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Jasper & Area

Building 93 North

By: Nicky Pacas

Think of the coolest thing you’ve ever made. Maybe it’s the Christmas decoration you crafted in kindergarten that your mom still hangs on the tree. Maybe you’ve brewed some drinkable beer out of containers stored in your basement. Maybe you built a shelf that from afar, doesn’t look too crooked.

Yeah, your cool creations are pretty legit. But your cool creations are nowhere near as cool as what Max Flowerday and Sam McEwen are making.

Sam McEwen (L) and Max Flowerday (R) at their shop in Canmore, AB. Photo: Mikey Stevenson

Building 93 North

Highway 93 North is one of the most scenic highways in the world. It navigates through two national parks and connects Lake Louise with Jasper. It’s as infamous for its breathtaking views as it is for suboptimal driving conditions in the winter. It took 600 men ten years to build the road (most of it was completed by horse and hand because there was only one tractor per crew). And since its completion in 1940, the highway, also known as the Icefields Parkway, has been a hotspot for sightseeing, wildlife encounters, and as the starting point for some of the best mountain adventures the Canadian Rockies offer.

It’s also the inspiration for the name of Flowerday’s and McEwen’s burgeoning business, 93 North Skis.

Operating out of a small shop in Canmore, AB, Flowerday and McEwen are handcrafting skis. Both are mechanical engineering graduates from Queen’s University with backgrounds in ski racing. To say they’re still passionate about skiing would be an understatement.

The seed for 93 North Skis was planted when Flowerday and McEwen would go backcountry skiing together: conversations on the up-track about what makes a good ski became the catalyst to McEwen’s research on actually building skis. Then, as Flowerday puts it, “we met for a beer and we made a list of everything that we would need [to make our own skis].” A partnership was built.

Constructing skis initially began as a hobby. Working together in the evenings and on weekends, the pair would develop plans for building skis; they’d talk about it, and then they’d do some work. But, like with most hobbies, work and life would take over and the project would get dropped for a little while before its seductive charm would woo them back into production.

In July 2015, the first prototype was made and they tested it on glaciers before refining and reworking their ideas into other prototypes. Cut to a year later, and McEwen and Flowerday made the executive decision to leave their engineering jobs to pursue ski production fulltime. Originally, they planned to work in Calgary, but after considering the best fit for their business, a serendipitous opening of a shop space in Canmore pulled them westward. In September 2016, the team behind 93 North Skis had moved to Canmore, and by December, the products they made as hobbyists were transforming into something professional.

With the transformation from hobby to profession now complete, Flowerday and McEwen are building some seriously good skis. The Andromeda and Andromeda 166 are versatile skis designed for the variable conditions of the Rocky Mountains. Primarily off-piste skis with the capability to hold an edge on-piste, the Andromedas handle ice, wind-swept slopes, and powder—they’re durable, but they perform well. In other words, you can have your Andromeda cake and eat it, too.

It’s not by chance that the skis work so well in the Rocky Mountains; Flowerday and McEwen tested different materials in their prototypes and ultimately decided on constructing a ski with a maple core. The maple is durable, but lively. It is a consistent wood with minimal defects and a dense grain structure that ensures strong binding retention. The p-tex used as the sidewall material was specifically chosen because of its performance in cold weather (ABS plastic gets brittle in the cold), and poplar has been added to complement the maple. And though it doesn’t take 600 men 10 years to complete a pair of 93 North skis, it does take Flowerday and McEwen about ten man-hours to handcraft each set.

Sam McEwen and Max Flowerday working on a pair of skis.
Photo: Mikey Stevenson

Max Flowerday at work on a pair of 93 North skis.
Photo: Mikey Stevenson

The thoughtfulness in the construction and design of the Andromedas isn’t something you can easily see (it is something you can feel). But if you had to look for something indicative of precision and expertise, look no further than the artwork on the skis. Local artist Emily Beaudoin (@emily.beaudoin) was chosen by McEwen and Flowerday to create the top sheet designs for the Andromeda and the Andromeda 166. Her precise line drawings and integrated watercolours are a callback to artwork from a contemporary world of minimalist designs. Even if you’re not a skier, you could take a pair of skis home just to hang on the wall.

