Hall of Famer
Réal Boulanger was a visionary. He had a dream, a big dream……. to develop the mountain in Sutton and turn it into a unique ski resort where winter enthusiasts would be able to ski to their hearts content.
Born in 1928 in Lambton, Quebec, Réal moved to Sutton with his family in 1945 where his father, Harold Boulanger, co-founded Produits Laitiers Sutton. Réal started skiing in 1952 at Stowe in Vermont and along with his 3 brothers became passionate about skiing. At that time, Stowe was already a developed ski area. He arrived there only equipped with a toboggan having never skied before. A few friends cajoled him onto skis and in the space of a few runs he was hooked, ready to go home and build his own ski area. And that he did…. with the financial and physical help from his father, his three brothers and a few friends, Real purchased 3000 sloping acres, Mont Sutton, that became a highly popular ski resort in the Eastern Townships of Quebec.
For the next eight years, Réal combed the face of Mont Sutton and the surrounding peaks on foot, getting to know the terrain intimately. He would hike up and down, often with his brothers, carrying huge lengths of rope to measure the vertical drops and contours. In December 1960, the resort opened with a base lodge, ski school, T-bar, and a team of trained patrollers. A double chairlift came a few months later.
In the years that followed, Réal became a respected consultant for Sno-Engineering located in Franconia, New Hampshire and he participated in the development of several Quebec ski areas including Morin Heights, Glen Mountain, La Reserve, Mont Ste-Anne, Mont Orford, Mont Ste-Marie and many more…. Réal was also a shareholder in Jay Peak from 1955 to 1975 and consulted on the development of Stowe and Burke Mountain in Vermont.
Réal was the founding member of both the Canadian Ski Area Association and the Quebec Ski Area Association. He also organized seminars to train ski industry employees and initiated the “Ski Free for a Day” concept to introduce the public to skiing. Real was also renowned for introducing glade skiing (sous-bois) to Eastern Canada.
The ski industry lost a real friend with the sudden death of Réal Boulanger in 1983. He was an industry leader and one of the highest regarded ski area consultants in North America. Real Boulanger realized his dream and his legacy will forever live on at Mont Sutton. Mont Sutton remained in the Boulanger family as a private enterprise until March 2016 when it was sold to a group of local investors.
Founder Mont Sutton, Ski East and Co-Founder ASSQ (Quebec Ski Area Owner’s Association).
Developed many programs to introduce the public to Snowsports as well as programs to train ski industry employees.
Initiated the “Ski Free for a Day” concept. Highly respected ski area consultant in Eastern Canada.
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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Réal Boulanger. Private collection Denis Boulanger.