Mount St. Louis Moonstone is one of the largest family owned ski resorts in Ontario. It was founded 51 years ago by Austrian Alpine skier Josl Huter. The resort is located in the snow belt region of Ontario. Today, it contains 36 different ski slopes in addition to 9 chair lifts and 3 carpets. The resort is known for being family friendly and prides itself on accommodating everyone, from beginner skiers and snowboarders to the most advanced in their discipline.
In 1956, a young Austrian, Josl Huter arrived in Canada to settle into Toronto and began working in the automotive industry. Although a passionate skier, avid racer and an Austrian National Alpine competitor, settling in Canada for skiing was not his original intention. However, it did not take long for the skiing legend to begin!
Josl had skiing acquaintances in the local area, one being a Ski Instructor friend at Limberlost Resort near Huntsville. Josl went to Limberlost during the Christmas Holidays of 1956 to fill in for his friend who was sick. Soon, Josl found himself taking on a position as a Ski Instructor. A full time position as the Ski School Director quickly evolved, and during the summer he was offered the position of Sports Director along with running and organizing the Pro shop.
The summer of 1957, Josl started experiencing vision problems. After consulting with several eye specialists, he was strongly encouraged to see a neurologist in Toronto. The appointment was in December 1957. Unaware of what life experiences lie ahead for Josl, he continued on with achieving skiing goals. Josl traveled to Quebec, to become a certified Canadian Ski Instructor. Returning from Quebec, he stopped into the Medical Arts building in Toronto where he met Canada’s first neurologist, Doctor Ken Mackenzie. Josl was immediately admitted to Toronto General Hospital and he endured twelve days of extensive examination. He was instructed by doctors to go home to Limberlost over the Christmas and New Year Holidays, and to report back to the hospital on the 6th of January 1959. On January 10th, Doctor Harry Botterel performed surgery on a brain tumor, which was diagnosed to be about the size of a ping-pong ball. This growth was blocking circulation around the brain and disrupting Josl’s vision. After the operation, Josl stayed in Toronto with friends until the affected area healed. Once Josl was well enough, he had to return to the hospital to see Dr Highland for 3 ½ weeks of intensive radiation treatment. Josl was only the second person in Canada to have this type of treatment. Success could only be determined one day at a time. He was sent back to his homeland in Austria to recover. During the summer of 1959, Josl met his future wife Elfriede.
1960, Josl & Elfriede married and during that summer Josl was offered a position at Muskoka Sands as the Ski School Director and running the Pro Shop. Josl found that the hill at Muskoka Sands wasn’t that big. His goal was to make the hill a little more challenging, somehow. He came up with the idea of taking sawdust and slab wood from a local mill, dumping it at the top and covering it with earth to give the hill more of a lift and challenge. Josl and Elfriede return to Austria each summer to operate the Inn they owned.
While working in the Muskoka’s, Josl realized the potential growth of the ski industry. Now, the dream of owning his own Ski Resort excited him. In 1963 Josl and Elfriede sold the Inn in Austria. Returning to Ontario in May 1963.
A Dream was born….
An unexpected opportunity Josl was offered the position of Manager and Partner at Horseshoe Valley Resort. Unfortunately or fortunately this did not materialize. A friend of the family told him about a property across the valley that he should look at.
Josl, with his wife Elfriede and their two young boys Robert and Andre, went to investigate the property. Pulling up to the property they found a hill covered in forest. Josl left his wife and two young sons at the bottom and began walking the property. He recognized the potential of the property and most importantly the location adjacent to what would some day become a very important and well-known highway (400). Josl returned and said to Elfriede, “If I can buy this property, we can make it”. The completion of buying the property was confirmed in the fall of 1963.
During the fall of 1963, Josl spent hours planning where the trails should go and staked them out.
In December of 1963, Josl brought in a crew of lumberjacks to cut down the trees and burn off the brush. He continued to work at Muskoka Sands but returned every two weeks to assess how the snow had settled and tested the trails.
