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SkiNewEngland.net
 
Winter's Magic (2014)
Ski Ward
Shrewsbury, Massachusetts
Status: Open
First Season:1939-40
Vertical Drop:220 feet
Standing Lifts:1 triple, surface lifts
Past Lifts:1 double, surface lifts
Left: Winter's Magic (2014)
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Located on 529 foot Union Hill in Shrewsbury, Ski Ward is a popular, year-round local recreation center.

Early Years at Ward Hill

Ski Ward's ski history dates back to as early as 1939, when Ward Hill ski area may have first opened on the Ward family's farm on Union Hill. According to the Patriot Ledger, the hill received its name because bonfires were lit atop it during the Civil War when the Union Army won battles.

Ward Hill received press in December 1942 as being one of the few ski operations near cities allowed to have night skiing, as it was located just outside of the wartime dim-out restriction area. Operators Warren Tyler and Louis Payne made improvements to the ski slope in advance of the 1942-43 season.

The area has likely been in continuous operation since at least the mid-1950s.

Ward Hill Ski Area Corp.

Ski Ward in 1965
Ski Ward in 1965

After a quarter century of operating with rope tows, big changes took place at Ward Hill in 1965. In September of 1965, Ward Hill Ski Area Corp. was established by Robert Martin, Brenda DeCoteau, and Paul O'Connell, with Edwin Fedeli being named Treasurer. The entity was reportedly established in conjunction with long time operator Robert "Bob" Rochette. That month, the corporation entered into a 15 year lease with Florence B. Ward and her son Bruce B. Ward for the 40 acre ski area. Bruce Ward was locally known for operating a trucking company; he plowed local roads and highways with a green plow truck into his late 80s.

Leveraging financing from Guaranty Bank & Trust Company of Worcester, a new Mueller T-Bar was installed for the 1965-66 season, while base facilities were improved for 1967-68. A second T-Bar was likely installed for the 1968-69 season in the present day Tuba Slide area. Meanwhile, instructor Steve Morrow helped garner more attention for Ward Hill by being named to the PSIA Demonstration Team in the late 1960s. The son of another Ward Hill ski school director, Bill Morrow, Steve later moved on to run a program at Sugarloaf.

A key component to Ward Hill's growth in the late 1960s was the installation of night skiing lights on two thirds of the ski area. Night time operations helped to grow the school group business while also giving adults the ability to learn the sport after work. Co-owner Bob Rochette remarked that, without snowmaking and night skiing, there would be little reason to attempt to operate such a small ski area. Ward Hill also made a name for itself by having a strong racing program. Not only did it host local ski races, but Ward Hill also had skiers make strong showing in various prominent regional races.

Modernization and Diversification

Winter's Magic (circa late 1990s)
Winter's Magic (circa late 1990s)

Ward Hill entered the chairlift age in 1983-84, when a used Mueller double chairlift was installed in front of the lodge. Snowmaking continued to be a focus, with improvements made during the mid-1980s to ensure the area could operate during frequent lean winters.

In the fall of 1990, the LaCroix family formed Ski Ward, Inc. and took over Ward Hill. Three decades later, the LaCroix family continues to own and operate the ski area. John LaCroix briefly expressed interest in also taking over Blue Hills in 2000, helping the Metropolitan District Commission to develop proposals for a new lease.

After twenty years of service, Ski Ward's Mueller double chairlift was retired following the 2002-03 season. A new Partek triple chairlift was installed in its place, while the lattice Mueller towers were retained.

Ski Ward continued its decades-long relationship with the Ward family when it entered into a new 20 year lease for the 40 acre tract in April 2007. Bruce Ward passed away in 2012 at the age of 90. Three years later, his granddaughter was married atop Ski Ward.

In the early 2010s Ski Ward built out summer operations, including tubing, a terrain park, a BigAirBag, and volleyball. Activities were further diversified with the inception of the Shrewsbury Farmer's Market in 2014.

John LaCroix's son Mikey began making headlines in the 2010s when the teenager started notching wins in national snowboard competitions. He was named to the US Ski and Snowboard Team in 2019.

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Image Gallery
1967-68 Eastern Ski Map1971-72 Eastern Ski Map1972-73 Eastern Ski Map1973-74 Eastern Ski Map
View All Images in Ski Ward Image Gallery

Lifts
Click on lift name for information and photos
Standing Lifts
Installed
The Ski Ward T-Bar in the 1960s
T-Bar
Mueller
T-Bar
1965-66
The Ski Ward Triple Chairlift in 2013
Triple Chair
Partek-Mueller
Chairlift - Triple - Fixed
2003-04

Past Lifts
Seasons
Beginner T-Bar
Poma
T-Bar
1968-69
-
1990s
The Ski Ward double chairlift in the 1990s
Double Chair
Mueller
Chairlift - Double - Fixed
1983-84
-
2002-03

