The Club Grows – 1970s

The 1970’s were a busy and interesting time for the Vernon Snowmobile Association.

A committee was formed, chaired by Jack Passmore, for the primary purpose of organizing snowmobile outings for families. Nine areas were designated as good places that could be developed. The areas suggested were Jimmy Lake – Woods Lake, Pinaus Lake, Hunter’s Range, Silver Star Area, Dixon Dam -Becker Lake, King Edward Lake – Beaver Lake, Aberdeen Lake, Galloping Hills – Kettle River-Moor Mtn., and Silver Star – Armstrong. One or two men (Safari Guides) were designated to be responsible for each area. This included clearing and marking trails with signs, keeping the area in good condition throughout the snowmobile season, and also patrolling the area at certain times to check for vandalism. In the summer each Safari Guide would check his area and make sure trails were clearly marked. Each of the Safari Guides would need a lot of help to maintain their trails in the very best condition. The idea was that any day of the week a snowmobiler could call a certain number and be told where a group would be snowmobiling that night. A map was made up showing each safari area. In the mid 70’s it was reported that there were several night safaris for men only and some father and son or daughter rides that were very successful.

The B.C. Snowmobile Championship races would be held in Vernon for the next two years during winter carnival. The money received from the races was divided between the Winter Carnival Society (20%), Winterside, the racing venue (60%), and the Vernon Snowmobile Association would receive 20% of the gate money. The club would supply part of the labor involved in holding the races and the Winter Carnival Society guaranteed the prize money.

When the first tax notice in the amount of $140.00 for the chalet was received in 1971 one of the members checked with a lawyer to see what could be done. The following year the taxes were $151.90. The club thought that as a Non-Profit organization the assessment could be lowered and it was decided that the matter should be turned over to a lawyer to handle. It’s unsure exactly what happened regarding the taxes.

In April 1972 some V.S.A. members built a cabin in the Monashee area on a Special Use Permit. When a complaint was made to Forestry the Monashee Snowmobile Club was formed. This cabin was for anyone’s use and a key could be obtained from one of the members.

Summer projects for 1972 included making stairs to the basement to make it easier to haul wood, and do some work on the water supply to prevent it from freezing.

In October 1972 it was reported that all snowmobiles had to be licensed by Nov. 1st for a fee of $5.00. Proof of ownership was required when applying for a license.

The use of a trail groomer from Alpine Distributors was greatly appreciated, but since it was not always available a suggestion was made in January of 1973 to look into the possibility of purchasing their own. It was February 1976 before the club purchased a one year old used Bombi from Alpine Distributors. The price was $8000.00 on a four year plan with no interest. A fund raising committee was formed to raise money for this purchase. A Bombi charter membership was set up with a minimum $25.00 donation. A plaque would be made up of the charter members and posted in the chalet.

The B. C. Snow Vehicle Association annual meeting was held in Vernon on March 31 – April 1, 1973.

The Silver Star Steering Committee put forth a proposal that the ski and snowmobile areas be classed as Recreational areas. At that time there was no legislation classifying these areas as such. The cross country skiers agreed to this proposal. About this time a letter was published in the local newspaper about snowmobilers on Silver Star. The writer suggested that readers write to Victoria condemning snowmobiles on the mountain. The main purpose of the above mentioned proposal was to promote Silver Star Mountain area as a multipurpose park, and advising Victoria that snowmobiling in Vernon was bringing in several million dollars. It was recommended that as many directors and members as possible present this brief in Victoria.

An Alpine Ski-doo and attached groomer was made available to the club by Alpine Distributors.

In 1974 a suggestion was made by President Monika Gobiel that an award be given out annually to the member who contributed the most effort to the club. The award would be called the Russ Varty Memorial. It was said that if an award like this had been available two years ago, Russ would have been the recipient because he devoted so much time to the club.

Alpine Distributors made available a 640 Alpine for use to groom the trails.

In 1975 the first Search and Rescue meeting for snowmobilers was held with 18 people present. Ray Redstone was elected as Search Master and Jack Tordoff as Assistant. In September 1975 Les Hillier and an RCMP constable from our area went to Victoria for a Search and Rescue Course. This course was mainly about map and compass work on field trips and some classroom instruction. A film on hypothermia would be shown to the membership in the near future.

1975/76 several Junior Safaris were held, which were very successful. The taxes on the chalet in 1975 were $213.33.

In July 1976 the first Summer Jamboree was held at Fintry. Out of town clubs were invited and Larry Williamson donated beef for the barbecue. The Jamboree was a success and plans were made to continue this summer get together.

In 1977 a Slo-pitch team was formed. They didn’t win a lot of games but they had fun. These evening games were family affairs where the children played together while their parents played ball.

1978 was an important year as this is when the first Snowarama was held at L & A Ranch. In conjunction with the Vernon Lions’ Club snowmobilers collected pledges for a 100 mile ride for the Crippled Children of British Columbia. Some of the “celebrity” riders were North Okanagan MLA Pat Jordan, CJIB radio personality Frank Martina, Vernon Daily News Sports Editor Don Kendall, and resident guide Smokey Trumbly. A target figure of $10,000.00 was set, but was exceeded. Frank Martina had the largest media pledge total of $7,050.00. A Vernon RCMP member rode with Frank to make sure he did not exceed the set speed limit! Vern Sparrow had the largest non-VIP pledge total with an amount of $2,682.00. The youngest competitor was Roger Just, seven years old. The total pledged that year was more than $26,000.00 with about $21,500.00 actually collected. A lot of preparation went into this event from grooming the trail to policing to running the concession stand. Vernon received a trophy as the city that raised the most money for Snowarama.

In 1979 there were 103 riders with a total of $31,500.00 pledged. Province-wide over $117,000.00 was raised.

Throughout these years the members kept busy with summer projects to improve the chalet and the trails. Strict attention was paid to the relationship between skiers and snowmobilers and many meetings were held between the groups. The snowmobilers had to police their area to ensure that property and the environment weren’t damaged. Sometimes it was non-members who caused problems but every snowmobiler was painted with the same brush.

Every year there were start up and wind up dances as well as family fun days and safaris. A Preview Show was also held annually. From 1 – 6 p.m. dealers could display machines and advertising material. Often a fashion show was also held. A dance would be held later in the evening.

Safety in snowmobiling was extremely important to the executive and the members. Often speakers would be brought in to talk about Safety and films were shown as well. Sometimes there would be talks on snowmobile maintenance. It was stressed many times how important it was to stay off the ski trails.