On April 21st 2019, I had the privilege of hanging out with “The Man”… also known as Luc Boulanger. Luc’s dad and uncles built Mont Sutton with their bare hands in the early sixties and to say that he and his family are legends in our business would be a substantial understatement. The Boulanger family are icons of the Quebec Ski Industry and have garnered the respect of all who value compassion, work ethic, and community. They didn’t just build a ski resort, they dragged an entire postal code out of the backwoods of Quebec into the collective imagination of die-hard skiers everywhere.
In 1945, Harold (the Boulanger Patriarch and Luc’s Grandfather) founded Sutton Dairy Products in Sutton, QC. The Dairy was typically busy for four or five months during the summer, but in winter was forced to lay off employees, which led Harold and his partners to think about a seasonal business that would provide winter jobs for local residents. At the time, people were wilderness skiing on the forested slopes around Sutton, and Harold’s four sons (Réal, Robert, Benoît, and Hercule) became passionate skiers. In 1959, after many trips to Stowe and Jay Peak in Vermont, the brothers started surveying trails on land the family had purchased on Mont Sutton. In December 1960, the resort opened with a base lodge, ski school, T-bar, and a team of trained patrollers; a double chairlift opened a few months later. Under the energetic leadership of Réal, Sutton was known for its early investments in snowmaking and legendary intermediate and expert gladed terrain.
Luc is a living monument to his family and to the guiding principles of his forefathers. He is a prince among men, a throwback to the builders of this ski industry that we love. To call him “old school” in this context is very much a compliment for they simply don’t really make men like him anymore. Luc is currently Operations Manager at Mont Sutton and to say that he’s bled for Sutton and its community would be one hell of an understatement. A tireless, hard-working steward of this resort, the man loves and understands “his” mountain the way very few could. He knows where every brook runs, how every tree grows and likely where every body is buried.
It was a joy and an honor to ski with him on that sunny spring afternoon in the late spring of 2019 with Nadya and our good friend and photographer Bernard Brault… The season was winding down, the snow was becoming scarce and we milked every turn as if it was our last. Skiing with Luc is something I never took for granted and something I’m looking forward to doing again. Luc is not only intrinsically and organically connected to his mountain, he can also ski the heck out of it. With his smooth, effortless style he can wiggle and weave through every nook and cranny, every natural half-pipe with his eyes closed… His every arc perfectly matching the contour of the mountain, his every turn and choice of line harmoniously in sync with the terrain… Nothing is quite as rhythmic and rewarding as following Luc as he crisscrosses his way down one of the many trails and connectors at Sutton as the guy epitomizes the term “flow”. The joy in his eyes and the smile on his face as he savors his mountain is nothing short of contagious.
No one knows Mont Sutton better than him, no one cares for his mountain the way he does. Sutton, its fans, and its skiers are fortunate to have him.