In 1956 Don Mousseau purchased his first snowmobile and started riding around the Hay Swamp area. A year later he moved a small cabin onto his property in the Hay Swamp, where a number of local families would meet and warm themselves after a snowmobile ride. As the interest in snowmobiling grew so did the number of trails in the swamp. As more families started enjoying this new winter pastime it became apparent that a larger place would be needed in the future.
The Pineridge Chalet was opened in 1968, by Don and Shirley Mousseau along with partners George and Lucille Beer. They operated the business as a gathering place for snowmobilers, who used the scenic trails throughout the Hay Swamp. This was a great place to warm up by the fireplace and have something hot to eat. Pineridge was a popular spot for weekly dances and other events with many arriving on snowmobiles when possible.
Pineridge Snowmobile Trails became well known with many snowmobilers from the London area trailering their snowmobiles to the chalet to ride the Pineridge trails in the early 70’s. The chalet underwent several expansions as business grew rapidly with more functions through the year and many more snowmobilers in the winter.
In 1969 Jack Brintnell along with his family and several neighbors East of Hensall started clearing logging trails through their bushes and soon had several trails and a warming shack called the Owls Club.
As the early to mid seventies approached more trails were made making a loop trail possible. They started grooming these trails with homemade drags pulled behind their own snowmobiles. To ride from these trails to the trails in Hay Swamp and Pineridge you needed to ride the roads or ditches. It soon became apparent to these two groups that they needed to join these two trail systems together and become one group.
In 1970 Pineridge started hosting the Timmy Rides known as The Wipper Billy Watson Rides for Crippled Children, this was a weekend event held in February. Children from the centre looked forward to the annual visits to Pineridge for their snowmobile rides and other activities.
This became a very well known event that featured mooseburgers and pancake breakfasts. As the event grew each year it started having longer snowmobile rides from the Chalet north to Hully Gully near Varna and then down to the trails east of Hensall to The Owls Club and back to the Swamp. This fundraiser continued until 1978 and raised well over $25,000.00 in its eight years existence.
In the mid 1970’s the Pineridge Snowmobile Club was very active and decided in 1977 that they should join the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs. As the club grew it was decided that these individual trails needed to be connected together and make a larger trail system that did not require having to ride the roads to get to the other trails. In 1983 the club had 93 family members and became incorporated and purchased the first Ski Doo Alpine groomer.
As more trails were made we soon needed more groomers, and three more Alpines were purchased which were used until 1994. In 1994 the club purchased their first groomer tractor for $75,000 with the help from the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs who provided a $25,000 grant. As the years have passed, we now use three large groomer tractors with over 370 Kms of trails. Our trail system has expanded to include Bayfield, Seaforth, Mitchell, Kirkton, Crediton, and the Clandeboye area enableling us to join with other local clubs within a larger area.
Pineridge Snowmobile Club Inc. celebrates its 35th anniversary as a member of the OFSC in 2012. Over the past 44 years that the club has been around we have had many volunteers that have played a major part in the success of this club. By giving of their time and talents they have managed to keep the heritage of this club alive and strong.
Again a heartfelt thank you goes out to our landowners for allowing us to have our trails on their property. Without their support we would not have trails, and also to the snowmobilers for their generous support over the many years to the club and the sport. Without everyone’s help and cooperation this could not have continued. May the future of this club continue for many more years to come.