LOST SKI TRAILS-PART 1(next week part 2)

History 5 comments
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There are still many ski trails in our Laurentian hills. So many I can’t even guess how many kilometres we still have. Some of our trails are relatively new and some predate even Jack Rabbit.


However, many trails have disappeared. The most common reason that we loose trails is residential or commercial development. Often it’s just a new landowner who brings a city type of attitude of private ownership of property to our forests. Occasionally it’s a landowner who has an axe to grind with some level of government. One great destroyer of trails was simply the winter clearing of roads and the creation of others like the Laurentian autoroute in the 60s.

Laurentians 1939

I have made up a list of some of the trails that have disappeared over the years. Here is my little list-PART one-, which is the upper Laurentian- by general area:

Tremblant Area: Daw’s ridge; Bandurant

Sainte-Agathe: Huber (near the campground)

Val David and Val Morin: Casgrain; Highland; Vanier; Expert; Omaney

Sainte-Marguerite: Diffendorf; Corkscrew; Cochand; Sheppard; Beaton; Oulawan

Sainte-Adele: Alpine; Gascon; Baldy; Viking; Cross Cut; Desjardins; WOC

Well, I know where most of these trails were because the maps from the past show them in a reasonably precise fashion, but if you would like me to tell you where any of them were I would be glad to.

Please send me more names for the list with any info that you might have.

Chriss Cross

How I met THE Jack Rabbit

History 2 comments
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I would love to write something about Herman Smith-Johansson the Jack Rabbit but it seems to me that his life has been very well documented already. There is always Wikipedia and there are books by Alice Johansen, his daughter, Brian Powell and certainly others. There is even an NFB film.

Here is the link to see the film.https://www.onf.ca/film/jack_rabbit_le_skieur_centenaire

Maybe someday I will attempt a more historical rendering of his life, but here I will just recount my own experience meeting the Jack Rabbit.

The first time I crossed paths with JRJ was around 1958. I would have been 7 years old. I was out skiing in the Laurentians on some old logging road with my parents and my sister when my Dad noticed something moving in the bush off to one side.

Out of the bush came this really old guy. Jack Rabbit would have been around 83 years old at the time. He stopped and talked with my Dad for about 5 minutes and when a man less than half his age sprang from the woods from where JRJ had come the Jack Rabbit said “OK, we have to be going” and headed straight into the bush on the other side of the road with the young man trying to keep up to his partner of the day.

When they were gone my mother, excitedly told us who that guy was.

I also was in the presence of the Jack Rabbit on 2 other occasions. One about 1969 at the MOC house in Shawbridge where he would put in an appearance about once every winter to encourage the students to get out there and ski ski ski instead of sitting around the house socialising. The other time was at a Ski Marathon banquet around 1974 and the Jack Rabbit was playing the same song.

I have one other anecdote from 1987 when Alice, Jack Rabbit’s daughter, wanted a Telemark lesson. Alice was 76 years old at the time. The lesson did not go all that well, but I did get her down the Red Bird at Mont Saint Sauveur in one piece.

When I attended the memorial service for JRJ in Saint Sauveur in 1987 I had the privilege to be sitting with one of the Gillespie brothers and was in the presences of so many of those solid skiers of days gone by.

I think that you can take one message out of these anecdotes and that is the indomitable spirit of that Johansson family.

Please add your own personal memories of Jack Rabbit and I would also like you to suggest subjects for future articles. How about sending me the names of trails that you are familiar with that have disappeared over the years. The more obscure the better. I will see if I can find out more about them.


History 1 comment

I started skiing when I was 3 years old. Back in the day there was really no difference between alpine and Nordic skiing. The concept of being an all round skier has always been part of my approach to the sport.
Among my ski adventures over the years, I count haute route skiing in France and Switzerland, an uncountable number of trips to the Chic Choc Mountains, ski touring in Alberta and BC and so many more. I have worked as a cross country ski instructor, a Telemark course conductor and been part of a Nordic demonstration team.
I have participated in many loppets and have completed gold coureur des bois in the CSM 13 times.
I am part of RSFL’s technical team and have supplied ski information to MRG for 30 years.