It’s been said over and over that ignorance is bliss. And it especially applies to those who discovered a passion for skiing while limited to the flatlands of central Canada. Mount Evergreen, a steep ridge protruding out of the Canadian Shield near Kenora, ON, is a haven for the ignorant masses who seek bliss through an array of runs ranging from the bunny run to steep, technical bumps, fast groomers, jumps and rails.
Mount Evergreen, located 45 minutes east of Manitoba and two-and-a-half hours north of Minnesota, has hosted generations of redneck rippers, from toddlers to grandparents. Residents of the logging and mining town have been enjoying its slopes since the early ’60s, when extreme skiing meant tying into ankle-shattering leather boots strapped to hickory sticks and tucking down the hill at breakneck speed. Since then, the resort has grown from a modest rope tow to two high-speed T-bars staggered across the ridge. The nonprofit club has a snowcat to sculpt its two tabletop jumps and groom the piste. While a snow gun is still a pipe dream, four feet of Northern Ontario’s best snow coats the slopes for the winter.
As a Kenora-born native, I spent the majority of my winter weekends at the hill. The Friday-night ski on the Otter T-Bar is the warm-up to the weekend ahead and a good opportunity to make out in the evergreens. After a fun night of back-scratchers, twaffies and helicopters, everyone heads into the lodge for a hot chocolate or frosty brew. The lodge lacks lodging, so stick to the light beers, or cab it the short drive to downtown Kenora. Grab a bite to eat at the Plaza for delicious greek platters and fresh Lake of the Woods pickerel. After you’ve succumbed to gluttony, check into the Log Cabin Inn, a bed-and-breakfast just east of town on Longbow Lake, or head over to the Inn of the Woods for a luxurious night in a hotel which resembles a giant beer can overlooking Lake of the Woods. If you have any energy left at this hour, throw on your Carhartts and Kenora dinner jacket and stroll into Haps on the harbourfront, or Club Neptune, where you’re guaranteed entertainment by the local scene.
On Saturday morning fuel up with breakfast on the 12th floor of the Inn of the Woods, watching the sun rise over the lake, or swing by Ho Jo’s for a coffee and some munchies. The morning ski routine is comparable to that at most other ski hills: early risers cranking down high-speed groomers on empty slopes. Once the Skyline T-bar opens, it’s a dash for fresh tracks, which is normally a dusting but occasionally a dumping. Get off the T-bar at the mid-station to hammer down the bumps and drops of B-Slalom, Skyline, and Suicide, or ride to the top for longer blue runs that wind down the flanks of the hill. When you’re ready for airtime, cruise over to the terrain park and get your steeze on with the tabletop jumps, quarterpipe and rails. With breakfast long gone, head into the lodge for lunch and enjoy a drink on the deck or in the loft as you heckle your buddies on the slopes.
Believing if you can ski Mount Evergreen well, you can ski pretty much anywhere well, many of Evergreen’s local renegades have used the 70-metre hill as a stepping stone to real mountains. The steep bump runs combined with no lift lines means you can pound out a lot of vertical in one day. Steve LeMaistre, an Evergreen graduate, recently returned from Baffin Island, where he and friends kite-skied across fjords to virgin couloirs stretching 2,000 metres high. For a month the trio climbed and skied the massive chutes. Of course, an article on Kenora would be incomplete without mention of my brother, Dan “Big Air” Treadway, who defected to Whistler 13 years ago in search of deeper snow and a life as a sponsored freeskier. But not all of the local talent moves on. You’re sure to see the timeless ripper Massey, whose passion and speed continue to inspire, and tiny tikes tucking in a snowplow. It seems not all of Kenora is quite ready to trade ignorance for elevation.
Vertical: 71 m
Total trails: 15
Terrain: 40% beginner, 20% intermediate, 40% advanced
Snowfall: “Good, depending on the year”
Season: Weekends only, Dec. 23–March 25
Adult day ticket: $25