It would be great to have been profound when we discussed the origins of the Antique and Classic Snowmobile Club of Canada (ACSCC), to tell you of the vision we had, and about all the plans we made. But none of that would have been true. The truth is that when four out of the 20 or so Canadian members of the Antique Snowmobile Club of America (ASCOA) sat down at the Baldwin Inn in Windermere, Ontario, in October of 1982, we had absolutely no idea what we were going to do.
It certainly wasn't our idea to start a new club. ASCOA was already doing a great job. Of the four present that day, Bill Fullerton, Paul Parish, Frank Shetler, and myself, only Paul had any experience running a club. No, what we wanted most to do was to be able to collect and talk about old snowmobiles, just like most of the members in most of the snowmobile collecting clubs still like to do.
We gathered on a beautiful sunny afternoon to share our stories and have a look at the old sleds that people brought. We were a little disappointed that so few showed up, but just getting together with these old machines and fellow collectors was reward enough. We chatted away the afternoon, had dinner and then sat down for some serious banter. Paul got the discussion going and we talked about having something Canadian, something to help us get together closer to home. It was decided that we would form a Canadian Chapter of ASCOA, and then we actually got up to leave because the day was getting on. We came that close to not starting a Canadian Club!
Bill Fullerton spoke as we were standing up and pointed out that he wanted somewhere to register his old racing sleds and other interesting snowmobiles that he considered classics. At the time, ASCOA was only accepting antique sleds and, of course, VSCA hadn't yet begun operations. It then took only a short while to decide that we would start a club of our own. It took much more time in fact to come up with a name, though neither decision took more than ninety seconds.
Paul volunteered to take the reins of the fledgling club in terms of membership and the newsletter. The only thing left to determine was the first membership numbers. That was decided by drawing straws.
I should take a moment here to explain something that was overlooked in the excitement of the moment. It was never our intention to snub our American friends in ASCOA. To this day we marvel at their cohesiveness and masterful work in building a terrific club, encouraging camaraderie, researching and documenting the history of snowmobiling. They were always our good friends and very supportive despite the long distances involved and the fact that we had never met most of them. It wasn't until some time later that we discovered we had raised a few eyebrows and hurt some feelings when we started a new club. In consideration of the growing number of Canadian members, the executive of ASCOA was planning to change the name of their club to the Antique Snowmobile Club of North America! We have always been grateful for that gesture.
So, there we were with a brand new club. We had no focus, no direction, no concept of the work involved, and certainly nothing like a constitution or a set of by-laws. The biggest excitement of the day was still the fact that we were going to be on television and that, by some huge coincidence, both Paul and Bill had brought 1953 Eliasons, serial numbers 950 and 951, sitting side-by-side, never having known one another before or that the other even owned an Eliason!
The Antique and Classic Snowmobile Club of Canada was started on a wing and a prayer. You might say it was a build it and they will come premise. We knew there were interested people around; we just had to find a way to locate them and sign them up. The Ontario Snowmobile Dealers' Association provided us with some seed money and helped us get a booth at the snowmobile show in Toronto that year. This show at the International Centre was the boost we needed. It was an inauspicious start, particularly when you look at the end result. The club has grown and matured to a point where it has become a must-see at snowmobile shows, and an authority on snowmobiling history. ACSCC has made significant contributions to the preservation of the history of the sport of snowmobiling.
Has the club lived up to the expectations we had? Well, we really didn't have any. If we could have predicted any sort of future back in 1982, we wouldn't have imagined the current and growing interest in vintage snowmobiles across the continent. We knew we were ahead of our time because people made comments telling us that snowmobiles hadn't been around long enough to be antiques. But still, we couldn't have predicted such passion for something as everyday as an old snowmobile. And yet, look at us now.
Visionaries? I don't think so. A few people looking for a good time and new friends while pursuing something of common interest? That's more like it. It is at once both wonderful and heart-warming to see the club in its present healthy and active state. We have members from across Canada and the in the U.S.A. We have local events in every season of the year, small chapter clubs and groups throughout the country and a top-rate newsletter. It is both exciting and rewarding to see such growth and interest. Congratulations to everyone from both our past and present! And welcome to all new members.