Northstar hill climbers  snowmobile club

 Grand Marais Manitoba, Canada


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NorthStar HillClimbers of Grand Marais

At the foot of the hilly little community of Grand Marais, Manitoba sits Grand Beach Provincial Park. Grand Marais has been ‘on the map’ since the 1850s but when CN Rail Company bought land in 1914 and ran its first Passenger bi-weekly service, it also delivered opportunity to the area. Tourism & recreation became a new way of life, industry and income for residents. Today Grand Marais is a resort town with a population that explodes into the thousands from May to October. The east shores of Lake Winnipeg from Victoria Beach to Beaconia are lined with a plethora of burgeoning subdivisions with Grand Marais and its soft white sands and wonderful vistas at the center.

After the Provincial Park was established in 1961 cottagers and guests began to see Grand Marais and the Park as a great place to hang out on winter weekends. In addition to the traditional summer activities offered in this beautiful corner of the world, outdoor enthusiasts discovered recreational ice-fishing, cross country skiing and the paths that zigzag in and around Belair Forest and the Park. Then in the 60’s a few residents of the area began to purchase snowmobiles for work and pleasure. These early machine owners learned quickly that the trails in area were great for riding. They were grateful when the Parks and Natural Resources began to turn the paths into designated trails. In the winter of 69/70 Ted Thomas, Martin Rach and a few other adventurers rallied together to set up the beginnings of the NorthStar HillClimbers of Grand Marais.

About the enterprise, Ted Thomas says, “It was something {fun} to do. There weren’t many machines around fifty years ago and in those days some weren’t very reliable, so traveling together made sense.” In addition there was the camaraderie and friendship that grew from their outings together. In its heyday the club boasted as many as 80 or more members. Today that number is only slightly less plus there are a lot more young people who join their elders on the many runs along the picturesque trails that wind and circle the area.

Eventually NorthStar HillClimbers built a club house about eight kilometres from town and around the same time took over the grooming of the trails from the Park officials. The club expanded the trails and now groom 120 kilometers (more or less) depending upon the season and snowfall. Thanks to Snoman, those kilometres are closely monitored and regulated. Safety of the groomer and of the snowmobile traffic is a prime concern for club members and for the Snoman/Snofund administrators.

Soon after the club was established they decided to host a Poker Derby. The event ran through the day and was followed by a huge country “social” at the local Recreation Centre in Grand Marais. The first Derby was such a success that it was repeated every year. It was and is a prime fundraising event for the club. Ted Thomas says, “There were fewer restrictions then and not as many social options, so the Derby was always well attended. The funds raised were pure profit for the Club.” Local musical talent is one of Grand Marais’ signature attractions and usually the artists would donate their time without thought of personal gain.


Every year we hold our annual poker derby


 - Ralph Hindemith  club President ,along with current treasurer Art Recksiedler and a team of dedicated men and women there are usually about 50 silent auction prizes up for grabs. This is in addition to the large and lovely amount of prize money that is divided among those with the top poker hands.   

On another note our trails do offer two warm up huts one of them is the jack fish hut and the other is rubens ridge. Not only are they on the trails to have a meeting place for the sledders in the area but they are fully stocked with wood and stoves to keep you warm on those chilly days and to make those eats in the sheds. Please remember that a valid snopass is required to ride on the trails. There are many volunteer hours that are put into keeping the trails open the warm up shacks clean and stocked with wood. Please remember this while riding our trails and enjoying the warm up shacks.