Written by Faye Tabor and updated by Lorraine Haley
When Kell Antoft retired in 1989 he envisioned a Seniors' Ski Club which would do three things: bring former ski enthusiasts back to the sport, encourage and instruct new skiers, and ensure many like minded skiers would join him on the ski slopes and trips. He accomplished all three.
Kell approached the Nova Scotia Ski Association with his idea of seniors skiing at all Nova Scotia ski hills, Monday to Friday, at a cost of $99.00. At that time the participating ski hills included Ben Eoin, Cape Smokey, Keppock, Wentworth and Martock. The Nova Scotia Ski Association agreed to this and in 1990 the first ski passes were issued. Later, the ski hills at Crabbe, Poley and Sugarloaf in New Brunwick were included and the Nova Scotia Seniors' Ski Club became the Ski Atlantic Seniors' Club (SASC). Mont Farlagne in Edmundston, New Brunswick joined the group of participating hills in 2006
The SASC was organized by mature skiers as a means of emphasizing that skiing is a truly lifelong recreational activity. The aim of SASC has been to promote affordable skiing for persons on retirement incomes, to organize day outings to ski areas in the region as well as group tours to major resorts elsewhere and, generally, to support the development of our sport for young and old alike.
In the Club's formative stage Helen Gorman was the registrar and Kell's able assistant. Helen hosted many of the early executive meetings in her home. At that time the executive was a loose knit group (9-15) of interested skiers and anyone showing up was a director for the day. The December 1994 issue of Winter Words noted the following: "The Board of Directors of the Club has been a somewhat informal group made up of members who have attended Annual Meetings and who continued to turn out for Board Meetings." With the continued growth of SASC, this Board recognized the need to develop an executive structure. It was envisioned that SASC would incorporate under the Nova Scotia Societies Act. By-laws were proposed and a slate of nominations for officers was submitted to the 1995 Annual General Meeting. A steering committee was elected by the Board chairman, John Miller, and included members Bill Grant, Joe McLellan, John Currie, Lorne Cock and Faye Tabor. In June 1995, The Ski Atlantic Seniors' Club was registered with the Registry of Joint Stock Companies. More recently, Richard Potter undertook to write a revision of the Constitution and By-Laws. These revisions were prepared to reflect the size and complexity of the club and how it is administered. They were passed at the 2008 and 2009 Annual General Meetings.
Kell Antoft was founding President in 1989 and served in this position until the Annual General Meeting in June 21, 1999 when he was replaced by Lorne Cock. This meeting was held at Pat and Bill Roy's "chapel" cottage. Lorne capably guided SASC for the next five years. The 2005 Annual General Meeting was held at the Shore Club in Hubbards, Nova Scotia and Richard Potter was elected President. At that time the Club was rapidly approaching a size where a more formal administrative structure was required. The duties for each director were defined as well as the President, Secretary, Treasurer and Editors. There are now Directors responsible for SASC activities at each participating hill, the ski trips, the ski instructors, the special events, and the ski hill registers. Irene Ferguson, the SASC's first woman president, was elected in June 2007 and has been very ably leading the club since then.
Kell initiated and produced the infant club's newsletter, Winter Words, with spring, fall and winter editions. The growth of the club is reflected in the number of copies of the newsletter published. In 1989, 24 copies were mailed out, growing to 448 copies in 2004, and over 825 copies by 2008. Kell was followed as editor by Pat McCulloch and in 2004 her responsibilities were taken over by Sheila DeLory and Sharon Hill. Lorraine Haley replaced Sharon as co-editor in 2008. The club continued to grow and again, a more efficient and cost effective method of distributing the newsletter was required. As the use of computers became more widespread Winter Words was sent to a large number of members by e-mail in June 2006. In January, 2010 Winter Words will be available on the SASC website. Those members who do not have Internet Service will continue to receive Winter Words by Canada Post.
Kell also produced a yearly advertising brochure which contained SASC related information and applications for membership. These brochures were distributed to sports stores, ski swap shops as well as being personally handed out or mailed upon request to potential members. Truman Layton acted as publicity director for several years. He forwarded SASC information to various newspapers, retired teacher's newsletters, and many other publications. Kate MacDonald assisted Kell with distribution and took over the production of the brochures in 2005 and 2006. In 2009, Director Don Buck secured a grant from the New Brunswick Department of Wellness, Culture and Recreation and a high quality, brightly coloured brochure was produced. A French version was prepared by Irene Pelletier, the spouce of SASC member James Theriault. Although these brochures serve an important function in attracting new members, the growth of SASC can also be attributed to word of mouth. Our members are great ambassadors. It should be noted that membership applications are no longer found in the SASC brochures but are made available on the club's Website and in Winter Words.
When the senior skiers were first hitting the slopes, Kell thought it important to distinguish them, so in 1991 he had red armbands produced. Active skiing precluded these armbands from staying in place so name tags were introduced and are still given, free of charge, to new members.
A special sweatshirt was designed for club members by Pat McCulloch. These sweatshirts proved popular and, after a few years, a different sweatshirt/logo and vest were ordered. Sarah Peterson and Marina Potter became involved and, in 2007, SASC vests and ball caps were made available to members.
The SASC website was originally started by Carl Robinson and kept up to date by George Nimegeers. In 2007, Joe Driscoll took the reins and, in the fall of 2009, John Hawkins accepted the job as SASC Webmaster. Richard Potter agreed to act as the Website planner and liaison between the Board and Webmaster. New material will be submitted to Richard and then forwarded to John. Leo Blackburn is responsible for the photo gallery.
