The Wolverine Nordic Ski Association was formed in 1988 and pioneered cross country skiing in Tumbler Ridge, building six kilometers of trails starting at the golfcourse. Bruce Butcher and Dave Morgan were prominent leaders in these early days. In 1994 Al Tattersall suggested the creation of a new organization that included four-season outdoor non-mechanized recreation, and thus the Wolverine Nordic and Mountain Society was formed, and incorporated in 1995 as a non-profit society.
Dedicated volunteer effort has seen the club branch out into numerous directions since then. Twenty five hiking trails have now been designed and built and are maintained by WNMS volunteers. These have transformed Tumbler Ridge into a niche hiking destination and boosted tourism, as well as provided enhanced recreational opportunities for residents. The Cascades and Monkman Pass Memorial Trail projects are more ambitious and are now coming to fruition.
Each year the WNMS organizes four races: the Biathlon in spring (cycling and running) the Emperor?s Challenge Mountain Run in summer, the Ridge Ramble cross country run in fall and the cross country ski race in winter. The Emperor?s Challenge is the ?toughest and most beautiful half marathon in the world. Leading over the summit of Roman mountain in a circular route, it has attracted international interest and acclaim.
WNMS has developed a role in liaising with regional industry, with an established track record of reasonableness and promoting win-win situations. This has led to the preservation of many outstanding natural and geographic features in the area.
In promoting healthy lifestyles, members like Birgit Sharman, Linda Helm and Fred Walkley have taken courses to qualify as coaches, and have helped with track and field, cross country running and skiing coaching, both through the schools and through clinics for adults. These programs have been very successful and one result is that Tumbler Ridge kids are again competing with distinction at regional meets and provincial level and in the BC Winter and Summer Games. The Flatbed Loops Monday evening runs/walks have become popular each spring and early summer, sometimes attracting up to 70 participants, quite an amazing statistic for a small, remote community.
An email list keeps members aware of events such as weekly group hikes throughout the summer, but there is only one meeting a year and that is the AGM, all the other meeting and socializing takes place on the trail and during the many workbees. An Executive deals with more urgent events as they arise. A website includes photo galleries and downloadable brochures of the many trails and other attractions ( www.pris.bc.ca/wnms )
Dedicated individuals have made the WNMS what it is today: Dave Pewsey was the first President, followed by Al Tattersall for four years and Kevin Sharman for five years. Crys White is the current President, and Charles Helm has been Secretary for the past eleven years. A feature in recent years has been the involvement of many seniors, who called themselves the ?Valley Group?. Families like the Foersters, Kauns, McNeills, Muellers, Rucks and Whites, and many others have thrown themselves into trail-building and volunteering. Along with ?regulars? like Marsha Dufresne, Christine Goodwin, Wayne Kopec, Jerrilyn Schembri and Barb Schuerkamp, they can always be called upon to help officiate at races and other events.
WNMS has been privileged to be recognized through a number of awards over the years. It sent in the submission that made Tumbler Ridge one of the three True Sport communities in Canada in 2005, and was largely responsible for the community receiving a special United Nations Wonder of Water award in the same year. It received a PRRD award for leadership and innovation in developing recreational opportunities in the Peace Region, and the BC Parks and Recreation Association?s Program Excellence Award. WNMS leaders and members have been honoured through individual awards (United Nations, Province of BC, Sport BC, and local).
The future contains much more of the same. Constant vigilance is required in working with the various levels of government and industry to help preserve our magnificent trails and surroundings. The Monkman Pass Memorial Trail will offer hikers an outstanding five day wilderness experience which will further transform recreational and tourism opportunities in the region. WNMS volunteers are in it for the long haul, building upon the dedicated work of those who have gone before, continuing to promote healthy lifestyles in one of the most beautiful corners of Canada.