Mt. Sima enlists local artists to fundraise

The mad scientist of the Whitehorse art scene, Philippe LeBlond, has been busy in his lab - er - studio the last six or so weeks. LeBlond and local painter Halin de Repentigny have teamed up with Mt. Sima to raise money.

The mad scientist of the Whitehorse art scene, Philippe LeBlond, has been busy in his lab – er – studio the last six or so weeks.

LeBlond and local painter Halin de Repentigny have teamed up with Mt. Sima to raise money to help cover the cost of the ski resort’s new $3-million chairlift.

“We’re very excited about the program we’ve created that will allow the community to show their support for the new chairlift,” said Patti Balsillie, a board member with the Great Northern Ski Society that oversees Mt. Sima operations, in a media release. “This is a fun and unique program, which allows people to see their contribution for years to come.”

Like many of LeBlond’s works, “unique” is good word to describe it.

The Mt. Sima Rolling Ball Sculpture, unveiled this week, is a hectic work of art.

The sculpture, which is 2.4 metres high and 3.6 metres wide, sits in front of de Repentingy’s mural of Mt. Sima of the same size. It contains a functional, miniature chairlift and T-bar that collect ping-pong balls from the base and delivers them to the top. The balls then zigzag down a multitude of wire tracks, resembling the movement of skiers and snowboarders on the slopes. There’s even a loop.

LeBlond describes the kinetic sculpture as “a lot of randomness.”

“What I like about these sculptures is the random aspect,” he said. “This one has some randomness to it. You don’t know how the balls are going to kick out of it, which gate they are going to go through. It’s not repeatable – it doesn’t get boring.”


In addition to some coffee cans in the pulley systems, a curved grate to resemble a halfpipe and beaded chains as little lift-cables, the sculpture contains three oven rotisserie motors with the miniature chairlift using one at the top and another at the bottom. The miniature T-bar uses the third.

LeBlond estimates he used 30 or 40 metres of hardened steel welding wire to make the tracks and spent “hundreds” of hours working on it.

“At the end of November I built the frame, tinkered here, tinkered there, but the last three weeks have been solid,” said LeBlond, who believes it to be his sixth rolling-ball sculpture.

“Ping-pong balls are perfect for little advertising signs, and they’re all identical, which is really important in a rolling ball sculpture,” he added. “And people can write on them.”

Writing on the balls is where the community fundraising initiative comes in.

Starting this week the sculpture’s 400 ping-pong balls are up for sale, ranging from $50 to $500. Purchasers will be listed in order of the amount spent on a plaque next to the piece, which will be on permanent display in the resort’s lodge.

Then, on Feb. 4, contributors can decorate their balls before the sculpture is incased under Plexiglass.

“We found a unique and fun way for people to show their support,” said Balsillie. “Key to know, the ball you purchase is not only recognized on a permanent plaque, this will be incased in glass with all the balls that have been purchased. It will be running during operational hours when people are in here, so the kids, families and supporters can come in here and see the balls they have purchased in action.”

LeBlond first delved into the art world making wind vanes a decade-and-a-half ago and has kept his welding torch going ever since. He is behind many of the unique bike racks seen around Whitehorse and creates popular raven pieces out of recycled refrigerator panels.

His love of bicycles has been an inspiration. Last fall he caught the media’s attention with his five-metres in diameter dome made entirely out of bicycle rims on his front yard on Lewes Boulevard.

“Mt. Sima has something now to tinker with from now until eternity,” said LeBlond. “It certainly was a lot of effort … I really like the idea of people taking possession of a sculpture and being able to participate in it is really exciting.”

With an injection of $100,000 from Pelly Construction Ltd., giving the new lift the Pelly Construction Chairlift name, the Great Northern Ski Society has raised $233,000 so far in its fundraising campaign. It also received a $1.6-million grant from the City of Whitehorse last June.

Contact Tom Patrick at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Willow Brewster, a paramedic helping in the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre, holds a swab used for the COVID-19 test moments before conducting a test with it on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
An inside look at the COVID-19 drive-thru testing centre

As the active COVID-19 case count grew last week, so too did… Continue reading

Conservation officers search for a black bear in the Riverdale area in Whitehorse on Sept. 17. The Department of Environment intends to purchase 20 semi-automatic AR-10 rifles, despite the inclusion of the weapons in a recently released ban introduced by the federal government, for peace officers, such as conservation officers. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Environment Minister defends purchase of AR-10 rifles for conservation officers

The federal list of banned firearms includes an exception for peace officers

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: The K-shaped economic recovery and what Yukoners can do about it

It looks like COVID-19 will play the role of Grinch this holiday… Continue reading

Jodie Gibson has been named the 2020 Prospector of the Year by the Yukon Prospectors Association. (Submitted)
Jodie Gibson named 2020 Prospector of the Year

Annual award handed out by the Yukon Prospector’s Association

A number 55 is lit in honour of Travis Adams, who died earlier this year, at the Winter Wonderland Walk at Meadow Lakes Golf Club in Whitehorse on Nov. 24. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
A new take on holiday traditions

Winter Wonderland Walk, virtual Stories with Santa all part of 2020 festive events in Whitehorse

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Colin McDowell, the director of land management for the Yukon government, pulls lottery tickets at random during a Whistle Bend property lottery in Whitehorse on Sept. 9, 2019. A large amount of lots are becoming available via lottery in Whistle Bend as the neighbourhood enters phase five of development. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Lottery for more than 250 new Whistle Bend lots planned for January 2021

Eight commercial lots are being tendered in additional to residential plots

The Government of Yukon Main Administration Building in Whitehorse on Aug. 21. The Canada Border Services Agency announced Nov. 26 that they have laid charges against six people, including one Government of Yukon employee, connected to immigration fraud that involved forged Yukon government documents. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Charges laid in immigration fraud scheme, warrant out for former Yukon government employee

Permanent residency applications were submitted with fake Yukon government documents

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

Karen Wenkebach has been appointed as a judge for the Yukon Supreme Court. (Yukon News file)
New justice appointed

Karen Wenckebach has been appointed as a judge for the Supreme Court… Continue reading

Catherine Constable, the city’s manager of legislative services, speaks at a council and senior management (CASM) meeting about CASM policy in Whitehorse on June 13, 2019. Constable highlighted research showing many municipalities require a lengthy notice period before a delegate can be added to the agenda of a council meeting. Under the current Whitehorse procedures bylaw, residents wanting to register as delegates are asked to do so by 11 a.m. on the Friday ahead of the council meeting. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Changes continue to be contemplated for procedures bylaw

Registration deadline may be altered for delegates

Cody Pederson of the CA Storm walks around LJ’s Sabres player Clay Plume during the ‘A’ division final of the 2019 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament. The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28 in Whitehorse next year, was officially cancelled on Nov. 24 in a press release from organizers. (John Hopkins-Hill/Yukon News file)
2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament cancelled

The 2021 Yukon Native Hockey Tournament, scheduled for March 25 to 28… Continue reading

Lev Dolgachov/123rf
The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner stressed the need to safeguard personal information while shopping this holiday season in a press release on Nov. 24.
Information and Privacy Commissioner issues reminder about shopping

The Yukon’s Information and Privacy Commissioner Diane McLeod-McKay stressed the need to… Continue reading

Most Read