Opeongo Snowbirds turning 40 this year

I moved to Barry’s Bay in 1999 and wanted something to do with my time in the winter. I called the local Snowmobile Club to offer my services and, surprisingly, heard nothing back from them for almost 2 years. This is odd considering that, even back then, they were seeking volunteers. Eventually I did make contact with the Club and have been involved to this date. My experiences led me to the Provincial organization (The Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs) where I learned that my experience is not uncommon. Many Clubs in Ontario drastically need new blood and younger volunteers but very few were ever capable of dealing with new volunteers. Very often it was the older volunteers being reluctant to take on new people with “newfangled” ideas.

The first season I was involved the club had received a new (well more like well used) trail groomer. It was a monster Pisten Bully Ski Hill Groomer with 16 ft wide tracks. We cut the tracks down to 10 feet wide and then started widening our trail system to handle the larger unit. The previous groomer was a Bombardier 100 which was only 8 feet wide and our trails were only brushed to that width. We had 160 plus kms of trail to widen using chain saws, brush cutters and branch clippers. There were about 6 of us working through September to November to accomplish this. I was a young fellow of 52 years then and I was the baby of the club. Most of the volunteers were in their late 60’s and 70’s but they could outwork me on any day of the week.

Of this original crew I can only verify that three of the members are still around. Tommy Bryce , Warwick Fortune and Jack McClellan. Some of the other members, now passed were Bill Wainwright, Pat Cybulski, Albert Bratley.

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