As longtime manager of Sutton operations, Luc Boulanger is preparing to pass the torch. Ski Canada recalls what a blast it was to ski his home hill with him.
Skiing Mont Sutton with Luc Boulanger is like going on tour with a very wise yet playful guide who happens to hold all the keys to the Magic Kingdom. Long before the bull-wheels start turning and the geezers and ‘A’ types begin vying for first chair, Luc knows precisely which trails have been groomed, and which ones have been left with their fresh coats of prime Sutton Pow intact. He also knows how and why any shift or change in the weather or skier traffic will affect the snow conditions on any given section of his hill at any given time. Which is why, instead of becoming a snow reporter, he’s been Sutton’s one and only Director of Mountain Operations for the past 40 years.
Nicolas, Jean-Michel, Luc
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
Luc learned about snow and Sutton and all things skiing by tirelessly exploring, studying, skiing, hiking, clearing, grooming and otherwise updating and maintaining Sutton’s sprawling trail network for most of his life. His father was Réal Boulanger, the legendary ski visionary who founded Mont Sutton in 1960. After designing most of Sutton’s fabled glades and trails, Réal worked as a consultant for Snow-Engineering where he helped develop countless other magic kingdoms in Mont-Sainte-Anne, Mont Orford, Mont Ste. Marie and Stowe to name but a few. In 2019, Réal’s remarkable legacy earned him a coveted spot in the Canadian Ski Hall of Fame. Like father, like son, Luc may very well one day follow suit.
Unofficially, Luc started working at Sutton as a busboy in the cafeteria when he was nine years old. He grew up spending his summers outdoors helping the ground crews clean up after the previous season and then getting everything ready again for the coming one. For Luc, the challenges of working outdoors in any weather, both alone and with others, was pure bliss. In 1980, Luc went to Humber College where he studied ski area management and ‘officially’ apprenticed under his father at Mont Sutton. Three years later, and just three days after Rèal passed away, Luc was named Director of Mountain Operations. He’s been here every day, ever since, making sure that every facility and piece of outdoor equipment, from the parking lot to the sun deck, to the top of Chair Number 7 is functioning properly and running smoothly.
WISE MAN LUC
Times have changed considerably since Luc started working here. Today’s carving skis practically ski by themselves. Once ubiquitous surface lifts have all but disappeared. And who-the-heck-needs- snowmaking equipment has evolved into advanced, must-have, fully-automated, state-of-the-art systems. This year, Luc decided to turn the page and pass the torch onto Nicolas Léger-Loiselle. The young and dedicated engineer was recently named Mont Sutton’s new Director of Mountain Ops. Nicolas is facing no small challenge given how inextricably skiing and Mont Sutton are intertwined with Luc’s DNA. Luc will stay on as Sutton’s first Director of Mountain Ops Emeritus. Oh, and if anyone asks, he’ll put in his two-cents worth and explain what he would do, how he would do it, and why. But only if asked. Like I said, Luc is very wise.