Newsletter November, 2010.
Over the last few weeks we have had some truly wonderful hiking. The Canadian fall colours were at their most splendid, the weather cooperated by providing cool but sunny and dry days and our planning went mostly without a hitch. The Festival de la Marche gave an opportunity to show off the hiking trails that we have in our regions and the 400 plus participants seemed very happy with what they saw. The Ramblers Association demonstrated by its involvement in the organisation and managing of this event and by our level of participation just how committed we are to this sport.
Over the Thanksgiving weekend we held our own main event; the 3rd edition of the Fr. Demers trek. Using a bus to return everyone to the starting point, while expensive to the club was considered a major benefit as was ending the weekend with a beer at La Vieille Tavern, both of these additions will be retained for Fr Demers 2011.
Neither of these events has distracted the group from its basic program of bi-weekly Sunday morning hikes and an average of 15 people were present when on various Sundays we trekked around Ile Perrot, St Lazare and climbed to the Calvary summit in Oka park..
The future looks good too with a full schedule of hikes planned until the snow falls and then snow-shoeing. As soon as the first suitable snow accumulates a snow-shoeing training session will be held, probably on the flat terrain of the Whitlock Golf and Country Club to help new comers to this sport and others become familiar with the equipment before venturing on more challenging trails.
To conclude this newsletter I have included an edited addition of the annual report and financial statement as presented at the AGM on October 5th.
See you on the trails
October 21, 2010
Interim President’s report as presented to the Ramblers association AGM
This is a very brief overview of what has happened to the Ramblers Association since April 22, 2010 when the organisation was formed and some insight as to where I see the club moving in the future.
The Ramblers Association was formed when the Sentier Vaudreuil-Soulange decided its mandate was too large and cumbersome and that the members would be better served with the existence of two groups, distinct but connected with a common director. SV-S would continue with a mandate to be proactive in the maintenance and development of trails within the county while the Ramblers Association would be primarily occupied with staging hiking and snowshoeing events for its members to highlight the social and health benefits of the sport.
The Ramblers Association formed a Board of directors and appointed interim Officers and both boards met to divide the assets of SV-S, both physical and monetary. This meeting was very amicable.
The Board of the Ramblers Association immediately applied for membership in La Federation Quebecoise de la Marche and took advantage of their liability insurance coverage. The first month or so were occupied with house keeping chores as we started to build an organisation for the club essentially from scratch. A website was establish and has since grown to be an indispensible tool.
It was decided to continue the bi-weekly Sunday morning hikes and a complete schedule was soon developed. Everyone felt the club had more to offer and that members were keen to see the programs expanded. In May we surveyed the membership and received a 23% response rate, considered good for such a survey.
From the results it was realise that:
1 The members liked the Sunday morning hikes, liked the distance covered and the overall length and duration of the event.
2 Were not interested in faster hikes on Saturday;
3 Were interested in exploring the idea of whole day hikes on Saturday outside of Vaudreuil-Soulange
4 There was interest in stopping for breakfast after the hike perhaps as often as once per month
5 A vast majority of respondents like the idea of stopping at a suitable place for wine and cheese.
6. There was no interest in signature items or other, non hiking or snowshoeing activities at that time and these ideas were dropped.
We took these results into consideration as we planned the rest of the summer.
We have had a Sunday morning hike every 2 weeks since our inception averaging around 12 participants with a variance from a low of 9 to a high of 24.
On August 14th we met and convoyed to Val David via the ferry and 12 members participated in a hike in Le P’tit Train du Nord linear park. I believe the event was a success and another full day hike is envisaged for October 23rd and full day hikes every 2 months will become a permanent part of our program.
Breakfasts after the hikes are now held on a regular basis and will be continued.
Those hikes where a wine and cheese break is included in the program are certainly the most popular. I am totally amazed at the splendid selection of wines, breads and cheeses the participants bring to the table, a veritable feast, this activity will definitely be continued.
The club was very active in the Festival de la Marche organised by La Federation Quebecoise de la Marche, supplying many of the hike leaders and guides and about 20 participants in total.