A pair of 93 North skis with art by Emily Beaudoin. Photo: Mikey Stevenson

Working with Beaudoin is only one of the ways that 93 North Skis is keeping things local. By establishing relationships with local guides and athletes, McEwen and Flowerday have set themselves up to be in Canmore long term. And like most locals, they’re super friendly and want you to pay a visit to their shop; they’ll show you their process and let you know how you can demo a pair of skis. You can even sign up for one of their ski workshops and build your own set of skis (just watch your cool factor increase when you replace your shoddy shelf with some sweet boards).

Visit 93NorthSkis.com to get in touch with Flowerday and McEwen or to read more about their hand crafted skis. You can also visit one (or all) of the retailers selling 93 North skis so that you can take advantage of the winter that has finally graced us with its presence.

93 North Retailers:

Ski West in Calgary
Vertical Addiction in Canmore
Pure Outdoors in Jasper
Soul Ski and Bike in Banff
Ernie’s Sports Experts in Grand Prairie

The photos in this story were taken by Mikey Stevenson. To see more of his photography, visit his website here.

Take a look at the Canadian Rockies

Our first ever magazine cover contest was a smashing success! We received an incredible 239 submissions from 29 photographers. After we chose our cover (and our Last Look on the final page by Bryce Brown –see below), we reached out to everyone who submitted to the contest and asked if they would allow us to showcase some of their work. Read on to see a few of our favourite entries and you’ll understand just how hard our selection for the cover photo really was!

Bryce Brown

@brycebrownimages

www.brycebrownimages.ca

Kahli Hindmarsh

@kahliaprilphoto

www.kahliaprilphoto.com

 

Pam Jenks

https://500px.com/jenksphoto

 

Elnaz Mansouri

@elnaz555

www.elnazmansouri.com

 

Leslie Price

@leslieprice1121

 

 

Brad Orr

@wbradorr

www.bradorr.ca

Tyler Parker

@tylerparkerphotography

Kyla Black

@gatheringdustphotography

www.gatheringdustphotography.com

 

Mike Hopkins

@mikehopkinsphotography

www.mikehopkinsphotography.com

 

 

Of course this list only scratches the surface of the work of these photographers and all of the incredible photography here in the Canadian Rockies. If you are dying to see more mountains, sunsets, skies and wildlife (who isn’t?) we’ve got you covered online (@whererockies)!

Thank you to everyone who submitted and keep an eye out for future contests!

Fall Shopping in Jasper

October 10, 2016
By Olivia Grecu & Naomi Witherick

Jasper shops have the perfect items to take you from summer to fall. Shop for practical jackets, on-trend dresses and durable sports shoes.

Jasper shopping, Jasper best shops

Image by The North Face

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Experience the Out of this World

Sep. 13, 2016
By Naomi Witherick

Enormous vehicles roved in the distance, large notched tires gripping the icy ground. White clouds hung low in the air, veiling the giant grey mountains behind them. Their misty edges touched the horizon, blurring the line between the sky and the frozen white ground.

This could have been another planet. But I was right here in the Canadian Rockies on the Glacier Adventure and Skywalk tour at the Athabasca Glacier.

Columbia Icefields, things to do in the Canadian Rockies

Walking on the icy surface of the Athabasca Glacier.

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24 Hours in Jasper

Sep. 7, 2016
By Naomi Witherick

Planning a trip to Jasper National Park but pressed for time? Fitting it all in won’t be easy. It’d take a lifetime to explore this stretch of peaks, glaciers, waterfalls, lakes and pine forest.

But with a little local knowledge you can see the best bits in a day. Take a sky tram to mountaintop views and canoe on pristine emerald lakes. And don’t forget Jasper townsite, a quaint settlement rich in history and spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out. Here’s how to make the most of 24 hours in Jasper.

