Family Backcountry Skiing in Algoma

The Next Generation of Turn Earners

I love Bellevue Valley Lodge. It’s no secret. I love earning turns too. It’s a special kind of masochism I suppose, but I love being in the woods, working hard, and then enjoying the thrill of skiing through trees, bouncing over logs, and falling into soft, deep, bottomless powder snow.

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After two visits to see Enn and Robin (owners of Bellevue Valley Lodge), I finally managed to drag my 10-year-old son and my wife away for a couple of days of ski touring and Algoma Country hospitality. Would my family love it as much as I do?

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Backing onto Crown land, the Bellevue Valley Lodge is a B&B dedicated to ski touring. It’s a true ski-in, ski-out lodge, complete with one of the hottest saunas you’ll ever experience. For the last 30 years Enn, along with his wife Robin MacIntyre and a merry group of telemark skiers, have been glading the 2,000 acres behind the lodge. They try to maintain that by doing 300 hours of clearing per season. Now with 20 runs, each with about 700 feet of the fall line, if you’re ready to earn your turns, this is the place to do it. With runs like the Undertaker, the Overtaker, Vortex of Pain, and the Pyramid, skiing in Ontario doesn’t get any better.

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After arriving and introductions, we’re quickly into our ski boots and skis. This is my son’s first experience of touring. We’re heading up before we know it and we’re all shedding layers soon after that. It’s hard work.

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When we reach the top of the "Bunny Hill" we take our skins off, grab a quick snack, and drop in. My son’s hesitant first turn bites back and he falls forward, headfirst into the snow. I hear a squeal come out of him. It’s laughter. He’s upside down in waist-deep powder and laughing about it. We all are. And after a brief struggle, he’s back upright and dropping into ski the rest of the slope. He bounces over logs, turns through the trees, and slashes to a halt right beside me with a massive grin on his face. It’s a beautiful moment.

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It was a big day for him, so he heads back to the lodge with a friend of ours. Enn is just getting warmed up, so my wife and I spend the rest of the day following him through the property. We make three more laps that day, hitting the blower powder snow of a north-facing slope, suffering one of the steepest ups, and enjoying the incredible terrain. Every time we stop to look around, the scenery is incredible: perfectly spaced glades, the likes of which you’ll rarely see in Ontario.

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My wife is grinning from ear to ear every time we get to the top of some new peak, and I see that smile she reserves solely for when she’s on top of a mountain. It makes my heart sing.

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Evenings are filled with a powerful sauna that’ll melt the wax right off your P-Tex, and a family-style dinner that is always entertaining and intimate. My wife says she never wants to leave. My son is already talking about coming back next winter.

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On the sad morning that we have to leave, my wife turns to me as we drive out of Bellevue Valley Lodge’s driveway.

“It feels like a special place,” she says; “thanks for showing it to us.”

And all I can think of is thanks for enjoying it as much as I do! It is a special place. That’s why, after three visits here, I know I’ll be back. I know we will be back. It’s a home away from home. And as far as skiing fresh snow is concerned, it is, without a doubt, the best place to do it in Ontario.

About Colin Field

Colin is an award-winning photographer and writer, specializing in outdoor travel and adventure. He is the editor-at-large with Mountain Life Magazine. He is based in Collingwood, Ontario. 

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