Snowduster volunteers honoured with trail dedications

Charles and Marion Sheppard, left, and Vivian and Bob Lafraniere pose with the signs erected in their honour as hardworking members of the Manitoulin Snowdusters. photo by Betty Heis

ROCKVILLE— Just prior to the annual fish supper held by the Manitoulin Snowdusters in Rockville, members of the club gathered to honour two important past members of the club by dedicating trails in their names: Robert Lafreniere and Charles Sheppard.

Betty Heis, past secretary of the club, stated she was honoured to have had the opportunity to work with these two gentlemen.

“Bob became a director of the Manitoulin Snowdusters in 1994, was elected president of the club in 1999 and served as president until 2002,” Ms. Heis began. “During this time Bob was a tireless volunteer working at fundraisers such as poker runs, fun runs, auctions, grass drags, selling ads for maps, and the popular fish suppers.”

“Bob was dedicated to promoting snowmobiling on the Manitoulin and worked in cooperation with local organizations such as the Chamber of Commerce and Manitoulin Tourist Association, to name a few,” she continued. “Under Bob’s direction the club worked diligently to widen trails and remove stumps and boulders, replace bridges and culverts, all to provide safe quality trails second to none. His dedication resulted in the club receiving the OFSC’s ‘Club of the Year’ award for 2001. This was an achievement Bob was very proud of as there are 280 participating clubs eligible to apply for this award. The award is given annually to recognize exceptional efforts and achievements related to trail developments and community partnerships.”

During Mr. Lafreniere’s term he also was successful in getting a new BR180 groomer for the east end and for purchasing a Massey Ferguson tractor for the West End (achieving a goal he promised to work for).

“Bob was always ready to recognize and thank the past presidents, directors and volunteers for their hard work and perseverance, and was always willing to give credit to others,” Ms. Heis continued. “Bob cheerfully accepted phone calls whether those calls were complaints or compliments. Vivian (his wife) also deserves credit for putting up with all those phone calls.”

“I am so pleased to see Bob receive this trail dedication, it is well deserved. Congratulations Bob!” the secretary added.

Charles Sheppard has served as director for many years. During most of those years Mr. Sheppard was responsible for maintaining the east end groomer, arranging for repairs and scheduling groomer operators.

“Charles took his responsibility seriously and always strived to ensure the groomer was in excellent working condition,” Ms. Heis said. “Many nights Charles would get up in the middle of the night to drive a groomer operator home. As Charles was in charge of the east end groomer, he ended up taking many phone calls, both compliments and complaints, Charles can tell you that in that job it is difficult to please everyone, however Charles calmly dealt with these phone calls. We must compliment Marion too for her enduring patience over the midnight phone calls and excursions to pick up groomer operators.”

Mr. Sheppard also provided many hours of working on trails, brushing, and building new trails, it was noted.

“As a director he was responsible for guiding the future of the club, and in order to do his job to the best of his ability he would attend OFSC conventions at his own expense,” Ms. Heis continued. “Charles himself, along with his brother and sons, were always the first ones to purchase trail permits, and Charles, Marion and their family enjoyed many hours of riding the trails. Charles, forever humble, will claim he does not deserve this award however all those who have worked with Charles will agree his dedication and perseverance will never be forgotten. Congratulations, Charles.”