The Omineca Ski Club (OSC) celebrated 90 years of cross-country bliss with a catered dinner and live music by The Barkers at the Jean Paulson Lodge on Nov. 4, 2017.
Founded in 1927, the OSC can lay claim to being one of the oldest cross-country ski clubs in Canada.
The idea of forming the OSC occurred to an “impromptu gathering of timber cruisers and trappers” as they “settled down for an evening in the cosy sitting room of the Omineca Hotel,” according to the Canadian Ski Annual, which used to be published by the Canadian Amateur Ski Association.
The group held their first meeting on Oct. 15, 1927.
“On that occasion, ski enthusiasts arrived from all points in the Lakes District. The election of officers and the usual routine work was speedily disposed of, followed by a most enjoyable dance,” describes the Canadian Ski Annual.
Omineca Ski Club members say that perhaps this description sums up the role of the club in the community – an organization that disposes of necessary business in order to clear the way for the enjoyable activity of skiing.
The early ski tournaments took the form of a festival. Held in mid-February, they were a welcome break in the long haul from New Year’s to Easter. The children were given a school holiday so they would not miss any of the action. There were competitors from ski clubs such as Smithers and Revelstoke, and usually from Vancouver and Camrose, Alberta, as well.
A great deal of work has been done since 1927, mainly by volunteers, to establish the club at its present site on Hwy. 35. The alpine area was established with tows and a modest clubhouse, and later the cross-country trails and cabins were added. The club now has a rich history of hosting national championships.
Unlike other recreation sites in Burns Lake such as the Lakeside Multiplex, the OSC does not receive any operating funding from the Village of Burns Lake or the Regional District of Bulkley-Nechako. The costs not covered through memberships have traditionally been covered by community-minded businesses and individuals. Apart from paying someone to operate grooming equipment, virtually everything else is done on a volunteer basis.
“The band of timber cruisers and trappers who started it all in 1927 would be glad to know that their club is now over half way to completing its first century of service to the community,” say current club members.