Mont Sutton, Quebec: New Owners, New Plans, Same Classic Eastern Skiing

Last winter, while most Quebec ski areas struggled to salvage a ski season that barely was, Mont Sutton boldly turned over a new leaf. In February 2016, following years of rumours and speculation, the Boulanger family (Mont Sutton’s founders and majority shareholders) announced plans to sell their beloved mountain for $4.3 million to General Manager Jean-Michel Ryan and his partners, Sylvain Gervais and Pierre Chesnay. The deal was finalised in March.

Rather than draw up plans for a spanking nouveau, ski in/ski out condo village, the new owners opted to consult and work with the townspeople of Sutton. “If the mountain is doing well, the village is doing well,” says Ryan. “We don’t want to build a second village. We want to reinforce the (existing) mountain/village link.”

The group proved equally committed to preserving Mont Sutton’s green bona fides. (Founder Réal Boulanger is affectionately remembered as the father of glade skiing throughout Quebec and New England.) Last spring, Mont Sutton sold a section of land to Nature Conservancy Canada. This summer, the new owners oversaw the planting of fifteen, mature, 15-foot tall trees. That’s in addition to the area’s annual commitment to plant one new tree for every chair on the mountain. This winter Mont Sutton is vying to cement its place as a side-country skiing mecca. Plans are also being drawn up to transform this skiers’ mountain into a true, four-season destination.

Mont Orford: New Money. Big Plans.

The Eastern Townships’ oldest ski area, Mont Orford first opened as a community ski hill (serving nearby Magog and the surroundings) in 1943. Following various private owners, the Municipal Regional Council (MRC) of Memphremagog bought the hill and golf course in 2011. This September the MRC announced the first phase of a ten-year project that will see $25 million invested in transforming the local ski hill and golf course into a thriving, year-round attraction. Says Orford’s Mélanie Morier, “Making Mont Orford more accessible to beginners and intermediates is a top priority.”

Sweet Deals on Tickets

Nearby Ski Bromont launched its Apex card, which costs $240 and saves you $100 on five full days or nights of skiing during both the 2017 and 2018 ski seasons. The only restriction is that the card must be purchased before December 26, 2016.

Mont Tremblant is offering two free weekday lift tickets to skiers flying into Mont-Tremblant International Airport with Porter Airlines or Air Canada. See: Children aged 2 to 12 flying Porter fly free when accompanied by a paying adult (18+). For details:

Gamers should check out Mission Liberté, a new escape game located in Place Saint-Bernard. Says Tremblant’s Annick Marseille, “Getting in is easy. But getting out will require all your smarts and observation skills.”

Stoneham Remembers

This past September, Stoneham renamed its killer Kamikaze glades la JP Auclair in honour of a favourite son. JP, who died tragically while shooting in Chile two years ago, called Stoneham his second home. These glades were his favourite stomping ground, in no small part because of the cliff there that helped launch his far too brief and storied career. This summer, artists memorialised the cliff by recreating a painting of a yellow bird that JP had originally made for his loving wife.

After a brief hiatus, the World Cup Slopestyle Snowboard Championship is returning to Stoneham from February 8 through 12, 2017. (The Big Air events are once again being held in beautiful, historic Quebec City.) Kool Replay cameras will be set up in Stoneham’s Olympic-worthy snowpark for public free consumption. Speaking of which, don’t miss Chef Martin Boucher’s culinary creations in the Feu-Follet restaurant and Quatre-Foyers bar.

Mont-Sainte-Anne Doubles

Mont-Sainte-Anne has doubled the number of climbing trails open to backcountry skiers and split-board riders, on both its North and Front sides. Beginners and experts alike can escape the crowds and climb up through tranquil, hardwood forests before skiing down any one of MSA’s 71 trails.

Le Massif Welcomes

In December Le Massif du Charlevoix, east of Quebec City, will become home to Whisjack Adventure and Mountain Guides. The independent company specialises in educating skiers and snowboarders transitioning from the groomed to the backcountry with emphasis on acquiring the tools essential to climbing and skiing or riding the backcountry safely.

If that doesn’t whet your appetite, the new Crêperie in le Massif’s base lodge surely will. Eat up. You’ll need the energy to survive the summit lodge’s 25 major après-ski events with DJs, live music and more.

This post is also available in: French