As you will see later we have also balanced the books and lived within our means an essential factor for any volunteer organisation.
But what about the future; I believe it will be good for the Ramblers Association. Only 5 days into our new year and we already have 32 people who have renewed their membership
We will continue the bi-weekly Sunday morning and the Saturday all day hikes as in the past.
Plans are complete for our annual 2 day trek, the Fr Demers hike to be held this coming Saturday October 9 and 10. The route is somewhat different this year with new ending points on both days. Under the leadership of Martin Hofton the trail to be used has been thoroughly reconnoitred not only to guarantee its suitability for such an event but to ensure we pass only on public land or when on private land the permission of the owner has been requested and in all cases granted. We feel this is most important at this time with the ongoing controversy, well covered in the local press about walkers trespassing on private land. We have also rented busses to take people back to their cars at the end of each day. This is a substantial expense for the club but we feel it is a good investment which will add to the perceived value of the event and increase camaraderie amongst members. We have also decided to conclude the event near a tavern so everyone can share a refreshing and congratulatory beer again building club spirit.
We will work with the Town of Hudson by holding a hike across the frozen Lake of Two Mountains during their winter carnival Shiverfest, a sponsor has already been lined up for this.
We will monitor the activities of La Federation Quebecoise de la Marche and if appropriate organise events for the members to take advantage of their program.
None of this has been achieved without a lot of hard work on the part of a number of committed volunteers and I would like to thank them all starting with the Board of Directors.
- Non returning directors included
- Gaetan Allard who served this last year as Vice-President. He was responsible for our involvement with the Federation ensuring we became a member and had the proper insurance coverage. Gaetan also organised the schedule for our bi-weekly hike and was the liaison with the federation for Le Festival de la Marche. Gaetan and his wife Helene are taking off in their RV for the winter and while we will miss them both we thank them most profoundly and wish them safe travels
- Carol Bates also served on the Board and we thank her for her contribution and wish her well.
- Four of last years Directors are returning and I thank them for their hard work and dedication and look forward to working with them in the future:
- Anne Bourel who was Secretary-Treasurer kept impeccable records and ensured our French communication was perfect
- Rosalie Shewchuk who took over membership makes sure all hikers are properly identified and have paid their dues, a most important consideration.
- Heidi Wright who is our liaison with SV-S and the Town of St Lazare
- Christine Moore who is our guide extraordinaire and without whose help, many of us would still be wandering around La Pinière, long after dark.
Thank you all
Two other volunteers have to be mentioned, as both did work appropriate for a director but by their choice did not have director status.
- Martin Hofton who as our explorer covered the county on foot and bicycle, by car and in the air to discover new routes and who has led the program to define the Fr Demers trail
- Claude Fortier our webmaster, who has established a first class website in spite of being lumbered with computer Luddites like me. Claude has done more than his share in finding new trails and leading hike. Thank you both.
Other people who have helped include:
- Jerzy Waiter our photographer,
- Diane Boileau, who liaised with the first responders to organise CPR training and provided the club with its comprehensive first aid kit and equipment,
- Barb and Al Gibbs and Don Attwood who led hikes and
- Jim Duff who helped in getting hiking in Vaudreuil-Soulange out to the public
I would like to mention too the contribution of 2 non members
- Anne Peters from Terinex who maintains the club’s office and
- my wife Louise who keeps the books.
Thank you all, no volunteer organisation can operate without good volunteers and we have the best in the Ramblers Association.
Unfortunately though we are going to need more volunteers. If we are going to have an innovative and challenging program new hike leaders will have to be found Now that the basic structure of the club is in place I intend to dedicate my time to searching out and approaching people I consider to have trail leadership potential. I have noticed that people in such a group as this rarely come forward of their own accord but have to be approached and convinced to become active. I intend to do just that and will create a new position of Guide who will be someone who can help on the trail during the bi-weekly hikes as they build their confidence toward doing their own trail research and eventually leading.