Harper Celebrates 50 Years

March 7, 2024

On a winter day when Max Daburger picked up his two oldest boys from a day of skiing, the idea of building a ski area popped into his head. The image of sunshine, lots of snow, and a hill full of skiers never left him. That evening he announced that he would really like to build a ski area in the vicinity of Kamloops.

The search soon began as Max started looking for a suitable mountain. Having grown up in the Alps of Bavaria, he started hiking up all the hills around Kamloops in the summer on foot and in the winter on skis, sometimes taking the boys. With the north facing slopes and a sunny area to build the lodge, Max found the perfect area to build the ski area. With a vision, experience in building, and a willingness to take a risk, he sold the idea to Peter Huser, his friend and co-worker, and together they started Harper Mountain Lifts Ltd.

In the summer of ‘73, after the permits were in place and the residents of Paul Lake were in favour of the development, Max and crew started to work clearing the runs and building the lifts and the lodge. The road was an old logging road which we had to plow and sand ourselves. The lodge was completed in November, showcasing the classic architecture found in Bavaria.

Harper proved to be a popular winter destination in the 70’s, filled with skiers wearing bright jackets and their favourite pair of blue jeans enjoying the bunny hill and T-bar. In December 1977 the Huser chairlift opened! The Huser chairlift was named after Max’s partner Peter Huser, who sadly passed away prior to the 1977 ski season.

With a vertical drop of 427m and 16 trails covering 400 skiable acres, Harper is truly a local’s hill. Family is the stronghold of Harper Mountain, with Elisabeth, doing the bookkeeping starting in the early days of the construction company. Everyone who has skied at Harper over the years, will remember Elisabeth as the lady behind the ticket counter since day one, and now at age 86, is finally turning the bookkeeping over this season to one of the grandson’s wives. Yes, Elisabeth is still doing the bookkeeping in this 50th year!

You will find Elisabeth out on the snowshoe trails, as hiking the hills of Harper is what she loves best. Sadly, Max passed away in 2003, and passed the torch to his son Norm, as all the four boys were involved with operations since the first year. Having spent their lives up here, Norm’s sons Max and Ryan are now largely involved with the operations of the ski hill as well.

Cam Denby at a lesson meeting placeMeet Cam Denby, Harper’s longest standing staff member. Cam has been a ski instructor at Harper for an incredible 50 years this season! That’s right, he’s been at Harper since day one.

When asked what his favourite part of working at Harper Mountain was, he replied: “The family!!” 

Harper has been family owned and operated since 1973 and Cam has been able to see multiple generations of the Daburger family operate the resort.

 In the words of Cam, “I enjoy teaching how to ski more than skiing itself! I love sharing my passion, and seeing people progress” Legend be told, Cam has produced some of the best skiers Harper has ever seen.

Cam moved over from Churchill Manitoba in 1965 during the holidays. He arrived to see green grass, but thought it was better than the harsh Winters in Manitoba. Cam has been part of the Harper family ever since.

 If you’ve skied at Harper for some time, it’s very likely you’ve come across this guy. Maybe he’s given you a lesson? your kids too?  Be sure to give Cam a wave and say hello next time you’re on the slopes.

Thank you for visiting us for 50 years! We appreciate you choosing us for your snow sliding fun, we love to share our love for the slopes with our community!

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