From the beginning, Kell acted as liaison between SASC and the ski areas. In 1994 the Nova Scotia Ski Association proposed the minimum age for members be lowered from 65 to 55 years. The new Ski Membership fee would be $120.00 including tax. The Social Membership fee would remain at $10.00. Photos on membership cards were introduced for the first time.
Members now have to be 65 years of age or 55 and retired from full time employment. In 2009 the Ski Membership was increased to $185.00, $15.00 of which is reserved for club administration. The remainder is returned to the participating ski hills. The amount they receive is based on the number of days skied by members at each hill. This data is obtained from the sign in books at each hill. This unique method of payment was accepted by the ski hill operators and has functioned well over the years, thanks to efforts of Director John Murley and the Directors at the participating hills. The annual membership fee for those who do not ski is $15.00. This Social Membership allows non-skiers and people who do not qualify for full ski membership to attend SASC functions and go on SASC ski trips.
Honorary and Life Memberships has been conferred upon those who have provided distinguished and exemplary service to the club. Included are: Joe O'Brien, Mary-Lou Courtney and Helen Gorman.
When membership grew from a few dozen to over one hundred and beyond, Mary Kitley Drake assumed all the responsibilities of Registrar, including the issuance of membership cards and nametags. Her dedication is greatly appreciated by all club members.
On September 17, 1990 , the first Annual General Meeting was held at Henson College, Dalhousie University. As a matter of interest, the following members were present: President Kell Antoft, Membership Chair Helen Gorman, Secretary Edmond Boyd, Treasurer Marg Clairmont, Directors at Large were: George Lutz, Bill Landry, Don Burgess, Doreen Whitten, Jack Waite and Faye Tabor.
Annual General Meetings are always held in June and for several years were held at the cottages of one of the following members: Kell Antoft and Mary-Lou Courtney, Pat and Mick McCulloch Barbara Harsonyi and Rodney Vaughn, Jill and Ian MacPherson, Pat and Bill Roy , Kay and Jerry Hannah and Faye Tabor.
As our number of members have grown annual general meetings have been held at: The Shore Club, Hubbards, N.S., The Atlantic Christian Training Centre, Tatamagouche, N.S.; The Dalhousie Faculty Club, Halifax, N.S.; and the Debert Hospitality Centre, Debert, N.S.
Kell set the bar high for SASC ski trips by first organizing a trip to Cape Smokey, then, two trips to St. Anton, Austria, one to Sun Peaks (where he visited his long time ski associates, Nancy Green and Al Raine) and one to Mont Tremblant, just as it was in an expansion phase. A yearly spring trip to Val D'Irene, was never an option for Kell - he started going there as coach of the Dalhousie ski racing team years ago and delighted in showing its attributes to newcomers...spring skiing with tons of snow.
SASC members have since made very enjoyable trips to Marble Mountain, Nfld.; Mont Sutton, Que; Panoroma, B.C.; Sun Peaks, B.C.; Fernie, B.C.; Sugarloaf, Maine; Stoneham, Que.; Eastern Townships, Que.; Sunday River, Maine; and Bretton Woods, New Hampshire. While at Sutton there were day trips to Owl's Head and while at Stoneham, day trips were made to Mont St. Anne and Le Massif and at Bretton Woods to Canon.
Kell Antoft, Bob Webb, Shirley Rogers, Lorne Cock, Bernie Wagner, Margie Hamilton, Lorraine Haley, George Lutz and Faye Tabor, along with assistance from other SASC members, arranged and organized these trips.
Each year special ski days were organized at Ben Eoin, Wentworth, Martock, Poley, Crabbe and Mt. Farlagne. They were designed to encourage members to ski and enjoy the friendship of fellow skiers at all participating hills throughout the Atlantic region. Originally called Fun Days, these special days are now called Kell Antoft Days in honor of our founder. Hours of skiing and ski instruction are followed by food, socializing, and prizes.
After many hard days on the slope, around the first of March, it was noticed that the coffee/lunch table talk always turned to golf. After checking to find out if there would be enough interest in establishing a ski/golf day the idea was accepted. Jill MacPherson suggested a golf scramble at Avon Valley, followed by a barbeque at her "Meander" home where her husband, Ian would be the chief cook. That was in June 1996 and 20 golfers enjoyed a great day.
With that auspicious beginning the SASC golf scrambles have continued each year. Club members have golfed at Avon in Windsor, Brookfield in Brookfield, River Oaks in Meagher's Grant, Dundee in Cape Breton, Digby Pines in Digby, The Mountain Course in Truro, the Truro Golf Club, also in Truro, as well as the courses in Sussex, N.B., Antigonish, N.S. and Magnetic Hill, N.B.
SASC has established a tradition of welcoming new members. Instructions are provided to those who have never skied and lessons are also available for those who wish to improve their skills. Our instructors are fully qualified and must be registered annually with the Canadian Ski Instructors Alliance. One or more of these ski instructors are at every participating hill where they volunteer their time once a week for SASC members. The SASC Director for Ski Instructors lines up instructors for each hill, coordinates the ski lesson schedules, and has also arranged for professional development for the instructors.
The board appreciates the vigilance and assistance provided to our members by the Canadian Ski Patrol. Each year the club donates generously to the ski patrols in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
Should Kell be still with us, he would doubtlessly be pleased that the ski club he visualized has grown to nearly one thousand active members. He would also be pleased that many of these members have not only improved their skiing skills but have enjoyed the camaraderie and social aspects of skiing.