John M. Nolan excerpt from the souvenir booklet
for the 1985 Canadian Junior Championships
In 1929 a group of Norwegians who had emigrated to Canada
joined together to form one of Canada's most enduring
institutions in cross country skiing: the Viking Ski
Club. The founding members were primarily ski jumpers,
including Karl Baadsvick who was soon to become a Canadian
national champion. In those days, local and even national
skiing events were held in downtown Montreal.
Like the recent Canadian Championships, the `83 Shell Cup, the
site of major skiing events was Mount Royal and the old
wooden ski Jump on Cote des Neiges was used for the jumping
and combined skiing events. The Viking Club was strong
in both jumping and combined and dominated the local competition
for many years.
old Cote des Neiges ski jump was a popular
spot for spectators as well as competitors.
In fact, the three mountains on the island
of Montreal, Mount Royal, Westmount, and Outremont
served as a large winter playground for local
skiers in the thirties. Here is how the president
of the Montreal Ski Club described the local
scene for the 1931 yearbook of the Canadian
before in the history of North America has such interest
been shown in amateur winter sports as is now being shown
at the approach of the 1932 Olympics. Lying as it does to
close to Lake Placid, Montreal will undoubtedly see many
of the competitors both before and after the games, when
it is hoped they will avail themselves of the opportunity
to sample our Canadian skiing.
From the point of view of position. Montreal is
unique in being the only place on the continent
where good skiing can actually be enjoyed in
the heart of a great city. Mount Royal, Outremont,
and Westmount, at the feet of which are clustered
the homes of some million people have on their
sides approximately four square miles of woods
and parks. Rome has its seven hills, we have
our three, and it is these that form the nucleus
of Montreal Skiing.
The president filing this report was none other than the Viking
Club's honorary member and the father of cross country skiing
in North America, Herman "Jackrabbit" Smith-Johannsen.
Jackrabbit, besides being an effective administrator was also
a competitive skier. When the Club held its first Viking Veteran
Ski Cup, Jackrabbit skied away with the first prize. The year
was 1936 and the event was held in Shawbridge where the club
had constructed a ski jump on the west side of the village.
If you know where to look you can still make out the outline
of what remains of the jump today.
But for some reason, perhaps as someone has suggested the problem
was with the profile of the Shawbridge ski jump, the Vikings
moved to Ste. Marguerite. They rented a ski lodge in the
area and constructed a ski jump on a hill near the Alpine
Inn. The new jump must have pleased them because they remained
in the area until the Second World War. The war put a stop
to the Club's activities for a few years. After the war the
Club resumed activities in the Christieville area operating
out of a rented cottage. Members were soon at work on the
construction of yet another ski jump with the help of Club
president Aleksander Olsen who was able to make a large contribution
to its development.
It was around this time, the mid forties, when cross country
skiing began to absorb the interest of the Viking skiers
and they soon had a North American Champion among their
ranks. He was a Swedish native who came to Canada when
he was twenty one years old. His name was Jack Wahlberg,
a powerful competitor who at 80 years of age today continues
one of the longest winning streaks in the world of sports.
For the past 65 years he has won an award every year in
either running or cross country skiing.
of the highlights of Jack's remarkable career as an athlete
include winning the 18km North American Championships race
in New Hampshire in 1948 and representing Canada in the World
Championships in 1950.
a love of outdoor activity he told writer Maureen Stern
in a recent interview for the Gazette. "I like racing
because you have light equipment, a mechanically prepared
track, and you can use your poles properly...but I also like
touring because you see tracks of animals. Jack Wahlberg's
advice to the reporter was straight forward and sincere. He
told her, "The older you get, the more important it is
to keep active and out in the fresh air, and to watch your
weight." They are not idle words. In 1982 Jack won the
15km race at the Canadian Masters Championships in the over
He skis with such efficiency even seasoned skiers less than half
his age have trouble keeping up with him. "I don't move
like an old man and that's partly thanks to the exercise I
do", says Jack, who skis about 1,500 km every winter
and paddles around in his racing kayak in the summer.
skiing became very popular with Vikings in the early fifties
and you can still find come of the old trail markers in
the woods. Ski jumping remained an important club activity
and in 1953 the jump in Christieville was abandoned and
a new jump was built near the Bellevue Hotel in Morin Heights.
The Morin Heights Ski Club amalgamated with the Viking
Ski Club and the members worked together to develop and
maintain the Clover Leaf trail.
many years the Clover Leaf trail was the Club's
most important trail. Most of the Club's races
and tours were held on this trail. It was also
the original site of one of the Club's most
enduring events, a 3x10km relay race. This
year the Club will celebrate the twenty-fifth
consecutive running of the Viking Annual Relay
the end of the 1950's the Club's involvement in ski jumping
diminished until finally in the 61/62 season it was dropped
as a Club activity. It didn't stop Ulf Kvendbo from successfully
representing the club in ski jumping between 1965 and 1972.
His successes included winning a Canadian Championships event
and several international meets. Sam Stallard, Rolf Ellingsen
and Robert Weiler purchased property in the Morin Heights
area around this time and began cutting cross country ski
trails. Gradually, the Club's activities were transferred
from the Clover Leaf trails to these new trails on the Jackson
late Fifties was also the period when the Viking Ski Club
began importing and selling cross country skiing equipment.
