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History of Birch Brook Nordic Ski Club
The Club History has been compiled and written by Betty Anne Fequet
 
Prior to 1981
Snow Goose Mountain Cross Country Ski Club began in 1979. It was located at Snow Goose Mountain Ski Club and was started "in response to the demands of cross country skiers in the area for a facility to promote safe and competitive skiing." ( Larry Bradley in 1984 Summer Works application)

The earliest record presently on file ( Dec.6, 1979) was a $1000 donation from Snow Goose Mountain Ski Club to Snow Goose Mountain Cross Country Ski Club. During that first season, 1979-1980, membership fees brought in $230 and fundraising brought in $868.89. There was money spent for trophies and $842.32 for "building".

There is a March 1987 poster for "7th Annual Birch Brook Hoppet" so the first marathon was probably held that first season.

Other records indicate that the club occupied a small 10 x 12 cabin near Snow Goose but the club soon outgrew this space. "With our skiers developing more expertise and growing numbers we felt restricted by the topography and size of our facility." ( Larry Bradley in 1984 Summer Works application).

In 1981 with the help of Katimavik a 20 x 30 log cabin was constructed at a new location by Gosling Lake across from Christian Youth Camp.
 
Katimavik comes to Labrador
" One of my projects was up in Goose Bay, and that was the first time that Katimavik was in Goose Bay. Tom Garland, who was the regional director back then, had a lot of connections to Labrador and he was trying for some time to get Katimavik up in Labrador and because of its distance from the rest of the world and so on, it brought some problems. But we had quite a successful project up there. We had two groups living in Goose Bay. We lived up on the north side of the base, on what they call the Canadian Side and we fixed up one of the H blocks up there."

" We built the chalet cabin for the cross country ski club. Larry Bradley and Greg Wood were very involved with the club and asked Katimavik to come up and build something. Greg drew a sketch and I made the plans and we found logs at a sawmill. There were a lot of logs and we went through and selected the best about 200 of them.The longer logs I cut in the forest nearby. I taught the kids how to use the chainsaws and other tools and we built it in 6 months and we also built a sauna and an outhouse. We cut a loop trail in our spare time and marked a trail to McLean Lake which branched off at the white birches area. I recall doing some winter camping along the brook, too. The flies were bad in the summer, but we had a lot of sunny days and we enjoyed feeding the jays that hung around the site." ( Dominic Boyd, Katimavik Project Leader 1981-1982. Courtesy of Them Days archives and personal email .)

Anne Taylor's photo:
Dominic Boyd 1981 building cabin

"Hi, Ann Taylor was in touch. She said you wanted my permission to use my photo. That's me on the cabin wall top. We were getting ready to build the roof by the looks of it. I cut the rafter poles in the forest there, about 30 of them I recall, and we nailed 1 x 4 planks across for sheathing." (Dominic Boyd from email)

Anne Taylor says that she wasn't part of the group that started building the cabin but she was in a group that worked on it later. She shared more photos:

Katimavik builders
carrying logs
working on the roof
sweeping snow off the roof
finished cabin without the deck

The next year another group came and they cut the trail to McLean Lake. The leaders were Pol Vincton and Cheryl Phillips. ( source: Dominc Boyd)
 
Grand Opening
The opening and dedication of the new cabin and facility ( still called Snow Goose Mountain Cross Country Ski Club) across from Gosling Lake took place on Saturday December 19, 1981. Special guests included a representative from the National Office of katimavik, Mayor Kelland and the President of the Downhill Ski Section of Snow Goose, Gordie Randell. It was followed by a potluck BBQ and Christmas Party.
Grand Opening Poster Source: Eric Skoglund

Coutesy of Them Days archives:
Start Cross Country Ski Trail

During the 1981-1982 season, membership increased to nearly 100. New programs included a racing program, a junior program and weekly instruction in skiing and touring.
 
Moving forward
The club had been using a small snowmobile and a sled tracksetter to groom trails.

Old files include a number of letters to Department of Culture, Recreation and Youth in 1982 requesting financial assistance to purchase an Alpine double track snow machine for track setting the ski trails. A new machine would cost approximately $6000 and funding was eventually secured. There was a sense of urgency as Happy Valley-Goose Bay would be hosting Labrador Winter Games in March 1983 and two events were to be at the cross country ski facility.

Also in 1982..

The District Health Inspector in a letter to Larry Bradley noted that " an outdoor privy exists within the boundary of the water supply which services both camps. It was also noted that a new deep pit latrine is being constructed also within the boundaries of the brook... Please be advised that every outhouse or garbage collection area must be at least 200 feet away and preferably downhill from existing water supplies. With this in mind, would you please instruct the people concerned with the building to have said outhouse removed from the present site and the holes filled level with the surface." Always something.

Another Katimavik project saw the construction of a sun deck and 10 km of ski trails cut.

1983 & 1984

Winter Games went well in March. The club now had the Alpine double track snowmobile and a new 8 x 8 garage provided by Winter Games.

In July there was a letter to the Newfoundland Geographical Names Board requesting permission to name the stream adjacent to the facility ( feature NTS Map 13F/8W). Records show that "Birch Brook Nordic Ski Club" was used as the club title soon after this date.

By 1984 club members and volunteers had added another 10km of ski trails making a total of 20km. There were close to 200 members. During the winter the club hosted two provincial races: Nfld & Labrador Cross Country Championships and Nfld & Labrador Biathalon. There was a Summer Works Project for Development Phase III, Birch Brook Nordic Ski Club. Students were hired to do further work on the cabin and new shed, to widen and extend the new trails, to build some bridges and to stack firewood along the trails. Executive that season: Larry Bradley, president; Jake Leyte, vice-president; Judy Bradley, treasurer; Valerie Andersen, secretary.

Plugging along...

Ski club files become very skimpy at this point and for the next few years. If anyone has a box of old files or photos moldering in a forgotten corner, we'd love to help you clear some space. We could add some details to our archives at the same time!! info@birchbrook.ca

1987 March 28: 7th Annual Birch Brook Hoppett
The 20km marathon started at Peenamin McKenzie School in Sheshatshui and finished at Birch Brook. A bus took participants to the starting point. There were prizes for the best costume, youngest, oldest, slowest skier, etc. There were refreshment stops along the way and a social involving a BBQ, sauna and a dance at the cabin afterwards. See the poster! Hoppett Poster

In 1988 a Job Development Program for the Long Term Unemployed ran from February until June. Three Ski Center Technicians were hired. "The purpose of this proposal is to maintain and improve the present facility. These individuals would be responsible for the day to day organizational requirements of clubhouse and mechanical maintenance, trail grooming and other activities necessary for public utilization."

"Ongoing with the above mentioned activities would be the included responsibility for improvement of physical plant facilities ( i.e. clubhouse, workshops) and trail development. Thus, through basic carpentry and logging skill development, the club's ability to meet the needs of its public at large would be greatly improved." Henry Windeler was listed as the employer.

In 1990 a Job Development Project ran from February to April. The individuals hired were tasked with conducting minor repairs to existing ski facility buildings; extending the existing ski trails and in operating and maintaining grooming equipment. During this time, the windows of the cabin were double glazed with plexiglass, McLean Cabin was repaired and painted and the komatik was rebuilt. The workers also ran the cabin in terms of collecting fees and selling day passes. Henry Windeler was listed as the employer.
 

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