The Evolution of Winter Sports

Winter sports have come a long way since I was a child in the 40’s. When we were in elementary school a group of us would get together on weekends and, wading through deep snow, pull our heavy wooden toboggans to the neighbourhood hill, so that after a few fun times of sledding down and plodding back up the hill we would tiredly wade through the snow heading for home.

Living on a farm in south-eastern Ontario after I was married and had small children, the deep snow would keep short legs from toddling very far so we would end up walking on our country road in the wintertime or me pulling them through the snow drifts on a sleigh or toboggan.

In the early 70’s my husband bought our first snowmobile, the second year I also got my own small one and winters started to come alive for us. We could skim all over our farm and through unused road allowances. When our three older children were in school my husband, or a friend and I, would take our youngest and scoot around through the woods but we always ended up not getting much exercise and coming home smelling strongly of gas and oil fumes. The noise of those machines would scare any wildlife in the area so we would get no sightings of birds or animals.

About this time I started seeing articles on cross-country skiing and realized that now, with all of the children in school, this looked like a great way to wander through the wintertime woodland. I got my first pair of wooden cross-country skiis and thoroughly enjoyed them although with our unpredictable snow conditions it was hard to get the wax just right and also before I went out the dreaded job of scraping and re-waxing or, worse yet, trying to get the klister off the skiis after a mild spell.

Somewhere in there I got a pair of snowshoes, the kind people say are like large tennis rackets attached to your feet. After using them a few times I realized that they are best suited for hanging on the front of your house for a winter-time decoration, great to look at but very tiring.

A couple years ago our son and daughter-in-law introduced my husband and I to the new lightweight snowshoes and we have discovered the perfect wintertime sport. As long as you can walk you can master snowshoeing and people of all ages, including senior citizens will find it a great outdoor activity. We can now slip quietly out the back door and head to the woods, discovering all of the animal tracks, and not disturbing wildlife, with no thought of getting tangled in the bushes while following a deer runway (or bushwacking as I call it). Unlike the long skiis we can step easily over fences without getting caught up in the rails and also have our hands free to lead our dog with us or, at Christmas time, gather evergreen boughs to decorate our house.

So you can see we have gone the whole gambit of winter sports and in snowshoeing have found the ideal one. That being said, after this first huge snowstorm of late 2007, with the sun shining on this beautiful countryside, I?m pulling my outdoor clothes and snowshoes on and heading for the woods.

About the author

Rosemary Spafford