Going Downhill

Downhill Skiing near Ottawa
Going Downhill

It’s time to hit the slopes! Well, at least start thinking about who’s going to teach your kids to get down them in one piece. If you’re a skiing family (or considering it), now is the time to sign up for lessons in the New Year.

Downhill skiing with kids starts at about age three for the super-keen but four is really the best age if you are determined to start young. Lessons will be fun for them, but the real news you can use is that while they are in lessons, you get a few hours of downhill time on your own.

The hills around Ottawa are perfect for young learners—the kids can manage them and the price is easier on you.

Lessons are widely available: at Mount Pakenham and Calabogie Peaks west of Ottawa and at Edelweiss Valley, Camp Fortune, Mont Cascades, Ski Vorlage and others on the Quebec side.

Camp Fortune gets points for being closest to the city—just a 15–20 minute drive in good conditions—and for offering access to full- or half-day daycare onsite. Most of the others are closer to 45 minutes away and lack daycare facilities, which is great for families with younger sibs.

Some families choose the standard eight-week program of lessons, usually once per week on a Saturday or Sunday while others prefer the full immersion technique: ski lessons five days in a row during the Christmas holidays and/or March break. You’ll be amazed at the progress your little skier can make over the course of one intense week.

Most ski hills around Ottawa offer both options, and all rent equipment if you don’t have your own. Prices are similar everywhere: an eight-week series of lessons ranges from $200 to $300 including lift passes. A week-long series of five daily lessons runs about $200 including lifts. Prices in most places will be these for kids 5 and under.

Equipment can usually be rented for about $10–$15 a day for young kids, $25 a day for youth and adults (these prices are approximate and will vary by ski hill).
Good to Know: Most ski programs qualify under the federal government’s child fitness tax credit program, so you can expect to get a fraction of the costs back at tax time.

Some hills offer family packages too, bundling lift passes and lessons for kids with day passes for their parents on lesson days. Check out Edelweiss, Mont Cascades and Vorlage for this option.

If there’s one thing that’s even more fun than introducing your kids to a sport you love, it’s doing it with them, and the great thing about skiing is that you can do it together for many years to come. 

Mount Pakenham
Offers 5 and 10-week programs, and has a Mini-Midget program for 3–5 years olds.
(613) 624-5290
577 Ski Hill, Pakenham, Ontario

Calabogie Peaks
Lessons available from age 4 and up.
(613) 752-2720
30 Barrett Chute Road, Box 90, Calabogie, Ontario

Edelweiss Valley
Programs for ages 3 and up; family package available.
(819) 459-2328
538 Edelweiss Road, Wakefield, Quebec

Camp Fortune
Lessons available from age 4 and up. Daycare services from mid-December to late March for full or half days.
(819) 827-1717
300 chemin Dunlop, Chelsea, Quebec

Mont Cascades
Programs for ages 3 and up, including an “advanced tot” program for kids age 3 to 6 who already know what they’re doing. Check out their Family Bundle.
(819) 827-0301
448 Mont Cascades Rd., Cantley, Quebec

Ski Vorlage
Programs from age 4 and up; parents’ pass available for lesson days (set of 8 passes for $170).
(819) 459-2301
65 Burnside Rd.,Wakefield, Quebec

Tested by Patti R., Ottawa
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First published 2008.12.18

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