X-Country Ski Club
In January 1995 an open meeting was conducted at Fairfields Senior Centre by Linda Christensen,
Senior Sports Coordinator with the municipality of Etobicoke’s Department of Parks and Recreation.
Its purpose was to present the idea of forming a club for seniors (age 55 plus) interested in skiing.
Anecdotal information suggests that the genesis of this idea was a series of ski trips that Linda had
been running since 1983. A number of the meeting attendees were receptive to Linda’s proposal and
thus our Club was born.
In the early days of our Club, its membership included downhill and cross-country skiers. Trips were
undertaken in school buses until 2004 when modern coaches were used exclusively. When downhill
skiing was available on a trip, those downhill skiers would be “dropped off” and then “picked up” on
the return home. In 1996 for instance, seven members went by school bus to Mt. St. Louis for
downhill skiing and 35 were taken to Horseshoe for cross-country skiing. Five day car trips also took
place to resorts such as The Briars and the Baldwins in Muskoka, and day car trips were conducted
to ski areas such as Trillium Trails, Wye Marsh, Horseshoe Valley and Dagmar.
Linda encouraged volunteers to form an executive to take over the planning and execution of the ski
trips, leading to the Club’s independence such that Linda’s support was no longer needed by 1999.
The Club’s first recorded executive minutes were dated October 19, 1998. Annual General Meetings
began about 1998 and have been held in November each year to review the past season’s activities
and to present the new ski season’s trip schedule to old and new members. An election slate is
presented and voted upon every two years.
In these early years, members would come to the Centennial chalet on Mondays to sign up for the
Wednesday trip and pay the bus/trail fee. Members would also practice their skiing at the bottom of
Centennial Hill, through the woods or out on the golf course. Skiers shared in some social time when
they warmed up and enjoyed a hot drink at the chalet.
As the Club matured new practices emerged. For example, Gerry Cavanagh, Club President in 2000,
introduced a skilog to serve as the basis for an award system for skiers. Each year, at a postseason luncheon, skiers are given awards (initially ribbons, more recently gift certificates) for
completing a certain number of kilometres that year.
Also in 2000, the Club began offering organized hiking opportunities to members. Thanks to our
volunteers who have served as Hiking Conveners and Hike Leaders over the years, the Club
continues to offer its members many opportunities for urban hikes as well as hikes to locations such
as Cheltenham Badlands, Culham Trail, Crawford Lake, Glen Haffy, Hilton Falls, Hockley Valley,
Mountsberg and Scottsdale Farm.
In later years (2001-2005), skiing at Albion Hills was both possible and popular and was combined
with a BBQ. The club would supply the hamburgers and members would contribute to the ‘pot-luck”.
This popular event has since been replaced by two other equally popular social events: an annual
wine and cheese social held at one of the ski destinations and a Fall BBQ.
In 2007, Gosta Isakson created the website that the Club continues to use as a means of
communication with its members and as a recruitment tool. He also created the snowflake logo used
in our Club communications. Additionally, around this time, members began to sign up and pay for
upcoming Wednesday trips right on the bus rather than having to travel to Centennial to do so on
Monday mornings. Ever since, our Trip Conveners, including Joan Haines, our longest serving
Convener to date, have made it easy for members to join in on future trips.
While Club members had participated in long distance ski trips organized by Etobicoke’s Linda
Christensen while she was still supporting our Club, it wasn’t until 2013 that the Club initiated a ski
trip to Arrowhead Park, a tradition that has carried on for four years, with the assistance of Sandy
The composition of our Club has also changed over the years. The earliest membership list we have
is from 1998 when the Club had 90 members. Membership has fluctuated since then, with a low of
62 members in 2001 to our current high of 96 members. Our members include skiers covering a wide
range of skill levels from novices, to rusty skiers, to seasoned skiers like Doug and Maebeth Moon
and Peggy Walker, who have represented our Club in the Ontario Senior Winter Games, to ironmen,
such as John Wragg who recently completed his 200th Ironman event.
Over the years, the needs of members desiring to improve their skills have been met in a variety of
ways. From 2001-2014 Peggy Walker offered members skiing lessons and practice opportunities
each Monday morning during ski season at Centennial Park. In 2013 and 2014 Theo Kempe
organized group skiing whereby members would volunteer to lead and assist skiers seeking tips and
guidance on unfamiliar trails. And in 2015 and 20I6 George Lorenz, a member volunteer and a
CANSI instructor, offered lessons for beginner and intermediate skiers. These initiatives have not
only led to improvements in the skill levels of our members, they have also helped to increase the
percentage of our membership participating in our ski trips each year.
Submitted by: Freda Marsden