In the early 1970’s snowmobiling was becoming a very popular but unorganized sport in not only Ontario but locally in New Dundee and surrounding areas. Snowmobiling back in the 1970’s involved finding an open field to play in the snow, driving along ditches to find other open fields or fields with open gates. Snowmobiling in fields was not the ideal situation because no one knew exactly the dangers that were underneath the snow and not everyone had permission to be in each and every field they rode in.
The first organized snowmobile trip in the New Dundee area was an annual Board of Trade Snowmobile Rally that was approximately 80 km in length. Eighty km might not seem like much by today’s standards but back then that was a full day of bumps, blown belts, lost idler wheels and other mechanical break downs. The great part about riding in this rally was there was a marked trail to follow, something unheard of back then. This rally was a great fundraiser and at one point over $5000.00 was raised and put towards building the New Dundee Community Centre that opened in 1985.
After seeing the huge benefits of the Board of Trade Snowmobile Rallies a group of snowmobilers including; Bruce Bierman, Del Schwartzentruber, and Don Poth decided to form a club which is now known as the New Dundee Snowmobile Club (NDSC). A group of landowners who were neighbours, friends and snowmobilers were approached and permission was granted to build trails on their private property. Some of these landowners are still giving us permission today! Yellow ribbons were tied to gates, fences and trees to mark the trails.
The organization of connecting fields and bushes to form a snowmobile trail proved to be very popular and snowmobile traffic dramatically increased during the first year. It was so popular that the trails became very rough and it was apparent something needed to be done to flatten out these bumps to make the trails smooth again. The first method to flatten out the trails was dragging bed spring type sleighs behind snowmobiles owned by club members. This method of getting the trails flat did a fairly good job but as the traffic increased it was increasingly harder and harder to keep them flat. Luckily in the early 1980’s a government grant was given to the NDSC and a Ski Doo Alpine was purchased.
The Alpine had a dual track with a single ski out front and we pulled a more conventional drag groomer to flatten out the trail. A few years later a longer track Polaris was also purchased and club members took turns “grooming” the trails to make them more enjoyable to ride on. These first groomers were not without challenges, we always had people follow whoever was grooming to help when the groomers got stuck.
The original NDSC trail was approximately 50 km long and since then we have added another 10 km making it 60 km in total. The original trail circled the community of New Dundee and continued from Highway 97 in the South to the Highway 7 near Petersburg in the North.
Club meetings for NDSC were first held at the original New Dundee Community Centre which was the basement of the old Missionary Church on Bridge Street. Soon after that Del Schwartzentruber offered a piece of land to build a NDSC clubhouse. Luckily, around the same time, the New Dundee Hatchery gave away some insulated incubators and a dozen 4 foot x 7 foot panels were fastened together to make the walls of the clubhouse. A roof, windows, door, steel drum for heat, generator and propane lights were installed. The clubhouse also doubled as a retreat when maple syrup was made on the property in the spring. An attached storage shed stored the groomers, trail stakes and signs. As the years progressed NDSC joined the Golden Triangle Association and trails were connected to Drumbo, Baden and Plattsville.
Snowmobiles, clubs and the trails have come a long way in the last 35 years. We have gone from some twenty odd snowmobile manufacturers down to only four, and many annual regional trail passes in Ontario to only one. There is an estimated 30,000 km of interconnected trails in Ontario which are all part of the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC). The NDSC maintains only 60km of this trail system but there is a lot of work that goes into getting these trails ready each and every year. Landowners are contacted to ask for permission to put the trail across their private properties. Club volunteers put together the trails in the fall, audit them throughout the winter and take them down in the spring. There is constant grooming while there is enough snow, and repairs to bridges, culverts, land leveling, fund raising, etc. are made whenever required.
So when you ride on the NDSC or any of the OFSC maintained trails please remember to stay on the groomed part of the trails. Wave to the groomers who make our trails smooth and enjoy a sport so many of us love and hopefully get to continue to use for many years to come. Should you feel the urge to get more involved in helping maintain the NDSC trail system please come out to one of our meetings on the 3rd Wednesday from September to April at the location indicated on this site.