ANNUAL FAMILY SNOWMOBILE RALLY - FEBRUARY 15-17, 2019

THANK YOU TO ALL OF OUR HISTORIANS & COLLECTORS

Jul19

This is a thank you to all of our historians and collectors from the past 40 years that have collected items – pins, jackets, vests, badges, trophies, plaques, kept newspaper and magazine articles, made scrapbooks, gave us pictures, made photo albums, built a website, added pictures and information to the website, kept copies of the minutes and housed past records. It’s because people have taken the time to ensure that we have historical information, recorded information and memorabilia from the past, that we are able to share some stories with you all.

It’s our 40th Anniversary this upcoming season and we want to remember the amazing trails our volunteers built, but also we want to remember the people who made the club what it is today. We are able to share those stories from our preserved history, so thank you to so many people.

Edith Vanberg who was a volunteer, started collecting club items, awards, articles and pictures in the 80’s and 90’s. Not only was she the Historian, but she was a big part of the volunteer base for the rallies, parades, races, fundraisers and other events that the Trailblazers hosted. Thank you to Karen and Alex Manweiler, Leo and Hazel Zelinski, Ken Linford, Dan Guenette and Elaine Gunderson who collected and kept records, minutes and pictures. Thank you Aaron Munro for housing the boxes for so many years. Thanks to Elaine Gunderson and Leroy Roth for spending a summer scanning everything into our website. Thank you to Malinda Brewster who set up the website and still maintains it. Thanks to the guys for going out every year delivering and collecting our Cabin Guestbooks that we have for visitor stats and some great riding comments. We love hearing about your experiences on the trails.

The Trailblazers website has a “History” tab that we have pictures, newspaper articles, trophies/awards, guest books and other great information from the past 40 years. Check it out. In the “About” section we have our current information about our Executive, ASA Membership Pass Info and a condensed timeline. In addition, in the book published by the Whitecourt & District Heritage “Whitecourt, A History – 1975 to 2010”, we have a huge section in there with Trailblazer History – thanks to all the people that gathered the information for that. At Adrenaline Powersports, we have a Trailblazer Memorial Cabinet with many Club treasures in it.

Thanks to everyone who has helped preserve our history!! Look for scrapbooks, photo albums and other Trailblazer memories at our upcoming 40th Anniversary Sled Invasion, Family Day Weekend, 2020. We hope to see some of our past Executive and members come help us celebrate 40 great years of sledding!

Edith Vandberg, Club Historian

Thank you Mr. Doug Hay

Jul12

Doug Hay moved to Whitecourt from Cranbrook/Ponoka in the early 1980s. He came with his family Debra, Sean and Shayne. They became Trailblazer members shortly after that and are still to this day. Doug has been on the Executive in almost every position – President (1988/89), Trailboss, Snowarama Co-Ordinator, Rally Co-Ordinator, Safety and others. Deb was always there as well helping out with the events, projects and his positions. Doug has worked on many Trailblazer projects throughout the years and thank you for that.

Doug and the boys have been very involved in trail cleaning. Many years ago, he and a group of fellows cleared the trail around town and to the Athabasca. They built a few bridges and provided access for folks to get out of town. Later the town took over some of those trails (Centennial Park). Doug has adopted a trail south of town and is still known to go out and clear trails.

In the 80’s/90’s, Doug was involved in a group called the “Wild Ones”, AKA Spiced Rum Group. They liked to get together and shoot the breeze and just have a good time. They use to love to work at a checkpoint for the rally; they served chili and beverages for a few years.

Doug rides an Arctic Cat 800 and rides at least 1500 kms a season. He can be found mostly on the trails around Whitecourt, but in the past, he use to go to the Mountains and he really liked to go to Yellowstone.

Doug, Deb, Sean and Shayne are all still involved with the Trailblazers. Doug still comes to meetings and it is always a pleasure to see him. Doug comes to the meetings with history and knowledge of what works and what doesn’t and his input is greatly appreciated. Thanks Doug for your work throughout the 40 years and your continued work on the trails and participation/input at the meetings. Happy riding this upcoming season!

Working at the Rally – 80’s
George Vanberg, Doug and Deb

40th Anniversary – Randy Matthews – Thanks!!

Jul05

The next extraordinary volunteer is Randy Matthews. Randy always goes above and beyond helping someone to fix their sled at all hours of the night, dragging a broken down sled back to the shop, or being involved with the Trailblazers in some way or another. Randy has been a member for well over 20 years.

Randy has been riding sleds for most of his life. On weekends when he was a kid, they would ride out their back door as a family – Roy, Robyn, Kelcy, Carolynn and Randy out to the Shiningbank Lookout or just ride all day in their backyard. He had is own sled at a very young age and went hard then. The family was instrumental in helping us to locate and develop the location of our trails on the south side.

