The Wallace Family, an 8 Pack Tour
Many snowmobile trails have been built by volunteers since the first club was formed over 50 years ago. From these efforts, snowmobiling has grown to become a lifestyle that generates over 28 BILLION dollars in economic impact each winter in North America. (Yes, that is billion!) So when it comes to recognizing the things that matter within this industry,Snow Goer Canada tends to lean its support to man over machine.
Yes there are great snowmobiles out there, and all kinds of awards from media that promote them as “Sled of the Year” etc…, but what about the folks that build and maintain the trails these notorious sleds ride on? With that in mind, when the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs asked Snow Goer Canada to partner with them and Ontario Tourism to offer up a special recognition award for the OFSC Volunteer Family of the Year, we immediately agreed and made the commitment a long term agreement.
At their 2008 AGM, the OFSC announced the Wallace Family as their Volunteer Family of the Year and when you reviewed their accomplishments and commitments, you’d agree, when it comes to volunteering, you’d be hard pressed to beat the efforts of the Wallace family. Coming from Woodstock Ontario, parents Kurt and Sam and their 6 children, Rob, Jodie, Kurstin, Zachery and the twins, Luke and Seth, are an amazing family. They volunteer at the Westwood Hills Snowmobile Club in District 5 in a huge way. Whether it is grooming, wrenching, trail brushing or helping at special events, this crew is a formidable bunch when they show up to lend a hand. What is especially great, is the fact that they do this as a family lifestyle activity and make it part of their quality time. Snowmobiling is fun and they ensure that feeling is never lost amongst the mix of duties. As part of their recognition for all these efforts, Snow Goer Canada and Snowmobiler TV invited the family out for a snowmobile getaway that would be hosted by one of Ontario Tourism’s premier snowmobiling regions. The Near North region was the destination of choice and the following is a recap of the Wallace family’s most excellent sleddin’ adventure.
Helping you make the connection, the Near North tourism region is an absolute playground for outdoor enthusiasts. Offering more than 62,000 square kilometres of forest and lakelands, this is a little piece of heaven for the sportsman and families wishing to enjoy 4 seasons of the great outdoors. From fishing and paddling, to hunting and dogsledding, the Near North region welcomes all comers. And when we talk snowmobiling, it absolutely rolls out the white carpet invitation. Considered the gateway to northern Ontario, the city of North Bay is a hub to many smaller communities that surround Lake Nipissing and encompass the region. The volunteers of the Near North Trail Association understand and share the vision snowmobilers seek out. Thityfourhundred kms of world class trails guide you through historic villages, across farmland and onto the trails of French River Country. The view from the spectacular bridges over the French and Pickerel Rivers overlooks the route of the Voyageurs that was christened centuries ago. Thick northern pines and many lakes define the wilderness trails found in the warm communities of Temagami, Temiscaming and Mattawa. And be sure to watch for deer as you enjoy the ride over rolling hills and hardwood forests on the southern borders of the region.
For the Wallace family, their starting point would be North Bay with a family themed agenda leading the way. Starting off the riding, the family, joined by the Snow Goer and Snowmobiler TV crew, saddled up and selected one of the many loop tours that branch out from North Bay. Embracing the fantastic sunshine and blue skies, we rode the freshly groomed trails, enjoying the variety of terrain and beautiful scenery along the way. Stopping for lunch at the South Shore Snowmobile Club clubhouse offered up some great eats and a chance to chat it up. We were welcomed by the club president, Colin Tucker, who had this to say about the hosting role of his club and the region. “These folks, they deserve a little time away and we are glad to be part of it and host them. I really hope they enjoy their time up here and we are really proud they chose our area for a visit. It’s nice to know our area is well enough respected that people want to come up here.” Heading back into North Bay brought more great riding which kept the smiles grinning throughout the afternoon. As the sun set, the sleds were parked and the group went to freshen up before a press conference at the Best Western Hotel, a long-time snowmobile friendly destination that hosted the Wallace gang during their stay in North Bay. Bunny Tucker, VP of Ontario’s Near North, welcomed the Wallaces and spoke to the collection of local media about how important volunteers are to snowmobiling, tourism and economic success within the area. She noted also how important it is to recognize the volunteers for their contributions. With the formalities out of the way, a great dinner was had by all and the children took every advantage of the heated indoor pool that was beckoning them on a frosty February evening. The smiles clearly indicated day one was a success!
The day two agenda would be a little different for the gang. With grandma and grandpa along for the adventure, they would take on the youngest members of the family and scoot them out for another version of winter’s fun. The youngsters headed out onto Lake Nipissing for a sampling of some ice fishing, which apparently went so well they ran out of fingers and toes counting up their haul out of the lake. Ramping up the fun even further, some dogsled riding was also part of the exciting agenda for the junior Wallaces. In the adult category, a special treat was presented to Sam and Kurt as they became “test riders for a day” on the Snow Goer Canada and Snowmobiler TV 2009 sleds. Very popular for these parents of six, naturally, were the two-up sleds. Room for two and all the goodies on a seriously comfortable suspension seemed to put the Polaris FST IQ Cruiser and Arctic Cat TZ1 in a dead heat for front running for the family rider in them. Heading through some awesome elevated trails, the group was guided by Ken Prescott of the Bonfield Snowmobile Club. In this area they were treated to the spectacular views from the top of Bolt Mountain prior to heading back down to the cozy accommodations of Sunset Cove on the shores of Lake Nipissing. Here they would be reunited with the youngsters and the grandparents and hear all about the “awesome” day that was had by all. Topping the charts was a gourmet dinner served up to ensure nobody left the table hungry or disappointed. A great night’s sleep would be had by all and that would make for the end of our trip with the Wallace family. Simply put, these folks were a load of fun to be with and we want to say thanks for that! Truth be known, heading out for a session that has a family with six kids in tow is somewhat a scary prospect. To that note, we must publicly applaud mom and dad and the grandparents, because all of the Wallace children are polite, well-behaved and a treat to be around. This is a family that knows how to have fun together and they make the best of it. Daughter, Kursten, provided us a great interview which says a lot about what kind of upbringing she had. “I want to thank everyone for all of the hard work that went into setting everything up for us to come and ride here. And thanks to all the people who recognized the work we do for the club. We really, really appreciate it!” Here is some further insight as to how appropriate it was to name the Wallaces as the “Family of the Year”. These are some comments from Sam about the getaway to the Near North region. “This is like heaven up here. It’s the first time ever that we have actually been able to get out on a trip with all the kids and actually be able to ride together with all eight of us. I just couldn’t wipe the smile off my face looking back and watching everyone, all riding together, I was so happy. Just watching them in this place was great, they were all having such a good time together.”
Congrats to the Wallace family. Thanks for all your hard work. We look forward to our next adventure with the newest recipients for 2009, the Stapley family.
Snow Goer Canada and Snowmobiler TV thank all volunteers for your efforts and encourage everyone who snowmobiles to join a club and make sure they say or gesture a quick thanks as they pass the groomer or the clubhouse during their travels. Cheers to you all.