Origin of the Larch Hills Ski Club

Early History of the Larch Hills Ski Club by Stig Keskinen, first President of the Larch Hills Ski Club.

My cross country skiing got started at a young age in Finland. I raced there to the age of 17 when my family moved to Canada in 1955. At that time I could not find any cross country skis in Vancouver, so my skiing was over.

One day in Salmon Arm in 1973, I saw a pair of cross country skis in a sport shop and went in and bought them right away. I heard about Shuswap Outdoors! having ski outings so I started skiing with them.

One day Erkki Keski-Salmi came along with Reino and said, “Reino would like to learn how to ski.” I said that I would show him all I can and Reino came out on weekend ski outings.

Ski racing was still in my blood and one day in February 1975, Tom and Connie Crowley said there was a ski race in Revelstoke. They had volunteered to help with the time keeping and recording. I asked Reino if he would like to enter the race. He said that if I went, he would go as well. That is how we got into racing and the same year we went to the Lake Louise Telemark Loppet. After that we made annual trips to Lake Louise.

In 1977 Tom and Connie, Judy Murray, myself and some others, traveled to 100 Mile House to the Cariboo Marathon. In February 1977 we held our first Skimikin Fun Race at Dry Lake. In 1980 the race moved up to Larch Hills.

To race in some of the organized races, we had to have a B.C. Racing Licence. In order to obtain a licence, we had to belong to a club registered with Cross Country B.C. Shuswap Outdoors! was not a racing club. Reino obtained his licence through Revelstoke and I got mine through Vernon. One summer day in 1978, I was roller skiing with Reino. We started talking about ski racing and Reino said he did not want to hear the announcement “Reino Keski-Salmi, Revelstoke”. We said, “Why not start a ski club in Salmon Arm?”

That was it. Home we went, sat down in my home in Canoe to pick a name and Larch Hills came to us. Ruth Keskinen had pen and paper and took notes. She looked up the address for Cross Country B.C. and contacted them to find out what was required to register the club. We submitted the information and we then had our own Larch Hills Ski club.

At first, the club did not have very many members. The first ones were the Keskinen family, the Keski-Salmi family, the Hart family, the Walker family, Sue Reynolds and her two girls, and Allison King.

In the fall on 1978 I got together with some representatives from Revelstoke, Vernon and Kelowna. We met at the Husky Restaurant in Sicamous and set up the Junior Development Races. One race was to be held by each club and points would be awarded to skiers. After all four races were held and points added up, the skier with the most points received a trophy.

In 1979, I took a few skiers to Prince George to a B.C. Championship, the first one for the Larch Hills Ski Club. In 1980 we went to Manning Park to the B.C. Championship and took second place. When the trophy was presented, I said that next year the trophy goes home with Larch Hills. In 1981 we hired a bus through a government grant and went up to Burns Lake for the Championship and came home with the trophy. There was no registered ski club in Kamloops at that time, so skiers from Kamloops joined Larch Hills.

Some years after the Club was formed, Larch Hills Ski Club became the Larch Hills Nordic Society.

Credit goes to Ruth Keskinen as she did all the paper work and book work in the first years of the Club.

Larch Hills Ski Club Executive Committee Chronology – Dec./04 :

May 1979 to October 1982: Stig Keskinen – President

Joy Hart – Secretary

Bev Walker – Treasurer

October 1982 to October 1985: Tom Emerson – President

Erikke Keski-Salmi – Vice President

Kit Hobbs – Secretary

Bev Walker – Treasurer

Ruth Keskinen – Publicity

October 1984 to October 1992: Pat Hutchins – President

Others to be confirmed (all Minutes missing)

October 1992 to Feb. 1996: Ron Beals – President

Dorothy Engelbrecht – Vice President

Christine Hutchins – Secretary

Maureen Defoe – Treasurer

Mary Hamilton/Dave Woolliams – Memberships

March 1993: Sue Ford – Secretary

Fund Raising Coordinator – Marcia Beckner

October 1994 Lorraine Allen – Treasurer

March 1995: Vice President position vacant

Kathleen Milledge – Secretary

Mary Hamilton/Ron Wedman – Memberships

February 1996 to March 1999: Dave Wallensteen – President

Past President – Ron Beals

Vice President – Don Drewco

Kathleen Milledge – Secretary

Lorraine Allen – Treasurer

Marcia Beckner – Director

February 24, 1997 AGM: no Minutes available

October 1998: Andree Maxwell – Treasurer

March 1999 to September 2000: Don Drewco – President

Dave Wallensteen – Past President

Steve Raffel – Vice President

Elizabeth Gignac – Secretary

Andree Maxwell – Treasurer

? — Memberships

Marcia Beckner, Dave Wallensteen – Directors

October 2000 to March 2001: Dave Wallensteen – President

George Zorn – Vice President

Elizabeth Gignac – Secretary

John Pagdin – Treasurer

Christine Hutchins – Memberships

Marcia Beckner, Pat Hutchins – Directors

March 2001 to March 2004: George Zorn – President

Dave Wallensteen – Past President

Chris Letham – Vice President (March 2002)

Secretary – Val Heckrodt (October, 2001)

Treasurer – John Pagdin

Christine Hutchins – Memberships

Marcia Beckner, Pat Hutchins – Directors

March 2004 to present: Chris Letham – President

George Zorn – Past President

Eileen Macdonald – Vice President

Clint Smith – Secretary

John Pagdin – Treasurer

Christine Hutchins – Memberships

Marcia Beckner, Pat Hutchins – Directors

Larch Hills Ski Club “Milestones” & Member Surveys

  • Shuswap Outdoors Club” Larch Hills Ski Trails Work (Federal Funding): Fall 1977
  • First Larch Hills Ski Club Meeting: May 4, 1979 (16 questions)
  • Larch Hills Ski Club Incorporated: August 7, 1980
  • Larch Hills Road Access to Parking Lot built: 1982
  • Chalet built: 1983; Cec’s Cabin:1992; Tom’s Shelter:1999, Pentti’s Shelter:2002
  • First Larch Hills Jackrabbit Program: fall 1984
  • First Reino Keski-Salmi Loppet:1984
  • Pisten Bully 130D Tracksetter purchase: 1993 (8 yrs/5000 hours use at time of purchase)
  • First Club Member Survey: 1996 (16 questions)
  • First Club Long Term Plan: 1999
  • 5.3K new trackset trails constructed (Skyview, Sunshine, Panorama, Roller Coaster, etc.):
  • Memorandum of Agreement signed (LHSC & Province of BC) -10 year term: 2003
  • Second Club Member Survey: March 2004 (9 questions same as 1996 survey + one new question)
  • Third Club Member Survey: October 2004 (choice of 4 tracksetting options)

Larch Hills Trails Historical Notes

  • 1910-1920 and late ‘30’s: large fires burn parts of Larch Hills forests
  • 1920’s and 30’s:horse logging and pole camps initiate Larch Hills Trails (Peter Thielman, John Thielman’s grandfather, was an early logger and Grandview Bench homesteader)