Collections are fun. Hockey cards, stamps, coins, Lego—pogs, anyone? What’s the coolest collection you can think of? If you answered “snowmobiles,” this story’s for you.
Brian Silvester has been snowmobiling since back in the winter of ’69 (cue Bryan Adams’ Summer of ’69). “I started riding with my girlfriend on her father's sleds,” said Silvester. “They lived on a farm a mile north of North Battleford. It was a unique experience for me and got me into riding. The snowmobile I rode was a 1969 Ski-Doo Elan 250 single-cylinder rocket. A few years ago I found a rough old ’69 Elan and restored it to like-new condition and have it in my collection.”
Whoa, whoa, whoa—pump the brakes! A snowmobile collection? How does someone come to have an entire collection of snowmobiles? Well for starters, you’ll need a love of the game. “I liked snowmobiles so much I started my own sled business,” Silvester said. “I guess I'm like the Philishave guy who loved the shaver so much he bought the company.”
Silvester is the owner/operator of Silvester R.V. Centre in North Battleford which also sells Polaris and Arctic Cat snowmobiles. There’s no better way to gather knowledge of a product than by testing it out. Silvester has certainly taken advantage of his job title and done just that.
“You will see me riding many different sleds,” he said. “We usually have six to eight demo sleds yearly and I will ride most of them. In 2011 when Arctic Cat announced the body style change for 2012, I purchased a new 2011 Crossfire 141 which I still own and ride quite often.”
Trying out that many sleds requires terrain to test-drive them and nobody knows the ins and outs of North Battleford better than Silvester. North Battleford has always been his home and he’s gathered intimate knowledge of the landscape in that time.
“The coolest thing I’ve done while snowmobiling is taking others out in places they’ve never ridden before,” Silvester said.
But it’s not all backwoods and hidden retreats. There are plenty of great trails out in the open in North Battleford.
“My favourite place to ride is north of Jackfish Lake,” said Silvester. “My cabin is on the lake. Snow conditions are generally best from there north to the small town of Glaslyn and continuing to Turtle Lake.”
As if collecting and selling snowmobiles isn’t enough involvement for Silvester, he’s also the vice-president of the Battlefords Trail Breakers. The trail system around North Battleford is groomed, marked and mapped by the group. But that doesn’t mean you need to stick to the trails.
“My favourite riding is off-trail,” Silvester said, “and I much prefer riding through Hillbilly Hills. The terrain varies from grain fields, pasture, valleys and hills. The heavily bushed country keeps the winds away and the snow is usually powder. It’s very beautiful and serene in its own way. It's not the mountains but the flat old prairies are the next best thing.”
Silvester is a long-distance rider who enjoys the camaraderie the sport offers him and his friends. “I like to ride with big groups, small groups or even just a buddy,” he said. “As long as I get out riding, it's all good with me.”
The only thing Silvester might like even more than snowmobiling is talking about snowmobiling. “I think some of the most enjoyable times are sitting around a fire or in the hot tub after a long ride,” he said, “discussing where we had been, what happened, who got stuck, bucked off or broken down.”
Sounds like snowmobiling with Silvester a.k.a. the collector is the way to go. Who knows, you may even get to see some of his snowmobile collection.