In May of 1964, Josl brought in the Young Brothers, a Bulldozing company from Collingwood, to built the trails and clear away rocks and additional trees. In the late fall, two T-Bars were installed side by side each 1,600 feet long. Josl didn’t want to open with one lift just in case it broke down and then he would be out of business before he even started.
On December 16, 1964 Mount St. Louis opened for business. Four days later, it turned mild and the snow was gone. During Christmas and New Year’s, Josl had high school students cart snow from the bush in apple baskets to cover one trail. Three youngsters on skis tramped down the chunks of snow. On January 2, three inches of fresh snow fell and Mount St. Louis was one of the few Ontario ski resorts in operation and the skiers flocked to the area. The snow continued to fall in the Medonte area only. No one in the surrounding area believed it. Mount St. Louis was opened to the middle of April being blessed with natural snow. After realizing that being in the Snow Belt did not always mean you had snow, the first snowmaking system was installed in 1966, with one line, one compressor and one pump covering one trail the Yodler.
Additional snowmaking equipment was added in 1967 and the Snowbowl area was cleared.Another run was added in 1968 bringing the total runs to eight. The snowmaking system was doubled and the eastern wing of Mount St. Louis base Lodge was added on. The 1968 season was Mount St. Louis’ best in five years. Snow squalls closed Highway 400 a number of times, which translated to an abundance of snow at the Resort. Therefore, people flocked to the ski hill at every opportunity.
1969 - Mount St. Louis installed the first triple chair in Canada and lift ticket prices went to $6.00. (At the time, the general feeling in the industry was that a triple chair would not work, due to the fact that three’s a crowd and unloading would be a difficult task.) Everyone already thought that Josl was crazy, with developing a ski hill facing south.
It was in the 1970’s that Josl decided to build the mountain up when he saw business being drawn away by other resorts and offer more challenging terrain for the skier.
1971 - Josl decided to clear away another trail to make room for a double chair. 1972 purchased and installed a double chair.
1973 - Mount St. Louis was the first resort to provide and operate a daily bus service from Toronto.
1974 - Minor additions were made to keep the snowmaking system up-to-date.
1975, 1976 and 1977 - Minor improvements where made.
1978 - Preparations were made for the Mount St. Louis peak. The base was constructed by moving approximately 400,000 cubic meters of dirt. This would be thebeginning of Mount St. Louis Mountain Building. The second addition to the west wing of chalet was added.
1979 - Completion of the Mount St. Louis peak took 600,000 cubic meters of dirt to provide a 500-foot vertical rise. This project was the largest in the region. Another addition to the Mount St. Louis chalet was added to the north wing. The alpine room
1981 - Ontario’s first cat groomer piston bully with a tiller was purchased. Trees were planted onto the Mount St. Louis peak, now two years old.
1982 - More pumps, compressors were added to the snow making system to produce the best ski conditions, along with purchasing a second piston bully grooming machine.
1983 - A third piston bully was added to the Mount St. Louis grooming fleet. Moonstone, the neighboring hill installed the first quad chair in Canada.
1984 - The Huter family bought the competition ~ Moonstone. In order to improve the two properties, the upper ridge was built on Moonstone by, once again, moving ½ million cubic meters of dirt. This ridge facilitated one of two trails that would link the two bases in order for skiers to cross back and forth. The new resort, Mount St. Louis Moonstone, now offered 34 runs serviced by 15 lifts. Proving to be very successful.
1985 - A second quad chair was added replacing a T-bar at Mount St. Louis side. With this chair, it gave Mount St. Louis Moonstone the greatest uphill capacity in Ontario! Another piston bully was added to the fleet. Major trail work was done on the western trails.
1986 - A new maintenance shop was built along with improvements to the Mount St. Louis chalet.
1987 - Mountain building was once again on the minds of the Huters. Another ½ million cubic meters of dirt was moved to increase Moonstone’s vertical from 420 to 500 feet. The new peak was then serviced by the area’s third quad chair lift, bringing the lift capacity to more than 20,000 skiers per hour. A State-of- the art high-pressure snowmaking facility was added.
