=”false” padding=”0″ visibility=”” animation=””][vc_column border_color=”” visibility=”” width=”1/1″][vc_empty_space height=”10px”][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]

Today, the rules still stand. While sons and daughters have been invited as they have come of age throughout the years, the Brooks Connection is exclusive to the guys and their kids, some of whom eventually made their own connections in Banff, and now call it home.

[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space height=”32px”][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row fullwidth=”false” attached=”false” padding=”0″ visibility=”” animation=””][vc_column border_color=”” visibility=”” width=”1/3″][vc_empty_space height=”40px”][vc_single_image image=”27079″ border_color=”grey” img_link_large=”” img_link_target=”_self” img_size=”400X300″][/vc_column][vc_column border_color=”” visibility=”” width=”2/3″][mk_fancy_title tag_name=”h2″ style=”false” color=”#333333″ size=”20″ font_weight=”inherit” font_style=”inhert” letter_spacing=”0″ margin_top=”0″ margin_bottom=”18″ font_family=”none” align=”left”]

The Tradition Continues

[/mk_fancy_title][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]Katrina Donald’s dad was among the first road trippers to Banff in the late 60s. From the time she and her sisters were young, they remember him coming home relaxed and goggle-tanned, with bags of candy in-hand that he purchased from a local shop.

Originally from Winnipeg, Donald joined her first Brooks Connection at the age of 18. “It was such a neat thing to go with him, and to get to know his friends and their kids,” says Donald. “It developed new friendships and gave a new appreciation for old ones, across the two generations.”

Donald learned how to ski at Sunshine Village at the age of two, and frequently headed West with her family for ski trips at different resorts throughout the Rockies.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row fullwidth=”false” attached=”false” padding=”0″ visibility=”” animation=””][vc_column border_color=”” visibility=”” width=”1/1″][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]

After visiting Banff on the Brooks Connection in 2006 , she was convinced to give Banff a try the following winter. A 6-month stint was all it took for Donald to return long-term. She has called Banff home for the past nine years.

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text title=”” disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″ animation=”” el_class=””]

As the years go by and the Brooks Connection grows, friendships continue to deepen while new ones are created. This year will see almost 50 people signed up for the annual ski trip in May, including the first third generation participant.

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]

Start your own Spring Ski Tradition!  To book your next ski vacation at Ski Banff-Lake Louise-Sunshine, check out our featured ski and stay vacation packages or call us at 1-844-754-2443.

[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text disable_pattern=”true” align=”left” margin_bottom=”0″]

Content written by Tera Swanson, Crowfoot Media, video produced by Craig Hall, CH Video.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

RECENT POSTS

EVENTS

Calendar of Events

M Mon

T Tue

W Wed

T Thu

F Fri

S Sat

S Sun

0 events,

0 events,

1 event,

0 events,

1 event,

Canada Day in Banff

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

1 event,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

1 event,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

1 event,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

0 events,

1 event,

0 events,

0 events,

1 event,

Canmore Folk Music Festival

SkiBig3 Mobile App

Download the SkiBig3 App