Randy was involved with the Trailblazers as a young man; Roy would also come to the meetings. Randy held many positions on the Executive, Vice President, Seargent at Arms, Trailboss and President. He was President from 2001 to 2005 and was a part of the group that obtained our first Snow Cat in 2003. The group decided it was time to get our own cat, as renting one throughout the season was not an easy task. In one summer, Trailblazer members raised enough funds to match the Alberta Grant to purchase the cat. They also made the necessary arrangements to house the cat at the Town Yard. Randy was a part of many projects that the Trailblazers have done in the past.

Randy started RPM Powersports in 2001 and has always been a major supporter of the Trailblazers. He and his staff are very informative about snowmobiling on our trails, the club and repairs of sleds. RPM Powersports is a major stop for many sledders to pick up parts, equipment, ASA Trail or Day passes, Raffle Tickets or just to chat about sledding. RPM has been hosting a checkpoint for many years and they always seem to have more fun than the participants. Thanks Randy for always providing food and drinks at the stop. RPM Powersports has won Rider’s Choice Awards.

Randy goes hard! That is his motto “go as fast as I can”!! It is hard to keep up with him. He unfortunately doesn’t sled much anymore, but can be found on the trails on his KTM Bike with a Timbersled kit. He is always on the go and has guided and taught so many people how to ride, fix and have fun. He is a super guy to hang around!

Randy is also involved in the local ATV Club, which he helped to re-establish with other fellows. In addition, Randy is a part of the Vega Harescramble annually. Thanks for your community involvement and support Randy.

Randy, AKA BIG RED, Thanks for everything RPM Powersports does but also thank you and your staff for the great service, smiles and support you give the Trailblazers!

Aaron Munro, “Mr. Adrenaline” THANK YOU!

Jun28

40th Anniversary Celebration – Aaron Munro

Aaron Munro has been a member of the Trailblazers for about 10 years. Aaron and Chrissy Munro have owned and managed Adrenaline Powersports Ltd. in Whitecourt since 2010. The business is the hub of information about the Club, it’s members and the trail system. They are the experts with snowmobiles and equipment. They are one of the great places in town that people go to find out about information about riding in our area.

Aaron goes above and beyond for his customers to make sure they have great customer service and that they are provided with the necessary information. He is a great ambassador for the sport and recreation of Snowmobiling. Aaron prides himself in the support he gives the club as well as the support for his customers for parts, repairs and general snowmobile information. A few years back, the Club purchased a display case to hold some of our memorabilia and he is graciously housing our memories in his store.

Aaron has been on the Trailblazers Executive as Secretary, Vice President, President and Past President. Aaron has also adopted a trail and is a great volunteer to jump up and do what has to get done; despite having to run a business. He has leant us equipment, which has also been very helpful at times. We know that it isn’t always easy or at the best of times, so thanks for that.

Aaron and his staff have volunteered for trail maintenance and other projects since the beginning of the store’s operation. The store also helps the Club by selling Alberta Snowmobile Association Membership Trail and Day Passes, sled raffle tickets, rally tickets, merchandise, answering phone calls about the condition of the trails, handing out maps of trails and other information. Adrenaline is a great supporter of the club and it’s activities. They always promote safe snowmobiling. They continue to answer general questions that the public may have about snowmobiling or products to assist with safe riding. Adrenaline Powersports is a major donator for our Annual Family Rallies by donating prizes.   In addition to donations, every Rally, Adrenaline Powersports sponsors, volunteers and organizes a checkpoint and provides riders with food and drinks. They are the Checkpoint that always has the delicious cookies that his mother-in-law bakes. Adrenaline has been a major sponsor and donator for our sled raffles. They have donated a sled in the past, as well they have discounted the club purchase price of our sleds. They have also helped with sponsorships for different events. Aaron is always a great community supporter.  Aaron enjoys riding the trails and is known to head to the mountains as well.

Aaron, Chrissy and Adrenaline Powersports Ltd. we thank you for everything you do and wish you great success always.

Dale Gunderson, The Trailblazer

Jun21

Dale was involved in snowmobiling most of his life. He bought his first Snowmobile – a 1967 Nordic Ski-doo, when he was 19 years old. Dale and his wife Elaine used to go out on dates on his sled, going for rides at night and on week-ends. Since his first sled, he had ridden numerous brands.

Dale began racing Snowmobiles in 1969 on the NWSA Ice Oval Circuit and raced for 10 years.  He was very involved on the the Executive and organizing of the NWSA.  In 1972, Dale won the Alberta Championship the night his son was born. Once the racing ended for Dale, he continued to ride Polaris machines for enjoyment and Whitecourt Traiblazers Snowmobile Club volunteer work.  Dale was always willing to lend a helping hand, flagman, corner judge, and winner’s circle inspector. He developed lifelong friendships through racing and his leadership and volunteerism were respected throughout the organization.  Through his contacts in racing and snowmobiling in Alberta, Dale became a “testing agent” for a Snowmobile Manufacturer (Polaris) and various aftermarket snowmobile performance products.