1988 - Major re modification to the snowmaking system were made, which included two more vertical turbines, additional tower guns, and system computerization, which increased overall efficiency. Two new teaching slopes were added, one at each base. The popular Yodler slope, one of Mount St. Louis original trails, was widened and re contoured. A new ski patrol building was constructed to the east of the Mount St. Louis chalet.
1989 - The Resort undertook it’s single largest project ever by building another mountain. Another 700,000 cubic meters of dirt was moved and Ontario’s fastest high-speed quad was installed “ The Louis Express”.The reputation of the Huter’s and Mount St. Louis Moonstone changed to mountain building.
1990 - Mount St. Louis Moonstone increased snowmaking coverage. Two-piston bully groomers were traded in to purchase two new ones.
1991 - Major upgrades, were made to the beginner area at Moonstone base by installing a Triple lift chair. Additional piston bully groomer was purchased.
1992 - Brought upgrades to the beginner area at Mount St. Louis with the widening of the Gentle Ben slope and the installation of the Gentle Ben Triple chair lift. The Turkey Shoot slope was re-graded to allow for a mogul run. Snowmaking was once again expanded upon and Mount St. Louis Moonstone increasing their capacity for snowmaking to 4,750 horsepower.
1993 - The Venture Run was extended by seventy vertical feet and serviced by the Venture quad chair.
1994 - Another addition to the Mount St. Louis chalet creating a new ski rental and repair shop, a new bar, improved food services, plus a gigantic sun deck on the south side of the chalet. Snowboarding was re-introduced to the resort, with a Snowboard Fun Park and Half Pipe at Moonstone. The rental fleet now totals 60 Burton and Sims Snowboards.
1995 - Mount St. Louis Moonstone purchased a state of the art half pipe-grooming machine called a Pipe Dragon.
1996 - Mount St. Louis Moonstone put on their moving hats again and moved 650,000 cubic meters of dirt to raise Moonstone’s peak another 50 feet . The Adventure Run was added and the Quad chair #5 was replaced with Ontario’s first high speed detachable six passenger chair “ The Adventure Express”
1997 - Both snowboard parks were expanded upon, enlarging the half pipe on the Mount St. Louis side and expanding the slope and park area at Moonstone. The former Turkey Shoot quad chair was relocated to the park at Moonstone with the new name “Outback Quad”. More capacity was again added to the snowmaking, increasing the pumping capacity to 5,100 gallons per minute. Purchased fifth grooming machine, so this will allow one groomer to be dedicated to the snowboard park.
1998 - Creating a new terrain park to the right of the Outback. The Mount St. Louis learning area was enlarged and purchased our first Magic Carpet to service this area. Mount St. Louis Moonstone now had 37 slopes with 14 lifts. The Mount St. Louis kitchen and cafeteria areas were also remodeled.
After 35 years of being involved in the skiing industry, Mount St. Louis Moonstone gained the reputation for being Ontario’s Best for Family Skiing/boarding and World Famous for Mountain Building.
1999 - The Huter’s decided to change Promenade North and Promenade South slopes into one intermediate slope, named Promenade. To increase the 250 feet width by 65 feet Mount St. Louis Moonstone moved another 550,00 cubic meters of dirt. The two double chair lifts were removed and replaced by another high-speed six-person chair lift the “Promenade Express” on the Moonstone side. Once again the snowmaking capacity was expanded.
Moving into the 21st Century
2000 - Mount St. Louis Moonstone enlarged both learning areas of Moonstone and Mount St. Louis. Hill improvements were by widening Big Lonely allowing more snowmaking to be added.
2001 - Saw the beginning of phase 1 of a 3 year project, moving 400,000 cubic meters of dirt along the upper ridge of the Tiroler to replace the double and triple chair,with another six person chair. Sizable improvements were made to the Mount St. Louis chalet. Projects included remodeling the lower cafeteria, guest services, boutique and state of the art washroom facilities. The addition of a clock tower to the Mount St. Louis chalet was also one of the key projects completed.
2002 - The learning area at Moonstone was increased this translated into the relocation of the Novice Cable. Once again snowmaking capacity was upgraded by 25%.
