It is said that a lot can happen over 50 years, but only the best stories are remembered. Attending the celebration of “50 years of community service” on Sunday, August 7 at the Kemptville Snowmobile Klub in Patterson’s Corners, you could see the pride in members’ faces as they shared their best memories. Beginning in 1976 with the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs, it has been making one big snowball of success. The Klub President, Penny Lennox, with the Executive team and members, hosted a great BYOC (Chair) chicken BBQ, with entertainment by Eddie and the Stingrays. Now, this was not just a regular chicken BBQ; the meat was cooked on Howie the BBQ, a fantastic beast that was handled by volunteers Paul Gaw and Jim Bernie. A great turnout and, as guests took shade under the trees and under tents, they were able to enjoy the +31 degree weather with laughter and delight.
The biggest event this Klub hosted over the past 50 years is the Snowarama, held yearly since 1975. They now have over 700 members with 75 plus volunteers. These members can enjoy 228 kms of well-groomed trails, with the help and strong relationship they have with 125 landowners who let them use their property every winter. Back in 2014, the Kemptville Snowmobile Klub was the proud recipient of the OFSC President’s Award as “Club of the Year”, and in 2019 was the recipient of District 1 Snowmobile Promotion Award.
I walked around through groups of people to ask if anyone would share their stories, and I was able to speak with Janet McLean. She has been a member for 25 years, and, with her husband, they ride 1,000 to 2,500 kms a season. Over the years, she says, “the Klub has increased the number of trails, and this work is done and maintained by the phenomenal volunteer members”. Janet also mentioned that, “the Klub is always thinking about the community and what they can do to help”. The building is a great asset to not only the Klub, but the community as well. When asked: What is your favourite memory from one of your rides, the answer was: “Seeing the wildlife”.
My next referral from a group of trail riders was to get a story from Dale. He puts in about 3,000 to 4,000 kms a season, a little bit tougher, with owning a business, to get out through the week, but he likes to head out east, or on the Quebec side, for a tour. One of his favourite stories was on a tour to the Gaspé. He had Sam Dillabough stop ahead of him to warn him that a moose and her calf were charging their way. He pulled off to the side and he had the moose at the front of his machine. Eventually they moved on, so that he and Sam could continue their tour.
I was curious to hear what Sam had to say. Sam Dillabough, who was an executive with the Klub for four years before becoming President for nine more, has been putting in 2,500 to 3,000 kms a season. He tells the story that every time he goes on a trail ride with Bruce, and they promise to be back for a certain time, they always get lost. “The food is usually packed and put away before we get back”. I think the lesson from that story is to never make plans with a snowmobiler in the winter, they have a lot of ground to cover.
I was very lucky to meet Bob Hall who is a long-time member, and he gave a beautiful and memorable Klub story from back during the ice storm of ‘98. “The trails were like the tornadoes you see today with the fallen trees. We had every high hoe and every volunteer we could dig up, there were hundreds of us. We were like ants working away, and in two weeks we had the trails open, and it was all volunteers, except the operators of the high hoes. They had no chippers back then; it was all moved by volunteers.” Bob also talked about how the Klub was able to make a profit from dances they had at the Community Centre and was able to make $20,000 to $30,000. The result was they were able to build a new Klub house in 2017 with grants and fundraising efforts from the Klub members.
Travis Lee is a new member who joined recently. There is a lot of work that goes into taking care of the trails. The Klub is just around the corner from him, so he was able to get involved with grooming the trails and putting up the pickets; that type of stuff piqued his interest. He wants to help out any way he can. His memorable story: “I was going through a bush trail and there were six deer, and all but two scattered; and these two deer just stood there watching me. When the one deer behind started to nudge the other deer in the rear to get going, they took off. So that was kind of neat to watch that.”
The Kemptville Snowmobile Klub has had many successful years. I hope it continues this strong for the members and any new members who would like to join! For any information about this group, you can reach them by email [email protected], or on their FB page: Kemptville Snowmobile Klub.