Jasper Skytram, Jasper sightseeeing

Get an eye-full of Jasper’s sights on a one-day visit. Image: Jasper Skytram

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Iconic Images

Aug. 22, 2016
By Naomi Witherick

Striking and unforgettable. The Canadian Pacific Railway’s posters have the same characteristics as the mountains they advertise. Both have been significant in the history of Canada’s tourism industry in their own right. And while you can’t roll up and pocket the peaks, you can at least take the vintage artwork home.

Banff, vintage poster

Attractive images promoted Banff and Lake Louise as stylish tourist destinations. Photo courtesy of About Canada.

But what’s the story behind the posters? When the company then known as CP Rail finished the railway in 1885, it had successfully connected the whole of Canada. From Ontario to British Columbia (with additional lines in places like Quebec and Lake Superior), the network opened the potential for trade, commerce and major economic growth. (more…)

Top Jasper Sights and Adventures

July 24, 2016
By Where writers

Jasper is an adventure playground – its wilderness beckons to many. Here are some ideas for your summer adventures:

Maligne Lake Cruise to Spirit Island

Maligne Lake Cruise to Spirit Island

Through the Lens
Spirit Island is one of the most photographed locations in Canada. On the Maligne Lake ‘Through the Lens’ Cruise snap incredible shots with the help of an on-board professional photographer. Learn to how to use filters, frame the scene, capture clouds and compensate for difficult light. (more…)

Centenarian Club: Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

April 11, 2016
By Afton Aikens

Peaks may be our claim to fame in the Canadian Rockies, but we’ve also got roots.

The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is nearing the end of its 100th year. The hotel has joined other celebrated institutions that have made it into the Centenarian Club.

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Lakeshore Luxury
In true Canadian tradition, the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge began in June 1915 as a cluster of 10 tents on the shores of glacier-fed Lac Beauvert. The accommodation was known as Tent City, and the nightly rate was $2.50 to $3, or $15 to $18 for a week.

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Canadian Rockies Art & Science

Feb. 8, 2016
By Afton Aikens & Ashley Materi

While there’s plenty of outdoor adventure to be found in the Canadian Rockies, you can get your arts, culture and science fix here, too!

Banff Upper Hot Springs, Sylvia Plachy

Banff Upper Hot Springs, Sylvia Plachy

Inspired Images
Works of 20 international photographers that cover the diverse spectrum of the medium are showcased at the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies exhibit Point of View: Photographs Inspired by the Canadian Rockies (in Banff, to March 27). Photos ranging from classic early 1900s Ansel Adams images to sculpture-based works by Diana Thorneycroft reflect both landscapes and emotional interpretations of mountain life.

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6 Reasons to Love Jasper’s Outdoor Playground

Feb. 4, 2016
By Afton Aikens & John Strugnell

Jasper National Park with its vast wilderness is a winter enthusiast’s paradise.

Snowshoeing-2

Tourism Jasper

1. Explore by Snowshoe
Five Jasper trails are newly designated for snowshoeing and fat tire biking. “Snowshoeing is an affordable sport that allows trail users of all abilities to connect to the park,” says Joseph Zebrowski of Parks Canada. Find maps at the Information Centre; rental shops and tours are listed in our activities directory.

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Style Guide: 3 Favourite Mountain Looks

Dec. 20, 2015
By Ashley Materi
Photos by Colin Ferguson

Whether you’re on Banff Avenue or on the slopes, we’ve got you covered with this season’s best clothing, accessories, outerwear and gear.

Shop_MG_6186
Powder Hound

Stylish snow seekers embrace high-tech gear that’s comfortable on both the chairlift and the descent. (more…)

12 Best Mountain Activities in Winter

By Jack Newton

Banff, Jasper and other Canadian Rockies locales are a winter enthusiast’s paradise. Below are some of our favourite ways to enjoy the great outdoors.

Browse activities in Banff and area

Browse activities in Jasper and area

Image: Grotto Canyon, Tourism Canmore Kananaskis

Image: Grotto Canyon, Tourism Canmore Kananaskis

1. Canyon Ice Walks: Guided tours of Johnston, Grotto and Maligne canyons pass through towering walls of limestone to stunning frozen waterfalls. Ice cleats are provided; headlamp-lit night tours are an option. (more…)