The following article first appeared in The Echo of Cantley Volume 26 no 8, March 2015. This article is made available for the enjoyment of others with the express permission of the Echo of Cantley.
Cantley's Nakkertok Nordic Cross-Country Ski Club is Canada's largest private ski club. It was founded in 1971 as a co-operative of three families interested in cross-country ski racing: the Holloways, the Arnolds and the Webers. As Maurice Holloway put it, "There was a spirit of cooperation and friendship around building a community for outdoor enjoyment and competition". His wife, Thea came up with the name - Nakkertok is an Inuktitut expression for "moving swiftly on snow."
The club has 85 km of ski trails, 10 km of snowshoe trails, three chalets and two access points (one in Cantley off Gatineau Ave. and the other in Val-des-Monts off Highway #366), on 250 hectares of private land owned by both members and non-members. Originally, members purchased shares in a land holding company, Outaouais Trails - the company was later abandoned.
Trail clearing began first at the farm of Meg and Hans Weber. The farm features a pretty, square-timbered log cabin with red trim. This was the house of Tiberius Wright, father of Alonzo Wright and son of Philemon Wright, the founder of Hull. Although born in Massachusetts, Tiberius was raised in the Hull area. His son became a local Member of Parliament before and after Confederation in 1867. Built in approximately 1824, the Webers moved it from its original site near Limbour to save it from destruction. It is possibly the oldest building still standing in the Outaouais.
Born in the United Kingdom, Meg Crockford Weber moved to Montreal in 1952 and became a physiotherapist. At 27, she relocated to Banff, where she met her future husband, Hans, during an avalanche rescue.
Hans (né Jean-Robert), an electrical engineer, arrived from Switzerland in 1953 as a member of a scientific expedition to the Arctic. When he accepted a job in Ottawa with the Geological Survey of Canada, the couple moved to Cantley with their three sons.
Nakkertok faced a number of challenges since it was formed. In 1991, the Mayor of the newly-formed municipality of Cantley, Bernard Bouthillette, was obligated to connect Cantley's fire service on Highway 307 to St-Amour and Montée Paiement to the East. To help offset these costs, he proposed a commercial hub and housing development along the line of a skidoo trail crossing Nakkertok. To thwart these plans, Hans and his sons Christophe and Richard, attended a number of (often hilarious) Council meetings. Stopping the project gained an enormous amount of respect for Hans in Cantley. The building on Vigneault Rd., much further North than planned, was the direct result of his efforts.
The Club rapidly developed a philosophy of supporting a community who share a love of the winter outdoors and striving for excellence in crosscountry skiing. According to Sue Holloway, Maurice's daughter and much-awarded Olympian, "There's a culture of contributing, and that is what makes it successful."
Some major accomplishments include:
Today, the Club has some 1,500 members (15% from the Outaouais), a well-honed training program for children, warm-up chalets and stateof-the art trail maintenance. Interest and support for Nakkertok has never been greater!
Next month: the "pre-history" of Nakkertok (1865 to 1954).