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Sunshine: Built on great heritage

July 5, 2013

Take a close look at that log building that houses Mad Trapper’s Saloon. It’s a building with pedigree.

Much of what we now call the Old Sunshine Lodge was constructed by the Canadian Pacific Railway in 1928, as a stopover for horseback riders heading to the towering Mount Assiniboine. It’s just one of the many historic touches that makes Sunshine a unique snow resort.

It was leased in 1934 by the Brewster family of Banff, who housed winter guests. By 1936, brothers Pat and Jim Brewster bought the lodge for $300 and introduced skiing.

At first, skiers climbed up the slopes, but by 1941 the brothers—who founded what is today a modern transportation company based in Banff—built a temporary rope tow up Strawberry Hill. A permanent rope was installed four years later.

In 1939, famous Swiss guide Bruno Engler arrived in Banff (Bruno’s is named after him).

George Encil purchased Sunshine Village in 1952, and sold it to Cliff and Beverley White in 1960—about the same time the Trans-Canada Highway into Banff National Park made access a whole lot easier.

The resort changed ownership several times, but Cliff White stayed on to oversee the building of the Sunshine Inn, daylodge, and the first gondola. That gondola opened in 1979-80—a five-kilometer climb up the mountain previously provided by bus.

This marked the beginning of Sunshine’s modern era. In 1981, Ralph Scurfield Sr. purchased the resort.

Since Ralph Scurfield Sr.’s tragic passing in 1985, President Ralph Scurfield Jr., and brothers John and Sergei have carefully nurtured the Sunshine Village legacy.

Here are some recent landmarks:

  • 1988: Angel Express is the first high-speed quad in Banff National Park. This was followed by replacements of old doubles and T-Bars. The Jack Rabbit, Wolverine, WaWa and Standish chairs are all recent quads.
  • 1991: The snow stayed so long there was skiing on July 1.
  • 1995: Goat’s Eye Mountain opened—the largest amount of new ski and ride terrain opened in the Rocky Mountains.
  • 1996: The Continental Divide quad replaces a double.
  • 1998: Delirium Dive extreme terrain re-opened after a 17 year hiatus.
  • 2001: The world’s fastest eight-person gondola, made by Poma, opened in November, replacing the first gondola.
  • 2009: The Sunshine Mountain Lodge, Banff’s only ski-in, ski-out hotel opened its new West Wing, completing a seven-year transition from the old Sunshine Inn.
  • 2010: The 1970’s-era Strawberry Chair was replaced with a high-speed quad.


For more on Sunshine’s history, visit

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