2003 - Mount St. Louis Moonstone experienced one of the best winters in Canadian history for the 2002/03 season. Moonstone chalet received renovations, including improvements to the rental shop, washrooms and the boutique. A new Crystal glide finish high tech tuning machine by Montana was purchased. Mount St. Louis Moonstone moved 400,000 cubic meters of dirt to the top of the East Arm slope. This was the beginning of Phase 2. The main office was enlarged and upgraded. A second magic carpet replaced the beginner cable at Mount St. Louis and the clock was installed on the clock tower. The Resort purchased a Zaugg super pipe groomer to maintain the two newly formed super pipes added to St. Louis Moonstone terrain. Our snowboard park the “Outback” earned recognition from Snowboard Canada Magazine as “One of the best Parks Ontario has ever seen”.
2004 - Timblerline double chair and Stretcher chair was scheduled for costly 30-year engineering repair audit. Mother Nature was responsible for extensive damage to the hills from heavy rains in May, which took the majority of the summer to repair. We also re-construction the super pipes, began the installation of automated snowmaking system.
2005 - 2 more engineering reviews were completed on the Sundance and Venture ski lifts. We continue working on building the top of the East Arm Slope moving approximately another 400,000 cubic meters. Improvements were made to our Maintenance building by adding 2 additional bays. The cable tow at the Moonstone beginner’s area was replaced with the Ski Resort’s third magic carpet. A major facelift was given to the Resort’s website as well as computerizing the rental shop.
2006 - Completed our Hill building project’s final phase by adding 30 feet of elevation to the top of Stretcher and created 2 more intermediate runs, the Peak West Arm and Upper Timberline. We moved 300,000 cubic meters of earth to accomplish this. All this was done in preparation for the new 6-passenger chair lift, to be installed next summer.
Lift Improvements:Two more engineering reviews were completed on the Louis Express and the Outback Quad Snowmaking Improvements:Purchased 40 new snow guns to increase and expand our existing high tech snowmaking system.
Grooming Improvements:A new Park Bully “Edge” model has been added to continue the tradition of terrain park excellence in construction and maintenance for terrain park features.Rental Improvements:Purchase of high performance ski equipment for our rental shop.
The start of the 2006-2007 season gave Mount St Louis Moonstone one of the most challenging seasons on record. Early snowfall in October gave way to very little in November, December and January. When most thought winter would never arrive Mount St. Louis Moonstone impressed them all. A few cold nights allowed us to make snow that provided enough coverage to let us open Dec 8, 2006 and stay open for the season, other area Resorts had to close over Christmas.
2007 - The Huter’s dream continues, removal of the Timberline double and Stretcher triple chair lifts making way for a third six passenger chair lift, “Summit Six Express”. Slope improvements where made by widening and re grading of Stretcher. Increased terrain on the south side of Kinder Carpet gives Mount St Louis Moonstone 40 slopes. Mount St. Louis Moonstone has the largest and the best beginner terrain in the area. Snowmaking improvements also where made.
Early snowfall and cold temperatures winter was on its way. 2007- 2008 Season started Nov 30 and ended March 30 (with a 90-120 cm base). The cold temperatures allowed us to work day and night in preparation for the Christmas Holiday. In the early morning hours of December 16,2007 fire destroyed the Snow School and Kids Camp “Annex” building. Two mobile trailers where brought in and a temporary Snow School and Kids Camp was in place. Everyone enjoyed the Christmas Holidays. The second week into January gave us mild temperatures and our January thaw. During this thaw people started to wonder if winter was over. January ended and February gave way to record snowfalls throughout the province. It was almost too much snow (almost)! The snow kept falling and the conditions where simply awesome. Skiers/Boarders could not believe the winter wonderland waiting for them each day. Mount St. Louis Moonstone received record amounts of natural snow 470 cm. March arrived with no spring in sight. Our last day of the season March 30 skiers/boarders enjoyed all 36 slopes, two terrain parks and two super parks and no one wanted us to close. The “Summit Six Express” impressed everyone who rode it. 2007-2008 What a Season it was!
