Hall of Famer
H.T. Sam Cliff
One of the most colorful veterans on the Canadian skiing scene, Sam Cliff was introduced to the sport in about 1920. He was immediately smitten and in his search for instruction and technical data visited Switzerland in the winter of 1926. The impression he made there earned him an honourary membership in the Ski Club of Great Britain and a Gold “K” from the prestigious Kandahar Club. More important were the close relationships he forged with influential leaders of the European ski world, Vivian Caulfield, E. C. Richardson, A. H. D’Egville and Walter Amstutz in particular. These were the men who were deeply involved in the development of alpine skiing, technical standards, and organized ski instruction.
Sam Cliff was the driving force behind organized skiing in Toronto and was the first president of the newly formed Toronto Ski Club in 1924. Under his leadership, the club grew from 84 members in 1924 to over 4,000 by the mid-1930s. His corporate connections enabled him to gather together a number of dynamic business leaders whom in turn, promoted the development of ski clubs and ski hills throughout Ontario.
It was through his leadership that many Ontario centres became aware of the sport. For many years, he actively promoted the idea of ski zones and had begun to organize Ontario skiing without any constitutional authority as early as 1934. With appropriate foresight what he had organized coincided with what was to become the new Canadian Amateur Ski Association (CASA) constitution. As a result, the Ontario Ski Zone officially came into existence in 1935 with full CASA approval.
Upon his retirement as president of the Toronto Ski Club, he devoted his time and energy to establishing ski clubs throughout Ontario. At the time of full retirement, he had helped to organize 50 ski clubs in the province.
He was, without doubt, the prime mover behind the changes which brought skiing, particularly alpine, to Ontario as a whole.
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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Manoir Richelieu in Murray’s Bay, January 1930 [L to R]: Allen T. Hew ?, Raymond Thomas, Sam Cliff, ? D’Egville, H.P. Douglas, Emily ?, Brock Thompson. CSHFM Collection.