Snowmobiling is not new to the Archerwill area and has been around for years. The first snowmobile poker rally in the area was sponsored by the Archerwill Hockey Club.
In those days it didn't take a lot of organization to put on a rally. Back then there were no designated trails, signage or grooming equipment. Several individuals would go out a couple days before the rally and break a trail, maybe mark it with some ribbon or flagging tap so no one would get lost and that was about it!
Things have certainly changed over the years, now it's not uncommon to drive several hundred miles to attend a rally.
Archerwill has also seen snowmobile clubs form and dissolve over the years.
A new club was formed in 1996 and is still active in the community today.
The first meeting was held in December of that year with 13 active snowmobilers attending.
At that meeting, an executive was elected, and it was decided to run a contest through the local school for an official club name. The Archerwill Drift Riders were born!
Here we were, a snowmobile club with no designated trails, grooming equipment or signage and worst of all, no operating funds.
Since that first meeting, our club has never looked back.
In early 1997, we decided have drag races, a poker rally and bike/ATV rally, one right after the other.
All three events were a success and gave us some operating funds to work with, but we still had a long way to go.
As the summer progressed, our club members were already talking of purchasing a groomer for the upcoming season.
After looking at several machines and maybe not knowing ourselves what we needed or wanted, we found one of two machines at the Battle fords Ski Resort.
After some discussion and two members willing to co-sign a loan at the Archerwill Credit Union, we purchased not only one groomer, but both of them. We were on a roll.
At the same time that we were purchasing groomers, other things were happening in our club.
At one time Rose Valley had a club and we approached them to see if they wanted to join our club, which they did.
We were in the process of building our first warm-up shelter and we were in discussions within our club whether or not we should become a member of the Saskatchewan Snowmobile Association (SSA).
When the groomers finally arrived, we knew we had our work cut out for us.
All the windows were basically smashed from vandalism and the machines looked like rust buckets inside and out.
Luckily as a part of the deal, the previous owner supplied us with all new glass.
The club decided to immediately refurbish one machine for the upcoming season, and refurbish the other machine the following year.
It is not uncommon for volunteer clubs to rely on local businesses in the area for support. We were fortunate to have DuWayne Lupien as a member of club and owner of Double L Welding. We were able to use his shop and equipment to recondition the groomer and at the same time build a drag to pull behind.
Within a short couple of weeks, our groomer looked like a new machine, we had built a drag, we were ready to groom.
The members from Rose Valley decided that they would take on the challenge to recondition the other groomer the following year, and club member Melvin Halvorson offered his shop in Rose Valley for this purpose.
Within two short years we went from no groomers to two excellent groomers, complete with drags.
The building of our first warm-up shelter was made possible by businesses in the Archerwill, Rose Valley and surrounding areas purchasing block advertising on our shelter.
Our first set of trail signs were hand painted by club members, and endless task. A trail was designated and trail maps were developed and printed.
After being a club for a little over a year, we felt we had a winter recreation activity that could be enjoyed by snowmobilers across the province and the economic benefits to our local business that went along with it.
In 1998 our club applied for, and became, an incorporated non-profit organization. We joined the Saskatchewan Snowmobile Association and the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool in Archerwill donated us an office building to use as a club house.
We also decided that we should purchase some professional trail signage working towards having all reflective trail signs in the future.
In 1999 our club decided that our two groomers had done the tasks they were intended to do and it was time to sell these and upgrade to a single newer groomer.
We ended up purchasing a 1987 Bombardier BR 400 in excellent shape from 100 Mile House in BC, which we still use to this present day.
The UGG in Archerwill donated an office building, which we put out on the trail as our second warm-up shelter.
Since becoming a snowmobile club, we have had our usual fundraisers such as poker rallies, ATV rallies, selling tickets on sides of beef or pork, etc. But our longest fundraising was about to happen. We were going farming.
Local area farmer and club member Ed Bernauer offered us 50 acres of land if we wanted to plant a crop. We of course accepted. Ed also offered his farm equipment to work the land and plant the crop.
Proven Seed and Aventis supplied the seed and Monsanto supplied the Round-up. Archerwill Co-op supplies custom spraying and all the diesel fuel requirements from start to finish. Club member Gerry Lupien supplied his tractor and rock picker, and North Star Custom Combining combined and trucked the canola.
The summer of 2001 saw our total trail signage revamped. All of our signs are now reflective with painted stakes and our club name on every stake.
As of today, we groom and sign 160 km of trail. Our trail from Archerwill can take you west to hook up with Naicam Snow Blasters Trails or east right into Green Water Provincial Park or take the loop around through Rose Valley.
Our trails also access Barrier Lake Resort, Revoy's Marina, Barrier Ford Resort, Marean Lake Resort and the scenic Barrier Valley Lake and River system.
Groomed trails do come at a cost. Our clubs insurance costs are in excess of $1000 this year, and are due whether it snows or not, and this does not include any additional insurance we have to purchase. Insurance costs have increased approximately 400% from last year (the insurance companies say this is due to September 11).
Groomers can cost anywhere between 10 and 135 thousand dollars, depending on the year and condition of the groomer.
It takes our club approximately 24 hours to groom our trails once, at a machine operating cost of $20/hour or $480/trip, barring any breakdowns.
Generally there are two operators in the groomer at all times and this is done on a volunteer basis.
Our volunteers also do all the signage, trail and warm-up shelter maintenance.
Every season brings new challenges such as high or low water levels and farmers adding additional fencing while looking for additional feed or increasing their herds.
We feel our club has a good working relationship with the farmers in our area and we are confident all concerns will be addressed and resolved.
Good sledding and we will see you on the trails!
Blast from the past