A show of vintage sleds and machines
EGANVILLE – There is nothing more quintessentially Canadian than wanting to drive, ride or own a snowmobile.
That passion was on full display over the weekend at the 18th annual Eganville Old Snowmobile Show. Hosted by the Eganville Sno-Drifters Club and the Ottawa Valley Old Sledheads, the event has grown to become one of the biggest and oldest swap meets and shows in Ontario.
Like old cars, people are spending hours and money to collect and restore snowmobiles. On display throughout the grounds of the club that surround the Benson Oval, there were more than 60 crafts from the early 1960s to the early 1990s. It is not only a venue to showcase vintage snowmobiles but as a place where local riders could secure rare parts for their vehicles.
“These old machines that people grew up on are still in good shape,” explained show organizer Kevin Percy noting it's a great place for enthusiasts to talk shop. “You can find someone who has a machine like yours or one that catches your eye.”
Some owners took their machines out for a drive, while others shopped around the various vendors as aficionados looking for machine parts. Eganville has rapidly become the snowmobile hub of the Ottawa Valley. On the weekend of Feb. 16-18, the Sno-Drifters will be hosting the 44th edition of the prestigious Bonnechere Cup.
Some collectors are fortunate to find their machines in good shape right off the bat. Ryan McNulty, from Renfrew, found a 1970 Ski Whiz built by Massey Ferguson in a town near Peterborough this past fall.
“This runs perfect and the motor has never been apart. They were popular back then,” explained McNulty, who has been bringing out his vintage sleds for the last six years. “They started in 1969 and built their own sleds and went to 1975.”
Cody Tiedemann, a resident of Eganville, was fielding questions about his 1973 Polaris Starfire. He said that he had to rebuilt and reinforced the chasis while custom-designing the motor so he can race it in the Bonnechere Cup and at other competitions.
“This was fairly popular back in the day,” said Tiedemann. “There was a limited build.”
Throughout the day, spectators roamed the grounds and had an opportunity to judge the machines for the club's People’s Choice Award. Categories ranged from pre-1970 to 1981-1990 original or restored, to Best Race Sled and Best Rat Sled. Trophy classes for the Best Mini-Sleds and Best of Show were included as well. Phil Sadler, from Kinburn, Ontario, won for the 1976-1980 Original class with his 1979 John Deere Spitfire, one of four that he brought to the show.
“I just like to remember when I was a kid looking at these machines,” explained Sadler. “There's not a lot of John Deere's around. They made them from 1972 to 1984.”
Sadler's collection of 12 John Deere are fairly easy to maintain and he still drives them on the trails and in vintage rallies. He added shows such as this are a perfect place to make connections, as well as enjoy the camaraderie between fellow owners.
“You can' beat better people,” “Everyone has the same interests and the same passion. It's a real community.”