A leader in the Canadian ski industry and champion of the Selkirk College Ski Resort Operations & Management Program (SROAM) has been honoured with a lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Ski Council.
Bob Falle is a dedicated outdoor recreation and tourism professional on staff at Selkirk College for over 25 years—originally as an instructor and then in the role of chair for the School of Hospitality & Tourism. He is overjoyed with receiving this year’s Colin S. Chedore Lifetime Achievement Award.
“I am very honoured,” says Falle, with a sense of adventure that clearly infuses his being. “It was humbling and the fact that it’s a lifetime achievement award—well, I’m not done yet.”
Chair of the School of Hospitality and Tourism Bob Falle has been honoured with a lifetime achievement award from the Canadian Ski Council. The dedicated outdoor recreation and tourism professional has been at Selkirk College for over 25 years.
Paul Pinchbeck, president and CEO of The Canadian Ski Council, says this award recognizes Falle’s hard work and dedication to educating the next generation of snow sports industry leaders in Canada.
“Bob is being recognized for his contributions to the sports of skiing and snowboarding through education, research, advocacy, support of tourism in Canada, and the promotion of the sport,” says Pinchbeck. “Bob has made significant achievements and accomplishments in increasing growth in our sports through his dedication to the education of his students through the Ski Resort Operations & Management Program and other tourism programs at Selkirk College. Without his commitment to the educational programs Selkirk College provides, the Canadian industry would not have the qualified and highly skilled employees that it does today.”
Stoked on Skiing at an Early Age
Falle hails from Toronto where he started teaching skiing part-time at age 16 with Scarborough Parks and Recreation. After high school he worked at Don Valley Ski Centre, “a tiny little place right in the city.” Ontario ski hills were small and some didn’t even have chairlifts, but Falle’s enthusiasm was sky high and he was hooked.
“I enjoyed it right away… the freedom of the sport, being outside, and the vibe. The whole thing just got me,” he says. “I grew up living in the suburbs of Toronto dreaming of living in a place like the Kootenays.”
As a ski instructor, Falle’s passion grew as he experienced others enjoying the sport. In 1977, he attended Humber College taking the Recreation Leadership and Ski Resort Management diploma programs. Part of what captured the industry veteran early on is the diversity of the work in a dynamic profession.
“I drove a snow cat, I made snow,” he says. “I worked on the lifts and ran a tennis and horseshoe club in the summertime. Because I had a recreation background as well, I had year-round opportunities right away.”
The economic downturn in the early 1980s took Falle away from the ski industry and for three years he worked in banking. But ultimately he returned—to the Halton Region Conservation Authority that owned Glen Eden, a little ski hill “right beside the 401” outside Toronto.
“And in the five years that I worked there, it tripled in business. It was cool to be there during the growth of it,” he says. “It was growing so fast. Imagine this little ski hill that’s 250 vertical feet and 32 acres that draws more skiers than Red Mountain and Whitewater put together.”
Selkirk College Opportunity a Dream Come True
At that time, Falle began teaching part-time at Humber College in the Ski Resort and Recreation Leadership programs. In 1990, the ski program at Selkirk College was expanding from a one-year program to two years. The job in Nelson was advertised across Canada and it grabbed Falle’s attention.
“It was ideal. It had always been a dream of mine to work in a community with mountains and lakes, so it worked out very well for me,” he says.
Falle taught in the Selkirk College SROAM Program for six years before becoming department head. He is now the chair of the School of Hospitality & Tourism, which includes the Professional Cook Program, Golf Club Operations Program, Resort & Hotel Management Program, and the Hairstylist Program.
“But I’ve always been connected with the ski business,” he says. “That’s where I came from. That’s where my heart is.”
While Falle is clearly proud of his lifetime achievement award, he is just as pleased with Selkirk College’s ski program.
“That program has been solid for over 35 years,” he says. “It’s sustained its enrollment, has good retention from first to second year, and it’s something that the college is proud of. I’m proud of our ski program and all of our hospitality and tourism programs as well. It’s like having all the elements of a mountain destination resort right here at Selkirk College.”
Opportunity and Relationships Fuel Career
During his years at Selkirk College, Falle has had the pleasure of meeting many graduates who he’s seen go on to become successful in their careers—some who have stayed in the community such as former owner of Whitewater Ski Resort Mike Adams; Charles Arnold, manager at Gerick Cycle and Ski; Carole Karafil, owner of White Grizzly Cat Skiing; and Jackson’s Hole & Grill owner Clive Jackson.
On field trips and while visiting students completing work-term studies, Falle has toured many ski resorts—small and large—that “he never dreamed of visiting” from Whistler and Lake Louise to Shames Mountain in Terrace. He’s been heli-skiing at Mike Wiegele Resort and cat skiing at Silver Star Resort before new lifts were built in the 1990s.
“It’s a dream job,” says Falle. “And I give a lot of credit for my success to the people I’ve worked with at Selkirk College for sure. I can’t say enough about having great people to work with. They all have solid industry backgrounds and are right up to date on the technology and trends with a connection to industry.”
Solid relationships at the backbone to his success are evident in that the namesake of Falle’s lifetime achievement award is a long-time friend and mentor. The Colin S. Chedore Lifetime Achievement Award was created by the Canadian Ski Council to honour Chedore who was the CEO of the Canadian Ski Council for 23 years.
“He’s always been a good friend—and supporter of our SROAM Program here at Selkirk College,” says Falle.
The CSC Lifetime Achievement Award recipients are selected by an Awards Committee consisting of ski and snowboard industry leaders—Falle’s peers. One of Falle’s first bosses in the ski industry at Chicopee Ski Club in Kitchener and now President of the Ontario Snow Resorts Association Bruce Haynes received the award on his behalf at the Canadian Ski Council Toronto Snow Show in October. The mighty glass trophy recently arrived to his hands still bearing the fingerprints of another one of his good friends.