“We were small. We had a dozen kids from families that made up our fewer than 50 members. We were what you would call a mom and pop club.”
Darren Tamelin was part of one of those families and his daughter one of those kids. Now 15 years later, the Toby Creek Nordic Ski Club has over 300 members, a thriving number of programs and two facilities to support cross-country skiing and training – Windermere Lake’s Whiteway and the higher-elevation Lake Lillian Whiteway. The Club just hosted its biggest Loppet yet with a combined attendance of 380 plus participants. But when it comes down to the essentials, it’s all about the kids, the community and the lakes.
“We have 65 students enrolled in our ski development program, which includes children from two years of age all the way up to 16-year-olds. We have a racing team. We have a ski-school program which brings skiing to schools. We set track in the school yards of three local elementary schools and bring all the equipment so that kids can be introduced to the skiing. It’s the hard work of our volunteers and a shared love of our community and the sport that has allowed the club to grow and be as dynamic as it is. And it’s also allowed us to create these two fantastic facilities on Lake Windermere and Lake Lillian that provide incredible recreation value for our members.
Lake Windermere’s Whiteway is a unique expression of commitment to community life, recreation and grassroots efforts. Growing out the Columbia Valley Greenways initiative a decade ago, the Whiteway was started by locals clearing paths for skating or setting trail. Now ski track and skate paths are laid in lanes that create four connected loops around the perimeter of the lake creating the world’s longest skating trail and 30 km of cross-country skiing track that connects Invermere, Windermere and Rushmere.
For Darren, the work of the club, the lakes and a passion for being outdoors bring all the best elements of living in the Basin together to create a shared sense of place. By supporting the purchase of a new snowmobile and groomer to set and maintain Lake Windermere’s Whiteway classic ski tracks throughout the season, the Trust is helping the Toby Creek Nordic Ski Club to continue its work to provide a world-class recreation facility for the residents of the Columbia Valley and a place to grow community.
“It’s the sense of community I get when I’m out on the lake, seeing everyone from the 70-year-old on their wooden skis to the small children with their families to the cyclists who were out on their fat-bikes yesterday. You may go out to do an hour-long loop, but it ends up being two hours because you stop to talk to your neighbours. Bringing the community together and providing the facilities to do that is what I am most proud of as part of the club.”
To learn more about the Toby Creek Nordic Ski Club, visit their website at www.tobycreeknordic.com. To explore how the Trust supports recreation, sport and physical activity across the Basin, visit ourtrust.org/recreation.
Chelsea Boyd Gibson / Meadowsweet Photography – banner image; hockey
Brad Kitching – aerial; skiing
Kent Popovitch – child; family skating