2008 - Lift Improvements. The load and unloading areas at the Outback Quad lift where modified to accommodate the new chairs. The top ramp of the Outback lift was raised 5 feet, this will improve the flow in the unloading area. The sound system was repaired in the Outback. New chairs were also installed on Easy Street.
Building Improvements - A new 7000 square foot building for our Snow School/Kids Camp and Members locker room was built.
Purchases - Mount St. Louis Moonstone continues to improve the quality of service that our guests have come to expect by purchasing the following:1~ Pisten Bully Groomer44~ Snow guns
Early snowfall and cold temperatures gave Mount St Louis Moonstone an early start to the 2008/2009 season. Friday November 21, 2008 Mount St. Louis Moonstone open for the season with 5 slopes, 3 lifts and one Terrain Park, second earliest opening since the 1970s.
2009 - It was a typical summer at Mount St Louis Moonstone, although on a smaller scale. Taking care of the necessary maintenance, lift upgrades, a re-vamping of beginner terrain at the St Louis side and addressing the need for increased parking at the St Louis base Chalet, were the focused areas. These are examples of the continued growing commitment that the Huter family produce year in year out. Lifts, in addition to the yearly maintenance, which is completed each summer, new chairs have been installed on the “Sundance” chair.
2009 - Hill Development
Major changes were made to the carpet area at the St Louis side. The original “Magic Carpet” has been relocated, now running North South. As a result “Kids Camp” participants can slide directly to the “Magic Carpet”, with increased terrain to start on. An appropriate slope now connects the top of the “Magic Carpet” to the “Kinder Carpet”. This major change will make the flow of the lift to lift easier and more manageable for skiers/riders.
Facility Development - Completing the landscaping of the new Kid’s camp building.
ParkingThe revamping of the beginner terrain was linked to the design of increasing parking at the St Louis side. An area of parking, for an additional 200 vehicles was added to the South parking area of the Mount St Louis base lodge.
2010 - Mount St Louis Moonstone beginner area became better! The old Sundance Quad chair was replaced with a new high efficient easy to use Sundance Quad chair including the installation of a loading carpet. Improvements were also made by widening and lengthen the beginner area making it the best beginner terrain in the province. Purchased more energy efficient snow guns.
2011 - Construction crews were busy again at Mount St Louis Moonstone! In an effort to build on our reputation of having the best snow conditions east of the Rockies, MSLM began one of the largest projects in their 47-year history, the creation of a 25-acre lake situated directly behind the mountain. This reservoir kindly dubbed “Lake Huter” holds 120 million gallons of water and will work to ensure MSLM continues its stellar snowmaking operations. Construction of this million-dollar project also involves the instillation of close to 4 thousand feet of cable and pipe. It was an expansive project.
2012 - Mount St Louis Moonstone now has 100% snowmaking coverage with the purchase of 40 new Automated Techno Alpin snow guns added on mountain to Holiday, Moonstone Crossover, Junkyard, Big Lonely and Crescent trails. We were proud to add 2 new state of the art Pisten Bully 400 Park groomers to our exceptional snow fleet. Our progression terrain park The Junkyard was biggie sized! With higher vertical for unreal features, the Junkyard was extended to the top of Louis Express. Mount St Louis Moonstone moved over 20,000 cubic metres of earth that summer making wider trails on Holiday, Moonstone Crossover and Upper Big Lonely. MSLM launched a Members Perks Program with discounts on lodging, killer vacations, clothing and gear from our list of Friends with Benefits. Mount St Louis launched a new competitive freestyle ski team called Outback Riderz. In partnership with Rossignol, MSLM offered a new redesigned rental shop plus industry leading equipment.
2013 - MORE CHALET! Guests can enjoy more space for your Muskoka Brewery après, for your lunch with family or quick snacks and hot chocolates in between with our stunning chalet renovation! 3,800 sq feet of new chalet space has been added to the existing Mount St Louis chalet. This expansion is PHASE 1 in a modernized renovation that is planned for the Mt St Louis chalet over 3 coming summer seasons.