Dale would log 4000 – 5000 kms each year on his various snowmobiles.  He loved to ride in the Whitecourt Area. He’d travel to Yellowstone, Montana for one week each year with his sons, the General, his friends, and the boys from Rocky Mountain Tours. Dale also traveled with Rocky Mountain Tours to Revelstoke each year in November and March. Dale became a fixture on these tours and it was just expected that he’d be coming along.   They later called it the Dale Gunderson Memorial Tour.

Dale was an active member of the Whitecourt Trailblazers Snowmobile Club for 22 years (since 1985). During his time with the Trailblazers, Dale held a number of executive functions including; President, Special Projects, Trailboss, and Director.

As Trailboss, Dale would organize to have the trails cleaned of fallen trees and underbrush each fall. Dale would split volunteers into groups of 5 – 8 guys and create routes for all of them to travel and clean trails. He’d also work with Alex to organize that vehicles could be moved to various locations on the trail system so volunteers didn’t have to “back-track”. This proved to save hours of non-productive travel for the volunteer trail cleaners.  The first few weekends of November each year were always reserved for Trail Cleaning, and Dale found a way to make this work fun for everyone. Once the trail system was completely cleaned by the Club volunteers, Dale would head out with his buddy Alex Manweiler and check to make sure everything was OK. They’d end up do a little more trimming and cleaning. Dale referred to that work as “giving the trails a little tune-up”.

Since the inception of the Club and the development of the trail system, the Club has developed several series of Maps for sledders. Dale was involved in the development of those maps. He was usually spearheading the map creation, as he knew the trail system better than anyone.   Dale also managed the Eagle River Group Camping area maintenance for over 20 years.

Dale became involved with the ASA in 1985. He attended ASA Functions regularly from 1985 to 2007, such as AGMs, Jamboree’s, Award Banquets, etc… He provided positive input to help improve the safety and organized snowmobiling in general in Alberta. Dale always had a positive attitude towards the ASA and organized snowmobiling.

Dale also owned and ran the Rupp Center in Whitecourt and sold and serviced snowmobiles in 1970 with a friend. Dale’s reputation as a skillful mechanic, trouble-shooter, and performance optimizer were second to none. Until his untimely death in January 2007, Dale was still providing snowmobile mechanic services to several friends and family.

On Dale’s first snowmobile trip to Yellowstone in the late 1980’s, Dale observed how the trails in the Yellowstone area were marked and mapped. He noticed what the snowmobile community had done in Yellowstone to make it possible to provide “safe & organized snowmobiling” for as many as 3000 snowmobilers in one day. Dale also identified things that could be improved. He then brought those ideas home to put into action on the ASA trails in the Whitecourt area. Many of Dale’s observations and ideas regarding trail signage are still in place today and have also been adopted by other clubs in Alberta.

In 1984, Dale & others from the Whitecourt Trailblazers assisted the community of Mayerthorpe to try to set a snowmobile club in their community. They attended meetings and offered advice. The Mayerthorpe Club never did reach success, but Dale’s advice was very much appreciated.  In 1987, Dale & others from the Whitecourt Trailblazers assisted the community of Westlock to set up a snowmobile club in their community. Dale was recognized for his contributions to that club at their 2007 ASA Jamboree.

In the late 1980’s the concept of the Golden Triangle and a snowmobile trail link between the communities of Fox Creek, Swan Hills, and Whitecourt began to take shape. Again, Dale Gunderson was involved in this process. He was involved in scouting and signage for the Golden Triangle that then became part of the TransCanada Trail System.

Dale was an avid and skilled rider. He may have logged as much as 185,000 kms of recreational snowmobiling riding over a 41-year history on 29 different snowmobiles owned. He rode throughout Alberta and BC, went to Yellowstone Montana each year, and had ridden in Quebec on one of the Rocky Mountain Tours in the early 1990’s.

The Trailblazers hosted the 2000 ASA Jamboree and Dale was one of the Club leaders that was instrumental in making it a success.

Dale was involved with grooming operations in Whitecourt since 2003. He was one of the Club’s main groomer operators until his untimely death. Dale was also instrumental in the acquisition of grooming equipment for Whitecourt Trailblazers Snowmobile Club in 2003.

In 2004, Dale was awarded the ASA Excellence Award for Outstanding Snowmobiler.

Dale passed away on January 14, 2007 at age 60. At the time of this death, he was out with a few friends and his two sons. They were surveying the trail system near Whitecourt and removing fallen trees. A wind storm had fallen a number of trees throughout the trail system and Dale was concerned for the safety of fellow riders. There was also an upcoming snowmobile rally in February 2007 and Dale wanted to ensure that trails would be safe for all. He passed away doing volunteer work for the Whitecourt Trailblazers Snowmobile Club and the ASA with his two sons at his side.

