In 2012, then-Chair Pat Pearce asked Doug Geller to spearhead a compilation of club history and to assemble a committee of individuals with knowledge about the formational years of the club.
Meanwhile, TRU student Nicole Gobeil conducted several interviews with longtime club members, and did other research, and wrote up a first draft of the club history as part of a university project and then turned her work over to the club. Knowing nothing about how to compile a history of anything much less a ski club with nearly a half-century’s worth of stories to tell, Doug enlisted the help of friends and club members like Sue Spiller, Peter Tassie, Lloyd Mitchell, Heinz and Liz Stussi, Don and Kathy Wylie, and many others.
By adding to Nicole’s research, Doug was able to assemble a fairly detailed history of the development of cross – country skiing in the North Okanagan – tracing its beginnings back to the early days of skiing on Silver Star before there was improved road access, and highlights of the years to follow. The resulting 65 page booklet is available for all to view and download. It features biographies of five of our most influential club members, and is graced with numerous period pictures, and has several recent photos donated by professional photographer and club member Jeff Bassett. Hard copies of the history booklet will be available for viewing at the Day Lodge once the ski season begins.
Sovereign Lake Nordic Club Major Events Timeline
1934 – Carl Wylie and others ski to the top of Silver Star Mountain
1938 – Carl Wylie starts the Silver Star Ski Club.
1939 – City of Vernon donates a log cabin to the club on Silver Star Mountain at Vernon Lake, now Sovereign Lake. Silver Star was used by the more adventurous members of the Club with sleeping accommodation at the Sovereign Lake cabin. Skiers from Kelowna, Summerland and Penticton also joined them on many weekends and holidays.
1940s – Since Silver Star is not easily accessible, the Club decides to move to Birnie Range, south and west of Okanagan College in Vernon, and west of Highway 97, where the terrain is easier and more accessible. Here they hold their First Annual Four-Way Championships; this included ski jumping, cross-country, downhill and slalom.
1958 – Silver Star becomes a Class ‘C’ Park allowing the formation of a public company – Silver Star Sports Ltd. The mountain is developed next to the current Silver Star Resort area and continues to grow using the facilities at Silver Star Sports.
1973-1974 – In 1960s, cross country skiing is largely dormant around Vernon until revived as the North Okanagan Cross Country Ski Club. Keith Brewis organized the club, originally thinking of it as a branch of the Silver Star Ski Club (the downhill racing club) but eventually emerging as a distinct club.
1978 – The first loppet (ski marathon) of the NOCCSC is held at the Stussi farm on Cedar Hill Road near Falkland. More loppets and other club events are held at the farm over the next few years.
1981 – the marathon is moved to Sovereign Lake and is held in January.
1983 – The Warming Hut (“old day lodge”) is constructed by B.C. Parks and the North Okanagan Cross Country Ski Club donated the woodstove.
1988 – Black Prince cabin built at the junction of Black Prince and Silver Queen trails. Georgia Manhard begins long tenure as manager of Cross-Country BC, the Provincial governing body for cross country ski clubs.
1974-1988 A total of 14 trails are created, mainly through volunteer labour. The first trails include Mystery and Black Prince created between 1974 and 1978, then Woodland Bell, Wylie’s Loop, Half Sovereign and Sovereign, Silver Queen, Maid of Vernon, Prince of Wales, Aberdeen, Montezuma, Gold Mountain, Lars Taylor Way, Montezuma and Montezuma’s Revenge, and White Elephant were created.
1989 – BC Parks crews clear brush on existing trails. Club volunteers build a woodshed at the Black Prince cabin.
1990 – North Okanagan Cross Country Ski Club reaches an agreement with BC Parks to take over the operation of Sovereign Lake Ski Area. User pay is now in effect. Club volunteers build a ticket office.
1991 – The North Okanagan Cross Country Ski Club hosts a Federation International Ski (FIS) World Cup at Silver Star Mountain Resort.
1993 – The current day lodge is built largely by volunteers, with water and sewer improvements following shortly thereafter.
1995 – The Club purchases a BR 400 groomer. Grooming with large equipment begins. Club hosts Jeep Nationals.
1999 – Day fees increase for the first time since the Club took over in 1990.
2000 – Official name change from North Okanagan Cross Country Ski Club to Sovereign Lake Nordic Club. First club website developed.
2003 – night skiing begins on a 3.5 km “northern lights” loop using Passmore, stadium and Wylie’s loop.
2005- The Sovereign Lake Nordic Club hosts a FIS World Cup. Trail improvements are made to facilitate these events.
2007 – Sovereign hosts a spring camp, opening for about 9 days in the middle of May. This continues for several years. Scott Lemon starts as General Manager.
2010 -Some Olympic cross country and biathlon teams train at Sovereign Lake and Silver Star leading up to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. These teams would include Norway, Switzerland, Finland, Russia, Czech Republic, Australia, and New Zealand. Carl Wylie trail opens. Lifetime service award given to Don Wylie.
2011 – The Sovereign Lake Nordic Club hosts the Sparkling Hills Masters World Cup with 23 nations and 1134 participants. Carl Wylie trail opens, and a pass-over bridge is constructed in the stadium. Einar Field receives lifetime service award. New partnership with Silver Star Mountain Resort begins. Dual area passes and XC ski camps begin, co-hosted by Sovereign and Silver Star. Strategic planning begins.
2013 – Excellent snow and poor snow elsewhere contribute to Sovereign having a record setting season in terms of day users. Membership is around 1,600. Jess trail for kids opens. Miriam Ryan receives club’s lifetime service award.
2014 – Telus cellular phone and wireless internet services become fully functional at the day lodge. Club purchases a state-of-the-art timing clock for events using proceeds from competitions held at the centre. Season starts unusually late on November 22. Club holds nearly back-to-back race events, the first Sovereign Open in early December and the relocated Norams on Dec 19-20. Membership is close to 1,700.
2015 – Heinz and Liz Stussi receive club’s lifetime service award. Stussis donate their Swiss starting bell to club (used at first North Okanagan marathon). Warm winter saw creeks flowing under Silver Queen and other trails in February. SLNC still had more than 140 days of groomed skiing. Troy Hudson hired as new General Manager.