GO WHERE THE SNOW IS! We continue to be snow obsessed! Almost another million dollars was invested into MSLM’s snowmaking domination plan. It included, 22 new TECHNO ALPIN Fan and Lance Automatic Snow Guns. They will call YODLER home. Our snowmaking capacity can be pushed to operating almost 200 snow guns at once thanks to a new water pump for Lake Huter. We make fresh pow.
THE MOUNTAIN! Re-grading of the Louis Express mountainside adds to our snowmaking efficiency and saw our summer operations team move another 50,000 cubic metres of earth.
GET YOUR SkooL YaRd ON! The leader in terrain parks in Ontario is doing it RIGLET styles! Already the best at progression and super parks MSLM is focusing this year on the GROMS with a 3RD TERRAIN PARK aptly named the SkooL YaRd. Only this terrain park is built for LITTLE. Meant to teach all ages the fun that can be found on rails, in pipes and on boxes.
AND MUD’S OUR MIDDLE NAME! Mount St Louis Moonstone hosted not one but two Tough Mudder events in 2013. Mother’s Day weekend will never be the same for over 10,000 people, as participants braced cold temps, rain, hail, sleet and snow at our May 11th & 12th event. In deep contrast, another 15,000 people arrived on September 28th & 29th and were greeted with perfect fall temps and gorgeous colours at the mountain; many just had to clear the mud from their faces to see it!
2014 - TO CELEBRATE 50 YEARS MOUNT ST LOUIS MOONSTONE LAUNCHES NIGHT SKIING!
There was a $2 million dollar investment in lighting this summer season all done in an effort to commemorate that special beginning on December 16th 1964!
Opening day in 1964, lift tickets to Mount St Louis were ONLY $4.50 so on Friday December 19th 2014 MSLM will celebrate by offering that same price (+hst) with a donation to a local food bank
Night skiing begins new hours of operation for the 2014-15 season:
26 slopes, 2 Terrain Parks, 1 Half Pipe 5 nights a week from Wednesday-Sunday and including holidays from 9am-9pm. MSLM will continue to offer only day operation Monday - Tuesday from 9am-4:30pm.
Another $500,000 dollars went towards the installation of 44 new automated snow guns ensuring MSLM’s reputation for having the best snow conditions in Ontario remains strong.
Another $50,000 was invested in our rental department allowing our customers to learn to ski and snowboard on the most up to date equipment.
2015 - During the summer MSLM installed 14 new lights and resulted in another $100,000 investment into night skiing. Also in 2015 the Moonstone chalet cafeteria underwent a major renovation. To ensure safe and reliable chairlift system and grooming equipment the mechanics and electricians work hard all summer long conducting maintenance. In addition the Gentle Ben Chair lift was fitted with new chairs totalling almost $90,000. Lastly MSLM once again hosted Tough Mudder, the weather was hot, hazy and humid, one of the hottest weekends of an otherwise cool summer.
2016 -2016 - It was a winter that started late and ended early. Mother Nature refused to co-operate in November and December and MSLM opened January 2nd 2016. It was the latest opening since MSLM invested in its first snowmaking system. The summer of 2016 saw 2 engineering audits on our lift system and another Lake Huter improvement with the installation of a clay lining at the bottom of the pond. 6,000 truck loads of clay helped to prevent leakage and assist MSLM to guarantee the snowmaking reservoir is efficient. MSLM replaced the snowmaking line on Snowbowl and Upper Timberline plus that project saw an upgrade to the pipeline from the Moonstone Pump house. 7 new TechnoAlpin machines were purchased including 5 x TF10 Fan Guns, 1 x TF40 Fan Gun and 1 x V3 Lance snow guns all installed on the Mount St Louis Peak serviced by the Summit 6 Express. MSLM's commitment to snowmaking resulted in another $400,000 investment. MSLM purchased another Pisten Bully 600 Groomer to add to our grooming fleet of 7 and to ensure snow conditions are perfect corduroy for the skiing and snowboarding guest.