The venture was started by Sam Stallard, Robert Weiler, and
Gösta Edvardsson to fill the needs of members who found
it difficult to purchase good equipment from Finland and
Sweden and eventually began selling to the general public,
The business grew each year until it became the Club's main
source of income.
1963 the Club was sufficiently well off to purchase
nine acres of land on the Jackson Road next to
the existing cross country trails. The next year,
the original A-Frame club house was started and
by 1966 it was completed. As more and more sporting
goods stores started to stock good cross country
equipment the club no longer felt the need to continue
importing it and sales were discontinued in 1964.
In 1968 under club president Robert Weiler a racing trail was
laid out. It was a successful trail and two years later,
with Jan Nordström at the head, the club organized the
Canadian Cross Country and Nordic Championships on this trail.
Viking's Irene Jensen won the Ladies 10 km event and Leo
Lehtonen won the l5km and 30k veteran championships.
the years development has continued on the Viking
Racing trails. The entire 10km network was expanded
and bulldozed to accommodate double tracking. This
work was done in anticipation of the 1983 Shell
Cup and under the watchful eye of the then Racing
Events director, Jan Eisenloeffel the Club can
now boast the finest network of racing trails in
celebrate Canada's birthday in 1967 the Centennial Marathon
Ski Tour was staged. It was a three day touring race from
Pointe Claire to Ottawa. Four hundred skiers participated
and the event was won by Viking's Günter Veeser. This event
has become the Canadian Ski Marathon, a two day event on
a 160 km trail between Lachute and Ottawa which attracts
over 4,000 skiers from around the world.
Lehtonen scored a string of victories in the CSM
by winning in `68, `70, `71, and `72. Viking members
have continued to dominate the event. In 1982 Vikings
skied away with a total of 56 medals, 31 of which
were Coureur de Bois awards. Viking's Bill Pollock
was awarded his second Gold Bar but the Club's
top performance came from a then 10-year old. Chris
Blanchard became the youngest skier in Marathon
history to ski the full 160km (100 mile) distance
to earn his Coureur de Bois award.
Hansen initiated the Club's most popular citizen's race in
1972, the Smith-Johannsen Loppet. Named in honour of Herman "Jackrabbit" Smith-Johannsen
who has been the traditional starter of the race, it has
consistently attracted the best citizen racers from Quebec
of the longest races in the world, the Laurentian Loppet,
a 75km event, was started in 1979 under Jan Nordström.
Aided by club president Malcolm Adams (1976-80) and Smith-Johannsen
Loppet's race director, Judy Adams, Jan staged the longest
one-day cross country race in Canada. It has since become
an annual event (Viking Loppet), now shortened to 46km.
most potent force in the Viking Ski Club's involvement in
cross country racing has come from the initiative of past
President, Skip Sheldon (1973-1976). Skip, a well-known and
respected figure in cross country skiing across Canada, besides
promoting racing locally, was also involved at the national
level. He was Chairman of the Canadian Ski Association's
Cross Country section for many years. In 1974 he took Bert
Bullock, Sue Holloway and Ester Miller to France for the
European Junior Championships. Skip Sheldon was responsible
for starting the Junior Racing Program in the early seventies.
was Skip who positioned the club squarely in the
forefront of cross country racing. Under his leadership
the Viking Club held its first Shell Cup race in
1976. In 1980 the World Masters Championship was
held and in l983 the Shell Cup was organised but
ultimately moved to Labrador City because of a
lack of snow.
When Viking resumed its activities after WWII, it gave itself a charter and an organization, with a board of directors and a president.
During the years Viking was based in Christieville, its presidents were:
- Aleksander Olsen (1946 - 1948)
- Kaare Olsen (1948 - 1950)
- Jack Wahlberg (1950 - 1951)
- Bjarne Kvendbo (1951 - 1954)
It was under the presidency of Bjarne Kvendbo that Viking moved its operations from Christieville to Morin-Heights when it built its ski jump near the Bellevue Hotel. Those years saw the growth of ski touring as Viking Ski Club merged with the Morin-Heights Ski Club and started developing its ski trails.
The presidents for that period were:
- Albert Basler (1954 - 1956)
- Bjarne Kvendbo (1956 - 1959)
- Per Gurholt (1959 - 1961)
- Jack Wahlberg (1961 - 1964)
The early sixties saw Viking abandon ski jumping as club activity, buy land and build the present clubhouse. The sale of skis was also abandoned as the industry was able to supply the market and Viking became what it still is, a ski club oriented towards cross-country skiing.
The presidents since the mid-sixties have been:
- Robert Weiler (1964 - 1967)
- Jan Nordström (1967 - 1970)
- Baird Davis (1970 - 1973)
- Huntington Sheldon (1973 - 1976)
- Malcolm Adams (1976 - 1980)
- Steve Sewell (1980 - 1982)
- Andrea Burgess (1982 - 1985)
- The Directors (1985 - 1986)
- Jacques Roux (1986 - 1988)
- Peter Blanchard (1988 - 1989)
- David Toole (1989 - 1990)
- André Dionne (1990 - 1993)
- Karen Oljemark (1993 - 1994)
- Michael Dohrendorf (1994 - 1997)
- Lou Lukanovich (1997 - 2000)
- Erik Vikander (2000 - 2006)
- The Directors (2006 - 2007)
- Doug Bowes-Lyon (2007 - 2011)
- Gordon Cohen (2011 - 2012)
- Richard L'Heureux (2012 - 2015)
- Grant McKenna (2015 - )