When the area around Good Spirit Lake caught fire on the Victoria Day weekend this year, the work of the Canora Fire Department and other surrounding departments helped save lives, but not all of the structures could be saved. The warmup shack for the Good Spirit Lake Cross Country Ski Club was a casualty of the blaze, being completely destroyed by the flames.
The club did what they had to do, and that’s rebuild. Opening just in time for the ski season, the new warmup ski shelter is now built and ready.
Club chair Daryl Stevenson said that the shelter is used year-round, for skiers in the winter and hikers in the summer. It’s located on the Trans-Canada Trail, and the Trans-Canada Trail itself provided some of the funding for the replacement, as well as the Crossroads Credit Union in Canora which contributed $3,000.
One of the challenges was a tight deadline. Work couldn’t begin until September, as the park was too busy to allow construction traffic into the area.
“It is in an isolated area, but those trails are used by park users through the summer, so there’s lots of foot traffic and bicycle traffic on those trails,” explained Stevenson.
Work began after the Labor Day long weekend, and Stevenson describes the shelter as building a “fancy garage.” He said it was a big rush to get the project finished, with volunteers from the ski club itself doing the construction of the building.
Working on a tight deadline was one thing, but another was COVID-19 restrictions. Work on the interior of the shelter needed to follow safety guidelines, with a maximum number of people in the shelter at any given time.
“A lot of work had to be done inside, because it’s insulated and has a pine interior. That took quite a bit of work.”
It was vital to get it done before the ski season began, with Brian Dudar, Park Manager at Good Spirit Lake Provincial Park committing it to be ready for the season to begin. They were lucky to avoid an early snowfall, said Stevenson, with the last full work day on November 14.
“The exterior was completed just before the first snowfall, it worked out really good.”
The trails are only partially open right now, as part of the trail was damaged due to truck traffic required to get construction materials to the site.
The push to get the shelter complete was also partially because this promises to be a big year for cross-country skiing, Stevenson said. It’s a sport that can be done while socially distanced, and is a great way to stay active when many of the options to stay active are not feasible. They have had a great deal of interest in the club, beyond previous years. He said they have had a big increase in registrations this year over previous years, and believes it’s important to have a sport that can be done even through a pandemic, given that it’s easy to ski while remaining distant.
“A lot of the other sports, you might not be able to participate. Especially seniors, you don’t want to take the chance. There are a lot of seniors in our club.”