Hall of Famer
It is no exaggeration to say that Dr Doug Firth, founder of the Canadian Ski Patrol System (CSPS), had a greater impact on skiing safety than any other person in Canada. In late 1940, CSPS was launched in response to a request from the Canadian Amateur Ski Association (CASA) to form an aid and rescue group in Toronto to assist injured skiers.
CSPS articulated the aims of the organization in its Bulletin No.1 as “…a national cooperative movement to be run by skiers for the benefit of skiers. This organization will work to decrease the incidence of ski accidents, at the same time encouraging the formation of local patrols to care for such accidents that do occur on the ski slopes…” The model for the new system was the United States National Ski Patrol System which in 1939 had 4,500 patrollers on the ski slopes each of whom had 40-hours of first aid training.
As a standing committee of the CASA, the ski patrol system was organized with the same geographic divisions (Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Central and Western). Expansion of the CSPS to every region of Canada was slow, delayed by restrictions imposed by the Second World War. As might be expected, expansion was more rapid in Ontario and Quebec but, by 1948, Vancouver was also included for a while but separated from the system following a “breakdown of communications”.
In 1957, it was clear that some form of representative government was necessary, and the By-Laws were amended to have the National President elected by the Zone Presidents.
By 1961, the CSPS was accredited as a national charity and became independent of the CASA, and in 1962, received its Letters Patent as a national non-profit corporation.
For the first 12-years, from 1940 to 1952, Doug Firth was the system’s National President. After that, he served in a number of other capacities working tirelessly to develop training standards and techniques, to identify equipment needs and procedures to keep pace with the rapidly expanding sport.
The system has thousands of patrollers registered nationally. For his services to skiing, Doug Firth was appointed to the Order of Canada as a “Member” (CM) in 1976. Among a number of other awards, he received a “Special Achievement Award” from the province of Ontario in 1974.
(For the story of the Canadian Ski Patrol System see John & Carole Laffoon’s “May I Help You″ “The first 50 Years of the Canadian Ski Patrol System″, published by the CSPS, 1994.)
Please Note: The ski information gathered here is compiled from a number of sources; it may not be inclusive of all accomplishments.
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Dr. Douglas Firth (left) becoming a member of the Order of Canada in 1976. John Evans, Ottawa.
Photograph of Dr. Douglas Firth (foreground, standing on left) becoming a member of the Order of Canada in 1976. John Evans, Ottawa.
[L to R]: Senator Ray Perrault, Inductee Doug Firth, and Louis Grimes at 1983 Canadian Ski Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Calgary Petroleum Club. CSHFM Collection.
1983 Canadian Ski Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony [L to R]: Gaby Pleau, Doug Firth, Louis Grimes. CSHFM Collection.