Paul and Megan Osak (left) and Janie Rich and Scott Munro are the new owners of Selkirk Wilderness Skiing.

Kootenay’s oldest cat ski operation changes hands

The former owners of Reo’s Video have taken over Selkirk Wilderness Skiing, a small cat ski operation in Meadow Creek.

The former owners of Reo’s Video have taken over a small cat ski operation in Meadow Creek.

Nelson’s Paul and Megan Osak — along with their longtime friends Janie Rich and Scott Munro, a couple from Basalt, Colorado — acquired Selkirk Wilderness Skiing from Brenda Drury who started the business with her late husband, Allan, 39 years ago.

Drury, 65, began the search for potential buyers two years ago, without much concern for how long the process might take. Though people warned her against being too picky, Drury didn’t want to let go of the company until she found the right team to take over.

“I was looking for good stewards of my beloved business,” she said. “I really wanted Selkirk to continue as a family owned and operated business to carry forward the values and culture it was built on.”

The Drurys were pioneers of the snowcat skiing industry. When Selkirk Wilderness Skiing opened in 1975, it was the only cat skiing operation in Canada.

There are guests that came up that first winter and have skied there every year since and many others that have been coming regularly for 10 or 25 years, according to Brenda.

With only one lodge, Selkirk never has more than 24 skiers there sharing a week long powder vacations, which means everyone really gets to know each other.

“It’s like having your family come home for Christmas,” she said of the bond she’s developed with the loyal visitors and staff over the years.

Though the Osaks are avid skiers and had enjoyed visits to some of the other cat ski operations in the area, they didn’t discover Selkirk Wilderness Skiing until they were in the process of selling their previous business.

“We had Reo’s listed on the Invest Kootenay website, and we were on there checking for our ad when we saw the listing for Selkirk Wilderness Skiing,” Paul explained.

Initially they tucked the idea away, but once they handed over the keys for Reo’s and started looking for a new opportunity, Paul said, they kept coming back to the idea of running the cat ski businesses.

“I seen the joy on the faces of my friend’s from Ontario when they’ve come skiing with me in Kootenay powder for the first time, and that’s a big part of what drew me to this business — the chance to see people having a really good time,” he said.

Paul and his team officially took over Selkirk in early December and were glad to have all of last year’s staff back for another almost-fully-booked season.

In future years, the new owners plan to expand the lodge to accommodate more guests. And they’ll need to replace the snowcat fleet.

But Paul said what’s more important is what they’re not changing: the homey feel that makes Selkirk unique.

“Everyone is like family here, and that’s something we never want to change,” he said.

For more information about Selkirk Wilderness Skiing, see selkirkwilderness.com.

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