If it had to do with snowmobiling, Dale Gunderson, had already done it before most others had even thought of it.  He was very concerned about the “image” of the sport and would lend some advice in this regard to both new and younger sledders he ran across. He was an advocate of safe riding and did not tolerate drinking while sledding. A few drinks were reserved however for the “after sledding meeting” at the pumphouse.

One of Dale’s favorite sayings was “it only costs a little bit more to go first class”, and first class was what Dale Gunderson was all about. If it was worth doing, it was worth doing right, and you could see it very clearly in everything he did.

Whitecourt Trailblazers Snowmobile Club executive members estimate that Dale Gunderson volunteered more than 30,000 hours during his 38-year involvement in snowmobile clubs in Whitecourt, the ASA and the NWSA. Dale held every executive position in the Whitecourt Trailblazers Snowmobile Club at one time or another, from President to Director and everything in between. He will be remembered mostly as the “trailboss” of the local Trailblazers.

Dale was a father figure to many younger Club members. He was always available to provide helpful hints and advise on riding and sled performance. He was the first person many in the Club would call when their sled wasn’t working just right, and Dale usually had the answer. If Dale couldn’t fix a sled, it probably couldn’t be fixed by anyone else either.

Dale, Elaine, Kelly and Jason grew up snowmobiling.  The family was always volunteering for the club and they are still involved.  Elaine and Dale both were also involved in the community and recognized and awarded for their efforts with the Kinsmen, Golf Course,  Repeat Boutique and many other efforts.  Dale has been truly missed and we will never forget GUNDY.  A memorial area and cabin was developed in his name on our trail system.   Thank you to the Gundersons!!

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Alex & Karen Manweiler – Lifetime Members – Thank You

Jun15

40TH ANNIVERSARY – VOLUNTEER APPRECIATION
“ALEX & KAREN MANWEILER”

Alex and Karen are long-time members of the Whitecourt Trailblazers Club. He served on the club executive for over 30 years in various positions. As well, Karen served in positions. In addition to local involvement, Alex has served on the ASA Executive and still volunteers at the ASPS event. The Trailblazers owe a lot of their success to Alex as he has been a huge part of the club. The Manweiler Trail was opened in February 2011 with a ceremony on the trail attended by ASA, local and provincial government reps, and many Trailblazer friends and family.

Alex has been involved in organized snowmobiling since 1979 when the Whitecourt Trailblazers Club was formed. Prior to moving to Whitecourt, he lived and sledded in Saskatchewan. In the early 1970’s, Alex enjoyed snowmobiling in Meadow Lake, SK. There was no formal club, so his family rode with other families. In 1976, Alex moved his family to Whitecourt where they still reside. Before the elaborate trail systems, Alex rode ditches and powerlines with local trappers and other sled enthusiasts. Alex still rides right from their garage in the Whitecourt and thoroughly enjoys it.

In the late 1980’s, the concept of the Golden Triangle and a snowmobile trail link between the communities of Fox Creek, Swan Hills, and Whitecourt began to take shape. Alex was involved in this process. He was involved in scouting and signage for the Golden Triangle that then became part of the TransCanada Trail System and is now called the Great Canadian Trail.

Alex and Dale Gunderson helped Westlock form a club in 1987. Today, Westlock is one of the most successful snowmobile clubs in Alberta.

The Trailblazers, led by Alex and Dale, approached the Town, County, and MLA back in 2003 to investigate acquiring a groomer for Whitecourt. Alex spearheaded a fund-raising campaign to raise $40,000 locally in 2 weeks to match some grant money in order to purchase a groomer and drag. The equipment was delivered in April 2004. Alex received training from Bombardier and groomed up until 2015.

Alex is a great role model for other members of the Trailblazers and a great representative for the entire sport. He use to eat, sleep, and breathe snowmobiling. On any given day throughout the year, Alex was volunteering for snowmobile-related tasks. Whether it was hanging signs on the trails, speaking with the Town/County/SRD, meeting with resource companies that are crossing trails, or attending ASA functions, he was always active. One of his favourite sayings is/was “just make sure it’s done right”.

Alex and Karen have received many awards for their service and dedication, including the Louise Sherren Lifetime Achievement Award for the sport. They are still volunteering for the rallies, invasions and selling raffle tickets. We are so grateful that they moved to Whitecourt back in the 70’s. They have shaped our club. Thanks for everything you two. Alex was fortunate enough to ride their “Namesake trail – the Manweiler Trail” this past season. Hope to see you on the trails next year Alex.

THANK YOU TO THE MANWEILERS!!

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