Maps
1969-70 Ward Hill trail map1970-71 Ward Trail Map1973-74 Ward Hill Trail Map1999-00 Ski Ward Trail Map2000-01 Ski Ward Trail Map2001-02 Ski Ward Trail Map
View All Ski Ward Trail Maps

Year by Year History
Adult Weekend Full Day Lift Ticket; Adult Full Price Unlimited Season Pass
2020s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
2020-21$57.002020-21 Ticket Price Graph$580.002020-21 Season Pass Price Graph10.2 days2020-21 Skier Visit Graph
2019-20$55.002019-20 Ticket Price Graph$550.002019-20 Season Pass Price Graph10.0 daysNovember 16March 82019-20 Skier Visit Graph
2010s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
2018-19$55.002018-19 Ticket Price Graph$579.002018-19 Season Pass Price Graph10.5 daysNovember 24March 172018-19 Skier Visit Graph
2017-18$52.002017-18 Ticket Price Graph$550.002017-18 Season Pass Price Graph10.6 daysDecember 9March 182017-18 Skier Visit Graph
2016-17$49.002016-17 Ticket Price Graph$525.002016-17 Season Pass Price Graph10.7 daysDecember 9March 192016-17 Skier Visit Graph
2015-16$46.002015-16 Ticket Price Graph$495.002015-16 Season Pass Price Graph10.8 daysDecember 20March 92015-16 Skier Visit Graph
2014-15$45.002014-15 Ticket Price Graph$495.002014-15 Season Pass Price Graph11.0 daysNovember 21March 152014-15 Skier Visit Graph
2013-14$42.002013-14 Ticket Price Graph$485.002013-14 Season Pass Price Graph11.5 daysNovember 15March 162013-14 Skier Visit Graph
2012-13$42.002012-13 Ticket Price Graph$475.002012-13 Season Pass Price Graph11.3 daysNovember 30March 172012-13 Skier Visit Graph
2011-12$42.002011-12 Ticket Price Graph$475.002011-12 Season Pass Price Graph11.3 daysDecember 12March 112011-12 Skier Visit Graph
2010-11$40.002010-11 Ticket Price Graph$475.002010-11 Season Pass Price Graph11.9 daysNovember 282010-11 Skier Visit Graph
2009-10$40.002009-10 Ticket Price Graph$475.002009-10 Season Pass Price Graph11.9 days2009-10 Skier Visit Graph
2000s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
2008-09$40.002008-09 Ticket Price Graph$475.002008-09 Season Pass Price Graph11.9 days2008-09 Skier Visit Graph
2007-082007-08 Ticket Price Graph$450.002007-08 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 12007-08 Skier Visit Graph
2005-06$31.002005-06 Ticket Price Graph$450.002005-06 Season Pass Price Graph14.5 days2005-06 Skier Visit Graph
2003-04$29.002003-04 Ticket Price Graph2003-04 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 52003-04 Skier Visit Graph
2002-03$28.002002-03 Ticket Price Graph2002-03 Season Pass Price GraphNovember 292002-03 Skier Visit Graph
2001-02$26.002001-02 Ticket Price Graph2001-02 Season Pass Price Graph2001-02 Skier Visit Graph
2000-01$26.002000-01 Ticket Price Graph2000-01 Season Pass Price GraphNovember 252000-01 Skier Visit Graph
1999-00$25.001999-00 Ticket Price Graph1999-00 Season Pass Price Graph50,0001999-00 Skier Visit Graph
1990s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1998-991998-99 Ticket Price Graph1998-99 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 141998-99 Skier Visit Graph
1996-971996-97 Ticket Price Graph1996-97 Season Pass Price GraphNovember 301996-97 Skier Visit Graph
1994-95$17.001994-95 Ticket Price Graph1994-95 Season Pass Price GraphDecember 131994-95 Skier Visit Graph
1970s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1971-72$4.501971-72 Ticket Price Graph1971-72 Season Pass Price Graph1971-72 Skier Visit Graph
1970-71$4.501970-71 Ticket Price Graph1970-71 Season Pass Price Graph1970-71 Skier Visit Graph
1960s Ticket Price Season Pass Price
Pass Payback
Opening Day
Closing Day
Skier Visits
1968-69$4.501968-69 Ticket Price Graph1968-69 Season Pass Price Graph1968-69 Skier Visit Graph
1967-68$4.001967-68 Ticket Price Graph1967-68 Season Pass Price Graph1967-68 Skier Visit Graph

Visitor Memories
"Ski Ward has recently diversified a bit..hosting 'Night Weasels'. This is a cyclocross race held under the lights on the lower slopes of the hill...famous for it's technical descents and party atmosphere. The race is the centerpiece of New England's Holy Week of Cyclocross"
Derek Griggs, Mar. 16, 2014
"I learned to ski there in the mid 1980s. At that time on the far left side of the hill I believe there was a rope tow that would easily burn your gloves off. It was just a thick piece of rope that you grabbed onto. I've never seen anything like anywhere else. "
Scott Lowell, Jan. 28, 2014
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External Links
  • Ski Ward - official site
  • Last updated: July 22, 2016

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